Sermons

Summary: 1 of 3 on Samson. This message focuses on the nazirite vow and the moral complexities of Samson.

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Man of Steel

Visitor from another Planet

"Faster than a locomotive. More powerful than a speeding bullet. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the air! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman.

Superman. Visitor from a strange planet endowed with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men. Superman. Who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, wages a never ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

But (pause)… he was fiction. The red caped Superman has never existed except in the lands of TV, movies and comic books

Samson

Judges 13:1-13:25

Samson was a Superman

He may not have been faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive. He wasn’t able to leap tall buildings with a single bound (They didn’t even have tall buildings) BUT I suspect he could have bent steel in his bare hands

Samson was from Smallville – Zorah

Just as an example of how powerful Samson was:

Samson killed a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6 RSV)

Samson killed 1000 men with a piece of bone - Jackie Chan style. (Judges 15:14-15 RSV)

Samson carried a 700 pound gate 40 miles from the city of Gaza to Hebron. (Judges 16:2-3 RSV)

The Philistines feared him, the Israelites adored him, and everybody knew WHO he was.

Samson was a Nazirite from birth

He was never to drink alcoholic beverage

He was never to cut his hair

He was never to touch a dead person

AND as long as he observed these regulations – he was HOLY unto the LORD

So what’s the problem with Samson?

Samson was religious but not holy

He was filled with the spirit of God and yet he missed the whole point of God.

Samson is a confusing character in our spiritual examination of the book of Judges. He is clearly a fine specimen of a man on a physical level – yet he was morally weak and spiritually bankrupt.

Yet God still used him to accomplish a work of salvation for his people. That’s hard to square isn’t it? Consider how Samson kept – yet violated each of the parts of the Nazirite vow!

Samson compartmentalized God and pleasure

And violated the first vow forbidding wine

The issue here is not drinking – it is the influence of the flesh vs. the influence of the spirit. You cannot be both spiritually minded and at the same time be pursuing personal pleasure.

One is God centered and the other is self centered.

The simple fact is that spiritual connection with the father is supremely satisfying while pleasure seeking is both powerfully addictive and starkly empty.

So what’s the problem? They do not live well together. You must choose one or the other. Selfless love and self satisfying love are mutually exclusive. One drives the other out of your life.

So what did Samson do? He did what many of us do. He compartmentalized his faith. Samson separated his life into neat little boxes that didn’t touch each other.

In one box was his work for God and his leadership of the Israelite tribes. He did this successfully for 40 years – yet all through this time he had another box sitting apart from the God box filled with the desires of his flesh.

Samson had a huge problem with desire for the ladies. Samson liked the ladies and he somehow disconnected his behavior with them and his vow to holy service to God.

By compartmentalizing his faith and his desire he was able to pursue both – for a time. Eventually it all caught up with him and the separate boxes were all poured into one huge messy pile of life.

Samson relied on the appearance of holiness

And violated the spirit of the second vow about not cutting his hair

The second part of the Nazirite vow was not about the hair – it was about being set apart and different than the rest of the world.

Now Samson didn’t cut his hair for the whole of his life up until the end of a 40 year rule as judge. That is a lot of hair!

He looked different than the rest of the world – but he wasn’t much different inside. He was driven by the same passions and given to the same character flaws and eventually his long hair couldn’t protect him from himself.

In the end Samson was an ordinary, regular, everyday man – not a superman – at least not spiritually.

He lived for personal revenge

And violated the last vow forbidding contact with dead bodies

Samson killed 30 men to pay off a bet because he was angry

When Samson’s fiancée was given to his best man after Samson had first left her at the altar and then changed his mind (sounds like Jerry Springer doesn’t it!) he tied the tails of 300 foxes together in pairs attached a fire brand to each pair and set them loose in the grain fields, the vineyards, and the olive groves. This is not as easy as it sounds by the way. You should not try this at home!

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