Well this morning we are on the final sermon on Samson also we are finishing out time in Judges. I don’t know about you but I’ve learned a great deal during our time spent looking at the people of Israel and the various Judges that we’ve talked about during the last number of weeks.
I’ve enjoyed what we’ve learned together about the last Judge that we’re going to spend time on. Samson’s life so far has been quite an interesting one. We learn quite quickly that the life set out before him was divinely appointed. Bob shared 2 weeks ago that Samson’s parent’s had Jesus appear to them and tell them that this boy that they were having was going to be special.
We’ve learned that God has given him this special gift of strength and intelligence and so far we’ve seen that Samson has used this to defeat his enemies in spectacular ways. We’ve seen him defeat many people with the jaw bone of a donkey and then use his intelligence to stump people with a riddle that they just couldn’t get.
So this morning we’re going to look at the last part of Samson’s life, we’re going to focus our attention on Judges chapter 16 and probably the story that most of us are familiar with when we look at Samson’s life. And I think there are a few key things that we can take out of this part of his story that will help us as we navigate our own stories.
1. Sin Identification
1. Sin Identification
We’re first going to look today at Samson’s particular character flaw, one of the main sins that has latched onto him since very early in his story. Really we’ll see how he lets sin creep into his life and the work that it does.
We read right at the beginning of the chapter that he went to the town of Gaza, which we really don’t know why he goes there, but he spends the night with a prostitute. As usual he has a group of people after him who want to capture him. But Samson is able to escape in the very early morning and he rips off the town gate, including the posts, and carries it something like 37 miles to the top of a hill. Talk about a display of strength and power.
Then we get to Judges 16 and we’re going to read from verses 4-5, “4 Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
Samson was a ladies man. Throughout his story we see him continually chase after the love and affections of women. But what I think we really see is him seeking after the love and approval of something other than God. Which is sin.
I think it’s important for us to identify our sins. It’s easy to maybe say a blanket prayer, “Lord forgive me for my sins” and to just leave it at that. What I think God wants from us is to identify and to figure out what is pulling out attention away from Him. 1 John 1:8-10 says, “8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” This cleansing of sin that this verse is talking about I think calls for us to know what our sins are. And the I think if we spent even just a few minutes we can identify a number of things that we do that doesn’t please God. I think the blessing that we get from 1 John here is that we don’t need to let these sins define us. We don’t need to hide from them and to let them get us down. This verse is saying that we should bring them to God with the knowledge that he is faithful and just and will forgive us like the good father that he is.
2. Sin will sell us out.
2. Sin will sell us out.
We also find that Sin will simply just sell us out. As we continue reading through this passage we learn that Delilah is tasked by these rulers of the Philistines to tell them what makes Samson strong. So Delilah goes to Samson and asks him what makes him strong. This happens three times and each time Samson doesn’t give her a truthful answer.
I wonder if Samson knew what was going on. Because in the story each time after he tells Delilah what makes him strong she cries out that the Philistines are here to capture him and he either snaps the strings, ropes or undoes the braids in his hair and he’s ready for a fight. You’d think that he’d have maybe gotten the hint by now that something just isn’t right. But I find that sin sometimes blinds us from the truth. He might’ve been so blinded by his desire for love from Delilah that Samson missed what was clearly happening to him.
We then read in verse 15 to 19, “15 Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” 16 She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down,* and his strength left him.”
And right now we’re seeing him not only chase after the love and affection of Delilah but we’re seeing her sell him out. Samson’s enemies are willing to pay her the equivalent of 28 pounds of silver each to find out why he’s so powerful. Because they so desperately want to take that power from him.
You see what we will find in our lives is that when we chase after the sin that so easily entraps us that it will simply just sell us out. It’s going to pull us away from our source of strength and power. Our sin, what we chase after will pull us further away from God. Sin wants to pull us away from our power, from our strength that we get from being in relationship with God. And you know what honestly at times it’s going to be this nagging feeling that we face. Sin is going to be calling us desperately to give into it.
We read throughout the bible the effects of sin in our lives. Isaiah 59:2 tell us, “2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” And Romans 3:23, “23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” The harsh reality folks of sin is that it separates us from God.
John Piper says about sin, “Sin is what you do when you heart is not satisfied with God”. And this is what we find with Samson that he continues to chase after these desires and doesn’t seek to get his love from God. And as we find out in the story this has a detrimental effect on his life.
You know there was another person in the bible who was sold out by someone for a bunch of silver. And this person was sinless. Jesus after being sold out by Judas for 40 pieces of silver went through the agonizing death on a cross for the sins of the world, for us. That action of being sold out because of sin resulted in you and I, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, for our sins to be viewed through the perfect lens of Jesus.
AW Tozer says about Jesus, “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.” It’s Jesus we can rely on. That we can lean on. That we can trust.
3. Results of Sin
After this betrayal of trust with Delilah and this giving into her trap we find Samson finds himself in a position that I’m sure he didn’t want. In verse 20 to 22 we read this, “20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.”
Samson gave into Delilah and his power and might that he prized and relied on left him. You know why this is the case. Because there are consequences to our sins. We don’t always want to spend time thinking about that. I know I don’t.
But even as a kid I remember there being consequences for the things that I did. I learned quite early that if I didn’t do something that was in line with my mom’s rules that their would be consequences that I had to face. It was a simple as that.
In Samson’s case he faced some pretty dire consequences. After his hair was cut off the Lord left him, the power that he had left him, the consequence of his sin. And you know what the Philistines weren’t going to let him off lightly. They took out his eyes and then put him in chains and made him grind grain in prison, a job that was normally reserved for women. Which is quite the change of circumstances for him.
One of the things that I find interesting about this part of the story is that Samson didn’t realize that the Lord had left him. I think there might’ve been a thought in his mind that God wouldn’t let that happen. That God would always be with him no matter what he did. That he was invincible. But I think there are moments that folks face where God gives them over to the desires of their hearts. Which is a theme that we do see in the bible. That there are folks that are so ingrained in what THEY want that God gives them over to it.
That’s a tough pill to swallow isn’t it. Not something that we might even want to consider. But Romans 6:23 reminds us of the devastating effects of our sinful selves. It says, “23 For the wages of sin is death”. The result of sin is death and really separation from God. It puts us in a dire place.
4. Redemption, Restoration, Renewal
4. Redemption, Restoration, Renewal
But the last part of the verse in Romans 6:23 is the hope that we will end our time with this morning. The verse ends with “, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is redemption, restoration and renewal when we refocus our attention and our lives toward Jesus.
We find in the last part of Samson’s life, the Philistines rulers hosted this great celebrating that they were able to have victory over Samson. They were partying because they felt that their god had given them victory over Samson. Then they call out Samson as their party entertainment. We pick up the story in verse 26 it says, “26 Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” 27 Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them.
28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, 30 he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.”
A pretty gory end to the story but I think it’s a pretty incredible lesson for us. We find that at the lowest point in Samson’s life, were he was the ridicule of the Philistines, when he was blind and didn’t have the strength that he was accustomed to that he drew back to the only person who could help him.
And you know what Samson found. He found that when he called out to God that God answered. That God showed up. That God stepped into his story. You know what I think that God was still with Samson. God was waiting for Samson to recognize his need for him.
He was waiting for Samson to understand that he needed to rely on his Saviour.
Right now we have the benefit of this story and many others like it. To be reminded before we get to the point of being at our lowest that God wants us to reach out to him. To be reminded that the free gift of God is eternal life through his son Jesus. That all we need to do is to say yes to Jesus. To come to the point where we realize that Jesus is all that we need that he will step into our stories.
You might be saying well you’re a pastor and that’s what you’re supposed to say. But I’m being honest with every fibre of my being that John 3:16-17 is the truth that I’ve experienced in my life. It says that “16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus wants to save us. He wants us. Every day. He wants us to come to him. To say that we are nothing without him. He wants us to cling to his promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. That he will love us and that all he wants from us is to accept him, to say yes to Him.
Folk as we close that’s my reminder, that’s my encouragement, that’s my prayer for each of us. That we’d learn and take heed of stories like Samson’s. That we don’t want to get to the point in our lives where we feel like God has left us. Where we feel alone and abandoned. Where we seek so hard after the desires of our hearts that we feel so far away from God.
God through his Son Jesus wants us to daily remember to choose him. To say Jesus I need you to guide me. To guide my day, my life, my choices. And I promise you that the sense of peace and contentment in Jesus will be enough. It always is enough. And he does it because he loves us.
I’ll leave you with this quote from John Piper, “God in eternity looked upon me forseeing my faultness, my pride, my sin and said ‘I want that man (that woman) in my family, I will pay for him (for her) to be in my family with my son’s life. That’s love folks. That is mega off the charts love!!”