Sermon delivered November 15, 1997

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Samson's Samsonite Saviour

Imagine some shipwrecked men drifting aimlessly on the ocean in a lifeboat. As the days pass under the scorching sun, their rations of food and fresh water give out. The men grow deliriously thirsty. One man ignores all previous warnings and gulps down some salt water. He quickly dies.

Ocean water contains seven times more salt than the human body can safely metabolize. A person dehydrates because the kidneys need extra water to flush the overload of salt. The more salt water someone drinks, the thirstier he gets. He actually dies of thirst.

Lust is like Salt water. We thirst desperately for something that is forbidden. It is just the opposite of what we really need. In fact, it can kill us. --Larson

The bedroom walls of many of today's kids look like athletic shrines. They are papered with the beautiful and the handsome; the popular heros. Back in early Bible days, Jewish kids had Samson's hero pictures all over their bedroom walls. But like many modern stars who are overcome with drugs or vice, Samson was a victim of uncontrolled lust.

Judges 16:4 - Samson and Delilah. Delilah means seductive, or treacherous. As seductive as Cleopatra. Not many choose to name their baby girls Delilah.

Samson fell hard. His story is repeated over and over to this day. Thousands still follow in Samson's shadow. Each of us must admit we have a tendency to toy with temptation instead of defeating it. It is so easy to play with the Delilah of sin. Judge Samson knew better. Perhaps it was a carnal belief that he was invincible that made him like silly putty in the hands of scheming Delilah.

Prov 6:26 "the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, & the adulteress preys upon your very life."

It's not the giants who defeat us, but the mosquitoes. ---Gage Spindler Samson could slay 1000 men but could not handle one woman. His affair with his neighbor was founded on lust.

The rumor quickly spread all the way to the mayor of each city in the Philistine PENTAPOLIS. Their golden opportunity had come to rid the land of a national threat. Secret negotiations with Delilah produced a contract. Find his magic charm-we want to use it! She would find the secret to his strength and disable him. The five lords would pay a total of 5,500 pieces of silver for her services. This was a staggering sum. Enough money to purchase 275 slaves (see Genesis 37:28).

Having an affair is a poor way to find love. Samson was looking for love and found a female Judas who betrayed him. Samson was smart. So WHY did he succumb to Delilah. Why do we sin?

I John 2:16 talks about "the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes..." All humans have temptations. We increase our vulnerability by feeding the temptation by what we read and watch.

Samson kept hanging around Delilah. Sin is more like a sliding board than a sudden cliff. Eventually we get going so fast we cannot stop. The initial decision often determines the outcome. Carefully make decisions, always taking Jesus with you.

Samson consistently chose wrong friends and they led him down to ruin. Nothing molds character more than who we choose to spend time with.

I Corinthians 15:33 says: "Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals". Don't hang around with the sinful lost or the frozen chosen. Be friends with warm growing Christians. Develop a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

Notice that Samson's temptation with Delilah was attractive. The Philistines didn't hire TUGBOAT ANNIE! Temptations are rarely grotesque. They are something we really want. Satan knows how to attract good people to do evil things. He places his poison in the middle of chocolate lush and invites you over for dessert. Samson's arms were bound by Delilah's charms.

Judges 16:6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued, (Afflicted)."

Beautiful, smiling, warm Delilah began to overpower the strongest man in the world. Samson should have immediately gone home. He should have sensed grave danger. But he played with her.

He said if you tie me up with 7 fresh bow strings I will be like any other man. It didn't work. Next he said to use new ropes. Obviously they had forgotten because that had been tried 20 years before. She upbraided him for his dishonesty.

Next while Samson slept she wove seven locks of his long hair into some fabric she had on a weavers loom. (The Vertical type with a crossbeam from which the Warp threads were hung). She said: Samson honey, here come the Philistines! He jumped up dragged the heavy loom and all--- out of the house, with his hair. Can you imagine how ridiculous he looked walking a round with a weaving loom hanging from his hair!

He finally got untangled from the textile mill but he could not untangle himself from Delilah. By now he was almost at his ropes end. Zombie Samson's brain was half hypnotized. If every time I woke up I found myself tied up in piano strings or anchor ropes or I found my hair tangled in a loom, I might get the idea that I was about to meet my doom.

Should Christians fight temptations? Not according to the Bible. I Timothy 2:22 "Now FLEE ...youthful lusts". Don't stay and fight. Run away. It's hard when the sin is so tantalizing. Bewitched Samson chose not to run and lost his salvation.

Samson was already morally BLIND before the Philistines put his eyes out. He could not see the danger. I remember talking with a former member of this church that you all know, about some worldly things he was associating with. I will never forget his response: I can handle it, don't worry about me! Today he is out of the church and into the world. If you are flirting with Delilah you are playing with something stronger than you are.

Like a man I heard about on the news who owned a large Boa Constrictor snake. He thought there was very little danger. But one day the snake lunged out at him and buried its teeth in his arm. Then the 200 pound snake started coiling around the mans body and squeezing hard. A friend came by and dialed 911 and then tried desperately to kill the snake. After a daring battle the live man was extricated.

Samson had no friend to save him. He had played around with sin too long. Like Satan, Delilah persisted. Why did Samson let the real secret of his strength out of the bag? Would you tell? I believe he had the misconception that his strength came from his personal muscles. He had gotten so accustomed to using God's power that he thought it was now his, on a life lease. His own efforts would save him.

Our best efforts will only lead to sin and death. We never come to the place where we are independent of God. Our best efforts cannot save us.

For the first time Delilah knew he had told the whole truth. She called for the 5 lords and they came with the money in their hands. She got a barber to come and shave off Samson's hair. Wearing her seductive garb she sat cross legged on some soft cushions with his head in her lap. She gently stroked his hair soothing him to sleep.

When we sleep our spiritual enemies do not. If we sleep in the lap of lust we will certainly wake up in the hands of the Philistines. Wine perhaps produced deep sleep for the Barber to do his work.

Suddenly he heard her say: Samson sweetheart, the Philistines are here, go and defend yourself. He jumped up, but he was BALD. His hair and his God were gone.

In short order they seized him and gouged out his eyes with a red hot poker- (Arabic version) A blacksmith then shackled him in chains connected to massive bronze bands around his ankles and wrists. His freedom was gone. He was marched 38 miles over the burning desert sand to the penitentiary in Gaza.

Formerly famous Samson became a broken man. Kids might walk up and say: "Didn't you used to be Samson?" Now he is helpless. Bound in bronze, bald and blind. The prison house and the daily grind, must have been a hair raising experience for Samson. I Corinthians 10:12 -- "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

I love verse 22! BUT, his hair began to grow again! I believe Samson repented and got forgiveness from God. Patriarchs and Prophets says his strength returned in proportion to the regrowth of his hair. There wasn't any magic in the length of his hair. His growing hair was an unmistakable indicator of his growing relationship with God. Perhaps the Philistines let it grow to get even more work out of him.

Hair can grow again! That statement fascinates those of us whose foreheads are growing higher by the year. You cannot fall beyond the reach of God s love. Once again you can grow into Christ. David fell hard over Bathsheba. Peter denied Jesus over & over. But they were once again used of God.

Even if you are a complete failure, God can restore & rebuild you to Himself. We all fall. Some fall harder & deeper into sin than others. But, God is a God of second chances! A bumper sticker says: "Christians aren't perfect; they're just forgiven!

Samson's life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God's. God specializes in making something out of nothing; therefore, when anyone is nothing, God may yet make something of him . -Martin Luther (1483 1546)

God enjoys restoring human vehicles with His grace. Nature shouts of this beginning-again-God, who can make all our failures regenerative. The God who daily brings the sunshine is a God of rising again. God never tires of fresh starts, NATIVITIES, or renaissances. God is a God of starting over, of genesis and re- genesis.

He composts life's sour fruits, decomposing them into great worth; He applies the organic matter to our new heart; As He freshens the world with dew so He hydrates withered human hearts with the outpouring of His spirit. --Karen Mains.

Our gracious God came close to sightless sinful Samson in that gloomy prison and reaffirmed His beautiful love. And Samson became a new being. If you have failed, God still loves you.

HEBREWS 11:32 proudly lists Samson's name among God's heros. God's hall of faith could be renamed: "God's Hall of Reclaimed Failures" Almost every name on the roster failed God at one time or another. But this list proves that God is in the business of restoring failures. Human failures become God's heros of Faith when they repent and surrender totally to His will.

Notice that even though God completely forgave Samson, he still suffered from his sinful choices. Galatians 6:7 "Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap..." Samson will never see again. His judgeship is over. His reputation was set. God's Forgiveness doesn't reverse divorce, bankruptcy or scars. We still have to deal with the physical harvest of our seed sowing. David found forgiveness, but paid for the consequences of his sin for the rest of his life.

Samson's sins boomerang upon him. His lustful eyes (the inlets of his sin) were gouged out no more gazing at the women of Gaza.

I think they made a secret pact with Delilah not to kill Samson right away. Because the razor that cut his hair could have cut his throat. The Philistines wanted Samson to be the entertainer at the lavish victory banquet in the great Gaza stadium.

Their god was DAGON, (a male mermaid). Notice the Philistines gave Dagon the credit instead of Delilah! Do we give our God the credit for good things that happen to us? Praise God for all things.

Inside this massive building a great crowd of the rich and famous were gathered. The general public were allowed to watch from atop the roof. Samson was led onto the great floor by a small servant boy, blind, chained and broken.

Judges 16:26,27 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 3,000 on the roof leaning over the edges above, and many more inside the building. The weight of the great crowd on the roof contributed to the collapse, adding to the catastrophe.

28 Then Samson prayed --- "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more,..." Samson was trusting totally in God. He used three different names for God in this verse. Lord, Sovereign, God. ADONAI, YAHWEH, ELOHIM. This was a converted Samson talking. The strength he lost by sin he regained by a silent prayer.

Some say that this Bible Maverick committed suicide. But it is even more than that. This is a Martyr who is willing to give his life to achieve a victory for God.

Samson had been in that arena before. He remembers the two massive pillars in the center. He is apparently leaning on them because he is tired. People laughed at Him but they did not know that he was a new man! They never dreamed that his God was a God of forgiveness and restoration. The tragedy of Samson is that his great strength had to be turned to weakness before God could turn his weakness into strength.

By faith Samson pushed on the massive pillars and the whole building came crashing down. Samson faced many problems, but one was not old age! Even though he died with the Philistines, he will not have a portion with them because God knows His own. Samson's brothers went and picked through the rubble to extract the mangled body of God s Zealous Judge and give him a proper burial.

Someone said: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. All power comes from God. Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit". How often like Samson, we misuse the power God gives us. Lets use our power to glorify God and hasten His soon coming.

Samson the failure died a hero. We have a God that restores failures. You can shave off every trace of God in your life and yet He will restore it if you sincerely come to God and repent of your sins and surrender your will to Him.

Would you like to give your heart to God right now?

Opening hymn 166
Scripture Reading Titus 3:3-7
Closing Hymn 616 Soldiers of Christ Arise

971115 Gettys #432

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