We pick up our study of Samson, the 12th judge of Israel during the period between the conquest of Canaan and the period of the Kings, as his leadership was coming to an end. One day he went to Gaza and while he was there a prostitute caught his eye and he spent time with her. The Philistines set up an ambush for him in the morning, thinking that Samson would stay with her the entire night. He didn’t, he chose to leave at midnight and totally foiled their plans. We can’t be sure why he left when he did, perhaps it was a prompting of the Holy Spirit, perhaps it was a realisation that he was doing wrong. He left, he was spared falling into their trap.
After nearly 20 years of leading Israel, he fell into a pattern of sin. God set him apart as a Nazirite, but he was no longer living as one who is set apart. Spending time with a prostitute is not holy living. This shows us how easily God’s people are taken in by the devil’s schemes. As Christians, we are warned that the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
The devil sets traps for people. He uses all kinds of different means, chiefly, he entices us with the things that catch our eye, appeal to our desires and appear to offer satisfaction, knowledge or joy. In Samson’s case, it was a beautiful prostitute. He deceived the Philistine people into believing their false god was more powerful than the God of Israel. We must keep in mind, that our battle is not against people, it is against the principalities and powers of this present darkness. Satan uses people, yes, but we battle against him, not them.
If Samson had remembered that he belonged to God, that true goodness, joy, delight, satisfaction, knowledge is found in him, he wouldn’t have fallen into temptation. He would have called upon the Holy Spirit to save him and lead him in paths of righteousness.
We do well, we live righteously when we set our hearts, our sights on Christ. When our sights waver, and temptations are before us, we must counter the temptation, not only with resistance, but also with a renewed attention to Christ. The hope we have in this life is Christ in us. Christ, present in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, will lead us in paths of righteousness. When faced with temptation, pray. Prayer sets your mind on Christ.
We do well when we set our hearts, our sights on Christ. When our sights waver, and temptations are before us, we must counter the temptation, not with resistance only, but also with a renewed attention to Christ. The hope we have in this life is Christ in us. Christ, present in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, will lead us in paths of righteousness. When faced with temptation, pray. Prayer sets your mind on Christ.
Samson continued to dabble in danger. He continued to follow after and fulfil his desires in unrighteous ways. He loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek named Delilah. She too was likely a prostitute, as determined by the context of the first part of the chapter, and also by the means the men approached her and offered her money to betray him.
In it, we have a similar episode as during the wedding feast when his wife sought the riddle’s answer from him. Samson’s weak spot was women. They were the means by which Satan corrupted him. Ask yourself, what’s my weak spot? What do I have to give over to Christ?
Samson, after maintaining the secret of his incredible strength his whole life, gives into temptation. Isn’t this typical of life, after a long wonderful witness to God and his people, temptation rises up, and without resistance, people fall into it.
There’s nothing like a streak of success to guarantee a failure. As a Canucks’ fan, I’m used to failure. They can start with a perfect record, keep winning games for weeks even, but eventually all winning streaks come to an end.
As finite human beings, we all are susceptible to sin and temptation to sin. But we have hope. says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” That same Spirit was available to Samson, he chose not to depend upon it. Maybe he thought the Spirit’s power was only for fighting the Philistines, and not for righteous living. Don’t we do the same?
Sometimes we become confident in ourselves, and not in Christ. And so we need to always remember. Jesus is the source of our salvation, he is also the source of our sanctification—our living holy lives, set apart for God and his purposes.
So, how do we deal with sin, with temptation, with desire? How do we live so as not to fall into the trap Samson fell into? From the way Jesus faced Satan, we answer temptation with Scripture. Satan is very good a presenting half-truths. In order to see his deceit, you don’t need to study him, you need to study scripture. Jesus knew God’s Word, and caught the devil’s lies every time.
James teaches in chapter 4:7-8a “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” There’s two parts, first is resisting. Most people try this and think its enough. It isn’t. This is what Samson did. He resisted Delilah three times, but gave in on the fourth. Why? He resisted, but he didn’t do the second, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you, be assured of that, but he will come back, or, the thoughts he encouraged you to think, will remain in your mind until you give into them. We have to do the second thing, draw near unto Christ.
Part of drawing near unto Christ involves taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ. Paul teaches us in “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
This is how God equips us for every good work. Whatever temptation we face, we can know that there’s nothing exceptional about it: that is, they are temptations that are common, other people struggle with the temptations you struggle with. You’re not the only one. Also, Christ is familiar with temptation, he himself was tempted, but he never sinned. So who would you want on your team in order to guarantee a win? Someone who has never ever failed, someone who never had his winning streak end! And that's who we have in Christ! Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and then offered that life as an atonement, a payment for sin, my sin, your sin. Trust in Christ’s forgiveness, trust also in his righteousness, which he freely gives you so that you can live for Him!
God has given us divine power—Samson’s divine power was demonstrated in his physical strength, in order to provoke the Philistines and begin Israel’s deliverance from them. The divine power we have in Christ, demolishes strongholds. We demolish every argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We take every thought, every temptation captive, making it obedient to Christ.
Remember the two parts: resist the devil and return to God. Resist and return, remember those things when temptation strikes, and you will live righteously! Ignore them to your peril. Ignore them and you will follow Samson. But as we’ll see next time, Samson came back to God. Amen.