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THE RESTORATION OF A FALLEN HERO
Intro: In our study of the life of Samson, we have encountered a man who was far less than he should have been. He came into this world born of a promise from God that he would be a Nazarite set apart for the glory of God, and that he would be the deliverer of the nation of Israel, Jud. 13:1-14. There can be little doubt that the Lord used Samson in his life, but his service to the Lord was hampered by the sins that marred his life.
Samson was a man characterized by weakness in his flesh. He had a weakness for wicked women. That desire for illicit sexual relationships continually hindered his usefulness to the Lord and eventually it cost him his freedom, his ministry and his life.
In our last glimpse into the life of this man, we saw a man who had been deceived by a ungodly woman he had come to love, Jud. 16:4. This woman’s name was Delilah and she tricked Samson into revealing the source of his strength to her. His strength was not his own; it came from the Lord. Samson’s power was related to his Nazarite vows. His hair symbolized that vow. When he allowed Delilah to cut his hair, Samson showed contempt for his vows to the Lord. As a result, the Lord removed His hand from Samson’s life and God allowed him to be captured by his enemies. The Philistines tied Samson, put out his eyes and took him to the prison, where he was forced to grind. The mighty judge of Israel was reduced to doing the work of a female slave.
Thankfully the story of Samson does not conclude with him bound by his enemies. This passage records The Restoration Of A Fallen Hero. These verses remind us that no matter how far we may fall, if we are saved we are still His, and He has a plan to bring us back to Him.
That should be encouraging news to every child of God. We all fail, and sometimes like Samson we fail in a big way. We are like the fellow who said, “I do not the Lord often, but when I do, it’s a beauty.” We all fail the Lord from time to time, and sometimes we fail in a spectacular fashion. Of course, we see this in the lives of all the heroes of faith mentioned in the Bible. “The Hall of the Faithful” in Hebrews 11 could also be labeled “The Hall Of The Failures”, because all the members of that illustrious organization failed God, and they failed Him big.
· Abraham lacked the faith to believe God’s promises to take care of him and he went down to Egypt where he lied about his wife.
· Sarah laughed at God and mocked His promises.
· Isaac lied about his wife.
· Moses committed murder and tried to cover it up.
· Joshua was full of pride and failed to pray before he attacked Ai where the nation of Israel was defeated.
· Rahab was a prostitute.
The successful Christian is not the person who never fails, but it is the person who when they fail, gets back up and goes on for the Lord. The successful Christian is the person who accepts God’s remedy for sin and reaches up to God for cleansing and forgiveness when he does fail.
That is what these verses are about. Let’s look into these verses and notice the lessons they have to teach us about The Restoration Of A Fallen Hero.
I. v. 22 IT WAS A TIME OF RESTORATION
A. The Power In The Restoration – “The hair of his head began to grow again.” After a time, Samson’s began to grow back. If you will remember, his hair was the symbol of his vows to God as a Nazarite. Samson’s power did not come from his hair, but it came from his relationship with the Lord. The regrowth of his hair was symbolic of the restoration of that special relationship Samson had enjoyed with the Lord.
B. The Picture In The Restoration – The regrowth of Samson’s hair was a picture of the truth that God was not through with Samson yet. The grace of God allowed Samson to live long enough for his hair to grow back and this lets us know that God has plans for Samson.
C. The Problem In The Restoration – Samson’s hair grew back, but it was a slow process. The average growth rate of human hair is about 1/8th inch per week. That translates to about 6 inches per year. To grow hair to the waist takes about 6 years. All that means is that Samson was in the process of restoration for a very long time. His return did not come over night.
There are a few observations that we need to notice concerning this restoration process.
· If you have sinned and failed the Lord, especially in a very grievous and public way, restoration is possible, but it will be gradual. You cannot expect to be restored to service overnight.
· You can be forgiven of sin in an instant, but restoration may take a lot of time. It takes time to earn back the trust of others. Sin takes a tremendous toll on all the people within its orbit. It takes time for the pain, distrust and effects of sin to ease.
· Huge failures in our lives are not the result of a sudden fall into sin. They are the culmination of a long period of disobedience. It takes time to replace bad habits with good ones. It takes time to change the way the mind thinks, thus it takes time to change the way we live our lives. It takes time to earn back the trust of the people who have been wounded by our failures.
· While sin might be forgiven and the sinner made right with God, forgiveness does not cancel out the consequences of our sins. Samson’s hair grew back, but he was still bound; he was still blind and he was still in the prison grinding grain. Sin leaves a terrible mark on the lives of the guilty. The scars of sin may be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. The scars sin leaves behind may never be fully healed. While relationships with God and others may be restored, the reminders of sin may haunt you for the rest of your life. Regret, guilt, and a loss of peace may stalk the guilty party until they leave this world. We must ever remember that sin brings consequences, and those consequences may follow us to the grave, Gal. 6:7; Pro. 13:15. We may be forced to live our lives ever asking, “What was I thinking? Why did I do that?”
· While there was restoration, there was a limitation of Samson’s service. It is possible to commit sins that will disqualify us from holding certain positions in the church. It is not that we do not forgive, or that the Lord does not forgive; the issue is that people will not follow a leader in whim they no confidence.
This passage challenges us to avoid sin in our lives at all costs. Whatever steps are necessary to avoid committing sin must be utilized. God will help us to be the people He saved us to be. He will help us in the hour of temptation, 1 Cor. 10:13. He will help us protect our testimonies and our reputations so that He is glorified and we remain useful to Him.
This passage also reminds us that there is restoration for the fallen, 1 John 1:9; Pro. 28:13. There is forgiveness with the Lord, Jer. 33:8.
I. It Was A Time Of Restoration
II. v. 23-25 IT WAS A TIME OF REPROACH
A. God’s Man Was Degraded – Samson was brought into the temple of Dagon. Dagon was the god of the Philistines. He was portrayed as half man and half fish. From his navel down he was depicted as a fish, from the navel up, he was portrayed as a man. The Philistines were fishermen and they worshipped Dagon believing that he would bless their efforts to catch more fish.
Verse 25 tells us that they brought Samson to this temple “to…make sport for them.” The word “sport” comes from a word that refers to “a dance or a jig.” In other words, they brought Samson in as entertainment. They brought him in to mock him. They are drunk, v. 25, and they are looking for a good time. They force Samson to perform like some kind of circus freak. They no longer fear him as the mighty, undefeatable judge of Israel. They no longer see him as a threat to their way of life. They view Samson only as an object of mockery and derision. They bring him in so they can laugh at him. He is diminished in their eyes and they force him to do tricks while they laugh.
Don’t you know that Samson felt humiliated? He surely feels as though he is worthless. When he was engaged in his sins, he could not see the danger that lurked nearby. Now, he sees it clearly, but it is too late. Sin has humiliated the once proud Judge of the Hebrews. Sin has turned the mighty, fearsome warrior into a clown. Sin has transformed from the stuff of legends into a punch line for the enemies of God.
That is what sin will do in our lives if we allow it to reign in our hearts. Sin has the power to turn our lives into grist for the rumor mills. It has the power to bring us low so that people point at us and whisper about our failures behind our backs. Sin has the power to defeat us, to degrade us, to diminish us and to demoralize us. Ill. “Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity,” Psa. 106:43.
B. God’s Glory Was Diminished – Not only was Samson degraded; God’s glory was diminished. Because Samson was defeated, the Philistines glorified Dagon and gave him the credit for their victory, v. 24. Samson probably believed that he would have his fun, and then he would go right back to serving the Lord and helping the people. He never imagined that he would be captured. He never imagined that he would be humiliated. He never believed that his sin would allow the enemies of Israel to mock God. Samson learned the hard way that not only does sin bring about terrible consequences in the life of the sinner; he also learned that sin in the lives of God’s people always reflects badly on the Lord.
We must remember that the things we do either glorify God or they dishonor Him. When David sinned with Bathsheba and was confronted by Nathan the prophet, Nathan said, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…” 2 Sam. 12:14. Nothing has changed. We must ever remember that, if we are saved, we belong to the Lord and we must never do anything in our lives that brings dishonor to His name or that allows the enemies of truth to mock Him.
· “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed,” 1 Tim. 6:1.
· “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed,” Titus 2:3-5.
· “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully,” 1 Tim. 5:14.
· “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written,” Rom. 2:22-24.
We who know the Lord should live lives that speak well of Him. We should ever strive to bring Him glory and do nothing that causes Him to be reproached by the enemies of truth. Here is His desire for us:
· “Be ye holy; for I am holy,” 1 Pet. 1:16.
· “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” Phil. 1:27.
· “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain,” Phil. 2:12-16.
What does your life say about Him? Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ…,” Phil. 1 :21. He also said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal. 2:20. We should be able to echo those words, and see to it that God is never reproached for our sins!
I. It Was A Time Of Restoration
II. It Was A Time Of Reproach
III. v. 26-31 IT WAS A TIME OF RETALIATION
A. v. 26-28 Samson’s Desire – Samson stands before the people a shell of the man he had been. Yet in his darkness, his humiliation and he imprisonment, Samson turns his heart toward the Lord. He prays for strength so that he can get vengeance against those who put out his eyes. His priorities are still somewhat out of order, but he is heading in the right direction. Samson has it in his heart to see the Philistines destroyed. That after all, is why the Lord raised him up to begin with!
There are times when we all fall into sin. When we do, it is easy to allow that sin to keep us from seeking God in prayer. Seeking the Lord is the only avenue we have for restoration. We must not allow guilt over our actions, depression or discouragement to keep us away from Him. He is the only hope of restoration we have. We must get to Him, we must be honest about our sins and we must seek His forgiveness. When we do, He will hear us and He will forgive our sins, Ill. I John 1:9!
Is it possible that some here are harboring unconfused and unforgiven sin in your lives? Everyone around you thinks you are doing well spiritually, but you know the truth. You know you are cold, distant and empty. You know that you are not where you used to be with Him. You know that you have allowed sin, life and others things to come between you and the Lord. You restoration will not come to pass until you come to Him and get honest about your condition.
The horrors Samson suffered at the hands of the Philistines caused him to examine his life. He had time to think about what he had done. He took the necessary steps and God accepted him. His bondage resulted in his freedom. His blindness caused him to see the light. God forgave Samson and used him one more time. He also forgave David for his sins and used him again, Psa. 32:1-5. He forgave Peter when he denied the Lord, John 21, and the Lord used him in a powerful fashion.
Your sin does not have to define you! Your fall does not have to be all that people remember about your life. Your sin does not have to have the last word. Come to God! Be honest before Him! Reach up to Him and He in His grace will accept you, forgive you, restore you and use you for His glory!
B. v. 26-27, 29-30 Samson’s Deed – Samson asks a young man to help him find the pillars of the building. The young man does this. Samson calls on the Lord, then He pushes against the pillars with all his might. The pillars come down, and so does the temple. The place was filled with Philistines; they are watching Samson push against the pillars. They are laughing at him as he calls on his God. They think this is a great joke. They are not worried about him. He is a has-been. He is washed up. He is a nobody. He is a fool in their eyes, and deserves nothing but their laughter and their ridicule. Samson prays, and then he pushes. The Lord answers his prayer and the temple of Dagon comes crashing down, killing 3,000 Philistines. Samson dies also, and in his death, he kills more of the enemy than he had killed in his life. 1,030 Philistines died at Samson’s hand during his life.
The whole point here is that God used Samson again. He used him to strike a terrible blow against the enemies of the Lord. Friend, He will use you too! When there is repentance, forgiveness and restoration, the Lord will use you again for His glory!
C. v. 31 Samson’s Death – Samson, the mighty Judge is dead. His brothers and the other men of his family come to Gaza. They dig through the rubble and find the broken and battered body of the man of God. They take him home and honor him by giving him a proper burial. That was very important in those days.
Chances are that your sins will not lead to the same set of events that marked Samson’s life. Chances are that you will fall, seek the Lord in repentance, and He will forgive you and restore you to usefulness. Changes are you will not die in while carrying out His will for your life. In other words, the changes are good that God will use you, bless you and carry you home to glory in the usual manner. Like Samson, however, you can receive glory at the end of the way of you serve the Lord faithfully while you are here.
We all want to here Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matt. 25:21. Many will not hear Jesus say that because they never deal with their sins. They never repent and they never seek His forgiveness and His restoration. There are some in the family of the Lord who fail Him, and they do it in a spectacular fashion. Many of those people come back to the Lord, humbling themselves and confessing their sins. These people are forgiven and they are restored. When they stand before Him, they will hear no mention of their sins, for they are gone. They will hear Him say, “Well done!” there will be honor at the end of the way for the saints of who keep short accounts with Him. When we fail, we should be quick to seek His face in forgiveness. When we do He will forgive and restore. When we do not, He will touch our lives through chastisement. He does this not because he wants to destroy us; he does it because He loves us, Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6-11.
Conc: If there is a lesson from the life of Samson, it is this: Sin carries a devastatingly high price. When we engage in sin, we must be prepared to pay the consequences. There will be consequences in our lives, in our families, in our churches, in our communities and in the eyes of the world.
Another lesson presents itself, and it is this: sin does not have to rule in your life. There is a place of repentance. There is a place of forgiveness. There is a place of restoration. There is a God in Heaven Who loves you in spite of your sins. He will cleanse you, forgive you and restore you, if you will come to Him.
Where are you in your walk with Him? Are you saved? Are you as close as you should be? Are you as close as you used to be? Are you facing a time of testing through temptation? Has God spoken to your heart today? If there are needs, please come to Him now for the help, forgiveness, and restoration you need!