Summary: Take a trip down the wide road that leads to destruction with Samson and read the warning signs.
Signposts along the Wide Road
Text: Judges 14-16
Recruiting spies during the cold war--First they would ask for just a public information phone book, little by little they would ask for more.
The enemy of our souls has a battle plan that’s very similar, The Scripture tells us that road that leads to destruction is wide and let me tell you that the signs pointing to that road aren’t neon signs that flash "This way to hell" No the tempter is much smoother than that he has a great deal of subtlety in luring us down that wide road. This morning I’d like us to look at the life of Samson as he goes carrening down that path and look for those signposts along the way. Because if we can recognize how Samson got on the wrong path with temptation and sin then perhaps we can recognize the signs in our own lives in time to get back on the straight and narrow.
Transition: The first signpost is the simple one, the seemingly insignificant one, like the public record phonebook, it’s simply...
14:1-2 Samson went down to Timnah and saw [or noticed] there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife."
I’m convinced Samson wasn’t trying to get in trouble at this point, I don’t even think he was going down to Timnah, looking for a Philistine woman. I think the translation that says he "noticed" her is more accurate.
The point is he was careless, he may not have gone down there looking but he was certainly looking while he was down there. He put himself within temptation’s reach.
The Scripture is plain in it’s message about our first line of defense against temptation--retreat! Run Away, Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lust. Don’t put yourself in temptation’s path.
If the producer of "Temptation Island" Invites you to be a contestant on the show say "No Thanks."
Don’t be careless, live your life as if your life depended on it.
The next sign on the wide road reads...
14:8-9 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
By this point Samson’s behavior can’t be blamed on mere carelessness. You may wonder what the big deal is. It’s Samson’s Nazarite vow. He is to have no contact with dead things, touching a dead, unclean animal would have made any Israelite ceremonially unclean, even if absolutely necessary.
As a Nazarite Samson had absolutely no business being anywhere near a place where he knew a dead lion to be, yet the text says he turned aside from his path to see it, Not only that, he doesn’t just touch the carcass, he eatsd out of it, and then he feeds his parents from it and covers it up. Prior planning and coverup puts Samson smack dab into the realm of compromise. And it gets worse:
16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.
Having given way to temptation, which found him through his carelessness, Samson has come to the place where he intentionally puts himself in temptation’s way and willingly turns aside from God’s expectations of Him. Compromise is a slippery slope
ILLUSTRATION: When the first federal income tax was being debated in the US Senate in 1913, a senator speaking in opposition to the bill stated: "If we allow this 1 percent foot-in-the-door, at some future date it might rise to 5 percent."
Compromise is indeed a slippery slope, one which eventually leads to the third sign along the wide downhill road...
Now we come to the story we read today, Samson has found himself another Philistine woman who is working as a spy for the Philistines to learn from Samson the secret of His great strength. You know the story. He lies to her about it several times, eventually coming close to the truch telling her it has something to do with His hair--of course it’s not his hair but the life that’s supposed to be dedicated to the Lord that the hair represents. Finally she pesters him so much he gives in...
16:17So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."