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March 29 2015

Samson and the Patience of God

 

Our Scripture reading is Judges 13:2-7; 24-25. 

 

There is no other book like the Bible. It is, of course, the only book authored by the Holy Spirit as he guided the hands of the men who penned the words. Other pretenders are exposed in their false claims. The Quran contains no prophecies and records no miracles so it is immediately suspect. Further, it has factual errors, such as Moses talking to a “Samaritan” in Quran Twenty, over 700 years before one ever existed and stating that Jesus was never killed. The fact that Jesus was put to death is not only testified by the Bible but by other historians of the time such as Tacitus and Josephus. Similarly, the Book of Mormon contains factual errors and the Mormon’s so-called other divine book, Doctrines & Covenants, contains failed prophecies.

 

It is not just that the Bible is God’s word. That alone is sufficient for us to give great interest and to heed its words. But it is a book that meets the greatest needs of people. God could have left us on our own to find our way in the midst of darkness, relying on our own wisdom and intellect. He did not do that! He has given us a marvelous light in the pages of this book. It is a book that directs us, helps us, and brings us joy on our journey.

 

The accounts of people in the Old Testament, for example, are far more than stories to tell our children. They are types and shadows of our own lives. In them we are meant to see ourselves. In I Cor. 10:11-12 Paul reminds his readers of the Israelites disobedience in the wilderness and then we read:

 

            Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (ESV)

 

Young’s Literal translation renders this passage: 11 And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

12 so that he who is thinking to stand -- let him observe, lest he fall.

 

The experiences of the Israelites, as well as many persons in the OT, are types of our present spiritual journey and our struggles. As types, or pictures, they serve as examples to us. Therefore, we should pay close attention to them.

 

In the history of Israel we see that the leaders of God’s people, both kings and priests, often strayed away from the Lord. Therefore, God in His wisdom made a provision. This provision was the vow of the Nazirite. The word “Nazirite” means “consecrated one.”

 

We see that in times of degradation God raised up a Nazirite to deliver his people. Samson was a Nazirite. He delivered the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines when Israel was wayward.

There is a threefold consecration in the vows of the Nazirite. There are three items of separation. First, a Nazarite should not drink or eat anything of the grape, from its seeds to its skin. In typology, wine or anything of the grape signifies earthly pleasure or worldly enjoyment.

The second item of the Nazirite’s consecration is that his hair should not be cut. What does it mean to forbid the Nazirite to cut his hair? First Corinthians 11:14 says that long hair is a shame to a man. It is not a glory, but a shame. Long hair is a glory to a woman, but a shame to a man. A Nazirite is one who is willing to bear shame for the Lord. To have long hair means to be separated from self-glory. The self has been put to death; hence, there is no self-righteousness or self-glory.

The third item of the Nazarite’s consecration is that he must not be defiled by anything dead, especially by the death of his nearest relatives. Our nearest relatives, representing our natural affections, can be a means to deaden us. We must be separated from our natural affections, which so easily deaden. We can easily be deadened by other people’s deadness.

Natural affections are not a bad thing. It is good to bury your father, mother, brother, sister if they die.  Remember, these vows deal with physical matters in the OT, but these physical things picture spiritual realities. Our loved ones may not, often not, have the life that they should have. During the Nazirite’s period of consecration they must separate themselves from anything dead. This is a picture that, for the one consecrated to God, their living relationship with the Living God should not be drawn down by the spiritual deadness of their relatives and their close friends.

Nazirites took a vow over a period of time. Samson, however, was unique in that he was a Nazirite from birth and for life. As far as we know, the only one.

[I] Let us consider his life. Judges 13:24 says about him: “…the young man grew and the Lord blessed him.” We see what a good and auspicious beginning he had. The Lord’s grace and goodness was upon him. Even to grow is a grace. Of course, we are supposed to grow. That is part of life. But every aspect of life has been affected by the fall of man. Sin has deadened our spirits, infected our minds, and our bodies as well. Some people do not grow. When I was a young man we used to call them midgets and dwarfs. That is no longer politically correct. The right term is “little people.” And, when it comes to physical appearance, we should call people by the terms they prefer and avoid using terms that are offensive.

Because the affects of sin are pervasive the fact that you have grown is a grace. While some may have had traumatic childhoods, many of us have experienced the Lord’s blessings as we grew up. We were fed. We had a place to sleep. We received an education. We had at least one parent who loved us. The Lord has blessed you!

All of this is true and we should not forget the Lord’s blessings upon our lives in meeting our physical needs. I am reminded of David’s words of praise in Psalm 103:2.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits,

Take a moment right now to thank the Lord for Him blessing you as you grew up. 

Samson’s life, although it can remind us of earthly matters, is recorded to typify our spiritual journey. When we came to the Lord for salvation we grew in Him. We came to know Who God is and tasted the goodness of the Lord. God did bless us in our bodies and our minds but He has blessed us even more in our spirits. Each one of us can say: “I grew up and the Lord’s blessing was upon me.”

In Judges 13:25 we read: “The Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” Has the Spirit of the Lord ever stirred you? Yes, he has! If you belong to him he has stirred you! When the Spirit stirs us we may heed it or we may ignore it. When the Spirit of the Lord stirred Samson he heeded the stirring. This stirring will be to deeds of heroism against the Philistines who are oppressing his people. But before these deeds will be carried out something happens. Let us read 14:1-4. 

[2] We see that Samson was enticed by the desire of his eyes. He “saw a young Philistine woman.” She must have been beautiful. In verse 2 he does not come and ask his parents if he has their permission to seek after her. That is the appropriate course of action for anyone claiming to be a follower of the Living God. What is the counsel of your parents? For God uses parents to guide us and protect us even beyond our childhood years. Similarly, God has placed godly men and women in your life - elders, deacons, mature sisters in the Lord – to guide you.

Samson does not come and ask his parents if he has their permission to seek after her. Instead, he commands them.  “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”

[A] One sin leads to another. Samson possessed the same Scriptures that we had: the five books of Moses. He had Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It was called the Torah and he was familiar with it. In it God commands the Israelites to be separate from the uncircumcised peoples of the world. (“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.” Deut. 7:3) But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say he was like many Christians today and that he seldom read his Bible. Even so, his parents then reply:                “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”

His parents are asking him not to take a wife from among those who are uncircumcised, that is to say, among those who are not in a covenant relationship with the Living God. But all he does is command them again rather than heeding their godly advice.

You see, one sin leads to another. He sinned both by disobeying the Torah and by succumbing to the desire of his eyes. Then he sinned again by disobeying his parents.

[B] Verse 4 tells us that all this was from the Lord. Even sin is used by the Lord for his purposes. God is sovereign. This means that He controls all things and His will is going to come to pass eventually even though sidetracked by man’s waywardness. God allowed these things as an opportunity to defeat the Philistines, but He did not approve of it.

[C] The Philistines in typology represent those who are not in a covenant relationship with the Living God through Christ. They represent the unsaved persons of the world. The most important relationships that we have, such as marriage, father-son, mother-daughter, close friends, must be in the realm of faith. Why? For two reasons. First, even though we may influence them for good, they will also influence us. We see that in Samson’s life. Second, the Lord wishes to set us free from sorrow and heartache. Sorrows and heartaches result from intimate relationships with those who do not belong to Christ. (We should still have friends who are not believers with the goal of bringing them eternal life, but we should not enter into deep relationships with them.)

[D] Here is the most important matter to observe in the Lord’s dealings with Samson. The Lord is patient with him! Even in his disobedience God’s power comes upon him. (READ verses 5 and 6a) The fact that the lion was young is to indicate that it was in its full strength. This was not some old decrepit feline. It was young and in vigor ready to make a meal out of Samson. The strongest man on earth today would not be able to kill a lion unarmed. Possibly with a knife he might. But Samson tore the lion in pieces. That is strength! It was supernatural. The Lord’s blessings were with him! Listen!  We can be in disobedience and the Lord may still bless us and use us. But there will come a time when the Lord’s patience comes to an end. Do not think that because the Lord is blessing you right now that all is well. Examine yourselves.

[3] Samson was then enticed by the lust of his flesh. READ 16:1-3. He goes to Gaza, a city of the Philistines. He succumbs to the lust of the flesh. The Philistines were going to kill him but, even in his disobedience, the patience of God is shown in the power of God coming upon him. How patient the Lord is with Samson! Samson was a Nazirite but he did not live like a Nazirite. Oh, he lived according to the outward vows of a Nazirite. He did not cut his hair. He did not drink wine. He presumably kept himself from the dead. But what those things represent he did not live. He did not deny self-glory. He basked in it. He did not spurn worldly enjoyment. He partook of it. He did not refrain from close relationships with the spiritually dead. He sought after them.

Twice now he has spurned the will of God. But God is patient with him. We can be in disobedience and the Lord may still bless us and use us. We may even take burdens upon our shoulders and be successful in handling them as Samson did with the gates of Gaza. But there will come a time when the Lord’s patience comes to an end.

[4] Samson is enticed by the pride of life. We read in 16:4 -      After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. If you recall the story, Delilah seduced him to reveal the secret of his strength. After toying with her by making up stories about the source of his strength he finally gives in when she says, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me?” What are we to make of this? Samson continues to disobey the Lord. Delilah is another Philistine. She is not in covenant with Yahweh, the true God. When people do not have a relationship with God they have different values and different goals. Samson had a natural affection for her and she, naturally, had a natural affection for Samson. But it was all outside of God’s perfect will. God will use it to eventually destroy the Philistines, but it is contrary to his good and perfect will.

Oh, beware of natural affections! Romance. Fatherly love. Motherly love. Deep friendships. All these feelings are good when exercised in a mutual relationship where both are given over to follow Jesus. But they may be a cause of great stumbling, robbing us of joy and stealing away our own intimacy with the Lord! If Samson had lived out his Nazirite vows in reality instead of only outwardly then the Lord would have blessed him beyond measure and the Lord would have found another occasion to destroy the Philistines, for God always fulfills his plans.

We can see Samson’s pride in these comments by the narrator in verse 20: Samson thought “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” He took the Lord’s patience for granted.

The patience of the Lord came to an end for Samson. We read these sad words in 14:20 – “But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”

The Lord left him! The Lord allowed him three failures. Did you know the Lord often allows only three failures? Turn with me to Job 33:29-30.             “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.

God extends grace once, twice, even three times, to bring light and redemption. Do not take the Lord’s patience for granted!

Read Job 33:22-28. The Lord is patient and longsuffering. But his patience comes to an end. He has called some of you into his glorious life yet some of you have continued to heed your eyes, your strong desires, and pride.

 

Remember Samson. Today is the day to repent and receive the kindness and longsuffering of God as salvation and to be used by the Lord in a mighty way! If you will God will:

  1. return the days of your youthful vigor (Job 33:25)
  2. accept you (26)
  3. be joyful over you! (26)
  4. restore your righteousness (26)
  5. light you with the light of life! (30)