We are still looking at Samson to help us discover some of the characteristic we need to have to succeed in battle against our greatest enemy, the devil. We have learned a lot of what not to do from him and today’s lesson is no different. Let’s look at another example of his poor behavior first from Judges 15.
Samson said to them [the Philistines who killed his wife and her father], “Is that how you act? Then I won’t stop until I pay you back.” He struck them down with heavy blows. He killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave. It was in the rock of Etam.
The Philistines went up and camped in Judah. They spread out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight against us?”
“We’ve come to take Samson as our prisoner,” they answered. “We want to do to him what he did to us.”
then 3,000 men from Judah went to get Samson. They went down to the cave that was in the rock of Team. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines are ruling over us? What have you done to us?”
Samson answered, “I only did to them what they did to me.”
The men of Judah said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up. We’re going to hand yo over to the Philistines.”
Samson said, “Take an oath and promise me you won’t kill me yourselves.”
“We agree,” they answered. “We’ll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes. They led him up from the rock.
Samson approached Lehi. The Philistines came toward him shouting. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. The ropes on his arms became like burned thread. They dropped off his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed hold of it and struck down 1,000 men.
Then Samson said, “By using a donkey’s jawbone
I’ve made them look like donkeys.
By using a donkey’s jawbone
I’ve struck down 1,000 men.”
Samson finished speaking. Then he threw the jawbone away. That’s why the place was called Ramath Lehi.
So what’s so bad about these events, you might ask. Why would I pick out these verses and look at this event to show some of the flaws in Samson’s life?
Remember what is happening to Samson as we move along in the story of his life? First, he went places he wasn’t supposed to go. Then he courted a young woman he wasn’t supposed to court. He because engaged to that woman and planned his marriage knowing he was to have nothing to do with her or her people. Then, Samson fooled around with the carcass of a dead lion that he wasn’t supposed to touch. He was supposed to stay clear of dead stuff, but instead made a mockery of his vows. He was supposed to stay away from alcohol, dead things and alcohol. But what does he do? He eats honey from the carcass of that dead lion, makes a riddle from it for 30 companions the Philistines picked for him and had a bachelor’s party with those 30 pagan men the city of Timnah picked for him.
On top of that, Samson’s anger drives him to kill 30 innocent men to pay the foolish debt he brought on himself and then he runs away from his wife and her family. After abandoning his wife, he returns to find her given to another and takes revenge by destroying the Philistines’ crops. Now he lives in a cave at Etam hiding from those who wish him dead.
Each step along the way, he gets further from the things God would have him do. And worse, he takes credit for the few good things he does. He has managed to devastate some of the enemy through his actions, but he takes credit for it. He doesn’t even acknowledge that God had some part in his success. In this scene, Samson picks up a jawbone and kills 1,000 men. We don’t know how many had the good sense to turn and run away, but Samson was ready to take them on as well, or so he thought. Samson took credit. I’ve killed… I’ve taken revenge… I’ve turned an eye for an eye… I’ve made a mockery of the Philistine strength. Samson’s “I” statements are getting a little monotonous.
He forgot his strength came from the Lord. He forgot he was chosen as a lad to live the vows of the Nazarite. He forgot he was to be an example to the nations around him. Samson forgot he was to lead, not plunder and pillage. Samson forgot Jehovah was God, not him. With each passage we have read, Samson slips a little deeper into the pits of arrogance and self aggrandizement that dooms him.
What about you and me?
How often do we take credit when the credit should really go to our creator? How often to we look at what has been accomplished and assume it is because of our skill and not at the hand of the almighty? How often do we forget to give God the glory and honor for the things he helps us accomplish through his use of us as his instruments of divine intervention? Do we recognize that our strength, our knowledge, our talents and abilities, everything we have and everything we are comes directly from our Father in heaven? Do we stop and consider that all things made in heaven and on earth originate from the creative work of God and that without him there would still be darkness and a vast void? Have we forgotten that in the beginning God created and from that nothingness everything else has blossomed?
Once again, we can learn from Samson things we of which we must beware. We must remember God provides the strength, wisdom, resources, everything we might use to accomplish the tasks we complete. We are nothing without him. He is God. We are not.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.