Samson: Dealing with Fatal Flaws Part 1 of 3
by John Lowe
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he tears the lion apart with his bare hands.
Samson: Dealing with Fatal Flaws
Today, we’re going to focus on Samson and the fatal flaws in his character and perhaps what we learn will help us to deal with our own fatal flaws. We won’t have the time this morning to hit all the highlights, or lowlights, of his life, but I do want to touch on some significant details in Judges Chapters 13-16. I won’t read all the verses to you because that would take too long, instead, I’ll just tell you most of the story of Sampson. Samson’s feats are legendary but it’s his flaws that prove to be fatal. His two greatest weaknesses were revenge and romance. In fact, his weakness for women often led him on the road to revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly. He was strong on the outside, but had no control on the inside.
Sometimes we read the stories of Hannah or Gideon or Ruth and we think, “I could never be like them.” Not so with Samson. He’s a lot like us. Most of us know what it means to be tempted. All of us struggle at times with the desire for revenge. We’ve been there, we understand, and when we see Samson struggling and falling, we have an idea of what he’s going through. The truth of the matter is that there’s a little bit of Samson in all of us, and a whole lot of Samson in most of us. One of the things we learn from Samson’s life is that sin will always take us further than we want to go.
I want to begin with some important information from chapter 13.
Listen to verse 1: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” The Philistines were a very warlike people who traced their origin back to the land of Egypt, and had remained an enemy of Israel for years. It’s interesting that this is the one place in the Book of Judges where we don’t read about the people crying out to God to deliver them from their oppression.
The game plan of the Philistines was simple. They conquered their enemies by taking them into their nation through intermarriage, and then they watched with glee as the religion of God’s people began to disappear as it blended into the culture around them. Does this sound familiar? Today, the church is in danger of losing its impact because we’ve become so much a part of the society around us. For this reason, God had to break through. He appeared to a man and his wife and told them that they are going to have a son who will deliver Israel from the Philistines.
From the very beginning, even while he was in his mother’s womb, he was to be “set apart” for the Lord’s work. Verse 5 tells us that he was to be a Nazarite. If you go back to Numbers 6, it describes four commitments a Nazarite must keep during the period of his vow:
• He was to avoid any contact with grapes and he couldn’t drink wine.
• He was to never touch a dead body of any kind.
• And he was to let his hair grow and never get it cut.
• The fourth, and most important is, he must be dedicated to the Lord throughout his life.
Before we leave chapter 13, I want you to hear a key phrase in verse 5. It says, Samson “…will begin the deliverance of Israel…” As we go through the story we’ll discover that in reality he never did any delivering, because he never delivered himself. Since he never dealt with his fatal flaws, he only “began” to deliver Israel. Also, it says in verse 25 that “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” He was set apart and he was stirred by the Spirit of God.
Samson had everything he needed to accomplish his task. He was both energized and equipped. Compared to other Biblical heroes, he had more than anyone else. And yet, he let it all slip away. Chapter 14 shows us seven stupid steps that Samson took.
1. HE WENT TO THE WRONG PLACE.
Verse 1 says, “Samson went down to Timnah.” The writer is telling us two things in that little phrase.
First, he is telling us something about geography. Timnah was in Philistine territory, about four miles down a ridge from Samson’s village of Zorah. But this also tells us about the decline in Samson’s spiritual life. In his first public act, he leaves the land of Israel for the land of the Philistines. To put it bluntly, Samson left God’s people and headed south spiritually.
2. HE WAS LOOKING FOR THE WRONG THING.
Listen to the rest of verse 1: “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.” When he returned home, he told his parents in verse 2, “I have seen a Philistine woman.” After his parents try to warn him about scoping out Philistine women, Samson boldly declares, “Go get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” That phrase literally reads, “She is right in my eyes.”
The Bible is telling us something crucial about Samson. He is a man motivated purely by physical appearance. He saw this young woman, she looked good, and now he wants her for his wife. Samson was looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
3. HE REJECTED GODLY COUNSEL.
The downward spiral continues, but now it takes a threatening turn. So far, Samson has made some mistakes but they are not fatal. That’s about to change. By blowing off his parents, Samson is also rejecting what God said in Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7 about not marrying someone from the surrounding pagan nations. The reason is clear—if you marry an unbeliever, he (or she) will turn you away from God.
4. HE CONTINUED A WRONG RELATIONSHIP.
Listen to what it says in verse 7: “Then he went down to the woman, and he liked her.” Evidently, he had not met her before now. But that doesn’t matter because Samson is hormone-driven, not Holy Spirit-driven. This is the Old Testament version of “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?”
5. HE COMPROMISED HIS COMMITMENT.
While Samson is traveling with his parents to make the wedding arrangements, he goes into a vineyard (which was forbidden by his vows) and there encounters a young lion. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he tears the lion apart with his bare hands. Verse 6 notes that “he told neither his father or his mother what he had done.” You would think a son would be glad to tell of a mighty deed like that. He doesn’t tell them because killing the lion meant touching its corpse after it was dead. That’s a violation of the spirit of the Nazarite vow. Samson has now become ceremonially unclean and defiled before God.
Listen to verse 9: “He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.”
This time Samson is traveling alone and stops by the vineyard to revisit the scene of his great exploit. He finds that bees have built a honeycomb inside the dried-out carcass of the lion. He scoops out some honey and eats it as he walks along. Once again, he comes in contact with a dead body. That’s not all. According to verse 10, Samson made a feast “as was customary for bridegrooms.” This was like a wild bachelor bash. The Hebrew word used here means, “a drinking bash.” A Nazarite is to avoid alcohol and here Samson is throwing a wild party. Friends, Samson is a picture of a believer who is beginning to bail on his commitment. If you simply look at his long hair he appears to be dedicated to God, but his lifestyle tells another story. On the outside, he looks like a man of God, but on the inside, he’s a man controlled by his lusts.