Samson Part #1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
20 Then she said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He woke up and thought, “I’ll leave as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines captured Samson and tore out his eyes. They took him down to Gaza, where they put bronze chains on him and made him grind grain in the prison.
Samson is one of the most remarkable men that you will meet in the Bible. Even his birth was extraordinary since only one other person in the Old Testament was privileged to have his birth foretold by an angel. Isaac was promised to Abraham and Sarah by angels; that they entertained unawares. Samson was the only other person whose birth was foretold by an angelic messenger.
Before his birth, he was dedicated to God and set apart as a Nazarite. There were four things that marked a Nazarite: he was entirely consecrated to God; he drank no wine; he let his hair grow, and he couldn’t touch anything that was dead. Samson was devoted to God and when people saw him they would say, “That man is God’s man, a Nazarite, set apart.”
God endowed Samson with supernatural strength, a strength that never could have come from mere muscle. It wasn’t the size of Samson’s body that made him strong, and it wasn’t his arm or his fist that smote the Philistines; it was a miracle that lived within him; it was the power of God which made him mightier than thousands of his enemies.
Samson discovered that he had this great power early in his life, for we read that, “the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan.”
He judged Israel for thirty years, and he delivered them from their enemies by his phenomenal strength. Take a look at some of the great feats that he performed:
• There was a time when he stepped into the vineyard to get away from his parents, for a moment. A lion crouched there and sprung upon him. He was unarmed, but he met it with his strong arms and killed it.
• Then there was the time when his countrymen tied him up and gave him into the hands of thousands of Philistines. He was their prisoner, but he saw the jaw bone of an ass lying on the ground. He picked it up, and used it to battle and kill soldiers who had helmets on their heads and brass mail to cover their bodies.
• Toward the end of his life, he remained a vigorous champion of his people because when he died he was in the prime of his life. One of his greatest exploits was performed at that time. This is what the Bible states. He was trapped inside the city of Gaza, but he was unconcerned about the situation and he remained there until midnight. He was so confident in his strength that he was in no hurry to leave; and instead of attacking the guards, he walked up to the city gate and pulled up the posts that supported the gates. He carried the great burden of gates, posts and bar for miles until he came to the top of a hill overlooking Hebron.
It would have been great to have this man as a friend and to stand next to him in a battle. It would be like having an army in a single man, who could strike terror in thousands of the enemy. But to the enemy, it was best if they never saw him, because there was no escape from him, except to run away.
Samson had great physical strength, but there were weaknesses also.
He was not intelligent, and he lacked spiritual power.
His life was a series of miracles and foolish actions.
He had very little charm and was quick to give in to temptation.
He was easily enticed and led astray.
God often corrected him; nevertheless, he would sin again.
At last, Delilah came into his life. She was bribed with an enormous sum, by the Philistines, to get him to reveal the secret to his strength. But Samson foolishly toyed with her and failed to believe he was in danger, and in that way contributed to his own destruction.
At last, due to her constant nagging, he let slip the secret of his strength; that it resided in the locks of his hair. It wasn’t that his hair made him strong; but that his hair was a symbol of his consecration, and was a pledge of God’s favor to him. As long as his hair was untouched, it was a symbol of his consecration; but as soon as it was cut, he was no longer perfectly consecrated and his strength left him.
After his hair was cut off, he became as weak as other men. The Philistines easily overpowered him and took him prisoner. Now, the Philistines began to punish him; they burned out his eyes with a hot iron.
Samson, who was the great hero of Israel, shuffled along as he was led by his captors.
The Philistines were not convinced that he couldn’t become strong again, so they bound his feet with shackles.
He was taken to Gaza, the same city where he had walked out in pride carrying the posts and gates. The little children come up to him and point at him, and along with the lower class people shout, “Samson the great hero has fallen! Let’s make sport of him.” It was an awful spectacle. The sun beat down on his bare head, which had once been covered with bountiful locks.
He is guarded by just a handful of soldiers, who would have fled from him in the past. They take him to a place where a donkey is grinding at the mill, and Samson must do the same shameful work. Every passerby will make fun of him and the curious will flock to see the great man work at the mill. But if we pity Samson, it should not be because he had lost his strength or because he was blind, but because he had lost the favor of God for awhile.
The reason for investigating the life of Samson is this: every child of God is like him in this respect; we are all consecrated to God. There are no outward symbols like letting our hair grow or denying ourselves drinks.
The Christian man or woman is consecrated, but the consecration is unseen, except in the outward deeds which are the result of it.
And now I want to speak to you as consecrated men and women, and I think there is a lesson for all of us in the history of Samson.
My first point is that the consecrated are strong; second, that there is a secret to their strength; third, there is a danger to which they are exposed; and forth, there is a disgrace which will come upon them, if they are exposed to this danger.
I. First, THE STRENGTH OF THE CONSECRATED MAN.
Do you know that the strongest man in the world is a consecrated man?
He died a few years ago, but before he died, he laid claim to the world’s strongest man title. His name was Paul Anderson and he didn’t live far from here; he was from Georgia. He performed some tremendous feats of strength; lifting more than 500# overhead, deadlifting close to 1000# and lifting over 6000# with a back lift. He held almost every super heavyweight record in Olympic weightlifting. When I was a young man, he was my idol, so I know a lot about him. He trained hard, he ate right, he did all the right things to develop his strength; but most of all he was consecrated to his sport. I believe that all great sports champions are consecrated to their sport. They must be to accomplish the performances that set them above other men. If a man or woman will consecrate themselves to a purpose, no matter what that purpose is, and let their whole soul be absorbed by it, they will most likely excel. Now that is especially true for those who are absorbed with being a Christian-they are consecrated to God.
Listen. That man or woman, who is consecrated to God, has awesome strength. There are those here this morning who have such strength. I know there are! There are those who have kneeled in their rooms in private and consecrated themselves to the Lord. Those who have thoroughly consecrated themselves to God, no matter who they may be, are strong and will accomplish amazing things.
Let me remind you of some of the amazing things that were done by consecrated men.
1. In the early days of the Christian faith, Christians were hunted like animals. Have you ever heard how consecrated men and women endured terrible hardships and torture? Did you know that they were cast to the lions, that they were sawn in two, were thrown in prison, or they met a swift death from the sword?
2. Could you have heard how they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins; and that they were destitute, tormented and made miserable?
3. Have you heard how they defied tyrants to their face; how when they were threatened that they laughed in the face of their enemies?
4. Did you know that when they were to be burned at the stake, that they clapped their hands in the fire, and sang hymns while their enemies laughed at their miseries?
How could they do this? What made women stronger than men and men stronger than angels? Why was this-they were consecrated to God? They believed that every pain they felt was giving glory to God, that all the pains they endured were marks of the Lord Jesus, and proof that they were consecrated to Him.
But it wasn’t in suffering alone that these devoted ones showed such power. Have you ever heard how the consecrated ones did wonders? Read the stories; how those who did not hold their lives so dear honored their Lord by preaching the Gospel in foreign lands.
Have you heard how men and women left their homes and friends and everything that they once held dear and went to foreign countries to proclaim the Gospel; and that they placed themselves in danger when they did it?
Have you heard how they stood on the shore and watched the ship that brought them fade into the distance, and yet without fear they dwelt among wild savages and told them the simple story of the God that loved and died for them? These missionaries conquered men who were fiercer than lions, who crouched before them, listened to their words, and received the preaching of the gospel with faith.