Welcome to Christ’s Community Church. I am excited about the next four weeks, because we’re beginning a new series entitled “Samson” this morning. I am so excited, because within you, if you’re a follower of Christ, there’s the potential for a supernatural greatness; and I believe that God is raising up some spiritual giants, those in this church who will impart spiritual truth to the next generation. I’m believing that what began last weekend was the stirring of the Church and many of you have a new found passion. And so today as we launch into this new series, we’re going to study the life of Samson, and as we begin I want to give you a brief summary of Judges Chapter 13 to lay the foundation of who Samson was and then we’re going to look at some attitudes that make strong men weak and then what we can do about it.
Now when we talk about Samson many of us know that he was a very powerful man, but on the other hand he was also very well known for his weaknesses; and so in that sense, I believe that most of us can relate to Samson, because he had so much potential and yet time after time he made bad decisions. Like us, God had given him the potential for greatness and yet time after time he made poor decisions. For that matter, Craig Groeschel describes Samson this way, “Samson was an incredibly strong man with a dangerously weak will.”
As we skim through the 13th chapter of Judges, the people of God had been unfaithful to God and once again found themselves oppressed by a foreign enemy. For years God promised that he would raise up a man to deliver them from this bondage; and one day an angel of the Lord appeared to a couple who’d been unable to conceive and the Lord promised that they would have a son. The Lord also gave specific instructions saying that the child to be born was to be a Nazirite. The word Nazirite means “to separate” and in Numbers 6:1-8, the Lord gave three specific restrictions for those who took this vow of separation. There would be no drinking of alcohol, no cutting of the hair, and no touching of a dead body. Three things, three outward expressions that would symbolize a person’s commitment to living a holy life. But as we will see, the fact that Samson was to be separated from birth had little effect on how he actually lived his life.
Even though Samson was set apart for God’s use, even with all his God-given potential, his weak will got him into trouble time and time again. Samson violated each one of these three restrictions and throughout his life we find him to be a man driven by stubbornness, irrationality, and violence. Today, we’re going to identify three attitudes that make the strong weak as we see Samson betray God, we’re going to see his anger rage out of control, and we’re going to see him fall victim to pursuing his lusts for a Philistine woman. It’s Samson’s blatant disregard for the commands of God that would make his life a legendary tragedy. But the bottom line is that he is just like us. He had so much potential, but he threw it away one poor decision after another.
Now I don’t know exactly what that looks like for you, but we see it all the time. So many of you are aggressive at work, you’re leaders, you take charge and conquer, but when you come home you’re done. You’re committed in one place and uncommitted in another. You’re committed to your finances, to your career, and to your hobbies. You’ll spend hours researching what’s the best kind of TV to buy or the most effective fertilizer for your lawn and yet you won’t spend 15 minutes in God’s word to build yourself up spiritually. And then we wonder why even though we do truly love God, it’s like we’re a time bomb ticking away, self-destructing with every bad decision that we make. So why is it, with all the potential that we have, that we find our lives falling apart again and again? Well as we look at Samson’s life there are three specific attitudes that make those who are outwardly strong very weak.
Now this could be that promotion, that sexual thrill, maybe another toy, but whatever it is for you, that desire, that lust, will cause us to irrationally pursue whatever it is that we want with reckless abandon. We’ll see this in the life of Samson as we begin reading in Judges 14:1-3, “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."
You see, Samson saw this woman and in that moment he forgets everything else. Though his parents tried to dissuade him from the marriage he insists saying, “I want it.” And he doesn’t care what God says, he doesn’t care what his dad says, he doesn’t care what his mom says, he doesn’t even care if it’s right or wrong, he’s an adult, he’s got his desires, and he wants it; period. And so Samson persisted until he got his way.
Judges 14:5a tells us, “Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother...“ He left his friends, his hometown, and together with his father and mother, they traveled to the Philistines, to the enemies of God, to see this woman, and to arrange a marriage that was explicitly forbidden by God. You see, God had said plainly in Deuteronomy 7:3, “Don’t intermarry with them. Don’t give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” And yet here we see that lust can overpower the strong and make even the strongest man weak.
Now I wonder, how many times you’ve seen something and not only do you want it, but you believe that you deserve it? You know, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it? Or maybe you’ve put up with him or her and so you deserve it? Samson thought he deserved it. He’s going along and it tells us in Judges 14:5b-9, “As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9 which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass.”
Now we don’t know exactly how much time had passed in these five verses, but what we do know is that Samson was detoured from God’s will and purpose when he was confronted by this lion. Now you know that any other time the results would’ve been less than favorable for the man, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson in power. God protected him and he tore that lion apart with his bare hands. I mean this guy’s tough. You know, the Bible tells us that David killed a lion too, but he used a slingshot; here Samson tore this lion with sharp teeth and sharp claws apart with his bare hands. That’s in a category by itself.
The Bible says, sometime later, when Samson passed that way again, he saw the carcass and verse eight tells us “he turned aside.” Now, isn’t that when we get in trouble? You know, when you’re going to where you’re supposed to be going and you turn aside. You see, Samson turned aside, he ignored his Nazirite vow, he approached the dead body, and found that bees had nested there and it was full of honey. So Samson said, “I killed it and I deserve it.” He ignored God’s command and reaching into the dead carcass he scooped out some honey which he not only ate, but he also shared it with his parents. Now that’s not only disgusting, but he’d also taken a vow. He wasn’t supposed to touch dead things and yet what did he do? He disobeyed the very God that gave him the power to rip the lion apart. And you’ve got to wonder how could he be so stupid? How could he be stupid enough to betray God for a handful of honey? But the bottom line is that we do it all the time. We betray our God who’s blessed us in countless ways for stupid sinful things that not only hurt us, but also hurt those around us. So number one, Samson says, “I want it”. Number two, Samson says, “I deserve it.” And then there’s a third attitude that makes the strong weak and that’s pride.
We think this all the time don’t we? Especially us guys. “I'm strong, I’m smart, and I’m clever, I don’t need directions; I can handle it!” But look at Samson, he’d made three vows to God, remember? Number one, don’t cut your hair. Number two, don’t touch dead things. And number three, don’t drink alcoholic drinks. And so what does he do? He’s strong, he thinks he can handle it, the wedding preparations are complete, and he goes back to his fiancée’s hometown for the feast. Verse 10 tells us, “Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms.” So they’re preparing for a wedding and the Hebrew word that's translated “feast” literally means a party, it’s an occasion for drinking. So Samson’s about to get married, he calls his buddies and throws a party, because he can handle it right? He can handle it. And that’s what happens to us over and over again. We think we’re strong, we want it, we deserve it, and we can handle it.
Now today, I don’t know what that might be for you, but you’ve got great potential and yet how many times have you thought, “I want it, I deserve it, and I can handle it.” Maybe it was a drink, a smoke, or whatever, and before long that substance has handled you, it’s controlled you. And no doubt all of us know someone who had such great potential, someone who says, "I want the car, I want the house, I want that toy! I deserve it! I can handle the payments!" And next thing you know they’re drowning in debt and there’s no way out.
Samson says here, "I want it, I deserve it, I can handle it!" but if we fast forward to the end of his life we find a man, maybe the strongest man who’s ever lived, a man who from birth had God’s hand upon him, God’s Spirit strengthening him, and yet we’re going to see this man with his eyes gouged out, his prized hair, cut, bound in chains in a coliseum as the laughingstock of the Philistines. And that’s what lust, entitlement, and pride can do to those who think they are strong; even to the person who’s been called and set apart to do great things for God.
Now you may not get your eyes gouged out like Samson, but it could be worse than that. You might look back at a failed marriage and realize that it was your fault and you’re filled with regret. You might have children who don’t respect you, who don’t want to see you, and you’ll have to live with that because of decisions you’ve made. Or maybe, there may be a time when your private life becomes public and you’re humiliated by your own actions. But it doesn’t have to go down that way, because as a follower of Christ there’s spiritual greatness within you, and with God’s power, no matter what you’ve been through, you can be transformed and make a difference in the world. You can be a man or woman of great courage and spiritual strength.
You see, no matter what’s happened or what you’ve experienced, you can be victorious if you’ll stop trying to be strong in your own strength. You see our spiritual enemy, loves to make the strong weak, and Satan wants nothing more than to take you out, to shame you, and a cause you to waste your God-given potential on stupid things. For Samson it was an unbelieving woman, a handful of honey, and a party. What is that thing, that temptation that the enemy is trying to destroy you with?
Listen to this, our God specializes in making the weak strong. Isn’t that awesome! The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” And today he wants to redeem you, to lift you up, and use you for His glory. If you’ll come to him saying, “I’m weak, I need strength, and I need your presence” our God will be with you and our God will fight for you, because the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians his “power is made perfect in weakness" (12:9).
In closing I want to share with you three attitudes that make the weak strong. We’ve seen the attitudes that make strong weak, "I want it, I deserve it, and I can handle it!" But instead of saying, "I want it"; whatever 'it' is, say: “I want God.” Tell God, “I need you, I want your strength, I want your power, I want your Word living inside my spirit, I want you ordering my steps, I want your Spirit convicting me when I sin, and I want your voice directing me, correcting me, and leading me in righteousness.” Would you tell him that today, “I’m weak and I want You. I need your strength”?
And instead of saying, “I deserve it! Or “I deserve these things!" An attitude that makes the weak strong is to say, “I deserve death.” I deserve death because the wages of sin is death. That’s all we deserve for our sinfulness, our rebellion, against God. He doesn’t owe us anything. “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I deserve death, you deserve death, and spiritually we’re dead because of our rebellion, our wrongdoing, and our sin. But God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he sent Christ to die for us, to die for our sin, and when we realize that, when we come to understand that, suddenly we no longer feel quite so deserving, but we’re humbled before our holy God. We love him, we want to serve him, and we need him, because we deserve death.
And then, when other people boast saying, "I can handle it!" What are we going to say? Say, “I can't handle anything without God!” You see, we’re vulnerable and I’ll be the first to confess that I’m weak and I’m capable of doing anything and everything ungodly without the presence of God in my life day by day. I need God, I deserve death, and I can’t handle anything without God. And today I assure you that looking strong, putting up that false front, isn’t strength at all. The only way that we can stand strong is because we’ve been on our knees before God. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My power is made perfect in weakness." And those who have the ability to change their world are the ones who admit their need and say, “I am weak!” Putting on the appearance of strength isn’t helping. You need to be weak enough to confess your sins, to stand before someone else and admit that you need help.
If you think that you’re strong, we have seen what Satan did to Samson, and he loves to make the strong weak, but remember that our God loves to make the weak strong. Ephesians 6:10 tells us, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” If you are a Christian there is a spiritual greatness in you and if you’ll rely upon God’s power he can strengthen you. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, because with God your future is an open book. You can be a man or woman of great spiritual strength, but it always begins by admitting your weakness. In our weakness God’s power is made perfect.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
June 12, 2016