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SAMSON AND THE SHADY LADY
Intro: The last glimpse we had of Samson was of a man who seemed to have gotten his act together. As the previous chapter closed, we saw Samson calling on the Lord in humility. He prayed to the Lord and God delivered him from death through a great miracle. That story ends with Samson judging Israel for 20 years.
After a period of peace and steadfast service, Samson falls once again into his old ways. His old passions rise to the surface and Samson once again finds himself entangled in a web of sin. Samson may have been a powerful man physically, but he was a moral weakling. He may have demonstrated his power time and again over the enemies of the Lord, but he was helpless against the power of his flesh.
Samson reminds me of Achilles. In Greek Mythology, Achilles was the son of a human king named Peleus and a sea goddess named Thetis. Achilles was the greatest, bravest, strongest and most handsome soldier in his father’s army. The legend goes that Thetis held her infant son by the heel and dipped him in the waters of the River Styx. The magical powers of the river rendered Achilles invulnerable in every part of his body, except his heel, which had not been dipped in the river. That small, little part of his flesh was vulnerable to attack. Later, in the heat of battle, Achilles was struck in the heel by an arrow and was killed. That myth has become a proverb by which each of us live our lives.
We all have our Achilles’ Heel. We all possess those areas of life in which we are vulnerable to attack. We all possess that area of our walk with God in which we are prone to fail. The writer of Hebrews calls it “the sin which doth so easily beset us, Heb. 12:1. That sin varies from person to person, but whatever that sin is in your life, it is your Achilles’ Heel.
For Samson, his Achilles’ Heel was women and illicit sexual relationships. For others it might be the quest for money, fame, popularity, position, ambition, or power. For some it might be pride, lust, selfishness, gossip, anger, malice, or a host of other sins. Whatever that “besetting sin might be for you, if you are not able to conquer it through the power of the Holy Spirit, it will be your downfall.
Oscar Wilde, a British writer known for his decadent lifestyle and taste for the ungodly wrote, “I can resist anything but temptation. The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. That seems to be the motto that Samson embraced in his life, and I am sad to say, it seems to be the motto embraced by many in the modern church.
This passage is a reminder of the great power sin holds over us. It is a reminder that we never really defeat sin. It is always there, in the depths of our fallen natures, waiting like a cobra to strike us and fill us with its deadly venom. This is a reminder that we must be ever vigilant and aware of sin’s presence and power in our lives. This is a reminder that one moment of weakness can cause us to fall back into old, sinful habits we thought were long dead, 1 Pet. 5:8. This passage is sad, because it is a terrible way for Samson to conclude 20 years of successful ministry. But, it is a reminder that we are never beyond the allure and pull of our sinful affections. Satan only needs an inch in order to become your ruler. Ill. Eph. 4:27
I want to preach about Samson And The Shady Lady. I want you to notice some lessons that present themselves to us in this text. These lessons will help us when we face our battles with our own “besetting sins.
I. v. 1 SAMSON AND HIS DEFILEMENT
(Ill. The reasons for Samson’s fall back into sin are given to us in this first verse. Several elements are involved in his fall.)
A. Involved The Wrong Address The Bible says, Then Samson went to Gaza.” Gaza was a Philistine city located near the Mediterranean Sea. It was situated on the main road that allowed travel between Egypt, Babylon and Assyria. It was a commercial and military crossroads. The name “Gaza means strength and it was a Philistine stronghold. It was a place known for its wickedness and idolatry. It was no place for a man of God.
It does matter where you spend your time. If you consistently find yourself in places where you are surrounded by sin, or even in a place where you can be tempted, you are setting yourself up for a fall. The Bible warns us to avoid places where we might be tempted to sin. Proverbs 4:14-15 says, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
Some people will question your refusal to go where they go and do what they do, but you have a duty to the God Who saved you. You have a responsibility to your own soul to protect it from temptation. It is better to bear the scorn of sinners than it is to be scarred by sin!
If you are an alcoholic, you should avoid the beer and liquor stores. If you are a drug addict, you should avoid the places where such things are available. Falling into this type of sin does not always require a change of physical address. For instance, if you have problems with lust, be careful where you go on the Internet and what you watch on TV. If you have problems with gossip, be careful to whom you talk on the phone.
The lesson we learn from Lot’s example is priceless! 2 Pet. 2:8 says, “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) Lot placed himself and his family directly in the crosshairs of sin by moving them to Sodom. He paid a terribly high price for his sins!
B. Involved The Wrong Attractions We are told that in Gaza, Samson saw there an harlot. Samson has always had eye trouble and it seems that he still does. He casts his gaze on the wrong things and it led him into sin.
If we do not guard the “eye gate we will allow things into our minds that will cause us to be tempted. It is possible to be defiled by the things we see, Matt. 5:28. In the Bible, men like Samson, Judah, David and Solomon were all led off into sin by the things they looked at with their eyes. We must take steps to guard our eyes from the things that would defile us!
As you might expect, the Bible offers some very good advice in this important area:
· Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way, Psa. 119:37. We should seek the Lord’s help in guarding ourselves in this vital area.
· I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? Job 31:1
· Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil, Pro. 4:25-27.
When the wrong images are allowed in through the eyes, it will not be long until they find their way to the heart. It will not be long from there until you find yourself tempted and falling into sin. That is why we must guard our eyes at all times!
C. Involved The Wrong Alliances We are told that Samson went in unto her. Samsons sin was not an accident. He was not merely a man overtaken by some snare of the devil. Samson was in the wrong place, looking at the wrong things. In this instance, he was his own worst enemy. He contributed to his own fall.
When we play around with sin and tempt ourselves, we become the reason for our own failures. It isn’t God’s fault that we fail. We can’t even blame Satan for all our failures. We sin because we give in to our own lusts. We sin because we allow ourselves to go to the wrong places and look at the wrong things. That is what the Bible teaches, James 1:13-15.
Samson got into trouble because he was overconfident. He thought he could handle the pull of his flesh. He learned the hard way that he was helpless against his flesh and the lusts that lived there. When we get to the place where we think we have arrived, we too are headed for a fall, Pro. 16:18; 1 Cor. 10:12!
Let’s not overlook the fact that Samson sinned because he allowed himself to be with the wrong people. He would have never committed this sin had he been around the people of God at the house of God. Because he was in the wrong place, looking at the wrong things with the wrong people he fell into sin! The same will happen to us, if we are not careful! You cannot keep company with defiled people without defiling yourself! The people you surround yourself with will influence your thinking and your actions. That is why the Bible warns us about being friendly with the wicked. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Also, 1 Cor. 15:33 says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
We can blame no one but ourselves when we set ourselves up to sin. The fact is, some people get so far away from the Lord that they do not need to be tempted; all they really need is an opportunity. That is why we must ever guard ourselves. Where we go, what we do and whom we congregate with had a lot to do with how our lives will turn out!
I. Samson And His Defilement
II. v. 2 SAMSON AND HIS DISCOVERY
(Ill. While Samson is in the company of the harlot, his enemies discover that he is in town. They set a trap to capture him. Samson thought he would turn aside for a few moments of pleasure in illicit sexual relationship. He thought he would have his fun and just leave town. He never thought he would get caught.
Then again, neither do we! The truth is, Satan uses our sins to set us up for a fall. This passage demonstrates the way sin works in our lives to attack us and bring us down.)
A. Something About Sin’s Surrounding Work The Philistines compassed him in. That means that his enemies surrounded him. They laid a trap for his capture.
That is the way sin works as well. Some people criticize Christianity and say that it is too restrictive. They complain that the way of God is no fun; that it leaves no freedom; that it allows no wiggle room. What the critics fail to see is that the way of God, that is, a life lived according to the Word, is a life of true freedom, while sin is a life of captivity.
Sin is like a boa constrictor. It encircles the lives of its victims and slowly squeezes the life right out of them. The freedom of the sinner is stolen away by the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual toll of sin. Diseases, addictions, trauma, financial losses, ruined relationships, destroyed families, shattered trust, depression, and for some, incarceration, limit the freedom of living and bring destruction and pain. The life of sin is not a life of freedom and reckless abandon; it is a life of profound bondage and dark slavery, Eph. 2:2-3.
B. Something About Sin’s Steady Work The Philistines also laid wait for him all night. They were patient as they waited for him to leave the harlots house. They were in no hurry because time was on their side.
Sin is also patient in the way it works. It will play its cards close to the vest until the sinner is hopelessly entangled in its web. The sinner doesn’t always feel the trap closing around them when they are living out their life of pleasure, but sin is patient, and when the time is right, it will spring the trap and destroy the life of its victim.
Most of the time, by the time the results of sin are known, it is too late to escape the trap. Ask the chronic alcoholic if there is a sting in the liquor bottle. Ask the AIDS victim if he feels the sting associated with his lifestyle. Ask the promiscuous girl who will never know the joy of motherhood because she has been rendered sterile by a venereal disease if she feels pain of her sin. Ask the criminal sitting behind bars if there is a price to pay for sin. All these people would have laughed in your face if you had tried to warn them on the dangers they faced when they were in the grip of their pleasure! Now, it may be too late, but they all know the truth!
It may take a while, but eventually, sin will play its hand, spring its trap and the sinner will pay terrible price for falling into sin’s trap, Gal. 6:7. The time to repent is now. The time to escape sin’s bondage is now while there still may be time to escape the worst horrors of sin in your life. You will always bear some scars in your body, your mind or your spirit, but you might just escape with your life and your soul intact. Get out now while there is time!
C. Something About Sin’s Silent Work The Bible says the Philistines were quiet all the night. They did not let Samson know they were there and lying in wait to capture him.
Such is the subtle nature of sin. It does not tell the truth. It leads the sinner to believe that there can be pleasure with no consequences. Advertisers tell us that alcohol use is tremendous fun. Birth control commercials tell us how to commit fornication without the nasty side effects of an unwanted pregnancy. The lottery, and other forms of gambling, is exalted as a way to get rich quick. The facts are somewhat different. Sin never tells the truth!
Sin never tells you about the ruined health, the empty wallet, the destroyed lives, the ruined marriages, the broken homes, the shattered dreams, and the wasted years it leaves in its wake. Sin is deceitful and we must take whatever steps are necessary to avoid it. If the sinner knew what was waiting on them at the end of a life of sin, they would never take the first step of that journey! (Ill. Pro. 16:25; Matt. 7:13-14)
D. Something About Sin’s Slaying Work The Philistines said when it is day, we shall kill him. Death was the plan for Samson. The Philistines laid their trap and they planned to capture and kill Samson.
Death is the end of sin, Rom. 6:23; James 1:15. Sin is destructive! If the sinner does not escape, he will experience death in Hell, separated from God. Even if he does escape by the grace of God, he will discover that many things around him will have already died. Sin kills joy, peace, relationships, marriages, hope, churches, and even the human spirit. Sin is a killer! It kills everything it touches. No one escapes unscathed!
I praise God there is victory in Jesus, 1 Cor. 15:55-57. I am glad that He can deliver us from a life of sin and give a new life in Him. I am thankful that He will forgive all those who turn to Him, 1 John 1:9. Instead, of clinging to the hope that God will forgive, you should seek His power to avoid sin altogether. I will tell you again, if we would live out Rom. 6:11-14, we would not need 1 John 1:9 as much as we do.
I. Samson And His Defilement
II. Samson And His Discovery
III. v. 3 SAMSON AND HIS DELIVERANCE
(Ill. The Philistines have laid their trap for Samson. They are determined to capture him and kill him. If it were not for the intervention of the Lord, he would have been killed that night. Notice how the Lord delivered him from his enemies.)
A. The Power Of His Deliverance When Samson awoke, he got up, went out and took the gates of the city and carried them away to the top of the hill that is before Hebron. That is an astounding feat of strength.
Other men have turned in some amazing feats of strength over the years.
· In 1798 William Carr carried a 1,120 lb. anchor one half mile.
· In 1895 Joseph Blatt lifted 3,564 lbs.
· In 1900 William Pagel carried a 1,000 lb. horse up a set of 12’ ladders.
· In 1902 Lionel Strongfort became a human bridge supporting a 3,200 lb. carload of people on a platform.
· In 1920 Frank Richards had a 104 lb. cannon ball fired into his chest from a 12’ cannon at close range.
· In 1957 Paul Anderson lifted a table of lead loaded with auto parts that weighed 6,270 lbs.
Those feats of strength pale in comparison to what Samson did here. Samson ripped up the gates, the posts and the whole gate assembly out of the ground and carried them 38 miles to Hebron, a journey that was mostly uphill! The weight of all this would have been in the thousands of pounds. Yet, Samson carried it away as if it weighed nothing at all! While his amazing display of strength is impressive, it does not make up for the weakness of his morals.
Regardless of how we appear on the outside, it is the content of our heart that matters. Samson did not sin because he was physically strong. He sinned because he was morally weak. He sinned because sin was in his heart. He cherished it and allowed it to dominate his life. The same thing can happen to us. Remember, even the best among us are still sinners. Remember that even the best among us are still capable of the vilest sins imaginable. Our hearts can become fountains of evil that will poison the whole of our lives, Matt. 12:34-35; Matt. 15:17-20.
B. The Pardon Of His Deliverance Samsons deliverance was the grace of God in action in Samsons life. Samson deserved to be caught by his enemies. He deserved the judgment and chastisement that was coming his way for his actions. It was the grace of God that allowed him to become aware of their plot, to escape before they could spring their trap and to carry off the gates of the city. It was the grace of God that allowed him to get away from that sinful situation alive and in one piece.
This wasn’t the first time God had spared the strong man in a time of wickedness. God is merciful and allows the opportunity us to repent and to turn from our sins. Often, He will give us chance after chance to turn back to Him for forgiveness and restoration. Thank God for His enduring mercy, His patient grace and for the turning away of His wrath! However, with Samson, as is also often true of us, the grace of God was not seen as a warning to turn away from sin once for all, but the grace of God was seen as an encouragement for future sin. Having been spared so often in the past, Samson may have come to believe that he could live as he pleased, and that there would be no consequences for his actions. He was guilty of what Jude 4 calls “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.”
God is merciful to us. He allows us to turn back to Him time and time again, but there will be a limit to His leniency with His children. Samson is about to find out that God will not always rescue him from the consequences of his sin. He is about to find out that chastisement will come and will bring with is cruel suffering and hardship.
When we treat God like a doormat; when we live like we please, thinking that He will never judge us, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. When we come to the place where we say, “Well, I’ve done it before and God let me repent and nothing happened. So, why can’t I do it again? we are headed for trouble! When we start to think that we are getting away with sin with no consequences, we had better look out because chastisement is not far behind! We must not think that just because the hammer did not fall today, it will never fall. There will come a day when Gods patience will be exhausted and the full force of your choices will fall on your own head. There are always consequences attached sin, and do not for a minute think that God will not allow those consequences to be brought to pass in your life! Ill. Heb. 12:6-11; Rev. 3:19.
Conc: If Samson teaches us anything, he teaches us the truth that we must guard our hearts. We must shield our lives from all the evil influences that would lead us away from God. Watch the places you go. Watch the things you give you attention to. Watch the people you associate with. If sin is allowed to sink its fangs in your life, it will coil itself around you until it has choked the life right out of you. It will not stop until it has destroyed you and everything you love. The time to kill the serpent of sin is right now. If the Lord has touched you about the way you have been living your life, or if you just need to come and pray for help and protection, the time to mind Him is now.