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The Faith Of Samson... Part One

Our text this morning is Hebrews 11:32, “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…”. Over the last two weeks we have considered the faith of Gideon and Barak. For the next two weeks we will consider the faith of Samson which is found in Judges 13-16.

In Hebrews 11:32 we are taking some time to consider the faith of the six men who are mentioned by name in Hebrews 11:32. Dr. Albert Mohler says, “The lives of those mentioned in this passage serve as examples for us. Were they perfect examples? No.’” Dr. Mohler is telling us that these men are examples of how much we all need the mercy and grace of God (Hebrews 4:16).

Dr. Mohler goes on to say, “Gideon demanded signs from God and led Israel to sin when He made an ephod; Samson was sexually promiscuous and broke his covenant with God; Jephthah vowed to sacrifice his own daughter; David committed adultery with a woman and tried to cover it up by arranging the death of her husband. Even so, the author of Hebrews 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”.

As I sat down to write this sermon, I quickly realized that this would be a two-part sermon. The reason for this is because I think that if we come to appreciate the community in which Samson lived then we will understand him and his faith a little better next week.

In the book of Judges, we have seen a reoccurring theme. We have seen that ‘the people of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of the LORD’. Because of this God would discipline His people. Eventually the people would cry out to God for help (Judges 4:3, 6:6). When they would do this the LORD would do two things. He would bring His Word to produce faith in His people. Then He would raise up a judge to deliver them from their enemies (4:4-6, 6:8-12).

In the story about Samson, we see in Judges 13:1 that the people again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. We are also told that because of this God had given them into the hands of the Philistines. Surprisingly, however, we are not told that the people cried out to God for help, but God will raise up a deliverer for His people by sheer mercy and grace. In this we discover that God can act sovereignly way to help His people wherever and whenever He chooses.

Samson is not much different from the people that He is judging! For example, Samson is often found going after what 'looks good in his own eyes' and he is always putting himself in dangerous situations that could compromise his faith (14:3, 7; 16:1, 4). And yet, God uses this man for His purposes (14:4).

{Application: Even though Samson received mercy and grace he did not accomplish all that he could have accomplished because of his tendencies towards presumptuous sins (13:24). Similarly, we have also received grace and mercy. None of us want this grace and mercy be received in vain. We should heed the exhortation of Paul in Romans 12:1-2when he says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”}

God moves in a sovereign way to begin to deliver His people because Israel seems to be content to be in subjection to their enemies. God’s people aren’t praying for help, but He will be merciful anyways!

Interestingly, their prayerlessness is also a trait that we find in Samson. In these four chapters Samson only prays to the LORD twice. He prays once when he is thirsty after a battle (15:18). He prays again for strength at the day of his death (16:28) Samson does not appear to pray much even though he often finds himself in situations where he should have prayed to be kept from temptation (Matthew 26:41). Despite Samson’s great supernatural strength his flesh was weak, and he should have availed himself to the Spirit who is always willing and able to conquer the temptations we face.

{Opportunity for worship: Even though Israel does not pray God is going to sovereignly act. God has done this for all of us too. It takes a sovereign and powerful move of God to deliver us from our sins (Ephesians 2:1-10). We were enslaved to sin and were not looking for deliverance (Romans 3:9-18). Aren’t you glad that God sovereignly and powerfully acted in your life! (Hebrews 12:7-11)}

We discover that Israel was content to be subjected to their enemies. We read of this in Judges 15: 9-13. In this part of the story, Samson has dealt a great blow to the Philistines (15:1-8). As a result, 1000 Philistines pursue Samson to ‘bind him and to do to him as he had done to them’ (15:9). The Philistines encounter 3000 Israelites who are terrified even though they outnumbered their enemy 3 to 1 (15:11, 15). The Philistines were brutal. If you read this story, they had just burned a man and his daughter to death.

To save themselves the men of Judah agree to deliver Samson into their hands. The sad part about this is that they do not realize that God is working through Samson to deliver them from their enemies (13:5). They are so faithless at this point that they do not realize that the Spirit of the LORD is empowering Samson to do great things for them (14:5, 19; 15:14). Aren’t you glad that God’s plans are not dependent upon us, and they cannot be thwarted by our unbelief!

{Application: We learned last week that faithlessness makes a person cowardly, but we also see that it blinds a person so that they cannot see what the sovereign and powerful hand of the LORD.(John 1:9-11, 3:3) Because of this we would do well to do what this people does not do- pray! We can pray with Paul these words from Ephesians 1:15-21, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…”.}

When the men of Judah come to get Samson, they say something that reveals why they have not cried out to the LORD for help. They say, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us?” (15:11) This is weird because usually if you had a strong man like Samson on your side you would rally around him being convinced that he could deliver you from the enemy. Yet, their faithlessness has really blinded them and left them hopeless.

Samson’s own brothers are coming to capture him because he has dared to rock the boat, he has upset the apple cart, he has disturbed the status quo.

{Something to ask ourselves: If we were one of these 3000 men of Judah how would we react in a moment like this? Would we stand with Him, or would we seek to hand him over? When Jesus came, He also upset the status quo. John 11:48, “If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Jesus still does these things today. So how do we react to Christ or a faithful Christian who honors Jesus and in doing so causes trouble?}

Last week we considered the song that Deborah sang after their great victory. At the end of that song, we find these words, “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.” (5:31) It appears that the people of Israel had stopped singing that song a long time ago. Israel had stopped worshiping the LORD with that song even though it could have given them faith. They probably sang different songs, but these new songs did not inspire faith and courage!

{Application: Let us be careful to continue to endure all seasons of life while worshiping and praising the LORD and considering the songs in Scripture. These songs are full of truth and theology that will encourage our faith in God. We should heed the instruction of the author of Hebrews, “Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:12-13) If we decide to put our hands down and not worship then when will we raise them up again in humble worship?}

The Israelites bound Samson and then they took him to the Philistines. When Samson arrives, we are told that the Philistines ‘shouted at him’ (ESV- 15:14). Some translations say that the Philistines ‘shouted in triumph over him’ (NLT). Others say that the Philistines ‘shouted against him’ (KJV).

What a sad moment this is. God’s people hand over the man that God is raising up to defeat their enemies. When they do this the enemy shouts, chants triumphantly, and they rail against him.

Samson was outnumbered 1000 to 1 at this moment. However, this is not happening by chance but by the sovereign will of God is at work. Despite the odds being so far against him, Samson shows great faith and courage. By contrast, the men of Judah are faithless and cowardly, and they will do nothing in the coming moments to fight against the enemy. (15:15-19).

Take courage, God will use this moment for a purpose that no one yet sees. As Samson was handed over to the Philistines the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him. Judges 15:14-15says, “Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men.

After the battle was over Samson says, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down a thousand men.” (15:16)

At first glimpse Samson’s words seem to be missing something that was so evident in Deborah’s song in Judges 5when she sang, “On the day that they were delivered from the Midianites Deborah sang, “Bless the LORD! ...I will sing; I will make melody to the LORD the God of Israel. Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water. The mountains quaked before the LORD, even Sinai before the LORD, the God of Israel.” (5:25)

Immediately after this great victory Samson appears to forget to acknowledge the LORD. However, after he throws the jawbone down, he becomes aware of his thirst and prays, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (15:18)

God hears Samson and we read in Judges 15:19, “And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived.

What did God accomplish through all of these things? Well, by the end of Judges 15 the people accept him as God’s judge over them to defeat their enemies. We read in Judges 15:20, “And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

I cannot help but consider Judges 15 and see so many similarities in this story with the story of Jesus. Jesus came to deliver the people from their enemies: indwelling sin, sin in the world and the devil. Like Samson, Jesus came to His own people, and they did not receive him (John 1:11).

There was a day when Jesus was betrayed by a disciple with a kiss (Luke 22:48) and his friends scattered into the darkness. Jesus was left all alone as sinful men came and bound Him and led Him away to be killed (Mark 14:48). From that moment on the people yelled at Him and celebrated over Him.

One would have expected that the same Person who gave Samson such strength would fight back and overcome in this moment, but He didn’t. We might have expected the Son of God to call upon the angels to save Him, but He didn’t do this either. We might have expected that the Father would stop this from happening, but He did not intervene. (Matthew 26:53)

No, it was the will of the LORD that Jesus should suffer and die at the hands of evil men (Isaiah 53:10). Peter says this as he preaches on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:22-23, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

When Jesus was on the cross, He became thirsty and said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28) Yet, in that moment, the LORD did not make water come forth from the rock to quench His thirst. Instead, we read in John 19:29-30, “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ death, however, was no defeat. No, we read in Romans 8:11, “The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead.” The same Holy Spirit that would come upon Samson to give him great moments of power and strength has now raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Therefore, Peter speaks to Israel and says in Acts 2:38, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” After Samson’s victory Israel received him as their judge. After Christ’s victory is there anyone here who has not received Him as LORD and Christ?

Sadly, Israel has largely rejected Christ and yet this too was part of God’s sovereign plan (Romans 9). The apostle Paul did not take the truth of God’s sovereign election and do nothing. No, Paul says, “Brothers, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1).

This morning we considered a people who would not cry out to God for help, so God sovereignly raises up a judge to begin to deliver his people. We end this sermon by remembering Paul who acknowledges God’s sovereignty and prays for all people to be saved. From the initial moments of his conversion Paul has prayed to God (Acts 9:11) and he has been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:19). He took every opportunity to boldly minister to others so that they too might be saved. (Acts 9:15)

Paul asks in Romans 8:31-32, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

In light of this, why would we hesitate to call upon the LORD for help? Let us not be like the faithless who will not call upon the LORD; rather, let us rely upon God and watch for His help and deliverance.


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