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SAMSONíS FINEST HOUR
Intro: As we have studied the Judges of the Old Testament, we have considered several great individuals who shone as bright lights in a dark night. When Israel was in trouble, God would send them a Judge, a deliverer, who would liberate them from their oppressors. Most of the Judges were faithful, obedient and godly people.
Samson, however, was a little different from the rest. Most of the judges we have studied lived by faith and were obedient to the will of God. Samson, however, lived most of his life not by faith; he lived in the power of his flesh. Samson spent most of his life trying to please Samson.
Physically, Samson was the most powerful and imposing of all the Judges. Spiritually, he was the weakest.
Most of his exploits revolve around him seeking revenge against those who have offended him. Most of his exploits arise out of his sinful desires that love for forbidden women. More Scripture is devoted to Samson than to nearly any other Judge, but that Scripture reveals a man who is not to be emulated.
Samson is a man whose life should be studied, but not duplicated. Yet, the lessons we learn from the life of Samson teach us that the greatest enemy we have is self. If we can learn to conquer self, we can walk in this life and spiritual victory in power. But I fear, but there is more Samson in each of us that we would like to admit.
In this text, we are going to see Samson at his finest hour. Samsonís star never climbed higher, nor did his light shine brighter than it does in these three short verses. In a moment of great desperation he casts himself on the Lord by faith. Samson is never stronger than he was during this moment of extreme weakness. On the heels of a great victory, Samson finds himself in a desperate situation. He turns to God and finds not only help for the moment; he also finds hope for his future.
I want to spend some time in these verses to consider the events that are revealed here. For the Samsonís finest hour, we find some lessons that will help us to live cleaner, more productive lives for the glory of God. So, letís consider the lessons that are revealed here as we think about Samsonís Finest Hour.
I. v. 18 SAMSONíS CONDITION
(Ill. This passage opens with Samson having just killed 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. After the battle we are told Samson is ďsore athirstĒ. Notice a couple thoughts related to Samsonís condition.)
A. The Reason For It – Having just come out of a heated battle, Samson is hot, tired, and dehydrated. I would imagine that killing 1000 Philistines would take a lot out of you. Judges 15:1 tells us that these events took place during the time of the ďwheat harvestĒ. Thus, the weather wouldíve been hot, and the battle wouldíve exacted a tremendous physical toll upon Samson.
B. The Reality of It – Verse 18 suggests that Samson feared he was going to die, for he said, ďand now shall I die from thirstĒ. Samson believes he has just come through a great battle and won a great victory, only to die as result of not having any water. For all of his great strengths, Samson was unable to help himself at this critical moment.
(Ill. God brought Samson to this point just to teach him a very important lesson. God allowed Samson to come to a place of total inability that he might learn the truth that he was not self-sufficient. He may have been able to kill 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, but he still needed God to meet the most basic needs of his life. Samson was taught the valuable truth, that ďwithout himĒ we ďcan do nothingĒ, John 15:5.
That is a lesson we need to learn as well. Many times we act like we think we are self-sufficient, but the truth is, without Him we are as helpless as babies. We are dependent upon him for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and for everything else we enjoy and have in this life. When we forget that, God will sometimes work in our lives to remind us that we need Him. Thereís an old song says, ďI canít even walk without you holding my handĒ. Thereís much truth in that statement! Without him we can ďdo nothingĒ! This is a lesson Paul had to learn, 2 Cor. 12:7-11, and it is a lesson we would do well to learn also.)
I. Samsonís Condition -
II. v. 18 SAMSONíS CRY
(Ill. In that moment of great weakness, Samson does the smartest thing he has done in his life to this point: he calls upon God. In this short, 27-word prayer, Samson speaks volumes. He speaks volumes about himself and about his God. Letís take a moment to examine Samsonís cry.)
A. It Was A Cry Of Humility – This prayer that poured from the lips of Samson is vastly different from the statement he made in verse 16. In that verse, Samson demonstrated that he had ďIĒ trouble. In verse 16 Samson quotes a poem and his own greatness. Samson gives no glory to God, but he claims all the glory for the victory for himself. Samson failed to remember that verse 14 says, ďthe Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon himĒ.
Now, Samson has been brought to the end of his abilities. He humbles himself before God and acknowledges his utter dependence upon the Lord. Samson knows that unless God intervenes, he will die. This is no longer a matter of personal glory; it is a matter of survival.
(Ill. This is a good reminder to us about how we should approach the Lord. We should never come to him making our demands of him; with the expectation that he owes us something. We should come to him humbly, remembering that he is the potter and we are the clay. We should come before him remembering that he owes us nothing, but that in his grace he has promised to give us everything, Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-34; Eph. 1:3. We should come to him remembering that he has invited us to come into His presence ďboldlyĒ, Heb. 4:16, but even as we come boldly, we should come as little children, with a humble heart and a meek spirit, looking to him for the things we need.
Ill. Describe how a child comes to a parent. They come with their hand out, their heart open, and with absolute faith that they will receive what they come after. They donít come demanding, but they come with innocent expectation, believing that the one they look to for their provision will give them their hearts desire. That is how we should approach our heavenly father, Luke 12:32.)
B. It Was A Cry Of Honor – Not only did Samson humble himself and look to God to have his needs met, he also took the time to exalt God in his prayer. Notice three ways that Samson honored the Lord when he prayed.
1. He Acknowledged Godís Power – Samson gives all the glory for the victory to God. He says, ďthou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servantĒ. Samson acknowledges the fact that it may have been his hand that held the jawbone of the donkey, but it was Godís power that gave the victory.
Again, that is a tremendous lesson for us. Sometimes we act like we think we can make it on our own. But the fact is, every victory in this life is the gracious gift of God. And we need to take time to knowledge His power in our lives. How long has it been Him since you praised Him for the victories He has given you in your life? He worthy to be acknowledged for His power! Think of all the prayers He has answered for you. Think of all the times that He has enabled you to serve Him. Think of how many times He has made a way when there seemed to be no way. Think of how His power has been manifest in your life, and praise Him for it! He is worthy!
2. He Acknowledged Godís Person – Not only does Samson praise God for His power, he also acknowledges Godís person. Samson calls himself ďthy servantĒ. With this statement, Samson appears ready to the knowledge God as his Master. This is why I said this might be Samsonís finest hour, because he finally got the priorities of his relationship with the Lord in the right order. Up until this time Samson has been the master and God got only the leftovers of a wasted life. Now, Samson appears ready to bow to the authority of God.
Again, thereís a lesson in this for us. Sometimes we fail to remember who is the master and who is a slave. I would just remind you today that when God saved us, and when He did, He purchased us unto Himself, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. Now, He owns exclusive rights to our lives. He alone has the power, and the right, to direct the course of our lives. He is the Master, and we are His slaves. We would do well to remember that!
3. He Acknowledged Godís Preeminence – Samson is worried that he might die, and ďfall into the hands of the uncircumcisedĒ. He seems to be concerned that if he dies in this manner, the Philistines will take his body and use his death as a way to dishonor God. So, Samson prays that God will spare him so that God may not be dishonored. At this single moment in time, Samsonís focus does not appear to be himself, but it appears to be the glory of God.
Again, this has something to teach us. Godís preeminence and His glory, should be the overriding factor in every decision and every action, 1 Cor. 10:31. I fear that we often think about ourselves before we ever take God into consideration. We do as we please, go where we please, and act as we please, with no regard for how our deeds reflect upon Lord. Our first consideration in every area of life should be to ask ourselves, ďWill this action glorify God, or will it diminish his glory?Ē sadly, for many people, the glory of God never even flickers on the radar of their life. Our goal should always be to exalt Him. Every action, every thought, every word, should be considered in the light of had impacts the glory of God. After all, the primary goal of our lives is to bring glory and honor to the God who redeemed us.
I. Samsonís Condition
II. Samsonís Cry
III. v. 19 SAMSONíS CONSOLATION
A. Godís Response – When Samson prayed, God heard him, and God answered his prayer. Our text says, ďGod clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came the water thereoutĒ. That has always bothered me. We already learned as we have studied the life of Samson that donkeys were unclean animals. It seemed strange to me that God would take the bone of an unclean animal and use it to provide water for his servant. It also struck me as strange that God would cause Samson to drink from the jawbone of a dead animal when Nazarites were forbidden from touching the dead. Then, when I studied the text, I discovered that the word ďjawĒ and the word ďLehiĒ translate the same word. Thus, it could mean that God caused a spring to flow up from the ground near where Samson was. Of course, God is God and if he decided to give Samson water from a jawbone that is His business. What really matters here is that God heard the cry of his man, and God answered his prayers.
This is just a reminder to us that we serve a God who hears and answers prayer. God invites us to pray, Jer. 33:3, He promises to hear us when we pray, Isa. 65:24, and He promises to answer our prayers, Matt. 7:7-11. No prayer is too small, and no prayer is too large. We are invited to come and Him, Heb. 4:16, and the cast our ďcaresĒ upon Him, 1 Pet. 5:7. God has made great promises to His people regarding prayer. When we pray, we will see Him work in power for His glory. If we refuse to pray, we will see nothing, James 4:2.
B. Samsonís Revival – when Samson prayed, God heard him. God answered Samson through the great miracle; by giving Samson what he needed at the weakest moment of his life. When Samson took what God gave them, his strength revived. Samson experienced a physical revival, and he was able to continue living.
Like Samson, we are often in need of a revival. There are two basic times in life when Godís people need revival. The first is in times of wickedness, and the second is in times of weakness. During both those times, we need for the Lord to miraculously open His word and give us the resources we need to have our strength restored. If we could ever drink deeply of the word of God, we would seek Godís deliverance from our times of wickedness and from our times of weakness. We would see him revive our weary souls. We would see him use us in greater ways. This is a call for all of Godís children to heed the word of God, to embrace its message, and to live out its dictates day by day. I would remind you of what James says, ďBut be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selvesĒ James 1:22. There is much benefit in hearing, heeding, and honoring the word of God, but there is only defeat in ignoring what God has to say. God has given us a well filled with refreshing water. We call that water the Bible. May we drink deeply of its refreshing streams, so that we may be revived in our spirits to live for him for his glory?
I. Samsonís Condition
II. Samsonís Cry
III. Samsonís Consolation
IV. v. 20 SAMSONíS CHANGE
(Ill. After the events at Lehi, Samson appears to change his ways. We are told ďhe judged Israel in the days before listings 20 yearsĒ. We have no record of what Samson did during those 20 years. None of his exploits are recorded for us. But there are two quick observations I would make from this verse that would let us know what kind of the time it was.)
A. It Was A Time Of Obedience – Up to this time, Samson has lived his life in disobedience. Now, it appears that he settles down and obediently serves the Lord for 20 years. That reflects a tremendous change in Samsonís attitudes and actions.
This is the kind of obedience God is looking for the lives of His people. He wants us to honor his will, John 14:15. He wants us to yield to his authority Rom. 12:1-2. He wants us to be a people who are standing for him all the time in the midst of a wicked world, Rom. 13:11-14.
B. It Was A Time Of Order – Our text seems to suggest that this 20-year period was a time of peace for the people of Israel. Samson was able to subdue the Philistines, and he was able to faithfully lead the people of God. For 20 years, Samson and the people of Israel, submitted themselves to the will of God, as a result, they experienced His peace in their lives.
The lesson for us ought to be clear. If we want to enjoy the peace and blessings of God; if we want to experience tranquility in our lives; if we would have the best God has to offer to us, then we must learn to submit to his will, at all times, in all things, and in all ways. This also reminds us that God is leading us to a place of stable performance. His desire for us is that we simply walk for Him. This implies simple, consistent, daily walking with God. It is a way of life in which we simply walk with Him, yield to Him and honor Him in all things day by day. It is a walk of life in which we are not up and down, in and out, and hot and cold. We are just faithful as we walk with Him moment by moment, 1 Cor. 15:58. God is looking for that kind of faithful obedience to His will, 1 Cor. 4:2. (Ill. Enoch – Gen. 5:22)
Conc: Samson made a lot of mistakes in his life, but when he humbled himself under the hand of God and submitted to the will of God, he achieved victory in his life.
What is the take away for us today? For me, I am reminded that I can be very stubborn at time. I can be want to go my own way, instead of going Godís way. If I am not careful, I can be a lot like Samson.
What I need to remember is that God is ďa very present help in a time of troubleĒ. If I will humble myself before Him, walk in His will and do what He has called me to do, I can experience His victory in my life.
What about you?
∑ Has God brought you to a place of weakness? Is He seeking to humble you before Him?
∑ Are there areas of your life that are not yielded to Him today?
∑ Do you have some need that you need to bring before the Lord today?
∑ Do you need a revival from a time of wickedness or weakness?
∑ Has He spoken to you about some need in your life?
∑ If He is reaching out to you, please respond to Him and let Him have His way!