by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Hebrews 11:32-40
I. Heb 11:32-34
A. Many wonder why Samson is listed among these greats.
B. True, his great strength was a wonder, but his life was not one many of us would want to imitate.
C. How is it that Samson, with his many sins, has come to be listed with greats like Noah and Abraham?
II. The story of Samson
A. In the days of Samson’s parents, the Philistines had oppressed the Israelites.
1. The Israelites had sinned and God allowed the Philistines in as punishment.
2. They held the land 43 years before Samson was born - Judges 13:1
3. They continued as a threat through the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.
4. One of the ways they held the Israelites for so long, was by controlling all iron. Israelites were not allowed to own weapons or to possess things made out of metal.
B. An angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, who was barren, to tell her she would have a son. - Judges 13:3-5
1. This son would be sanctified to the Lord. He would live as a Nazirite his entire life - from conception to death
2. Three points are emphasized that are apart of the Nazirite vow
a. Must not drink any grape products or alcoholic beverage
b. Must not eat anything unclean
c. Must not cut his hair
3. When he grows up, he will be the beginning of the deliverance of Israel.
a. He would start the task, but he would not finish it.
4. As Samson grew, God blessed him and the Spirit stirred within him. - Judges 13:25
C. Moved by God, Samson finds a woman of the Philistines to marry - Judges 14:1-4
1. Why would God want Samson to marry a non-Israelite?
a. God has used the wicked to accomplish His goals.
(1) Hosea was told to marry a prostitute - Hosea 1:2
(2) His woes with his wife illustrated God’s problems with the children of Israel.
b. God is looking to cause problems for the Philistines
2. Samson’s parents don’t understand and tried to talk their son out of marrying the woman
a. You should know that the word here is not the word used for an unmarried, virgin woman.
b. She is not an Israelite
c. Samson’s reason is poor. He wants her solely because she looks good.
3. Samson prevails. While traveling with his parents to meet the woman, a young lion attacks Samson. - Judges 14:5-6
a. Here we first learn of Samson’s great strength given to him by the power of God.
b. He kills the lion with his bare hands. It is not that he got a good choke hold on the lion, the Scriptures tells us he literally rip the lion apart.
4. Later, on the way to the marriage, they passed the same area, and Samson found the carcass of the lion he killed.
a. Strangely, honey bees had formed a hive within the carcass.
b. Samson took some of the honey and gave some also to his parents.
c. Notice that Samson violated one of the rules of his vow - he ate food from a dead animal.
(1) This is why he did not tell his parents were the honey came from.
5. Samson held feast as was the custom for the wedding ceremony.
a. The feast lasted seven days.
b. Some speculate that most wedding feasts served wine and other alcoholic beverages. If so, and if Samson partook, he would have violated a second part of his vow.
c. At the feast, Samson was given 30 attendants.
d. As part of the entertainment, Samson offers a riddle - Judges 14:12-14
6. These young men worked on this puzzle for three days, but could not figure it out
a. They threaten Samson’s wife. They would burn the house down with her and her father inside if she doesn’t get the answer.
b. Instead of telling Samson of the threat, she whines and begs for the answer.
c. Finally, on the seventh day of the wedding, he gives in and she in turn tells the attendants.
d. Samson knows how they solved the problem. In vengeance, Samson gets the 30 garments from 30 Philistines whom he killed
e. He then stomps home in anger without his wife.
7. Later, he goes back to see his wife
a. He brings a present, a young goat. The same as the typical payment for a prostitute - Gen 38:15-17
b. He finds out that her father married her off to his best-man
c. In anger, Samson ties fire brands between 150 pairs of foxes and releases them through the harvested wheat fields.
(1) The damage is huge to harvested wheat, wheat still in the fields, vineyards, and olive trees.
d. The Philistines instead of getting Samson, burn his wife and her father — just as was threaten earlier.
e. Samson then slaughtered a number of Philistines in retaliation and then went into hiding - Judges 15:8
8. The Philistines gather a small army to find him.
a. The Israelites were afraid, so they asked Samson to give himself up.
b. They tied him with new ropes and presented him to the Philistines.
c. Judges 15:14-16 - Samson burst the ropes by the power of God and picked up a jawbone of a donkey and slaughter a thousand Philistines.
(1) Notice that once again, Samson has violated his vows.
(2) The word for donkey and heap are the same in Hebrew, so verse 16 is a pun.
9. After all that work, he was thirsty and called on God for help - Judges 15:18-19
a. He recognized where his power came from and who he was serving.
D. The story moves to twenty years later. Samson is probably in his late 30's. Because he judged Israel, he probably was harrying the Philistines all this time.
1. We find Samson in Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and decided to spend time there.
2. Samson continues to have a problem with Philistine women.
3. It shows that even though he served God, his service did not prevent him from sinning.
4. The men of Gaza found out that the notorious Samson was in town, so they locked the city gates, posted guards and decided to take Samson in the morning.
5. However, Samson got up at midnight and finding the city gate locked, pulled them out whole and carried them about seven miles up a hill.
a. What happened to the guards? God must have intervened.
b. God gave Samson incredible strength.
E. Shortly there after, Samson falls in love with a woman named Delilah
1. By the description, Bible scholars believe that she too was a prostitute and was probably a Philistine.
2. She is offered 5500 shekels of silver to find out Samson’s source of strength.
a. 1 shekel of silver is equal to 4 days wages so 5500 shekels of silver is about $700,000 in today’s money.
b. The Philistines realize that Samson’s strength is beyond a normal human’s so they want to find the source.
3. Three times she begs Samson to tell her what his secret was and three times Samson gives her a false tale
a. Three times she tries to bind Samson, but each time it fails.
4. For days thereafter she nags Samson about his secret - Judges 16:15-17
5. Samson gives in and tells her about his Nazarite vow.
a. The source of strength is not in his hair, but in the keeping of his vow.
b. God has given him his strength.
c. Yet, somehow I don’t think Samson really believed God would leave him. After all, he broke his vow before and God remained.
d. Yet this time, Samson pushed God too far. - Judges 16:19-21
F. The Philistines took Samson, gouged out his eyes and put him to work grinding out wheat
1. Some time passes because Samson’s hair grows back out.
2. It shows that the Philistines have become lacks, but it doesn’t mean Samson’s strength is back.
3. It may also show that Samson’s heart turns back to God.
G. A feast was held to celebrate the Philistine god, Dagon - Judges 16:23-24
1. All the lords and upper society was there.
2. They praised Dagon and claimed he had brought them Samson
3. Samson was called for and he entertained the lords.
4. He then rested against the support pillars of the building.
5. He prayed for his strength back one more time - Judges 16:28
6. He pushed the support pillars apart, the building toppled, killing thousands of people, including Samson. Over three thousand were on the roof alone. He killed more in his death that in his entire life.
III. There are many things we can learn from Samson’s story
A. God can use the wicked as well as the righteous to accomplish His will. Our own righteousness or wickedness will not stop God from doing His will.
B. God punishes wrong doing, but He may wait in delivering the punishment.
C. Sin takes you farther than you want to go
1. Samson started off chasing after loose women. He became prideful because he wasn’t harmed by his earlier sins.
2. But he kept going deeper and deeper into sin. He had plenty of warning, but he ignored them.
D. Sin and its consequences will hold you longer than you want to stay
1. Samson was imprisoned, grinding out wheat
E. Sin will cost you more than you are willing to pay
1. Samson lost his eyes and his life.
F. For all of Samson’s faults, he did turn back to God before he died.