Judges 13-16 when your ability becomes a liability

 

One of the biggest questions people have in this world is why do we exist? Evolution has no answer to this question and it leaves people hopeless.  What am I supposed to do with my life? means nothing when you do not believe that there is a purpose for who you are and what you do. Samson was another one of the Judges that God used to bring relief and freedom to His people. God designed him for a purpose but as we will see he used that purpose to fulfill his own selfish desires more so than using his abilities for the Glory of God.

Judges 13:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

The people kept turning from God, God would allow them to be oppressed,  they would cry out to God and He would send a deliverer. The leaders of Israel were satisfied to keep their positions and not rock the boat. As long as the Philistines allowed them to be in leadership roles and if they did not bother them too much, then they were content with the way things were.  No one would stand up to the Philistines and not one time will you find Samson fighting with others by his side.

 Judges 13:2-14

1)   Your Abilities are gifts from God

Manoah had a wife who was barren but an angel of the Lord showed up and told her she was going to have a baby

Judges 13:3-5 And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

Manoah was not with his wife so he pleaded with God to send back the angel to explain again how they should raise the child. God is always raising a leader and it is our job as parents to find out how God would have us raise them. This is a real testimony to the seriousness of parenting that Samson’s parents took knowing that this child was a gift of God that He was entrusting them to raise. They were willing to give up some of their freedoms to raise the child the way God desired.

When things seem to be getting worse we do not need to be gloom and doom but look for what God is going to do next.

He was to be a Nazarite which means consecrated or Separated.  In Numbers 6:1-21 it talks about the Nazarite vow and you are to abstain from products of the vine, Hair left uncut during the period of the vow; no contact with a dead body.   The difference with Samson was that his vow was not voluntarily and he was to keep these vows his whole life.

Judges 13: 24-25 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Gods spirit was pushing Samson toward the work he was supposed to do. The Holy Spirit is mentioned more times with Samson than all the other Judges combined.  Is that not what we all want for our children? Do we want the Spirit of God to start directing them toward the work He has designed them to fulfill?

2)   Your ability grows as you use it.

Judges 14

In this chapter we see Samson finds a woman who was a Philistine. He went and told his parents to go and get her but they tried to talk him out of it and find someone from his own people.  The Bible gives us the reason God did this and it  was for Samson to have an opportunity to destroy the Philistines. (14:4)

Judges 14:5-7 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes.

At some point Samson must have taken a detour and went into a vineyard and there was attacked by a Lion. Samson ripped apart the lion with his bare hands. (Some believe by taking the back legs and literally ripping the animal in half) Samson did not have a weapon because as we find out when King Saul comes on the scene the Philistines had removed all blacksmiths from the area. (1 Samuel 13:19-22) One way to oppress a people is to take all of their weapons away. This is why God made Samson with such incredible strength.

Later Samson would go home to find that the carcass of the Lion had been devoured by scavengers but now bees had formed a hive and the carcass was full of honey. He took some of the honey home to his parents not telling them it came out of a dead carcass which he was forbidden to touch.

The Wedding Celebration

When he went back for the wedding celebration, which lasted 7 days, he waged a bet with the 30 men they put with him that they could not guess his riddle.This was a common thing in those times and the men probably thought 30 men would be able to figure out any riddle he could give them.

Judges 14:14 And he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.”

The bet they made was so large that when the men could not figure it out they threatened his fiancé and family that they were going to burn them if she did not find out the meaning of the riddle. Samson fiancé begged him to share with her the meaning of the riddle and he gave into his fiancé and she told the wedding party. He lost the bet and knew that he was tricked. To pay back the bet Samson went and go what he promised them if they guessed the riddle.

Judges 4: 19-20 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

For a woman to be left at the altar was a disgrace and a custom was the best man was to step in and fill the role as husband. This would be a problem for Samson as we see in the next chapter.

Judges 15

So Samson goes back to get his wife because the marriage was not made final and he brought a gift which was the custom only to find out that his wife was given away. There was no reversing what had been done and Samson felt betrayed again.

Judges 15: 4-6 So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.

The lose of the large food supply and the fact that the fire spread to the olive orchard made this event devastating to the Philistines.  So the woman and her father were killed which was the very thing she was trying to avoid when they were guessing the riddle.

In anger the Philistines came after Samson into Judah.  The Israelites were so passive at this point that they went and asked why they had come and they said only to get Samson. So 3000 of Samson’s own people went to get him instead of standing with Sampson against 1000 Philistines.

Judges 15:11- 16 Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” 12 And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” 13 They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 16 And Samson said,“With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down a thousand men.”

 Samson forgot where he got his strength from and for what purpose. because as soon as he was done he was overwhelmed with thirst to the point that he felt that he was going to die.   He cried out to God and God spared him by making a spring come up for him to drink and so he could regain his strength.

3)   Your Ability is not to be used for selfish gain.

Judges 16

When most people think of Samson this is mostly what they think of. 20 years have gone by since chapter 15 and we do not know much other than he must have continued to keep the philistines beaten back from the Israelites. They may have stopped their oppression simply because he was around or because there were confrontations that were not recorded in the Bible.

Samson was never worried where he went because with his strength he could beat up any amount of men he faced. What Samson did not realize is that the sin in his life that will eventually destroy him.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Those who never see themselves messing up their lives are the ones who seem to mess their lives up the worst. When you think the sin in your life is not a big deal you are in trouble of that very sin destroying you.

Now we see Samson breaking his Nazarite vow by not keep himself pure.

City Gates

He goes into Gaza and they close up the city and shut the gates because they thought they would grab him in the daylight the next day.  So Samson gets up and rips the City Gates and the frames off, carries them uphill and plants them on top of the hill. He walked about 30 miles and put them on a hill top where no one was and so everyone could see them. City gates are a very important part of the cities protection and the way they were made would have made them extremely heavy and extremely difficult to replace quickly.

Samson became careless with his life because he became arrogant about the sins in which he was committing.

4)   Your ability can be destroyed by sin

Delilah

Having already broke his Nazarite vow he now sees Delilah and goes to her. She is used by the Philistines to try and find out his strength so they can subdue him.  His arrogance grows and he believes there is nothing that can destroy him.  Lack of Character will always destroy ones talent and this is evident by the people we have seen have their lives destroyed and talent wasted by the poor decisions they make.

Three times he tells her something that was not true and three times they try and subdue him. Seven Fresh Bow Strings he tells her the first time. New Ropes he tells her the second time.  Fasten my hair with a pin he tells her the third time and with each time his arrogance grows. Instead of seeing this as a warning to leave he continues to stay to the point that he reveals the secret of his strength. Cutting his hair was the only Nazarite vow he did not break so far in his life.

Judges 16:18-20When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

Sin will always make you feel safe in its arms not knowing it is really stealing your strength and eventually your life.  Many addicts never thought they would be an addict and see their lives destroyed because the lure of sin seemed to not have any consequences to it.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

There are always consequences to the sin we commit in our lives as Christians. The first one is to grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30) which means it literally cries inside of you. The second consequence as a Christ is that you  quench the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 5:19) which robs the power from your life.

In the Old Testament the Spirit would come and go and Samson in his arrogance, thought his strength was his. We get our strength from the Holy Spirit and many times like Samson we think it is because of our abilities and our strengths that we are successful.

When they realized he told the truth they were able to subdue him and they poked Samsons eyes out with a hot iron. Then to humiliate the one who had humiliated them for so many years, they  made him do a meaningless job which was to push the grind wheel. No doubt he reflected on where he went wrong and the waist he had made of his own life and how if he would have followed God he would not be in this position.

The Party

Samson was such a prize to the Philistines that one day they had a party to honor their god Dagon. In the midst of the party someone had the idea that they should bring Samson out so they could mock them. He was led out by a servant which shows you how feeble he had become since he could not be restrained by a thousand men earlier in his life.

Samson asked God for one more chance and so Samson grabbed and pushed two pillars which where the main foundations for the entire structure, and with the Lords Strength, he killed more in that day than all the other times he killed Philistines.  He not only killed more, he killed high ranking officials who were the rulers of the Philistine cities. Saul and eventually King David would come and finish the work of the Philistines

Self-centered, Self-reliant, self-indulgent were Samson’s down fall. Despite all of his shortcomings and failure God still used Samson. God gave Samson one more chance and He will give you another chance if you will call out to Him. Yes it will never be like it was before but God can use you no matter how much of a mess you have made of your life.

Samson, despite all of his shortcomings,  is mentioned in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11. He is listed as one of the greats even though he messed up his life.

God can take anyone and use them because God is a God of restoration and renewal but you have to call out to Him and ask for forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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