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A JUDGE IS BORN
Intro: Today we begin a study of the last major judge mentioned in the book of Judges. His name is Samson and he is a walking contradiction.
Samson was a man destined for greatness. As we will see in this message, before he was born Samson was chosen for a great mission by God. His life is marked by great victories and by even greater failures. He was a man used by the Holy Spirit, but utterly ruled by the flesh. Samson was the strongest man who ever lived, yet he was also the weakest. Samson was dedicated to God before his birth, but dedicated to himself until the day of his death. In the end, his weaknesses overcame all the strengths in his life.
Samson’s life is a sad tale of the consequences of demanding your own way. Samson had a weakness for ungodly women. He pursued that weakness with reckless abandon, until God abandoned him to the way he chose to live his life. Though the Lord worked in his life, Samson was determined to pursue his sin and he reaped the consequences of the decisions he made in life.
We can learn much from this puzzling man. In Heb. 11:32 Samson is mentioned as a man of faith. Yet his life clearly displays his unfaithfulness. Samson was undisciplined, undependable, and unpredictable. He is a good illustration of James 1:8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Samson is a good example of what a believer should not be. Yet, I fear that he represents many of us in our own walk with the Lord.
As we follow the life of Samson through all the victories and failures that marked it, let the Lord speak to your heart. It may just be that you will see some weakness that dominates your life. It may be that you will see yourself reflected in the mirror of Samson’s life.
Let’s begin by noticing the details surrounding the birth of Samson. I want to preach from this chapter on the subject A Judge Is Born.
I. THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF
A. v. 2-5 It Came As A Heavenly Announcement – A barren woman, the wife of a man named Manoah, was visited by the Angel of the Lord. She was told that she would give birth to a son. This promise was later confirmed to her husband, vv. 8-14. Samson’s mother is told that he will be used of the Lord to deliver Israel from their enemies, v. 5.
(Ill. Who is this “Angel of the Lord”? We have every reason to believe that this is a pre-Bethlehem, pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 18, Manoah asks the Angel about His name. the Angel replies that His name is “secret”. This is the same word that is translated “wonderful” in Isa. 9:6! So, this is a “Christophany”. Jesus Christ steps out of eternity and into time to bring good news to a hopeless couple.
This is not the only time Jesus showed up in the Old Testament. A few more of His “Christophanies” are:
· He appeared to Hagar, Gen. 16:7-14, Gen. 21:16-20
· He appeared to Abraham, Gen.18:10; Gen.18:17, Gen. 22:11
· He appeared to Jacob, Gen. 28:12-15, Gen. 32:24-30
· He appeared to Moses, Exod. 3:4-5, Exod. 23:20, Exod. 33:22
· He appeared to Joshua, Josh. 5:13-15
· He appeared to Gideon, Judg. 6:11-24
· He appeared to Samson's parents, Judg. 13
· He appeared to Isaiah, Isa. 6:1-13
· He appeared to the three Hebrews, Dan. 3:24-25
· He appeared to Daniel, Dan. 6:21-22, Dan. 7:13-14, Dan. 10:5-6
· He appeared to Zechariah, Zech. 1:8-13; 2:8-11; 3:10; 6:12-15
(Ill. Samson’s birth notice was not the only one to come directly from Heaven. Abraham learned about Isaac through such an announcement, Gen. 17:19. So did Zacharias, when the angel came and told him about the impending birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:13. Mary and Joseph learned that Jesus Christ was coming through a similar method, Luke 1:31; Matt. 1:20-21. As Warren Weirsbe said, “When God wants to do something really great in His world, He doesn’t send an army but an angel.”[i] I don’t know about you, but I am thankful that our God knows exactly what we need, and He knows just when to send it.
Another reason we know this angel was the Lord Himself is because He received the worship of Manoah and his wife, and He accepted the sacrifice they offered to God, vv. 19-21. Manoah’s declaration in verse 22 is also revealing. That fact is the Lord Himself came and made the announcement of the impending birth of the next Judge of Israel!
(Ill. By the way, I love the reaction of Manoah and his wife. When she hears what the angel has to say, the first thing she does is run to tell her husband, v. 6-7. When he hears her story, he does not say, “Woman, you’ve lost your mind!” The first thing he does is call on the Lord and he asks the Lord to send the angel again, v. 8.
This indicates to me that Manoah and his wife have a good, strong marriage. It is sad when couples allow heartache and bitterness to steal their love one for another. Your best friend in the world, outside God Almighty, should be your spouse!)
B. It Came As A Hopeful Announcement – According to verse 1, Israel had once again turned their backs on the Lord. Because of their sins, God allowed them to be oppressed by their enemies. This sad situation has been going on for 40 years. The announcement of the birth of a deliverer, v. 5, was a welcomed word for the nation of Israel. They were reminded that God had not forgotten His people. They were reminded that God had a plan to revive them and to restore them to His favor.
By the way, God always has a plan! It may look to us like the world is spinning out of control. But, that is just how things look. God has a plan and He is always busy accomplishing that plan for His glory. You can trust Him to what’s right and to do what’s best, Rom. 8:28.
I. The Announcement Of
II. THE ARRANGEMENTS OF
A. v. 3 It Involved A Miracle – God came to an unnamed barren woman and promised to open her womb. In that society barrenness was considered a curse. Barren women carried a shame and a stigma that we cannot begin to imagine. Barrenness was often seen as the judgment of God against a home.
In that culture, every young woman wanted the same thing. They all wanted to be a mother who would bear many sons for their husbands. And, they all wanted to be the woman through whom God would send the Messiah. To be barren crushed both those dreams.
To be barren in that culture meant that a woman was always exposed to the danger of being divorced by a husband who wanted sons. It meant that when her husband died, she would be alone and destined to a life of poverty. No man would willingly marry a woman who was known to be barren. It was a hard, harsh life.
Yet, God came to this unnamed woman and promised her that she would have a baby. He promised her that she would have a son. And, He promised her that her son would be a Judge in Israel. What a promise she received!
(Ill. The fact that God would send a baby to be the leader of His people is amazing when you stop to think about it. Babies are weak. Babies are helpless. Babies are absolutely dependent upon adults for all their needs. Yet, when God has a great work to do, He often sends a baby into the world through which God will accomplish His work.
That is God’s way, 1 Cor. 1:26-28. When God chose to commence His wonderful plan of salvation, he sent Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, Gen. 21:3. When He would deliver Israel from Egypt, He sent Moses to Amram and Jochebed, Ex. 6:20. When God would revive a spiritually dead Israel, He sent Samuel to Hannah and Elkanah, 1 Sam. 1. When the time came to save the world from sin, God sent Jesus to Mary and Joseph, Luke 2:7.)
(Ill. One more thought before we move along. This passage reminds us that God cares about people the world sees as nobodies. Manoah and his wife were just two unknown people living out their lives in Israel. God knew who they were and He knew what they needed and what they wanted.
He knows about you too! You may think no one cares about you and about what you face in life. That may be true from a human perspective, but there is a God in Heaven Who has His eye on your life. He is intimately aware of your circumstances and He cares about you. In His time, He will reveal His plans for you and your life. Ill. Matt. 10:29-31; Matt. 6:25-22; Heb. 4:15-16; 1 Pet. 5:7.)
B. v. 4-5, 14 It Involved A Mandate – The woman is commanded to abstain from wine, strong drink and from anything unclean. She is then told that her son is to “be a Nazarite unto God from the womb”. This command is repeated to Manoah in verse 14.
The Nazarite vow can be found in Num. 6:1-8. This vow was a voluntary vow that could be made by a man or a woman. While this vow was in effect, they were wholly dedicated to the Lord. This vow was usually taken for a short period of time, typically 30 days, while they performed some sort of special service for the Lord. The Apostle Paul took part in the Nazarite vow on at least two occasions, Acts 18:18; 21:23-24.
Some people were bound by the Nazarite vow for their whole lives. Among those were Samuel, 1 Sam. 1:11, and John the Baptist, Luke 1:13-15; Matt. 3:1-4; 11:18.
Samson was to be a Nazarite from his mother’s womb. That is, his entire life was to be consecrated to the Lord. He was never to eat the fruit of the vine, drink wine or strong drink. He was never to touch a dead body. He was never to cut his hair or shave his beard.
As we will see, Samson violated nearly every part of his oath! Samson knew the code, but he never got the concept. Samson never got the idea that the Nazarite vow was not merely from some things, but it was “unto” the Lord. He was to separate himself from those forbidden things and “unto God” alone.
(Ill. Let’s not be too hard on Samson. A lot of believers never get it either. We know the code, but we fail to grasp the concept.
When the Lord saved us, He purchased us unto Himself, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. We are His property. Essentially, we are His slaves to do with as He sees fit. We have no rights. We have no freedom. We have are to have no will but His will. We are to be separated “unto” the Lord.
Like Samson, we have trouble living that kind of life. Like Samson, we continually defile ourselves with the forbidden things of the world. And, like it was with Samson, there will be a price to pay for our wickedness!)
C. v. 5 It Involved A Ministry – The baby that was coming into the family of Manoah and his wife would be the next Judge of Israel. We would have never thought about sending a baby to deliver a nation. We would have selected a full grown man, a military man, trained to fight and hardened by battle. That’s not what God did. He chose to send a baby to be a Judge.
(Ill. By the way parents, that’s why raising your children is so important. You never know who God sent into your home! Give those children every spiritual advantage so they become the men and women God sent them here to be. Raise them for the glory of God! It’s the least you can do for them. It’s the least you can do for the Lord!)
I. The Announcement Of
II. The Arrangements Of
III. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF
A. v. 24a The Realization Of His Birth – God kept His promise and the baby was born just like He said he would be. Just to remind you, but God always keeps His promises! He cannot lie, Heb. 6:18, Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2. He will stand by every promise He has ever made, Rom. 4:21; 2 Cor. 1:20.
(Ill. This happy mother named her new baby “Samson”. The name literally means “like the sun”. His name means “sunny”.
Those early days of Samson’s life must have seemed like a ray of heavenly sunshine in that home that had waited so long for the cry of an infant. Little did Manoah and his wife know that one day their little “Sunny Boy” would turn from the light he was dedicated to and walk most of his days in darkness.
This is just a reminder to parents that we can do our best and our children may still not turn out right. We cannot know the future, but we must do our best with them while they are small to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
As we will see, however, that Samson’s parents raised a spoiled brat. They gave him everything he wanted and it backed fired on them. They may have followed the letter of the Law in keeping him away from the things God said were off limits, but they failed to instill the Law of God within his heart. They failed to cultivate within Samson a love for God and for righteousness. Those two things would have changed the way Samson’s life played out.
Parents, you are doing your children no favors when you bow to their every whim. They need to know that there are boundaries in life. They need to know that there are limits in life. They need to hear the word “no” every now and then. It won’t kill them, but it might just salvage their lives!)
B. v. 24b The Relationship Of His Birth – We are told that Samson grew and that “the Lord blessed him.” We are told that the other Judges were used by the Lord. We are told that they has the Spirit of God come upon them for special times of service, but this statement is not made about any of the other Judges of Israel. It indicates that God’s hand was on this young man in a special way.
How sad it is to see Samson’s failure to live up to his fullest potential in the Lord. How sad it is when we fail to do the same. Through the Holy Spirit we all have a special relationship with God. He has a special plan for each one of His children. Our duty is to be where He wants us, doing what He wants us to do for His glory. When we are, we will see Him accomplish through us those things for which He saved us. There is no higher glory in life than to be the person God saved you to be, and to be doing the things God saved you to do.
C. The Reward Of His Birth – We are told that God began to “move him”. That phrase means “to thrust, to impel, to push”. It conveys the idea that God, through the Holy Spirit, began to impress Samson to fulfill his destiny. He used him in those early days in a localized ministry within the borders of the inheritance of the tribe of Dan, of which Samson was a member. The point is, Samson was available to the Lord in those early days and God used him! He got off to a good start!
(Ill. It has been said that “the greatest ability is availability”. If we are saved, living for Him, and we make ourselves available to the Lord, He will use us for His glory in the world. I think it would be a good thing if we fell down before the Lord and borrowed a page from Isaiah’s playbook and said, “Here am I; send me,” Isa. 6:8.
God is still looking for some people He can “move” in these days. He is still looking for some servants who are willing and available vessels.
Conc: Many different subjects have made an appearance in this message. What are to do with all this information? Let me offer a couple of suggestions.
1. Look at your relationship with the Lord. Is it all it should be? Are you completely sold out to Him? Are you as available to Him as you should be? Are you even saved?
2. Look at your relationship with the Holy Spirit. When He moves you, do you respond in humble, swift obedience?
3. Look at your relationship with your children. Are you raising them for God? Are you giving them every spiritual advantage possible?
4. Look at your relationship with your spouse. Is your spouse your best friend?
If the Lord has spoken to you on any level, the place to deal with Him is in this altar. If He is calling, you need to come, right now. I would remind you that obedience honors the Lord!
[i] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be available. An Old testament study. (105). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.