Samson - Shortsighted And Short-Circuited

Bible Book: Judges 
Subject: Samson; Sin, The Cost of

Samson is one of the more colorful figures of the Bible. As a child in Sunday School, his physical exploits captured my youthful imagination, and filled me with wonder and admiration.

I tended to overlook, or perhaps simply ignored the flaws of this amazing biblical character. Being very thin, and painfully insecure, the most important thing to me about Samson was that he was both special and strong. At the time, that seemed to be all that mattered to me. I think I probably excused Samson’s misdeeds by blaming them on that mean and wicked hussy, Delilah.

Fortunately, God doesn’t view men from a child’s perspective. God sees men as they really are, not as we would imagine them. As the Scriptures tell us, “…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam.16: 7b). God views a person’s life from the vantage point of His holiness, seeing the evil, as well as the good. God’s piercing sight is unaffected by sentiment or superstar status.

Today, I want us to take a realistic look at the man Samson. Here was a man that was special, yet he was shortsighted and short-circuited, spiritually speaking. He was shortsighted in that he looked only as far as the next fleshly sensation. He was spiritually short-circuited by his sinful indulgence, which cut off the flow of God’s power in his life.

How sad that one so specially equipped for God’s service, had to be sidelined because of sin. However, this is precisely one of the lessons to be learned from Samson’s life. Sin can definitely sideline any servant of God. No amount of special talents and abilities can guarantee success in the Christian life. Only a surrendered and obedient relationship with Christ can do that.

Let’s be careful to heed the lessons found in Samson’s sad life.

I. Samson's Conception

A. The Circumstances Surrounding Samson’s Conception

1. Israel Was Backslidden And In Bondage

Judges 13:1, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.”

The words “Israel did evil again” seem to stick out in this verse. This was the story of Israel from the very beginning. Their history is replete with an “on again/off again” relationship with God.

The problem at this point, as it was so many times before, was one of idolatry. In judgment, God had permitted the Philistines to oppress the nation of Israel. But such is the nature of sin in the life of the believer. Sin will always bring into bondage those who yield to it. Sin promises cheer, but delivers chains. Sin promises fulfillment, but delivers failure and fetters.

2. Manoah’s Wife Was Barren

Judges 13:2,“And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.”

In these days, a woman’s barrenness was viewed as a sign of God’s disfavor.

God, in His marvelous wisdom, has a subtle way of getting His point across. It is my belief that God permitted a deliverer to be born to a barren woman not only to show His power, but also to say to Israel, “Look! As a nation, that is your condition as well. You are spiritually barren. You are spiritually unproductive.” However, the Lord, through the birth of Samson, wanted to demonstrate the fact that He was willing to turn barrenness into blessing if Israel was willing to repent and turn back to the Lord.

B. The Courier Who Announced Samson’s Conception

1. The Announcement Came Via An Angel

Judges 13:3a,“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman…”

During Old Testament times, angels often were dispatched by God to announce the birth of some significant person. This was true of Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ.

It is needful that we take a closer look at the words, “the angel of the Lord.” Often in the Old Testament, these words tip us off to an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. However, in this verse that would be an erroneous assumption. This particular angel’s actions show that this was not the pre-incarnate Christ. Anytime the pre-incarnate Christ was offered worship, He received it. But according to Judges 13: 16, this angel bluntly refused to allow Manoah and his wife to offer a burnt offering unless it was offered to the Lord.

2. This Angel Made An Important Announcement

Judges 13:3b,“…Behold now, thou art barren, and barest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.”

This would have been a doubly exciting announcement to Manoah’s wife, for not only was the reproach of being barren about to cease, but she was to give birth to a man-child. Male children, in this day and time, were highly prized.

C. The Conditions Of Samson’s Conception

Judges 13:4, “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

The laws pertaining to the vow of a Nazarite are found in Numbers 6: 2-21. In many cases, one who took the vow of a Nazarite did so for only a specified length of time. During that time, the person was to be wholly separated unto God, which was demonstrated by eating or drinking nothing that came from a vine or anything that was ceremonially unclean; by not cutting their hair; and by not coming into the proximity of anything dead.

The difference in Samson’s case was that he was to be a Nazarite from his conception in the womb until the day he died. He was to be God’s special instrument his whole life.

II. Samson's Calling

A. It Was A Calling Of Dedication

Judges 13:7b, “…for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.”

The fact is, Samson’s whole life was to be lived out in total commitment and service toward God. When you really think about it, that’s exactly the same responsibility given to every child of God. Note just a few passages dealing with this responsibility.

Matthew 6:33a, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…”

Luke 16: 13, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”\

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

David Brainerd had learned what it meant to be totally devoted to God. David Brainerd was an American colonial missionary to the Indians who died at the age of twenty-nine. His diary reveals a young man intensely committed to God. Brainerd once said to Jonathan Edwards: “I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high seat or a low seat there...My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory.” Today in the Word, November 19, 1997

B. It Was A Calling To Deliverance

Judges 13:5b, “…and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Samson was to be a living example of God’s great strength and power to deliver. As a matter of fact, the name “Samson” comes from the Hebrew word “SHIMSHON,” meaning “strong” (Dr. William Smith, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, published by A.J. Holman Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; pg. 267). Samson’s mission in life was to be God’s instrument of deliverance.

Again, the correlation to the saints of today is readily seen here. God’s blood-washed children of today certainly cannot save anyone in and of themselves. However, we are to be God’s instruments of deliverance to a lost world, by sharing the gospel and holy living. The Scriptures speak to this issue as well.

Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

III. Samson's Corruption

A. At First, Strength And Power Were Apparent In His Life.

1. The Power Of God’s Spirit Was Evident Early In His Life

Judges 13:24b-25, “…and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”

2. The Power Of God’s Spirit Wrought Extraordinary Events In His Life

He killed a lion with his bare hands.

Judges 14:4b-5, “…and, behold, a young lion roared against him. 5 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father and his mother what he had done.”

He single-handedly killed thirty Philistines.

Judges 14:19a, “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle…”

He killed one thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.

Judges 15:14-15, “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. 15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.”

Folks, listen. Samson was a bad dude. He was definitely no pushover. He was sort of like this guy.

A Real Bad Dude

An old fellow had been in the north woods for weeks by himself, camping out. Each night at dusk he built a campfire, boiled water for coffee, and took out his skillet to fry up some bacon for dinner. As he was sitting by the fire one night, the water boiling and the bacon sizzling, he heard a tremendous racket in the brush. The sound was like a roaring freight train, and as trees fell over and branches snapped, the biggest bear he’d ever seen lumbered into the clearing. On the bear’s back was a tough-looking hombre holding a seven-foot live rattlesnake in his hands. The man shouted and screamed as he brought the bear to a skidding halt, bit the head off the rattlesnake, and flung it into the brush. Then he slid off the bear’s back, turned, and hit him between the eyes, knocking him unconscious. The camper was speechless as this wild-eyed renegade walked over to the fire, tossed the boiling coffee down his throat, drank the hot grease from the skillet, and ate all of the bacon in one bite. As he wiped his hands with poison ivy and slapped the bear back to consciousness, he turned to the camper and said, “Partner, I’m sorry I can’t stay around and visit with you a while, but I’ve got to keep moving ‘cause a real bad dude is chasing me!” From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994), pp. 94- 95.

Though this incident was a miraculous feat, it is sobering to learn that this is the last time the words “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him” are used with reference to Samson. After chapter 15, that terminology is not used again. You see folks, sin short-circuits the power of God’s Spirit in the Christian’s life. It always has, and it always will.

One thing needs to be made clear at this point: Great ability used outside the power of God’s Spirit, becomes an exercise in fleshly pride. This became evident in Samson’s life.

B. Later, Self-Will And Pride Were Apparent In His Life

Pride is an extremely subtle sin, as this story points out. Paul W. Powell once observed: “Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the story of the Pharisee and the publican, said, ‘Children, let’s bow our heads and thank God we are not like the Pharisee!’” Today in the Word, September 23, 1995, p. 30.

Samson’s pride and self-will was evidenced by knowingly violating the Nazarite code. Look at Judges 14:8-9, “And after a time he returned to take her (his Philistine wife), and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. 9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.”

The carcass of the lion is a type of the corruption of sin. The Nazarite was not to come near the corruption of death, since it would render them ceremonially unclean. Just as Samson was to stay away from the corruption of death, the saint is to stay away from sin, which results in spiritual corruption and death.

James 1:15, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Samson’s pride and self-will was evidenced by demanding to take a Philistine wife against his parents’ counsel. Note Judges 14:3, “Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.”

The Israelites were forbidden by God to marry the heathen (Deut.7: 3). It is clear from the end of chapter 14 that Samson had every intention of marrying this Philistine woman. However, God, via the riddle fiasco, overruled Samson’s self-will and pride, using this intended marriage as an occasion against the enemies of God (Judges 14: 4).

Samson’s pride and self-will was evidenced at Gaza, by taking the gate of the city. We read in Judges 16:3, “And Samson lay (with a harlot) till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.”

To rip off the brass gate of Gaza, with its two posts, was no small feat in itself. This gate was no doubt extremely heavy. However, even more remarkable is the fact that once Samson had removed the gate, he then carried them on his shoulders “forty miles, to the vicinity of Hebron” (Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Mood Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg.259).

This served little purpose other than to show off Samson’s physical prowess, while antagonizing the enemy.

C. Eventually, Sensuality and Promiscuity Were Apparent In His Life

He took up with a harlot at Gaza. Judges 16:1, “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.” He took up with Delilah, the pawn of the Philistines. Judges 16:4, “And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.”

IV. Samson's Conclusion

A. His Sin Rendered Him Spiritually Impotent

Judges 16:19, “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”

It’s sad, but true. Samson fell asleep in the lap of Delilah a powerful man, but awakened a  powerless and pitiful man. Sin had so deadened Samson’s spirit that he wasn’t even aware that “the Lord was departed from him” (v. 20b).

B. His Sin Resulted In His Imprisonment

Judges 16:21, “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.”

Please notice three things that sin did to Samson: (1) It blinded him, (2) It bound him, and (3) It broke him. Many people who are living wicked and self-centered lives, think that they’ve got life by the tail; that they have everything under control. The fact is however, sin has control of them; they are spiritually blind and bound, and eventually sin will break them.

C. His Sin Repaid Him With Death In Ignominy

Judges 16:27-30, “Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. 28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”

Sin had made Samson the laughingstock of the enemy. And it will do the same to any child of God who gives it a foothold in their life. Samson’s sin had made him a blind, bound, and broken man.

It’s sad when the lost die, having rejected the Lord. But folks, it’s also sad when the child of God dies, having rebelled against the Lord. Samson could have been so much more for God. But sin made him spiritually shortsighted and short-circuited. Don’t let it happen to you.