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By Faith Samson... (Part 2) Sermon on Hebrews 11:32-34

Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 11:32-34, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”.

Last week we considered the faith of Israel as God raised up Samson by looking at Judges 15. Today we will consider the faith of Samson by considering Judges 13, 14 and 16. To do this we will consider...

  1. The Foundation Of Samson’s Faith (Judges 13)

  2. The Perils That Threatened Samson’s Faith (Judges 14)

  3. The Victory of Samson’s Faith At The End (Judges 16)

The Foundation Of Samson’s Faith – Judges 13

We discover in Judges 13:1 that the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. As a result, God had given them into the hands of their enemies. Surprisingly, after 40 years Israel had not cried out to God for help. Therefore God will sovereignly raise up a man who will begin to deliver His people (4).

As you begin to read you discover that the birth of Samson will be a miracle. Judges 13:2 says, “There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children.

We are not told how long they had tried to have children. We are not told if they had been praying for a child. But we know that for them having children was an impossibility for two reasons.

  • First, she is described as being ‘barren and childless’. The doctors had made a diagnosis. They knew, their family knew it, and the entire community knew it.

  • Second, a divine diagnosis has been given in Judges 13:3 by the LORD, “And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have not borne children…”.

Such a divine diagnosis would be devastating if it did not come with ‘Good News’ of a promise for a child. The angel of the LORD says, “...but you shall conceive and bear a son.” (3)

After this promise was given this woman was also given instructions that she is to carefully obey. The angel of the LORD says in Judges 13:4-5, “Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Numbers 6)

Do you think that these instructions would have been burdensome to this woman? Not if she receives the promise concerning this child by faith. Not if she receives these instructions and determines to obey them by faith.

{Illustration: We are blessed at Community Church to have a lot of young families. Many of these parents have had to obey strict instructions for the health and welfare of the child. One of our mothers spent several months in the hospital. I am sure that this has not always easy, however, it was never a burden that they were not willing to do. They were called by God to be parents and they loved their child so how could they not do these things?}

After her encounter with the angel if the LORD Samson’s mother tells her husband everything (6-7). She admits that she did not know everything. She did not know where he was from and she did not know his name but she tells her husband everything else. Judges 13:8 describes Manoah’s reaction. He prays, “O LORD, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.

Manoah’s response is special in two ways.

  • First, at this time Israel was rebellious and they were not a praying people, but Manoah immediately prays!

  • Secondly, Manoah also lived among a people who were always ‘doing what is right in their own eyes’; but Manoah asks to be taught how to raise this child as God would see fit.

God hears Manoah’s prayer and the angel of the LORD appears to them a second time (9-20). During this encounter Manoah has many questions,

  • Are you the man who spoke to this woman?(11)

  • What is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission? (12)

  • What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you? (17)

Two important things happen during this visit.

  • First, the angel of the LORD speaks once again about the original commands that were given on the first visit, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.” (13-14)

  • Secondly, by the end of this encounter Samson’s parents know who it is that they have been talking too (21). We read these words in Judges 13:21-23, “Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, ‘We will surely die, for we have seen God.’ But his wife said to him, ‘If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.’

After this encounter we are told that the angel of the LORD never appeared to them again (21). However, the LORD was present with with their son as he grew up. We read in Judges 13:24-25, “And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s parents believed the LORD and obeyed all that they were told by faith. Because of this the LORD blessed Samson and He began to stir his heart towards the things that he had been consecrated to do. Judges 13 describes the foundation of Samson’s faith as he was taught, instructed and a lifestyle of faith was modeled by them by his parents.

Samson would have to receive these things by faith. We discover that Samson did this. He testifies in Judges 16:17, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, them my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” Samson believed and obeyed the LORD by faith.

The Perils That Threatened Samson’s Faith- Judges 14

As Samson grew God was with him in a special way. Samson had a stable home life but as Samson grew His life became messy through compromise and sin. We discover that Samson often flirted with danger so we may ask, “Is the LORD able to accomplish His purposes and plans through Samson?

The answer to this question is given in Judges 14:1-4whenSamson wanted to marry a Philistine girl against the clear instructions of scripture. We read, “His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.” From this point on Samson will sin many times but God will use these things for His purposes. (Jeremiah 10:23, Proverbs 16:1, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 20:24)

We have seen Samson’s father pray and seek God’s grace and wisdom; unfortunately, Samson is more like faithless Israel than he will be like his parents. For example, Samson does not pray much even when it would have helped. And Samson will often do what is right in his own eyes rather than doing what is pleasing to the LORD. (13:13-14,14:3, 7).

In Judges 14there are many things that threaten Samson’s faith. In Judges 14:1-7 Samson desires to marry a Philistine woman even though God had forbidden His people to do this (Deuteronomy 7:1-11). Because Sampson’s conscience did not go off to this danger God gives him a warning when his parents express their concernsby saying, “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.” (14:3)

Samson sins by ignoring this warning and dishonors his parents. He sins by pursuing his own will and doing what seems right in His own eyes. This sin cannot be justified or excused by God; nevertheless, God will use these this situation to accomplish His will.

In Judges 14:5-9 we see that Samson engages in a couple compromises that threaten his faith. We see Samson compromise when he walks through the vineyards of Timnah as he is going to marry this Philistine woman. Having taken a Nazarite vow in which he was not to eat anything from the vines Samson should not have been anywhere near this vineyard (1 Thess 5:22, Prov 4:14-15).

A vineyard is a dangerous place for one who has taken a Nazirite vow. In Numbers 6:2-4 we read, “When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

Thomas Brooks said, “The devil counts a fit occasion half a conquest, for he knows that a corrupt nature has a seed-plot for all sin, which being drawn forth and watered by some sinful occasion, is soon set a-work to the producing of death and destruction.

Samson is flirting with great danger when he walks through this vineyard. Because of this Samson is given a warning by a tiger that approaches him. He does not flee from the vineyard, but God will use this moment and the Spirit rushes upon Samson and he kills this beast with his bare hands.

After this, Samson again shows that he has not learned from these things when he returns later to the same place and he notices that a swarm of bees have made honey within the dead lion. Again, it was against the Nazarite vow for him to come into contact with a dead carcass but Samson’s conscience is not alarmed(Numbers 6:6-9; Leviticus 5:2; 11:26). God provides a warning by the presence of these bees, but Samson approaches the lion and scrapes out the honey and eats it.

In Judges 14:10-20 we see that Samson did not see the danger to his faith when he becomes friends and companions with the Philistines. On this occasion Samson enters into a bet with these 30 men and he gives them a riddle. If they can answer it they would each be given a set of clothes by Samson. However, if they cannot answer the riddle they would have to give Samson 30 pairs of clothes. What starts out as a game will soon turn to anger, threats, death and widespread destruction!

Half way through the wedding feast themen cannot answer the riddle so they threatened Samson’ wife and family. As a result, she weeps before for days and says, “You only hate me. You do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” (16)She pressed Samson so hard that he gives in and tells her the answer to the riddle.

She tells the Philistines and they win the bet. Samson becomes angry and he goes and kills thirty men of Ashkelon to pay off his debt. Afterwards he returns to his fathers house. Even in all of these things God uses these things to judge the Philistines as He begins to deliver His people.

Last week we consideredJudges 15and as you come to the end of the chapter you read these words, “And Samson judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.” (20)

I wonder what Samson was like during these 20 years of silence in scripture? Was he growing spiritually, in wisdom, in discernment, in character, in faith? Scripture is silent about these details.

In Judges 16 the silence is brokenand we find Samson continuing to flirting with danger. InJudges 16:1-3 we find Samson going into a prostitute and the Philistines set a trap for him. Once again the LORD delivers Samson from this.

In Judges 16:4-17 we find Samson falls in love with another woman named Delilah. Samson begins to give his heart to this woman and tells her the secret to his strength and she tells it to the Philistines. As a result, the Philistines are able to seize him, gouged out his eyes, bring him to Gaza, they bind him in bronze shackles, and then they made him grind at the mill as if he were a beast (21). These are some of the things that imperiled Samson’s faith.

The Victory of Samson’s Faith On The Day Of His Death

It would be incredibly sad if this is where the story ended. We might evenquestion why Samson is found in Hebrews 11where he is commended for his faith. However, it is in this dark moment where the virtue of Samson’s faith shines the brightest for us to see.

The puritan Thomas Brooks wrote a book called ‘Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devises’. He says that one of Satan’s devices to draw a soul into sin is to ‘present the best men’s sin’s while he hides their virtues. Satanwill show us the sins of godly menbut hewill hide from our view their sorrows and repentance. Satan sets before a person the adultery of David, the pride of Hezekiah, the impatience of Job, the drunkenness of Noah, the blasphemy of Peter, the sins of Samson, etc., but he hide from us the tears, the sighs, the groans, the humblings, and repentings of these precious souls.’

The Holy Spirit has shown us the sins of Samson. We have seen that Samsonlacked self-discipline. He sinned with his eyes, with his appetites, with his judgments, with his lack of discernment, and with his mouth which had brought him great trouble. Samson did not seem to have a conscience that would be alarmed when danger was near. He did not seem to learn from his previous sin and he failed to heed the warning signs that were present at these times. He was slow to pray and to approach the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help him in his time of need.

And yet, the Holy Spirit, unlike Satan, will not end this story without showing us Samson’s virtues as he is sorrowful over his sin and its consequences. The Holy Spirit does not hide from our view the fact that even under these circumstances Samson repents and receives forgiveness. At the end of Samson’s story we see his tears, his sighs, his groans, his humbling and his repenting.

This is why the author of Hebrews commends the faith of Samson. Dr. Albert Mohler highlights this as well when he speaks of Samson’s sins and then says, “Even so, the author does not remember them for their flaws. He commends them for their faith. Though they sinned, their lives were ultimately marked by their faith in God.

The men and women in Hebrews 11all sinned but they all cried tears of sorrow, they sighed under the consequences of their sin, they groaned under the burden of their sin, they were humbled by their sin and they turned to God to receive His mercy and grace.

Let’s take a moment and read Judges 16:23-28 & 30,

23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.

28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes… And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.”

It is hard to read what happened to Samson. And it is hard to read about how the Philistines mocked God and celebrated their victory over the God of Israel. However, that day reminds us of another day when another Jew was mistreated by men. There was a day when the people plotted His death and celebrated His capture. On that day the people mocked Him, scoffed at Him, and ridiculed Him. They spread his arms out and nailed Him to the cross. To many, this was entertaining; but to His disciples, this was a dark day, a hopeless day, a day of despair.

But in God’s sovereign wisdom God had designed this day to be a victorious day where His Son Jesus Christ would win a decisive victory over all of His enemies. And on this day Jesus would have a great victory for the sake of His Church, His Bride, For His chosen people.

It has at times been hard to read about Samson and his sin. However, as I consider these thing2 I appreciate Paul’s words in Romans 11:29-36 which says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Samson received mercy and grace when he humbled himself and prayed to the LORD. Our sins are great but His mercy is more. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. As Paul has said, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!...For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


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