Sermon delivered November 8, 1997

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Samson's Samsonette Self Control

An old lady dressed in rags could be seen around a small town in Florida. Every day she went through the trash cans to find anything of value. Her neighbors knew her as "Garbage Mary". One day the police picked up the bag lady and had her committed to a psychiatric institution. Checking her apartment they found piles of filth and junk. But they were amazed to discover money! Stashed here and there were bank stocks, bonds, bank books and cash. All added up Garbage Mary was worth over a Million dollars.

The old lady turned out to be a 48 year old college graduate who had suffered through two divorces. She always dressed in rags. While her money collected interest she collected trash. The tragedy of Garbage Mary is her neglected resources.

Samson was a spiritual Garbage Mary. Samson used his strength largely to dishonor God. He squandered God's resources. His life is mostly a tale of great waste and what ifs.

Last week, when we left Samson he had fallen in love with a woman from Timnath. At the wedding he told a riddle only to have the Philistines pester his new bride into finding and telling his secret. Samson was a poor looser. He went out and killed 30 men to pay off his gambling debts and ran home. But he wanted to see his wife.

Judges 15:1 "Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, (June) Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in."

A goat was the equivalent of a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. Samson wanted to consummate his marriage. But to his great alarm her father had annulled the marriage and given his wife to the best man. Samson was fuming; inflamed with rage.

Somehow he captured 300 foxes. The Hebrew word can also mean dog-like Jackals. They run in packs and are much easier to capture. I can just picture Samson running after Jackals, with his long hair flying in the wind. Here's what happened that day with the Jackals:

The tale of the Timnath Tragedy: Samson Tracked their foxy trail to the thickets where they tarried. Then The Titanic tough man turned them tail to tail. Thus he twisted and tied two tails tightly together with a tether of twine. To this he tied the Torches. When their tails got toasty it was time for the teams of two to travel toward the tilled turf where the thriving crops thronged. Timberlands and tasty things were torched and totaled. The terrorized tortured Timnites then turned toward Timnath to try and torch the bride. This triggered a time of trouble and torment.

I think sometimes we need Samson's terrible tigers with their tales on fire to run through the field of our sinful hearts consuming our sin and setting us aflame for Jesus.

The Philistines got revenge on Samson by burning up his wife and her house. The very thing she feared actually happened. The wrong she did to her husband Samson cost her, her life.

Judges 15:7,8 Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge. He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. (Just above Wadi Isma'in)

King James Bible says: He smote them hip and thigh. Some think he kicked at them killing them with some type of Ti-Quando or Karate.

Samson was now a killer on the loose. The shadow of his sin grows longer and longer. This biography of Samson's life shows that eventually we will have to reap what we sow. The Philistines had wronged him so he got revenge. This made them seek even more conflict. By the time Samson finally got around to thinking about the golden rule he had lead in his legs and his hair was gone. Revenge is not Christlike. The Philistines geared up for a desert storm against Sadam Samson.

Thousands of Philistine troops trooped into Judah on a search and destroy mission. An army against one man. But that one man was an army! This is so similar to Jesus day when a whole band of men came to Gethsemane to seize our Lord.

The Philistine invaders met with zero resistance. Three thousand men of Judah helped them look for Samson.

His own people deliver to death their appointed deliverer. Samson was in a cave that has been found by archaeologists. The narrow entrance admits only one person at a time. Young twenty-year-old Samson could hold off the entire army there.

Upset Israelites came to the cave, agitated that Samson had been rocking the boat. When believers give up they often find that compromise is more comfortable than commitment. Backslidden sinners can actually experience peace. They called their saviour a troublemaker. Jesus did many good works for the Jews, yet they were ready to stone Him. Sinful compromisers have no time for committed saints.

Friends, today we can get so comfortable with the world and its lifestyle and so accustomed to sin in our life that we just accept it and give up the fight. Strive for Christ-like-ness in your life. Never give up. The people of Judah were supposed to be the saints, God's remnant people. Yet they chose a position of neutrality toward their enemy. In the great controversy of the last days, there are no conscientious objectors, no noncombatants. There is no Switzerland where you can sit out the battle. If you are not actively involved in the church or doing God's work then you can become a positive hindrance to Jesus' cause.

They agreed not to hurt him themselves. Then they led him out of his cave as a lamb to the slaughter. Judges 15:13 says they bound him in two new ropes. Perhaps these were supplied by the Philistines. No chances would be taken. Round and round the coils went over his arms and body. Perhaps like Judas, his friends thought he might use his great strength to deliver himself.

Finally, like a sailor walking the plank, Samson walked toward thousands of bloodthirsty Philistines. Can you sense how Samson must have felt about now? Voluntarily walking to his death. He had to have a tremendous faith in God. This helps me understand why Samson is included in the Great Faith chapter in Hebrews.

There arose a mighty shout among the Philistines. Finally they had him. But they made a fatal mistake. They didn't take God into the equation. God's spirit transformed Samson into a Sherman tank. The great ropes snapped like cobwebs. The shouts turned to shrieks.

Samson spied a Jawbone lying there on the ground. It was still fresh and strong with all its teeth in place. In His hand it became a lethal weapon. He was in God's hand, the jawbone was in his hand. You can't lose if you are in God's hands. One human linked with God cannot be conquered even if that one person is a sinner. God loves sinners but God does not love their sin.

Judges 15:16  Then sharp witted  Samson said, 
     "With a donkey's jawbone 
          I have made donkeys of them. 
     With a donkey's jawbone 
          I have killed a thousand men."

From then on the place was called Jaw Bone hill. Heaps and piles of men died with the imprint of donkey teeth in their skulls. God's promise in Joshua 23:10 was fulfilled-- one of you shall chase a thousand. Samson had trod the winepress alone. The daughters of Israel did not meet him as later they did for Saul to sing "Samson hath slain his thousands..."

Like Elijah after the great victory on Mount Carmel Samson gets discouraged and feels he will die of thirst. He had worked hard and the desert is hot and he needs water. When we visited Palestine, our guide reminded us to drink plenty of water. None of his own people offered him a drink or as much as a band-aid.

Samson was tired. There is a direct parallel between the physical and spiritual conditions. How often just a good nights sleep does wonders for our faith. Samson was thirsty. Blood doesn't quench thirst. Jesus on the cross said: "I Thirst". Samson prayed and God answered his prayer.

The Lord provided water for his servant. We have a God that is concerned about our physical needs. God Created a drinking fountain there. An artesian well drilled by an unseen Angel specializing in hydraulics.

God then established Samson as a Quality Judge. Verse 20 says he LED ISRAEL for TWENTY Years! God's people submitted to the one they betrayed. The stone which the builders rejected became the head-stone. He judged civil and domestic cases.

Then sin came back into the weak strong man's life. Samson was a symbol of the whole nation of Israel. Time after time God's own people prostituted themselves to Canaanite gods to their own destruction. They repented only to sin again.

Why did Samson go to the prostitute at Gaza? One factor was the death of his parents. (Judges 16:31) They must have died during his judgeship. When a loved one dies we go through depression, anger, and often a change of values.

Also, after 20 years of leadership Samson was experiencing a middle age crisis. He felt the strong urge towards sin but he had no self control. We all have a propensity toward sin. Temptations are very attractive.

But God promises that "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it." I Corinthians 10:13.

Samson failed because he played around with sin. He strangled a lion but could not strangle his lust. He burned crops of others, but lost the harvest of a fruitful life when he burned with the flame of lust.

Some time back there was a story of several whales that were marooned on a beach and dying. Marine biologists reckoned the great whales had been chasing SARDINES and were trapped in shallow water after the tide went out. Samson was like a Whale chasing sardines. A phenomenal person pursuing puny purposes. Samson was finally beached by his pursuit of the sardines of illicit sexual desires. He never could overcome this sin.

Judges 16:1 "One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her." Again it was lust at first sight!

Don't GAZA at the scantily dressed women of this sinful world. It is by beholding that we are changed. When you go to the show and fill your eyes with sin it won't be very long before you will be overcome with what you are gazing at.

Little did Samson know but this was the last time God would stand by him. His probation was about to close. There would be one other woman, one other trip to Gaza from which he would never return. You can't keep playing with sin.

He chose Gaza for his sin because it was the most distant city. The saints would never know about it.

Judges 16:2 The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" For years the mothers of the Philistines had told their little children stories about Samson. They may have kept their kids inside at night telling them that "Samson will GET YOU!" Tales were told about his unkempt appearance, his long hair, his terrible strength. Now he was inside their city! So vigilante men lay in wait for him all night. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him."

But at midnight he got up from the bed of sin and made it for the gate, which was locked shut.

Judges 16:3 He "took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron."

These massive gates were studded with iron railroad like spikes and covered with heavy gauge metal to make them fireproof. They thought Samson was trapped but they had not realized his enormous strength. He took hold of the heavy framework. His muscles bulged as he strained. The gates came loose along with their heavy posts and iron bar over the top.

He lugged all this 38 miles to his home, a trip up hill two thousand feet in elevation. God had rescued Samson once again. Oh that his moral strength matched his physical strength. Samson had power without purity; strength with "samsonette" self control.

Samson was blessed by God. Yet he lived a life of dismal failure. Are you living a Garbage Mary Christian life? Are you chasing the devils sardines when you should be a champion for God? Invite Jesus into your heart to change your focus and create within you a life of spiritual success. Pray: Create in me a clean heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within me.

Next week we will study Samson at his rope's end. We will learn volumes about Samson's Samsonite Saviour!

Opening hymn:  229  All hail the power of Jesus name
Scripture: Psalm 105:1-5
Closing Hymn:  528  A shelter in the time of storm

971108 GETTYS #431 



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