Church Camp 2019
3. Samson: Dealing With Fatal Flaws
Judges 13 - 16
Samson’s name means sunny but he ends up in total darkness. We won’t have time to hit all the highlights, or lowlights, of Samson’s life, but we will touch on some significant details. Samson’s feats are legendary but it’s his flaws that prove fatal. His 2 greatest weaknesses were romance and revenge. In fact, his weakness for women often led him on the road to revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly. He was strong on the outside, but had no control on the inside. He was a he-man with a she-problem because he was led by his lust, not by the Lord. He was empowered by the Spirt but enslaved by his flesh. The story of Samson reminds us that sin is deceptive and deadly. The truth of the matter is that there’s a little bit of Samson in all of us, and a whole lot of Samson in most of us.
13: 5 - key phrase - he never did any delivering, because he never delivered himself. Since he didn’t deal with his fatal flaws, he only “began” to deliver Israel.
13: 24, 25 – He was set apart and he was stirred by the Spirit of God. Samson had everything he needed to accomplish his task. He was both energized and equipped. Yet he let it all slip away.
3 basic problems - • Lust – I want it • Entitlement – I deserve it • Pride – I can handle it.
7 stupid steps that Samson took - incredibly strong man with little self-control.
1. He Went to the Wrong Place 14: 1a
Timnah was in Philistine territory, about 7kms down a ridge from Samson’s village of Zorah. But this also tells us about the decline in Samson’s spiritual life. In his first public act, he leaves the land of Israel for the land of the Philistines. To put it bluntly, Samson left God’s people and headed south spiritually.
2. He was Looking for the Wrong Thing 14: 1b
After his parents try to warn him about checking out the Philistine fillies, Samson boldly declares, “Now get her for me as my wife.”
3. He Rejected Godly Counsel 14: 3
The downward spiral continues but now takes a threatening turn when he dismisses the warning from his parents. Samson is also rejecting what God said about marrying an unbeliever.
4. He Compromised His Commitment 14: 5
Samson then goes into a vineyard (which was forbidden by his vows) and encounters a young lion. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he tears the lion apart with his bare hands.
5. He Continued a Wrong Relationship 14: 7
Evidently he had not met her before now. But that doesn’t matter because Samson is hormone-driven, not Holy Spirit-driven. “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?” He wants what he wants when he wants it no matter what he has to do to get it.
Sadly, Samson is a picture of a believer who is beginning to bail on his commitment. If you simply look at his long hair he appears to be dedicated to God, but his lifestyle tells another story. On the outside he looks like a man who is committed to the Lord, but on the inside he’s a man controlled by his lusts.
6. He Ignored His Weaknesses 14: 14
Samson tells a riddle to the 30 Philistine groomsmen. If they solved it in 7 days, he would give them some new clothes. By the 4th day the groomsmen were getting nervous so they approached Samson’s bride and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse – v. 15. You wouldn’t want these guys in your wedding party.
Samson could be seduced because he was all hormones and no holiness. Samson’s weakness was apparent to everyone but him. In the end it would prove his undoing. He eventually reveals the riddle’s answer on the 7th night. Remember this: It’s our refusal to deal with our weaknesses that most often gets us in trouble. “You are only as strong as you are honest.”
7. He’d Rather take Revenge than Repent
The groomsmen now know the secret of the riddle and come to Samson at the last moment with the answer. Since Samson has lost the bet, he has to find some Armani suits. In order to pay off his debt, Samson kills 30 Philistines but he had to touch their dead bodies in order to get their clothes—another clear violation of the Nazirite vow.
Samson is angry because he has been humiliated. His feelings of romance are now replaced with rage and revenge. Samson leaves his bride standing at the altar and her father (understandably embarrassed) gives her in marriage to the best man.
When we come to chapter 15, we see that Samson decides that he wants his wife back. When he arrives, her father won’t let him see her because she’s now married to someone else. Samson then caught 300 foxes and tied them tail-to-tail in pairs and fastened a torch to them and let them loose in the fields of the Philistines.
The Philistines only had 3 cash crops – wheat, olives, and grapes. Samson single-handedly destroys the economic base of the entire nation with the flaming foxes.
Notice that Samson doesn’t mention the Lord’s glory at all; he’s only concerned about Himself. That’s the problem with revenge – it has nothing to do with the Lord, it’s all about us. Because we’re hurt, we want to hurt others. Listen. You never get even when you seek revenge because you will always lose.
When you try to seek revenge for wrongs done to you, you set in motion an unending cycle of violence. The only way to get off the treadmill of terror is to not seek revenge but instead to offer forgiveness.
Later, his own people turn him over to the Philistines and he found “a fresh jawbone of a donkey . . .” and with it he killed 1000 men.
Because he was very thirsty, and was out of Energade, he cried out to the Lord – 15: 18 - greatest prayer Samson ever prayed. He’s saying, “Lord I know that this victory did not come by my power.” It’s the one time he acknowledged God’s presence in his life.
If Samson’s story ended here, it would be a tale of triumph. Samson led Israel to prosperity and peace for 20 years. He thought his fatal flaws of romance and revenge were dealt with. But his lust had not died; it had just been buried.
Chapter 16 opens with an ominous sign – v.1. 20 years of victory… in 1 night he fell. Samson’s mid-life crisis reminds us that the desire to sin never dies of old age - our weaknesses never go away.
Samson was really starting to slide south now. His problems of lust and revenge never really went away. Now, he’s feeling arrogant and invincible. This is a recipe for trouble. He has enraged the Philistines by ripping off their city gate and he’s inflamed his old passion for illicit sex.
4 mistakes from Samson’s destructive relationship with Delilah
1. He got involved with another wrong relationship
This is the 3rd woman he got in trouble with and they were all Philistines.
2. He toyed with temptation
Delilah agrees to trick him into revealing the secret to his strength. Samson toys with her 3 times, but each time he gets closer to telling her the truth. Samson is feeling so self-confident and so cocky. He thinks he’s invincible but now he’s letting her touch his hair. She doesn’t know the secret yet, but he is letting her get closer and closer. He’s toying with temptation and playing with sin.
Listen. You can’t control your sin on your own because except for the grace of God, compromise will catch up with you and sin will control you.
3. He reveals his secret 16: 15, 16
“If you really loved me, you’d tell me.” She begged, pleaded, whined and cried day after day, all day long until he told her. This is a picture of sin – it is relentless and persuasive. That’s why we must not play around with it.
The rulers of the Philistines come with the silver shekels in their hands, and she puts him to sleep on her lap. He doesn’t have a clue what is about to happen.
4. He didn’t realize what he had done until it was too late
As soon as he’s asleep, she calls a man to hack off his hair – 16:19. The last phrase of v. 20 is one of the saddest statements in the whole OT. He didn’t realize what had happened. Too many Christians drift away from God through stupidity and folly, and they don’t realize what they’ve done until they’ve done it. They don’t appreciate what they had until it’s gone.
The Philistines have been waiting for 20 years to get their revenge.
v. 21 - The first time Samson came to Gaza it was to find pleasure and now he returns to Gaza as a prisoner!
v. 25 - They mock him and laugh at him because they believe Dagon has defeated Yahweh. Sin blinds us, then it binds us and then it slowly grinds away at us. Sunny Samson was now living in a dark dungeon of his own depravity, eclipsed by the enemy he was supposed to conquer.
Help us get off the road to ruin and head down the road to recovery.
1. Acknowledge your fatal flaws
What’s your spiritual soft spot? What area of your life has the most potential to ruin you? Is it lust? Coveting? Revenge? Alcohol? Drugs? Another addiction? An unforgiving spirit? Anger? Lying? Psalm 38: 18 “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.”
2. Admit you need help
Until you admit that you are vulnerable, you will never experience victory. Psalm 34: 17 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” Some of us may think we no longer have a problem simply because we’ve swept it under the rug. Unless you admit your need for help, your flaws will just come back to haunt you again and again.
3. Avoid temptation
Don’t put yourself in situations where you know you’re vulnerable. If you have a problem with drinking, don’t go to bars. If you have a wandering eye, don’t flirt with anyone. Don’t go to casinos if you’re given to gambling. If you’re tempted by honey, stay away from bee hives! Genesis 4: 7 “…Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
4. Ask for help
He who thinks he needs nothing or no one, needs more than he can imagine. First of all, ask for God’s assistance - 16: 28. God honoured this request by using Samson to wipe out thousands of Philistines in his death. Second, ask for the help of others. Sadly, when you look at Samson’s life, everything he did, he did by himself. Don’t make the same mistake.
5. Assimilate God’s truth into your life
Gather with God’s people. Grow by reading God’s Word and putting it into practice. Psalm 119: 11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” It’s absolutely imperative that we stay connected with God and with others. Left to ourselves, it’s just a short step to becoming a Samson.
We see God’s grace - 16: 21 - This was symbolic of the restoration of his relationship with God. - Restoration is possible, but it is gradual - Forgiveness comes instantly, but restoration can take some time - Forgiveness does not cancel out consequences of sin – 16: 30.
This passage is a living lesson in the grace of God. How a man who was beaten and blinded, humiliated by his own repeated stupidity, reached the bottom, turned around and discovered that God was waiting for him all the time. There’s nothing heroic about Samson. All he did was turn around and find God. God is the hero.
Maybe you’ve gone pretty far down the road of romance or revenge and you’re grinding under a load of guilt. Listen. Restoration of a relationship with God does not depend upon your performance. Samson came back to God before he pushed those pillars down. He came back to God while he was still shackled. He came back to God while he was still blind. He turned back to God and God took him. We know that because his name appears in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Failure does not have to be final.
I want to speak to men right now. This includes young men, middle-aged and older men. We need guys who will stand in the gap. We need men who will not just meander through life but who will live on mission. Guys who will commit to be led not by lust but by the Lord, guys who will not be controlled by revenge but by the redeemer, guys who will allow the Lord to chip away at those things that imprison us.
Satan loves to make strong men weak and God loves to make weak men strong. Any weak men here today who want to be made strong? If you want to be that man, would you stand right now?