Good morning, welcome to Christ’s Community Church. Today we’re continuing in part two of the Samson series, and we’re looking at the life of a very interesting man named Samson. Now we’ve been looking at the Old Testament book of Judges in chapter 14 and we saw that Samson was a man who’d been set apart from birth as a Nazarite. What that means is that he wasn’t to drink alcohol, he wasn’t to cut his hair, and he wasn’t to touch dead bodies or anything that was unclean or unholy. And so he’d been called, he’d been given supernatural strength, and he’d been chosen by God to deliver God’s people from the oppression of the Philistines. For that matter Samson had more potential than you or I could ever even imagine and yet like many of us he continued to make self-destructive decisions over and over again.
If you remember, last week we looked at three attitudes that make the strong weak. We saw Samson leaving his people and crossing into enemy territory to pursue a Philistine woman, a woman whom God had warned would cause his destruction, and yet disregarding what God has said, disregarding his Nazarite vow, disregarding his parent’s advice, he went after her and said, “I want it!” Then on the way to Timnah he touched the carcass of a dead lion to reach in and grab a handful of honey thinking that “he deserved it!” And then if that wasn’t enough, we find him having a bachelor party believing that he could “Handle it.” And so right before our eyes we saw the downfall of this strong man named Samson as he became weaker and weaker.
The first thing I want to share with you this morning is the “The Conflict Within.” As we look at Samson we discover that like so many of us Samson was emotion driven. Now as guys, we don’t like to think of ourselves as being emotional; you know we’re the strong ones, it’s the women that are the emotional ones right? However, the reality is that we’re all emotional, but we shouldn’t be driven by our emotions, we should be led by the Spirit of God.
This is the conflict within all of us and the main difference between men and women is how we process our emotions. Wouldn’t you agree that generally speaking women talk first and men tend to act first? You see, the problem is that so many of us guys find ourselves doing something, where our emotions have led us to do something that we shouldn’t have done. Instead of being led by the Spirit, we’re driven by our emotions and we act and do ungodly things. That’s the conflict inside, where we want to do what’s right, but our emotions take over.
You know, maybe you said something stupid and you know you should apologize, but because of your pride you don’t. You’re emotion driven and not Spirit led. Or maybe you find yourself in a situation where somebody does something and you don’t want to blow up, you don’t want to cause a scene, but you do; you explode in anger. You didn’t want to, but you end up like the apostle Paul who said in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And so for most of us we struggle, because we have this conflict within, we’re emotion driven and not Spirit led.
That’s why Paul said in Galatians 5:16-17: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not… do what you want.”
Let's take a look and see how this works out in Samson's life. Remember, he was pursuing a woman who worshiped a false god, he didn’t care what God said, he didn’t care what his father said, he didn’t even care what his mother said, and so we find them making final arrangements for the marriage and they’re in the bachelor party stage of preparations. And Judges 14:11-13 tells us, “When he appeared, he was given thirty companions. 12 "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it."
“He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. 15 On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" 16 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?"
“She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. 18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle."
Samson lost the bet, he’s embarrassed, and angrily he says, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." Now guys, if you don’t get anything else from this message, remember these two things: Number one, don’t ever let anyone plow with your wife, and number two, don’t ever call her a heifer. Amen?
That leads us to our second point and that is “Emotions That Destroy.” We’re about to see Samson succumb to a weakness that so many of us battle with. Instead of being led by the Spirit and responding in a godly way, he reacts with emotion and he falls victim to two emotions that often take strong men down. Let’s read Judges 14:19-20:
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding.
Judges chapter 15:1, “Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. 2 "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." 3 Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.”
“When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." 8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.”
Now let me tell you what just happened here, because I know that’s a lot to absorb; but Samson lost the bet and furiously stomped off before the wedding even started and went on a killing spree. He exploded with emotion driven anger and it cost him just as it often costs so many of us. So the first emotion we’re going to identify is “anger.” Now we don’t have any idea how long it took him to kill 30 men, to get their clothing, and to make it back to his bride’s house, but meanwhile her father was left sitting there embarrassed with all these guests and it wouldn’t have been uncommon for a father to give her to another man; and that’s exactly what happened.
So Samson makes a silly bet, loses, and then he blows up. He loses his cool, but he really had nothing to be angry about, because this whole story is a story of Samson setting himself up for failure. I mean, he’s the one who disobeyed God and decided to marry this girl, he’s the one who ignored his parent’s advice, and he’s the one who taunted the men with this riddle, who gave the secret away, who left his wife at the altar, and who burned the villages and crops. I mean he’s mad at the world, but the reality is that most of this mess was his own fault. And honestly that’s where so many of us find ourselves, we’re angry at the world, when the reality is that we should be angry at ourselves.
You know, like how many times do you find yourself in a certain situation, because of your decisions and you’re blaming it on God. I’ll confess that’s been me at so many different times in my life when I’ve allowed myself to be driven by the emotion of anger instead of being led by the Spirit. I can’t tell you how many times my anger and outbursts have gotten me into trouble. And maybe you too, have blown up, you haven’t treated your children right, and some apologies need to take place. Maybe you’ve taken out your frustrations on your wife, you haven’t loved her and treated her with honor, and I’m praying today as you’re led by the Spirit, you’ll be a faithful man of God, that you’ll admit it, you’ll call it what it is and say, “I need forgiveness.” Today, you’re going to be a peacemaker, you’re going to do something that takes courage, and you’re going to build up and not tear down.
Now Samson, he’s been “burning with anger” and verse nine tells us, “The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us."
11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?"
He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me."
12 They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines."
Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves."
13 "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
16 Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men."
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.”
Here we see Samson overcome by the second emotion “pride.” By the power of God Samson takes down 1,000 men, but the credit needs to go to God, and in verse 16 Samson tries to take the credit for himself. He’s puffed up, he’s full of pride, and like so many of us, he says, “Look at what I did!” You know, “I have made donkeys of them.” That’s a nice way of saying it right? And “I have killed 1,000 men.” And in the same way, whenever you and I don’t embrace our identity in Christ, pride will rise up to take us down, because the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:5, "God opposes the proud..." And in Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace.” But for so many of us we’re like, “Look at me, didn’t I do good?” and it is nothing but pride. You know honestly, we want it to be all about us, we want to be the hero of the story, but God’s the hero! And when we understand that, we won’t be tempted to be driven by our emotions, but we’ll want to be led by the Spirit. The apostle Paul encourages us in this in Galatians 5:16 saying, “Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Today if you find yourself continually driven by emotions, don’t allow yourself to go down the same road as Samson. Recognize your emotions, feel your emotions, but refuse to be driven by them and instead live by the Spirit. Then God will become the main character in your story and you’ll find yourself being all that God created you to be. As we surrender to the Holy Spirit, there’s great potential, and victory if we can just admit that we’ve been driven by these emotions and we don’t want to be. That we want to be a man of God, a man of integrity, character, and strength. You see, we can choose to love our bride as Christ loved the church. You can be that man.
Number three, here is the final thought, testing follows victory. Samson’s victory celebration didn’t last very long before he realized that he desperately needed water. We see this time and again in the Scriptures that testing follows victory. No sooner had the Israelites crossed the Red Sea then they became hungry and thirsty (Exodus 15:22-27, 16). Elijah’s great victory on Mount Carmel was followed by his desperate escape to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 18-19). If only Samson had cried out to the Lord, and not just for water, but for guidance as well, his story would’ve likely had a better ending.
And for many of you right now, you could have great victory, but you might be thinking, “I’ve blown it, I’ve messed up so big, you wouldn’t even believe what I’ve done.” Maybe for you there’s that secret that you worry about all the time. You know if she found out, or they found out, if anybody knew. And some of you look at something you’ve done and think that there is no way to restore that relationship, to rebuild the trust, but I’ve got great news for you. If you’re in need and you’ll call out and acknowledge your need before our God you could have great victory. If you’ll let your need drive you to God, he will meet your deepest need, and this is what we see with Samson. He had killed a 1,000 men and realized that the Philistines were coming after him, and if they didn’t kill him he’s going to die of thirst in the desert anyway. And so we see in verse 18, that he lets his need drive him to God.
“Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived.”
This morning, if you’ll return to God your strength will return, but it is not your strength, it’s God’s strength in your weakness. The moment that we admit that we’re weak, that we’re dependent upon the Lord, at that very moment we’re the safest and the strongest we’ve ever been. You’ll be revived, you’ll come back to life, and you can be who you’re created to be. If you’ll cry out to the Lord, you can be changed, you can make a difference, you can be a leader, you can live righteously, and you can be a man or woman of integrity. When you let your need drive you to God he will meet your deepest need.
Samson didn’t want to end his life falling into the hands of the godless Philistines, so he cried out to God, and God in his mercy opened up a spring of water in the hollow place. Samson returned to God, he quenched his thirst, and his strength returned and he was revived. I believe that’s good news for us today, because if you’ll have the honesty to admit, “I’ve been driven by emotion,” whether it is anger, pride, or whatever, but you would say to God, “I want to be led by the Spirit of God.” If you’ll allow your deepest need to lead you to God, he will meet your deepest need, and you can be all that God created you to be. You can be that one. As we close would you say, “I want to be led by the Spirit of God.” You can be all that God created you to be.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
June 19, 2016