Samson – Superhero or Superzero? 3. How an Angry Man Gets Even
Judges 15 The exciting thing about Samson is he is a man who is easy to understand. One of the nice things about Samson is that he doesn’t belong with the special saints. He belongs here with the regular people. He’s a lot like us, and we’re a lot like him. He’s sort of a spiritual zigzag who’s up and down and all over the map. He’s totally unpredictable and that’s what makes the story so exciting. We’ve seen his beginning - how Samson had it all - no one ever had a more promising start in life. Then, right out of the gate, he begins to make mistakes. It’s one dumb move after another. Now we’re going to trace his life as he begins to fulfil God’s purposes. You won’t be surprised to know that Samson wasn’t trying to do God’s will; he was just trying to get even with the Philistines. Chasing Sardines 300 whales beached at the same time, in the same place. Sadly, before they could move them they all died. It was a great mystery until the marine biologists discovered that the whales had come to the beach and met their death because they were chasing sardines. Do you know how small sardines are and how big a whale is? But even a little sardine can bring a whale to its death if the whale keeps chasing it long enough. That’s a parable of the life of Samson. A man of enormous resources who wasted his life chasing small goals. He was a whale chasing sardines. 4 things make Samson’s life interesting: Love, Sex, Revenge and Violence. This is the story of how a man who started so well and went down so far, turned around and accomplished an amazing feat for God. A man who started high and went low, now goes high again. It’s one of the amazing paradoxes of his life. You Bet Your Life Samson the gambler has lost his bet and now has to pay up with 30 changes of clothing. Samson is upset, angry, embarrassed and humiliated. All thoughts of love and romance are far away. The Sad End of a Not-So-Great Marriage Samson now is angry – humiliated - by his bride and then by the 30 groomsmen. Now Samson is going to get even. Does 4 things - 1. He kills 30 Philistines v. 19 2. He leaves his bride standing at the altar v. 20 3. He decides that he wants his wife back 15: 1, 2. Samson still thinks he’s married. He thinks that he just walked out on her but he can come back when he wants to. Sounds like a man, doesn’t it? Today we bring chocolates or perfume or maybe a new car—it just depends on how far in the hole we think we are. Samson brings a young goat - sure to win her heart over. When he arrives - says to her father, “I’m going to go visit my wife’s room.” We all know what Samson is thinking. He’s not going to have a prayer meeting with her. He wants to get up close and personal. Now Samson is upset - his wife is gone and her father has insulted him. 15: 3 - now he’s going to get serious. 4. He fired up the foxes 15: 4, 5 Bizarre sight - catch the jackals, tie them together, light the torches, let them go. The foxes are scared to death. They go north, south, east and west and Samson’s laughing hysterically. This is the greatest thing he’s done yet. The Philistines only had 3 cash crops - wheat, olives and grapes. Samson single-handedly destroys the economic base of the whole nation. If You Play With Fire … v. 6 These are not very nice people. The Cycle of Revenge Samson is not finished yet - extremely angry man. Do you see the cycle of revenge? The Philistines do something and then Samson does something. Then they do something and Samson does something back to them. Each time it’s getting more and more serious, and more and more brutal, and more and more bloodthirsty. When you try to seek revenge in your life - you set in motion an unending cycle of violence. The only way to get off the cycle of violence is to not seek revenge in the first place. As long as you want to get even, you’re going to go down. v. 7, 8 - When he kills them, he rips them apart - OT version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Samson was a guy you didn’t want to get mad at you because he could lose control real fast and just go way over the line and it would be too late. The Caveman Why hide in a cave? Because he is scared of the Philistines. You say, “I thought it would be the other way around.” That’s the strange thing about Samson. Even though he is a violent killer in his heart, he is scared to death of the Philistines. Scared of what they are going to do to him because of what he has done to them. I think Samson began to re-evaluate the course of his life. As soon as he comes out of the cave of Etam his life begins to change. He has gone from the top down. He’s made an unending series of stupid decisions. Now he has become nothing more than a violent, bloodthirsty terrorist kind of killer. He’s at the bottom now. When he comes out of the cave, he begins to act like a different man. v. 9 – 11 - What is happening to the men of Judah? They were called to be the people of God. They were called to drive the pagan nations out. They were called to stand for righteousness and now they’re saying, “O Samson, don’t you know the Philistines are over us? They have iron and we’ve got bronze. They’ll kill us, Samson. Are you crazy? What are you doing?” Instead of coming to Samson and saying, “Let’s go get them.” They’re saying to Samson, “Don’t you know, it’s supposed to be this way.” When God’s People Sell Out 3 simple words tell us the story. 1. Intimidation v. 10 The Israelites were scared to death of the Philistines. They were so frightened that they approached Samson asking him to surrender. 2. Accommodation v. 11 They were too accustomed to the status quo. They said, “We like having the pagans rule over us. We’re scared of what they’ll do if you upset the apple cart.” 3. Cooperation v. 12 Inevitable result of intimidation and accommodation. We who are supposed to be your friends have come to hand you over to the Philistines. Israel, whose side are you on? Are you on the side of God or are you on the side of the devil? The people of God are now doing the pagan’s dirty work for them. This is a tragic picture of the spiritual decline of the whole nation. They didn’t want to be set free because they were too scared to fight. They were scared of the unbelievers, intimidated by what the unbelievers might do to them. So they just said, “It’s supposed to be this way, Samson. It isn’t good but it’s supposed to be this way. Don’t rock the boat.” The Pinnacle of Samson’s Faith (v. 13 – 17) He’s on the bottom but now he’s starting to rise to the top. Samson is rising to the highest point he’s ever going to reach in his whole life. (READ) Ramath Lehi means Jawbone Hill. Just a reminder of the great victory he had won. The Greatest Prayer Samson Ever Prayed v. 18 - 20 Even though many years have passed, there was still water coming out of that spring. The flow of water was a present reminder of God’s past provision for his people. Samson’s great prayer comes after his greatest victory. His prayer is immediately answered and it reveals that beneath the carnality, the worldliness and all that compromise that there was a bedrock of faith in Samson’s life. That’s unbelievable. After all that carnage, killing, lust and anger, God says Samson is a man of faith. God let this spring keep on flowing as a monument to Samson’s faith and as a rebuke to the cowardly men of Judah. It was a perpetual reminder that when things were at their worst, there was one man who was willing to stand up and fight. This is one of the wonderful stories of the OT. What a sinner Samson is. When he sins, he really sins. He went down, down, down and then he begins to come up and his faith at the end is clear. In the end, Samson wins a great victory for God. Three Abiding Principles 1. Whenever we come a moment of spiritual victory don’t be surprised when other people do not understand us. His people were ready to give Samson up. They handed him over to the enemy because they didn’t understand that Samson, at this point, is God’s freedom fighter. It’s the one point where Samson’s faith is really shining. The men of Judah just look like a bunch of cowards, and that’s what they really are. We should not be surprised that when we reach the moment of spiritual insight, some of the people who are closest to us will not understand. A husband won’t understand, a wife won’t understand, your brothers and sisters won’t appreciate the fact that you have discovered Jesus Christ. When we decide to go all out for Jesus, some people who ought to understand won’t understand at all and some of them will actively oppose what we are doing. It happened to Samson. It will happen to you and me, too. 2. Whenever the Spirit of God starts to work, incredible victories can be won by most unlikely instruments. Suppose you were going to fight the Philistines, what would you take? I’d take a couple of AK47s and a bag full of grenades. I wouldn’t go out with the jawbone of a donkey. When Samson defeated 1000 Philistines, he only had 2 things: the jawbone of a donkey and he had the Spirit of God. Little is much when God is in it. Anybody here feel you’re about as useless as the jawbone of a donkey? Let me tell you - when the Spirit of God begins to move, with the jawbone of a donkey a whole army is put to flight. When the Spirit of God begins to move, incredible victories are won by most unlikely instruments. 3. When we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God the life of Jesus is reproduced in us. Old commentators find in Samson a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. A type is an OT picture of a NT truth. Do you realize how incredible that sounds? But it’s true. Samson and Jesus - Samson was rejected by his countrymen. Jesus was rejected by his countrymen. Samson was arrested by his own people. Jesus was arrested by his own people. Samson was handed over to certain death. Jesus was handed over to die. Samson didn’t resist his own people when they betrayed him. Jesus said not a word to those who attacked him. Samson’s hands were bound. Jesus’ hands were bound as he went off to trial. Samson broke the cords which bound him. Jesus in his resurrection broke the cords of death. Samson in his mighty victory put the army of the Philistines to flight. Jesus in his victorious resurrection from the dead defeated Satan and the demons and all the powers of the devil. Samson in his victory delivered his people. Jesus in his victory delivered his people. Do you want to know why this picture of Christ is in the Bible? Because Samson is the last man on earth that you would ever think would be like Jesus. Couldn’t think of a more unlikely person. It’s there to encourage people like us - have a lot of Samson in us - we can be like the Lord Jesus. When we yield our life to the Spirit of God the life of Jesus is reproduced in us. This is Samson’s finest moment, his greatest victory, his noblest prayer, and his most holy character. It’s Samson’s greatest moment—the pinnacle of his faith—and it comes at the end of a whole series of incredibly stupid decisions. He went to the wrong place. He looked for the wrong thing. He married the wrong girl. He made a bad bet. He gave in to revenge, and in uncontrollable anger he went down, down, down. At this hopeless moment Samson achieved greatness. His past didn’t matter. That’s the grace of God. Some of you are labouring under the burden of a long string of bad decisions, stupid moves, wrong choices, blind alleys, dead end streets, broken relationships and broken promises. Every time you think about doing something great for God a voice inside whispers, “You’re dirty. You’re unclean. You’re no good. You’re a fake, a fraud, and a hypocrite.” I’ve got good news for you. I don’t care if you’ve been like Samson, or worse. Your past doesn’t matter. If you will come to Jesus Christ you will find in one shining moment that you are forgiven. Your past does not have to hold you back unless you let it. You need to take all that ugliness and place it at the foot of the cross. You need to leave it there and never go back for it again. It is my privilege to introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross. His broken body and his shed blood have opened the way into heaven. Do you want a new life? You can get one. Do you need a new start? You can have one. Do you need to be forgiven? You can be forgiven right now. Do you need a new beginning? Now is the time, this is the place. Jesus Christ has made it possible. Good News, Samson! Good News! Good News to all of Samson’s 2010 sons and daughters. Your best days may be just ahead of you!