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SAMSON THE JILTED JUDGE
Intro: Over 200 years ago, the great hymn writer William Cowper, penned the following words:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Cowper wanted to remind his readers that our God is ever working behind the scenes of our lives to accomplish His perfect will. This is a truth we see played out in the live of Samson time and time again.
As we have already discussed, Samson is a study in contradictions.
· He was chosen by God to be the deliverer of Israel before he was even born, yet he seemed to live every moment of his life for himself.
· He was to be a man separated unto the Lord in holiness and purity, yet he lived his life seeking the embrace of ungodly women.
· He was to be a Nazarite all the days of his life, yet he violated his vows on many occasions.
· Samson was sinful. Samson was selfish. Samson was devoted to himself, yet he was used of the Lord in spite of his failures and his shortcomings. That may be the greatest contradiction of them all. It certainly is the most amazing aspect of Samson’s life to me.
In the passage before us, the events following the failed wedding of Samson continue to escalate out of control. The Philistines deceived him at his wedding. Samson killed thirty Philistines to settle a gambling debt. Samson’s bride is given to another man. Samson retaliates by burning the Philistines crops. The Philistines respond by burning Samson’s bride and her father to death. Samson retaliates by killing many Philistines.
In this text, we will see the continuing escalation of hostilities between Samson and the Philistines. We will also see the response of Samson’s own people. We will see them turn their back on the man God sent to lead them to victory. We will see that while Samson may not have been perfect, he was surrounded by a people who had grown accustomed to the dark.
In this passage, we will Samson as The Jilted Judge. We will see a man rejected by the very people he came to save. We will also see a man used by the Lord to accomplish the will of God who was only out to serve himself. There are several lessons that present themselves to us in our text. Let’s be sure we do not miss them. Let’s take a sometime to examine these lessons as we think about Samson The Jilted Judge.
I. v. 9 THE PHILISTINES AND THEIR ATTACK
A. The Purpose Of The Attack – The first word of verse 9 is “then”. The Philistines began their attack after the slaughter carried out by Samson in verse 8. Up until this time, they had paid Samson little attention. Now, apparently, they see him as a force to be reckoned with. Up until now, Samson’s activities have seemed to be related to personal issues only. Now, they indicate to the Philistines that they have a problem on their hands.
Here is one man who is capable of singlehandedly killing a whole bunch of Philistines. So, the Philistines launch their attack into Judah to remind the Israelites about just who is in charge. They have come to put Israel back in its place before things get out of hand.
B. The Program Of The Attack – The Philistines are after Samson, v. 10. He has attacked them, and they are determined to bring him into custody.
C. The Plan Of The Attack – They come into Judah and begin a campaign of terror. The phrase “spread themselves in Lehi”, means they began to spread out and attack the village of Lehi. This is a campaign of organized terror. Their goal is to make Israel cower before them in fear, and that is just what they do.
D. The Place Of The Attack – Verse 8 tells us that Samson went to “the top of the rock Etam”. This area was located in Judah, and that is where the Philistines press them attack. They have their sights set on Samson, and they are determined to get him.
(Ill. In this attack by the Philistines, we can see a vivid picture of how Satan and his forces attack the people of God. The Philistines are representative of the enemies of the Lord. They attack in retaliation for what Samson did to them.
You need to be aware that when you attack Satan’s territory, he will not sit idly by and take. He will swiftly launch a counterattack against you. When you begin to give your time to the things of God, you can be sure that Satan will attack you. We will send distractions into your life that will hinder you from the Bible, from prayer and from serving the Lord. He will tie you up so that you do not have time to serve the Lord.
Just let a church begin to grow and reach people for Jesus, then the enemy will come. He will bind that church with disruption from within and by attacks from without. His goal is to undermine the work of the church so that it becomes ineffective in the cause of Christ. Far too often, Satan succeeds in this goal.
When Satan makes his attack, like the Philistines, he will “spread” his influence around. He will attempt to affect as many areas of a life and of a church as he can. This “spreading” gives the impression that his power is greater than it is. When he attacks a life, he will multiply his attacks so that the believer feels hemmed in on every side. When he attacks a church, he will set loose many tongues against it, within and without, to give the appearance that his way is the right way.
If he can, he will bluff you into believing that you need to change sides and join his cause. If he can, he will cause you to become discouraged and to lose hope in the fight of faith. Ill. It nearly worked with Elijah – 1 Kings 19:1-18. We need to be real careful that we are not taken in by the tricks and traps of the devil and his followers.
Notice where the enemy attacked; they attacked the very place where the opposition resided, v. 9. Samson was in Judah, and the enemy attacked in Judah. The devil works the same way. He is not a coward! When he is attacked by an individual or by a church, he will attack back.
I say to you that our lives ought to be the kind of lives that Satan hates, but loves to attacks. Our church ought to be the kind of church that Satan hates, but loves to attack. He ought to hate us because we are serving the Lord without fear. He ought to hate us because we are fearless in our living and in our testimony. He ought to hate us because we are not afraid to take a stand for the truth. He ought to hate us. But, if he does, we must know that he will attack our lives. He will attack our church.
The only way to avoid his attacks is for us to never do anything for the Lord or against the devil. As long as we do nothing, we are safe. When we take our stand for truth, righteousness and Jesus Christ, we draw a bull’s-eye on our backs!
That was Peter’s experience – Luke 22:31. That was Paul’s experience – 2 Cor. 12:7. It will be our experience as well when we take a stand for the Lord.)
I. The Philistines And Their Attack
II. v. 10-13 JUDAH AND THEIR ARRANGEMENT
A. v. 10 Their Concern – When the Philistines attack, the elders of Judah panic. They go to their enemy at ask why they are being attacked. They are told that Samson and his actions against the Philistines is the catalyst for the invasion.
These “men of Judah” do not seem to care that they are under Philistine bondage. All that concerns them is that things stay the same; that nobody rocks the boat. Evidently, they didn’t even know what Samson had been up to. They had no knowledge of his exploits.
This is amazing! The one man they should have been following; they didn’t even seem to know about. The one man who deliver them from the oppression if their enemies wasn’t even on their radar!
B. v. 11-12 Their Compromise – These “men of Judah”, an army of 3,000, goes to Samson to take him into custody. They confront him about his activities, and he tells them that he is just giving back what he got. You will notice that neither he nor they mention God, the oppression of Israel, or throwing off the Philistine yoke. Samson is only concerned with Samson. The “men of Judah”, on the other hand, have given up. They are reconciled to the notion that they will never be anything more than the slaves of the Philistines.
Samson does not want to fight his people, so after receiving their promise that they will not kill him, he allows them to bind his with “new cords”. These were ropes that had never been used. They would still be green and very strong. A man bound in ropes like these would have no chance of breaking free.
Samson, for the first time, acts in wisdom. Had he resisted, there would have been bloodshed and the people of Israel would have never followed him as their Judge. Also, allowing the “men of Judah” to take him to the Philistines with his hands bound gave Samson an advantage. The Philistines would be more likely to let their guard down if Samson was brought to them bound up.
C. v. 13 Their Choice – The “men of Judah” chose bondage over liberty. They chose the status quo over God’s will for their lives. In effect, they chose the Philistines over the very man God had chosen to lead them to victory. Instead of being willing to take a stand against their oppressors, they chose to sacrifice one of their own.
(Ill. In the actions of these men, we can see a portrait of how many in the church respond to the attacks of the enemy. Far too many in the church have adopted the motto, “You have to go along to get along”. They are afraid to take a stand for the truth because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They are afraid to say anything, do anything, or take any position that might “rock the boat.” Let someone dare to “rock the boat”, and that person will often find themselves standing alone, while the very people who ought to stand with them make deals with the enemy to protect their own hides.
The “men of Judah” are guilty on two fronts. For one thing, they are as guilty as if they had taken Samson’s life themselves. They didn’t kill him, but they delivered him to be killed. An accomplice in a crime is as guilty as the perpetrator of the crime. “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” Rom. 1:32.
Whether your participation in the attack of the enemy is implicit or explicit you are still guilty. When your participation is explicit, it means you carry it out. When your participation is implicit, it means that you allow the attack to go on by your silence, by failing to take a stand against it, or by looking the other way.
Then, they are guilty of seeking to maintain peace by betraying one of their own. When the enemy is after one of God’s children, or one of God’s churches, the rest of the body of Christ needs to take a stand with the one who is being attacked. God will judge us when we throw a fellow believer under the bus just to keep from rocking the boat, or to maintain the status quo. I know how that feels. So do some of you! Let me just encourage you my friends, there will be a reckoning day!
Matthew Henry said this: “Justly is their misery prolonged, who to oblige their worst enemies, thus abuse their best friend.” Israel stayed in bondage longer than they had to because they refused to stand with Samson. At some point, we must decide whose side we are on. Either we will fight with the Lord’s army, or else we will fight against it. Jesus said it this way, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad,” Matt. 12:30.)
I. The Philistines And Their Attack
II. Judah And Their Arrangement
III. v. 14-17 SAMSON AND
(Ill. When Samson was delivered to the Philistines, they must have thought their troubles were over. When they saw him bound up, they “shouted against him”. This phrase probably means that they shouted in victory, and they launched their attack against him. These people intended to kill Samson. Of course, their excitement would be short lived.)
A. v. 14b His Power – In spite of his failures, God continued to use Samson. The “spirit of God”, we are told, “came mightily upon him”. The new cords that bound him became as easy to break as burnt flax threads. The Bible says his bonds were “loosed”. This word means “to melt, or to dissolve”. Samson was free!
(Ill. The path to liberty in this life is through the Spirit of God, 2 Cor. 3:17. We are often bound by our sins, our problems and our circumstances, but when we yield all to the Spirit of God, and walk in His power; the things that bind us lose their hold. We are set free to serve the Lord for His glory. The secret to liberty in the Christian life is to yield to the control of the Spirit of God every moment of every day, Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16-18.)
B. v. 15 His Performance – Samson picks up the “new jawbone of an ass” and killed 1,000 men with it. When the Bible calls is “new”, it has the idea that is was strong and not likely to break. Had been lying in the sun for a long period of time, it would have been brittle and unusable for the task Samson had in mind.
(Ill. A “jawbone” is a dangerous weapon. I suppose more damage has been done in lives, families and churches by this weapon that with any other. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell,” James 3:6.
Washington Erving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” In a short poem, William Norris said, “If your lips would keep from slips, Five things observe with care: To whom you speak; of whom you speak; And how, and when, and where.” The Greek philosopher Publius said, “I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.” That’s something to think about.)
C. v. 16-17 His Problem – After Samson’s victory, he composes a short poem about it. He even renames the place “Ramath-Lehi”, which means “The height or hill of the jawbone”. It refers to the pile of bodies Samson made with this weapon.
Samson is pleased with his victory, but he seems untroubled by the fact that in accomplishing this victory, he has once again defiled himself. The donkey was an unclean animal and the Law did not allow a Jew to touch its carcass, Lev. 11:8. Add to that the fact that a Nazarite was not to have any contact with a dead body, and it is easy to see that Samson has once again sinned against the Lord and violated his vows of separation.
(Ill. This is just another reminder that God will accomplish His purposes in spite of us. Often churches and church people use ungodly means to achieve their goals. God, in His sovereignty, is able to bless in spite of our failure to walk in His will. I am glad that my sin will not derail God’s plans! I am glad that the wicked tactics of my enemies will not derail God’s plan. God will do what He is going to do either with, or without, our cooperation. Our foolishness will not even slow Him down! He has a plan, and He is working that plan day by day. “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,” Psa 115:3. No matter how things may appear, God will have the last word!)
(Ill. Did you notice that Samson is fighting the Philistines all alone? There are 3,000 Jewish men standing there watching, and Samson has to fight the enemy all by himself. When the battle was over, no one came to congratulate him on his victory. When he needed water in verse 18, no one came to offer any assistance whatsoever. They simply abandoned Samson, turned their backs and walked away.
This is just a reminder of a sad truth: if you are going to serve the Lord, you have better be ready to stand alone. It’s not always that way, but there will be times when you will find that you have been abandoned by the very people you thought would have stood with you. Many people have stood alone against family. Many have stood alone against the world. Many have stood alone in a church filled with people who should have stood with them.
If you find yourself in that situation, remember that Jesus said He would always stand with you, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20. It may appear that you are alone, but you never really are. The One Who matters the most if always there, Ill. Psa. 121:1-8!)
Conc: Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play. He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a “genius mind” when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.
Staubach later said, “I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory.”
If this passage is about anything, it is about obedience. Samson failed in his obedience and tragedy followed. Judah failed in their obedience and compromise followed. When we walk in obedience, we too will find “harmony, fulfillment and victory”. When we do not, we will find chaos, emptiness and failure.
Where does this message find you?
· Are you’re a clear stand for truth, for the Lord and for the things of God?
· Or, have you compromised and cooperated with the enemy in his efforts to attack the Lord’s work and His people?
· Maybe like Samson, you have allowed yourself to become defiled, and you need to get clean.
· Maybe you are discouraged because it seems like you are all alone in the battles of life.
· Maybe today is the day when you would like to stand up and take your place with the Lord Jesus Christ and tell Him that you will stand with Him and for Him against the attacks of the enemies.
· If He has spoken to your heart on any level, the time to obey Him is now.