Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Don’t put your hands where they don’t belong. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? We’ve all heard the dilemma of the kid getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Not quite smart enough to let go of the cookie so it could extract his hand and escape. Have you put your hands where they don’t belong? Do you give in to your cravings knowing you not supposed to have whatever it is you crave?
Let’s take a look at Samson and learn something about how to win the war we’re in every day. As you look back at the very beginning of Samson’s life, his parents were told to raise him as a Nazarite. That meant he had three rules to follow. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t touch anything dead. Don’t cut his hair. Simple, right? Not like the 612 rules the Israelites were supposed to follow in Jesus’ day. Just three simple things that you really can’t mix up.
So let’s read a little further in Judges 14. Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with this bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and init he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey 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.
I’ve skipped over an important part of the story dozens of times in my life. I’ve always concentrated on the part about Samson’s amazing strength. What a brave and powerful guy to be able to take on a lion with no weapons and just tear it apart. I always thought Tarzan was pretty awesome fighting a lion with just a knife. But at least he had a knife. Samson took this hungry lion on and tore it to pieces.
That’s what I’ve always focused on. But as I read these verse this time, something jumped out at me. Remember Samson’s rules? Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t touch anything dead. Don’t cut his hair. Well, this lion had been dead for a while. Samson was taking his parents to Timnah. If you remember from last week, that’s a city he was not supposed to go to. His father and mother were going with him to talk to the parents of a Philistine woman Samson had seen and wanted for his wife. Another rule all of Israel knew and understood. Two strikes.
Now, Samson goes over to the lion he killed several days earlier and sees a bee hive and honey in the hive. As you can imagine, it takes a while for bees to build a hive and a while longer to produce enough honey so three people can eat it. So that lion was not warm and freshly dead. It was really dead. And what was Samson’s second rule as a Nazarite? Don’t touch anything dead. I guess he forgot that one as he manhandled that carcass and grabbed that honey. Rules are just for other people to keep, right? He was special and they didn’t apply to him, right?
Samson’s idea of obedience just keeps getting worse and worse. He digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself. How would you like to eat honey from the carcass of a dead lion anyway? Maybe that’s why he didn’t tell his father and mother where he got it. I don’t think I’d want to eat it.
So what can we learn from Samson’s life?
We, like Samson, have some simple rules we need to follow to keep chaos out of our lives. Simple things that God wants of us to keep us out of trouble. Too often, we think those simple little rules are for everyone else, though. I can bypass that one. It doesn’t apply to me. I can bend this one a little just once, can’t I?
What makes us act like that? Why have we been breaking rules since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Another simple answer. There is sin in the world and we are basically selfish. We want what we want and that’s about it. Usually we see something bright and shiny in the middle of that rule and we want it more than keeping the rule and keeping our relationship with God and our fellow man pure.
Samson couldn’t resist the honey. Sweet honey was more important to Samson than keeping his Nazarite vow. I mean what was so special about not touching anything dead anyway. It didn’t matter to all the other Israelites. What was so important about this particular rule for him? If God had given him such great power, what hold could a carcass have on him? And it’s just this once for something that tastes so good. God would understand. God wants us to be happy, doesn’t he?
Samson rationalized his behavior and broke the rules. Just like we do. And just like Samson, we will pay the consequences of doing so. If you don’t want to end up like Samson, it’s simple, just obey the rules God gives you. That’s it. Not complicated. Just do it.