Search BIBLE IN SONG
Hear the Bible COME ALIVE IN SONG!
Search BIBLE IN SONG
By Brian Pepper
There is a special plan or purpose for each soul
that is born into this world. If we submit to be guided by God, then
we will be led to fulfill this purpose. I have often been told by young people that they
feel that God has a special purpose for them, perhaps that they feel
that their calling is to be a missionary, or maybe they feel that
they are called to be teachers instructing the children in the
things of God. Others are certain that God is calling them to the
ministry. The great thing is to let God lead you, do not resist but
when He calls, follow right through. Yes, if we submit to be led by
God we will be led to fulfill this purpose.
A strange Bible character
Today we are going to take a look at one of the
strangest characters in the Bible. Yes we are going to examine the
life of a man who failed miserably to take hold of his life work and
to fulfill the purpose that God had for him. Some people, when they
read of Samson in the Bible, find it very hard to understand, for
his life was a great contradiction.
Now Samson's life was specially
recorded to help you and to help me. There is a special message for
all of us in the record of this strange man.
The Angel's InstructionsJudges 13:2 says, "And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not."
Verse 3 says, "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, that art barren, and barest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son."
Now I want you to notice that Samson, like Isaac, was a special child, a gift from God to godly parents. And the angel was sent to give special instruction on the upbringing of this child.
Verse 4 says, "Now therefore beware, I pray thee; and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing".
They were to be very careful in their diet. The angel instructed the mother to put away anything that might be harmful to the child. You might be surprised that God gave such instructions, but Israel had become very careless in observing the laws of health. At this time they were much like the heathen nations all around them. The spiritual condition of the people had reached a very low ebb.
And now in verse 5 we read, "For lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head; for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
Samson was to be a Nazarite and to be a Nazarite
meant that he was a dedicated child. It also meant that he should be
a total abstainer or teetotaller, that his hair must not be cut by
razor or clippers. Samuel the prophet was a Nazarite, so was John
God had a plan for Samson
And now we come to God's purpose for Samson. The
Scripture says that he would or should begin to deliver Israel. Yes
God had a plan for Samson's life, just as He has for you and for me.
He was to be specially trained by his parents and through that
training he would recognise that his life was to be spent in the
spiritual interest of Israel. It was clearly God's plan that Samson
should have been a great spiritual leader of his people, just a
Samuel in his day gave strong and steady leadership. Unfortunately,
as Samson grew to manhood he refused to bring his life into harmony
with the plan that God had for him. Samson's life and its mistakes
should be a special warning to all young people, and old people too,
to follow God's plan and not their own inclinations.
Samson went down to Timnath
Now let us take our first look at Samson. Judges 14:1 says, "And Samson went down to Timnath and saw a woman of the daughters of the Philistines."
You can see from this that Samson was a man who allowed his feelings to master him. I am sure there were plenty of nice young ladies in Israel, and yet he was casting his eyes on a pretty Philistine lass. Verse 2 says, "And he came up, and said, I have seen woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore get her for me to wife." Samson was infatuated with this dark eyed pretty faced Philistine lass. He did not take into account the fact that she was unsuitable for a life companion.
Now you will remember that it was God's plan that
Samson should deliver Israel from the Philistines. How could he do
this when he intended to marry into his and Israel's enemies? The
Saviour said, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed". Whether
we are old or young, we cannot expect everlasting happiness unless
we build on the right foundations. God tells us to keep within the
fold and we will have a much happier home. Satan delights to have
the people of God form courting relationships with his subjects.
There are too many young people today who are like Samson, who are
saying "she pleaseth me well".
Samson and the Lion
Well we will go a little further into Samson's life story. Verse 5 says, "Then went Samson down and father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath, and behold, a young lion roared against him." Verse 6 says, "And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done."
This is an amazing thing. Samson disobeying God and yet demonstrating great power, supernatural power. Samson rejected the advice of his parents, he refused to be guided by right principles, and yet the Scripture says that the Spirit of God came upon him and he slew this lion.
I must confess that I have never been able to
understand this in the past, but I believe that now I have the
answer. God does His best to lead men along the path that He has
mapped out for them. He pleads with men to follow the right, but He
does not prevent a contrary choice. God could have an Angel to stop
folk from drinking and every time they raised the bottle to their
lips to take a sip, the Angel could dash the bottle to the ground.
That would not be hard for God to arrange something like that, but
He doesn't. And yet God does have a way of getting even unwilling
men to do His bidding. That is what happened to Samson. God used
incidents connected with the marriage to stir up Samson to do the
work he was intended to do.
The Marriage Feast
At the marriage feast, Samson had the experience
of feasting and fellowshipping with the people who were the sworn
enemies of God's people. Samson evidently was very fond of riddles.
verse 8 we read, "And after a time, he returned to take her
and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and behold,
there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion."
Verse 14 says, "And he said unto them, Out of the eater came
forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
Now at the wedding feast they could not give an answer to this riddle, for we read, "And they could not in three days expound the riddle."
It is right here that we are given a good reason
why God did not want His people to mix or associate with these
heathen Philistines. Firstly, they were worshippers of man made
gods, they were of a cruel nature, brutal to the extreme.
says, "And it came to pass on the seventh day that they said unto
Samson's wife, Entice thy husband that he may declare unto us the
riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire."
Rather than lose the wager, they forced Samson's wife
to help them with threats. And they were no idle threats because
later on they carried them out.
Samson was greatly angered at her treachery and he
left her and went back to his home at Zorah. However thinking it
over he decided to go back and claim his wife, but to his surprise
and anger he found that she had married another man.
Samson and the Three Hundred Foxes
Samson in his anger did one of the cruellest things that I have ever read of, it was the time of the wheat harvest and the fields were as dry as tinder. Verse 4 says, "And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails." Verse 5 says, "And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn, of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn with vineyards and olives."
This seems a horrible thing to do but we have to remember that God was not in this. Samson was acting from his own motives. It was a matter of personal vengeance. He had already proved that he was of a headstrong nature when he refused the wise counsel of his parents. Remember that God has a plan for each one of us, but He cannot force use to follow that plan. But as I mentioned earlier on, that He does use incidents to try and have us fulfill that plan.
Verse 6 says, "Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up and burnt her and her father with fire."
Now move by anger, by the barbarous murder of his
wife, he attacked the Philistines and smote them. He inflicted a
terrible revenge upon those who had participated in the burning of
his wife and father-in-law.
Samson at the Rock Etam
Samson made his escape to the top of the rock Etam.
It is right here that we have a very sad picture of Israel. Three
thousand of Judah, his own people, went up to try and capture him so
they might deliver him to their enemies the Philistines. Even though
there were three thousand of them, they were still afraid of Samson
because they asked him if he would allow them to bind him and return
him to the Philistines. However Samson allowed them to bind him and
be delivered to the Philistines. He was led into the camp of their
enemies with great joy and shouts of glee.
The Jaw Bone of an Ass
But the shouts of triumph were short-lived, for in verse 15, "And he found a new jaw bone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith."
We are told that through his tremendous exertions he became parched with thirst. In that region the heat becomes intense especially in the harvest time. Water is in very short supply. If the Philistines had of brought up reinforcement now, they would have easily overcome him. By these circumstances God was teaching Samson that apart from divine help, he was powerless. This great victory was entirely due to God's help. Samson could not have got off that battle field in his own strength, and would have perished there and then unless God gave him aid.
By the way, there are only two records of prayers
that Samson ever offered. It was here and at the time of his death
that he prayed. And on both occasions God answered his prayers. What
a pity that his prayer life was such a poor one. He might have been
a mighty spiritual leader if he had been more spiritually minded. It
is a good thing to call upon God in the day of trouble, but the
tragedy is so many neglect him the rest of their days.
Samson and Delilah
To Samson, women were like magnets, he just couldn't help loving them. Chapter 16:4 says, "And it came to pass afterward that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." You would think that by now Samson would have learnt his lesson. The previous love match with the Philistine lass had brought great tragedy. But here he is, forming another attachment with an unbeliever. And I want you to notice this point. And if we gain no other lesson from the life of Samson than this, then that in itself would be sufficient. This is what brought about his eventual shame and ruin. Jesus warned us to be very careful on this point. On one occasion He said, "He who is not with me is against me."
The leaders of the Philistines came to Delilah and offered he a reward if she could find out, from what source his great strength came. Poor foolish Samson, day after day he was plied with questions from his new lady love. Chapter 16:6 says, "And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee." Verse 7 says, "And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green cords that were never dried, then shall I be weak and be as another man." Delilah bound Samson and in verse 9 we read, "Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber, And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson, and he broke the cords as a thread is broken with fire."
As we read the narrative it is evident that Delilah was at him every day although it is possible that she waited a few days so that he would not become too suspicious. Samson gives the impression of incredible stupidity. Any man in his right senses would have realised that he was being trapped. Samson would have put an end to here questioning by leaving her and returning to his own home. The real trouble with Samson was not so much that he was stupid, but that he was controlled by sensual infatuation. Eventually he told Delilah his secret. In verse 20 we read, "And she said, The Philistines be upon thee Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him."
It is a terrible thing when the Spirit of God leaves a man or a woman. That person has no hope in the future to come, nothing to look forward to but the terrible judgments of God.
Now I want you to see what happens to Samson the
moment the Spirit of God leaves.
Verse 21 says, "But the
Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to
Gaza and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the
prison house." They put out his eyes. That is rather appropriate
punishment. He had been allowing his eyes to direct his life, what
he saw he wanted. Jesus warned us that if we have an offending
member then we ought to cut it out or control it or else it will
ruin our chances of eternal life.
Samson put on Exhibition
Samson was put on exhibition. He was made to grind corn. Special tours were conducted through the prison so that his enemies might see their hated enemy at close quarters. Verse 25 says, "And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars."
Yes, here was Samson. Blind and in chains he
looked a piteous sight. All around he was surrounded by his enemies.
They laughed him to scorn. They spat upon him. And who was to blame
for his position? Yes, he was to blame!
As he listened to the Philistines praising their god Dagon for the victory over himself, he began to realise what a disgrace he had brought upon the Name of God. Taking hold of the two great pillars upon which the house was supported, he prayed that God would help him. And with a tremendous effort he pulled at those great pillars. Verse 30 says, "And Samson said Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might: and the house fell upon the Lords, and upon all the people that were within. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."
Physically Samson was the strongest man that ever lived. But in self control, he was one of the weakest of men. If he had been true to the call of God he would have ended his life in honour and greatness. Samson's life was recorded in order that we living down in these Gospel days might take heed and benefit from his example. Remember that God has a plan for you and He has a plan for me. I do not know what God's plan is for your lifework but I do know that it is God's plan that each one of us should enter into the Kingdom. So let nothing stand in the way for the fulfilling of God's plan. So one day soon each one of us will have the joy of seeing Jesus face to face.