Larry Stephens - Samson - Madisonville KY 2005

In Judges 13 we read that the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord so he delivered into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. Then God decided to raise up Samson to deliver them from the Philistines. His mother was barren. It is interesting to me to notice that many times in the scriptures when a person was born for a special occasion, it was to a barren mother. I don’t know why but maybe because parents like that wouldn’t take for granted the child God gave them. Very often when people get married, they just take for granted that children will come and never think they are a gift from God. But, they are not your own – they are just entrusted to your keeping and it is a very serious thing to be bringing up children. Every child that is born in this world is a soul that will never ever die so that is why it is so serious. Samson’s parent’s felt very serious about bringing up this child. 

God’s angel told Samson’s mother that she would bear a son who “shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines”, and he was to be consecrated to God from his birth. His hair was never to be cut because he was to be “a Nazarite from the womb”. She went to Manoah, her husband, and told him about the angel’s appearance and message. His first reaction was to pray that God would send the messenger again to them to teach them how to raise the child. God heard his prayer and sent the angel back to the woman as she sat alone in the field. She made haste and ran to get her husband they went back to the angel together. Manoah asked the angel, “Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child and how shall we do unto him?” It is a very wonderful mark in parents when they entreat the Lord to teach them how to raise their children. It is interesting that the angel’s message was not so much how they should raise their child as it was how the parent’s themselves should be. He told them that the mother was not to drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing – and she was to observe all that was commanded her. She was to be consecrated to the Lord herself if she was to raise this child according to the Lord’s will. 

In John 17:19 Jesus was praying to God about His disciples and said, “For their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” It is wonderful when parents can have this same attitude about those that are trusted to them – teaching their children to honor God and separate themselves unto Him. So, where does this begin? With the parents being separated and consecrated themselves to God. That is where it must begin. 

There are very few places in the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit is mentioned but several times it is mentioned in the book of Judges and four in regard to the life of Samson. His life was definitely influenced by the Spirit. At the end of this chapter it says she bare a son and they called his name Samson and he grew and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. We don’t want to underestimate the influence of faithful parents but more important is that the Holy Spirit itself begins to influence the child himself. That was the case of Samson as he was sensitive to the dealings of the Spirit. He was to begin to deliver his people from the Philistines. 

In the 14th chapter we read about Samson as a young man with his parents going down to Timnath. A lion roared at him and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he slew the lion as if it were a kid, with nothing in his hand, and he didn’t tell his parents what he did. He was able by the Spirit to get victory over the lion in the secret place. We don’t get very old until we realize there are unseen conflicts that we have to face in the secret places of our life. Because the Spirit of the Lord was with him, he got victory in that secret place. Later he returned to that spot and turned aside to see the carcass of the lion and there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass. He ate of the honey himself and then took some in his hands to give to his parents to eat – but he didn’t tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. As far as we know he never told them about his victory there but from it he had sweetness for himself to enjoy and to share with others. They didn’t know the cost of the struggle behind that honey but they enjoyed it and benefited from it. Wonderful when we can have victory by God’s power in our secret life and then have blessings from it to share with others. 

Later he told the riddle “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness”. I wonder if that lion doesn’t represent our own flesh and carnal nature – it has a voracious appetite. The cry of the flesh is always, “Feed me” – as when Esau said, “Feed me”. Satisfy me and give me what I crave. One way to react to the roar of the lion or our flesh is to throw it something to eat and maybe it will go away, but it will come again and next time it will be bigger and stronger and it will take more to satisfy him than before. It is a no-win situation. The “eater” needs to be dealt with in the secret place like Samson dealt with the lion. 

In Sweden we have a bird called a cuckoo. I don’t know if you have it here. It doesn’t make a nest for its eggs but lays them in another bird’s nest and then goes its way. The mother of the nest unwittingly hatches out that foreign egg which becomes a bigger and stronger bird than hers and it gets all the food so it is the one that survives and pushes the others out of the nest. So the poor mother feeds it at the expense of her own. That is how subtle our enemy is – we could be feeding desires and purposes that are foreign to God’s people and kingdom and they will get stronger and stronger. Then what really belongs in our heart and life will get pushed out by what we are feeding on. 

It was extremely unusual what Samson found when he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion he had slain. It had been lying there in the sun and heat and what he would expect to find was maggots, flies and a stink. I’m sure he never expected to find the bees and honey there. It is a basic part of Jesus’ doctrine that we are to put to death our carnal members. Every day it is a battle to deny ourselves because it rises up again and returns and has to be slain again – so therefore we have to deal with it every day. What follows death ordinarily is corruption, but not so with this spiritual death to flesh – there is a sweetness and a blessing contrary to nature. 

II Cor. 2:15 and 16, “We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.” It seems hard to understand these verses how we could be one savor to those who are saved and another to those that are lost. But, the world sees us as a savor of death and denial and they sense that savor of death and it repels them. To those that are saved, that same spiritual death and victory in unseen conflicts has a sweet savor and it brings blessing to them. The flesh says, “Feed me”; the world says, “follow me”; and the devil says, “fall down and worship me”. That is our three-fold enemy to overcome. Satan said to Jesus, “If you will just fall down and worship me….” Sometimes the devil is a little more subtle with us and said, “Sit down and let’s just talk this thing over”. That is the way he was with Eve in the garden – it says he was more subtle than all the beasts in the field. A hunter in the woods met a bear who said to him, “Good morning Mr. Hunter, what are you doing this morning?” The hunter replied, “I am hunting for a fur coat.” The bear said, “Well, I am looking for lunch. Let’s just sit down on this log and talk about it.” So they sat down together on the log and the bear got his lunch and the hunter got his fur coat. 

In the 15th chapter of Judges we see that Samson had some victories over the Philistines and the Philistines sought to take revenge by attacking Judah. Then 3,000 men of Judah who were afraid of the Philistines came to Samson and asked him why he had riled the Philistines, seeing they were under their rule. Then they said, we are come down to bind thee and deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. So, Samson said, “Swear unto me that ye will not fall upon me yourselves”. Actually they should have been his friend and on his side because he was on theirs, but they weren’t because they were defeated and just didn’t want to fight their enemy. They were submitted to them and had no desire to resist. So, they bound him with new cords and delivered him into their hands. But, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and his bands were loosed from his hands. He found a new jawbone of an ass and with it slew a thousand men. Moses spoke of one man chasing a thousand and two putting ten thousand to flight. It would be amazing enough that one would chase a thousand but that two would chase 10,000! Two would do ten times more than what one could do – that is the strength of togetherness and unity and the blessing of helping one another. However, if we must stand alone, God can be with us and God and one is a majority. What could have been accomplished if those three thousand had helped him face the enemy? But, they were resigned to be slaves and had no heart to fight. Samson had some wonderful victories because of the power of God. 

Someone has said that “In every victory are hidden the seeds of defeat and in every defeat are hidden the seeds of victory.” 

We read in the 16th chapter of Samson after many victories having a smashing defeat. Maybe the seeds of that defeat were found in his victories. Maybe he got self reliant in his victories. Samson gave away the secret of his great strength to Delilah and she had his hair cut off and he awoke and thought he could do as at other times, but he didn’t know that the Lord had departed from him. Always before, he could deliver himself and nobody could get the best of him because God was with him – so he thought he could do as he had done before. But, he was helpless and no match for the Philistines who put out his eyes and carried him bound into the prison house to grind grain. The Philistines likely gloated over that victory and probably Israel thought he was a goner, gone down in defeat with no hope for him. But, in that defeat were the seeds of victory. No matter how crushing and shameful the defeats, those seeds of victory were growing. 

Actually, the greatest victory in his life was after that terrible defeat. He would have given thanks for the wonderful mercy and kindness of God to give him another chance. God didn’t write him off as everyone else did. In his humiliation and bondage he prayed to God to remember him and strengthen him only this once more to avenge him of the Philistines. His hair would have been growing and God wasn’t content to leave him there a goner and lost so He came to his help. The Philistines were having a victory celebration with all the big brass – all the lords of the Philistines were gathering together to rejoice and saying “Our god hath delivered Samson, our enemy into our hand.” So they called for Samson to be brought to make sport of him and they set him between the pillars and he asked the lad who led him to let him feel the pillars whereupon the house stood so that he could lean on them. The house was full of men and women and on the roof of the house were about three thousand men and women. While they were scorning him for their victory and his defeat, he was praying for God’s help and “then let me die with the Philistines.” He leaned with all his might on the pillars that supported the house and it fell on all the people that were in it. So he slew more at his death than he did in life. The secret of this victory was in his words, “Let me die”. In Revelation 12:11, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death”. I think it far more significant than I understand that if we love our life in this world, we are leaving ourselves wide open for the enemy to get an advantage of us. Jesus said that he that loveth his life shall lose it. We are so prone as humans to love and want to save ourselves – self preservation is a very strong trait. “If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” It is so contrary to our nature to lay aside what we are and wish to be, and just follow the Christ. We seek instead to please ourselves and see our own advantage and interest – this is so basic in our nature and the way everyone else is living, except God’s people. But, Jesus made it the requirement for the kingdom that we die to ourselves – deny yourself and take up your cross. It will be a tremendous victory for the world, flesh and devil if we don’t deny ourselves. 

One of Samson’s problems was that he didn’t recognize his enemy. The Philistines he surely recognized as his enemy, but the enemy that got the best of him was the one he loved and that lay in his bosom. That was the one for whom he should have been most careful. You would think that he would have awakened after two of three times of her tricking him to try to find out his secret, but he didn’t. She finally said to him, “How can you say you love me when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times and have not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.” So she pressed him daily with her words and urged him so that his soul was vexed unto death and then he told her all his heart. Then she knew how to take advantage of him. 

Micah 7:5 and 6 says, “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom…for a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” That is a dreadful thing if that is the way you have to live. Samson was to blame for putting himself in that situation to begin with but he was blind to what her motives were. 

At the last convention a young woman gave her testimony after someone had spoken about God’s people having a safe harbor and a place of rest. She said she lived in a divided home with a husband that didn’t love what she did and had no time for the things of God. Her home should have been a haven but she said there was nowhere she could get alone and find quietness. I felt sorry for her because she had no refuge and no haven. “A man’s foes shall be they of his own house.” So glad for those who are together in this and have the support and comfort of those they live with who will hold up their hands. How difficult it must be for those who have it otherwise but remember that one person and God is a majority. Even if others are against us, God is for us, so be true to Him and He will be true to you. 

We sang in that hymn, “If it had not been the Lord when our ruthless foes assailed, no defense would I have known – if my Lord had not prevailed.” Samson knew wonderful victories but not because he was so strong but because God was with him and he prevailed. Our only hope of strength is in the Lord. If the Lord were not with us in our battles, we would have gone down in defeat. Samson told Delilah, “I am a Nazarite and if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” He knew he was no different except the Lord was with him and he would have no power at all. Sometimes we see pictures of Samson in children’s Bible story books and they show him as a very brawny, muscular man. But I don’t think that is correct at all for he said he would be like any other man without his hair. Delilah couldn’t see why he was so strong or she would have defeated him before. It wasn’t visible to the human eye why he was so powerful, and those looking on couldn’t understand. Don’t forget that “if it weren’t for the Lord on our side, no defense would I have known.”