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THE BITTER TASTE
OF SWEET REVENGE
Intro: When we last saw Samson, he was headed back to his fatherís house. At his wedding feast, he was betrayed by his bride and he was outwitted by 30 Philistines. In anger, Samson killed 30 Philistines and took their garments to settle a gambling debt. He went back home to soak in his anger.
As we have seen so far, Samson is anything but a good godly example. He was born to be a Judge in Israel. He was sent by God to be a Deliverer of His people. All we have seen thus far is a man who cannot control his passions. In this passage, we will once again see the selfish side of Samson.
In this text, we will watch Samson as he takes revenge against his enemies. We will see the outcome of anger that is allowed to burn out of control. We will see that revenge may appear attractive when it is born in the heart, but that in the end, it becomes a very bitter thing.
I want to preach about The Bitter Taste Of Sweet Revenge. I want to point out the lessons we should all learn from Samsonís life. These lessons will help us to see that getting our revenge against those who wrong us is never right, nor is it worth the cost. Letís consider the lessons taught in this passage as we think about The Bitter Taste Of Sweet Revenge.
I. v. 1-2 SAMSONíS RETURN
A. v. 1a The Plan – As I said earlier, Samson ran away from his own wedding in ager. He never stayed to consummate the marriage. After a time, his anger cools off and Samson decides to make amends with is bride. He brings her a nice present, something that every woman desires; he brings her a goat. He goes to her with the idea that he will consummate the wedding and settle in to live with her has husband and wife. That is Samsonís idea, but that is not how things turn out.
B. v. 1b-2a The Problem – Samsonís father-in-law refuses to allow Samson into the womanís chamber. He tells Samson that as far as he is concerned, the wedding is off. After all, Samson demonstrated a lack of love for the girl when he abandoned her at the altar and ran home to mama. The father assumes that Samson ďhatedĒ his daughter and he gave her to another man. The marriage was in effect annulled.
C. v. 2b The Proposal – The father offers Samson a trade. He encourages Samson to take the prettier younger sister instead of the girl Samson was set to marry in the beginning. The father must have believed that Samson didnít really love his daughter, but that the attraction to her was purely physical in nature, and he was probably right, Jud. 14:1-3. He assumes that Samson will be just as satisfied with the younger sister.
(Ill. Samson is learning a valuable lesson in a very hard way. He is learning that you canít trust Philistines. Samson has been cheated by these people in three ways:
1. He lost his bet with the Philistines because they cheated by threatening his wife with death if she didnít help then get the answer to Samsonís riddle, Jud. 14:12-17.
2. His wife had been taken away from him and given to another man, Jud. 14:20.
3. The dowry, or ďbride priceĒ, that Samson had paid for the woman had been forfeited as well. The text doesnít specifically say that Samson paid a dowry for her, but that was the way weddings were transacted in those days.
I would encourage you to remember that God warns His people against forming close relationships with unsaved people. He forbids marriages like the one Samson was about to enter into, 2 Cor. 6:14. That prohibition extends beyond marriage to all the associations we enter into in life. It includes our friendships, our business relationships, our social relationships, etc. Believers need to be very careful about the kind of people they form close associations with in life. The wrong kind of relationships can have a devastating effect on your own spiritual condition. Listen to these two verses:
∑ ďBe not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners,Ē 1 Cor. 15:33.
∑ ďHe that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed,Ē Pro 13:20.
The kind of people we want to have around us are the type that will help us grow stronger in our relationship with the Lord. Listen again to the Word of God:
∑ ďAnd let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works,Ē Heb. 10:24.
∑ ďIron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,Ē Pro. 27:17.
∑ ďOintment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a manís friend by hearty counsel,Ē Pro 27:9.
The principle taught here is not that we should totally separate ourselves from a lost world. No, for we are commanded to share the Gospel with them, Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20. We should, however, understand that there is a vast difference between those who are saved and those who are lost. When we allow ourselves to get too close to a lost world, we will pay a high price. Listen again to the Word of God, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1.)
I. Samsonís Return
II. v. 3-6 SAMSONíS REVENGE
(Ill. Instead of taking his defeat like a man and going home to regroup and seek Godís will for his life, Samson plans to get even. The problem with getting even is that it is impossible. Samson is about to find out that revenge always escalates out of control. He is about to learn the truth that violence always begets violence.)
A. v. 3 His Motivation – Look at Samsonís language in this verse. He is concerned about himself. He is concerned about what they have done to him. He is motivated in his revenge by vanity. Notice how he even seeks to justify his actions by claiming that they had done worse to him.
Samsonís motivation for attacking the Philistines is all wrong. He should have been attacking them because they were oppressing the people of Israel. He should have been attacking them because it was what God had raised him up to do. He should have been attacking them to help deliver his people from Philistine bondage. Instead, Samson attacks the Philistines because he is mad about how he has been treated. He is doing what God called him to do, but he is doing it for the wrong reasons, and out of the wrong motivation. Can you see that?
(Ill. This is a good place for us to stop and take a look at our own motivations. Our motives for serving the Lord will determine our faithfulness to Him and will regulate our service to Him.
When we serve God because we receive some benefit in return, we will be shallow in our devotion to Him. When the perceived benefit is not longer there, there will be a drop off in our faithfulness and service.
For instance, someone comes to church out of a sense of obligation or out of a desire to be a part of a social outlet. Then, they join a club or a lodge. That new outlet meets the same need and they stop coming to church.
Or, someone serves in the church because they receive the thanks and gratitude of the congregation. If that thanks and gratitude dries up, so does their service. The same is true for those who serve simply for monetary gain. When the money is gone, so are they.
This is a warning about seeking to attract people using gimmicks. Someone said, ďIf you get them in with a hot dog, you will have to keep them with a hamburger.Ē That is exactly right! A lot of the churches that have resorted to worldly methods and gimmicks to draw their crowds will see a falling away when they run out of gimmicks to keep them there.
That is why we need to examine our motives. Why do we serve the Lord? Why do we come to church? Why do we do the things we do? If we are motivated by love for the Savior; if we are stirred by the thoughts of all He did for us in dying for us, saving us, keeping us and blessings us; if we realize that everything we have is merely the product of His grace; then we will have proper motivation for our service to Him. That kind of motivation will enable us to flesh out 1 Cor. 15:58, which says, ďTherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.Ē What motivates you?)
B. v. 4-5 His Methods – Samson is determined to exact his revenge against the Philistines. He catches three hundred foxes. These animals are probably a kind of jackal that used to roam Israel in large packs. He ties them tail to tail, making 150 pairs of these animals. He ties a burning torch between their tails and sets them free. These terrified animals run through the wheat fields, the olive groves and the vineyards and burn them all to the ground. This would have been a devastating blow to the economy. After all, verse 1 tells us that it was the ďtime of wheat harvestĒ.
The fire of revenge burned within Samsonís heart. He is upset about losing his wife, but he still smarts from what the Philistines did to him at his wedding feast. He cannot let it go; he just has to have his ďpound of fleshĒ.
C. v. 6 His Miscalculation – Samson has his revenge. He probably thinks that will be the end of the matter. If he thinks this, it is a terrible miscalculation.
The Philistines are upset by the loss of their crops, their olives and their vineyards. They ask around to see who did this and they are told that Samson is responsible. Being wicked, selfish men themselves, they are instantly filled with thoughts of vengeance. However, they do not attack Samson to his face, they act like the cowards they are and try to attack Samson through others. They take the woman he married and her father and they burn them alive. Probably, they shut them up inside the family home and burned them to death.
(Ill. This is a terrible scene, but it showcases the truth that revenge has the tendency to escalate. Someone does or says something about us. We respond back in either actions or words. They respond back to us with even harsher actions and words. And, so it goes until lives are ruined, reputations are stained and relationships are forever shattered.
It is never Godís will for us to seek revenge against those who hurt us. Most people think they have to ďdefend their honorĒ. If they are attacked, they think it shows weakness on their part to just take it and let it go. Samson thought this way. Most people are quick to rise up against those who attack them and attack back with an extra measure of violence and vengeance. That, my friends, is not Godís plan for His children!
When we are attacked, we must never attack back. To do so puts us on the same level as those who attack us. Those who attack others, those who spread rumors and gossip, those who try to ruin reputations, are the lowest of the low. To do so tarnishes our testimony and reveals that the love of Jesus Christ is not a powerful force in our lives. Those who attack others do not love them, but are walking in hatred. To do so reveals pride in our hearts. Those who attack think they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are walking in pride. When we attack them back, we are no better than they are. We are also walking in pride because; we are saying that life is about us, and not about the will of God for our lives.
How are we supposed to respond when we are attacked? I will say more about this in a moment. I think I will be able to show you that God has a better way of responding to our attackers than for us to attack back.)
I. Samsonís Return
II. Samsonís Revenge
III. v. 7-8 SAMSONíS RAMPAGE
(When Samson hears about the death of his wife and her family, he takes things to the next level. The violence just continues to escalate. Letís take a look at Samsonís rampage.)
A. v. 8 His Retaliation – This verses says that ďhe smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughterĒ. This refers to ďtotal and absoluteĒ slaughter. Samson killed them all. He did not stop until they were all dead. He got the ultimate revenge against his enemies: he took their lives!
(Ill. Often this world seeks retaliation in the same way. Someone attacks a family, and they are in turn murdered because of what they have done. When we hear about such actions we sometimes respond by saying, ďI donít blame them one bit. I would have done the same thing.Ē When we think that way, we are revealing that revenge is a part of our makeup. We are revealing the truth that we are not above a little getting even ourselves.
I canít tell you what I would do if members of my family were attacked physically. I canít promise you that I would not seek revenge. I can handle it when people say mean things about me, but I have a hard time when they talk about my family, just because they are upset with me. A part of me wants my ďpound of fleshĒ. Itís just the grace of God that keeps me from acting on those desires!
Did you know that scientists have determined that there is a part of the brain that produces feelings of pleasure and satisfaction that is stimulated when we act in revenge?[i] Thatís right; we find pleasure and satisfaction in getting even. Itís part of our human nature. It is hard wired into us and we have a hard time walking away and simply letting things go.)
(Ill. A lady was sick, so she went to the doctor. He examined her, did a number of tests and told her the bad news.
ďIím sorry to have to tell you this, but Iím afraid youíve contracted rabies.Ē
The doctor left the room for a minute, and when he returned the
woman was busy writing on a piece of paper. He asked, ďWhat are you doing, writing your will?Ē
She said, ďNo, Iím making a list of all the people Iím going to
Thatís just the way most people think about revenge.)
B. v. 7 His Reasons – Samsonís reasons for seeking revenge are purely selfish. Look at the language of verse 7. He does not mention the Lord. He does not mention the nation. He does not mention the injustices of the Philistines toward the people of God. There is no mention of the Lordís will, the Lordís glory or the Lordís name. All Samson can think of is himself. He says, ďI will be avenged of you.Ē
(Ill. Here is the main problem with revenge: it has nothing to do with the Lord, it is all about us. Our pride is hurt. Our feelings are wounded. We feel the need to get even. It is all about us and how we feel about what has been done to us. That is Samsonís problem, and it is the problem of every person who seeks to get even.
God has a better way!
∑ Instead of taking matters into our own hands, we are to leave them in His hands, Rom. 12:17-21.
∑ Instead of attacking those who attack us, pray for them, love them and be good to them, Matt. 5:44-48. (Ill. Avoid Old Testament praying! Imprecatory prayer might have been the rule of thumb in the Old Testament, but Jesus Christ wants His children to act and react in love. We need to pray for them because they are going to face the Lord one day with their evil deeds. So, we should pray for their salvation if they are lost or for their repentance if they are saved. His judgment or His chastisement, as the case may be, will be far harsher than any revenge we might dish out!)
∑ Instead of seeking revenge, we should thank the Lord that we have been counted worthy to suffer with Him, Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 4:12-19; Acts 5:41.
∑ Instead of attacking others, we should do what we have been commanded by the Lord to do. We should practice full and free forgiveness, Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:21-35; Luke 17:1-5.)
Conc: Ill. As a hundred thousand fans watched, Richard Petty ended a 45 race losing streak and picked up, what was at the time, stockcar racingís biggest purse, $73,500. It all happened at the 1979 Daytona 500.
Pettyís win, however, was a complete surprise. Going into the last lap, he was in third place, running half a lap and 30 seconds behind the two leaders. All at once Cale Yarborough, the driver of the car in second place tried to pass Donnie Allison in the lead car on the final stretch. This caused the first placed Allison to drift inside and he forced Yarborough onto the infield grass. What happened next was incredible.
Yarborough pulled his car back onto the track, caught up with Allison, and forced him into the outside wall. Both vehicles came to a screeching halt. The two drivers jumped out and quickly got into an old-fashioned slugging match. In the meantime, third-place Petty cruised by for the win.
The Donnie Allison, who was leading that race, got his revenge, but in the end, it was bitter and not sweet. We will experience the same results when we seek to ďget evenĒ with others for the things they do to us and say about us.
If this episode from Samsonís teaches us anything, it teaches us that revenge is a game played by fools. Wise men know when to walk away and leave matters in the hands of a sovereign God Who will one day settle all accounts and balance all the books.
You never get even when you seek revenge. All you will do is make the problem worse for you and everyone involved. How much better it is to be like Jesus than like Samson. Here is what the Bible says about our Lord. ďHe was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,Ē Isa. 53:7.
What has the Lord said to you through this message?
∑ Is there someone you need to forgive?
∑ Are their some things you need to let go?
∑ Do you need to repent of seeking to harm others by your actions or your words?
∑ Do you need to turn away from vengeance?
∑ God sent this text for a purpose. I needed to hear it, and I suspect that you did too. Letís obey Him as He speaks today!