Why Is Samson in the Bible?
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
The Fall of Sardis
The church of Sardis was one of the seven churches found in chapters two and three of Revelation. The city of Sardis once the capital of Lydia. Its location at the intersection of three major trade routes made it a very prosperous city. Although its wealth made it a tempting target, it was virtually impenetrable to military attack. It was built on a 1,500 foot high plateau. Except for a narrow road leading up to it, it was surrounded by steep cliffs. Prosperity made life easy for its citizens and they were overconfident about the security of their city.
In 546 B.C. the great Persian ruler Cyrus laid sedge to Sardis. He offered a special reward to any of his soldiers who could come up with a plan to scale the cliffs of the city. One day a Lydian soldier dropped his helmet down one of the cliffs. He climbed down, retrieved his helmet, and then climbed back up. He did not realize that one of Cyrus' men watched him and took note of the route that he took. That night Cyrus men scaled the cliff and found the battlements completely unguarded. Their overconfidence left the city walls defenseless. Sardis fell with hardly any struggle. If they had been alert and had adequate defenses on the wall, they could have easily repelled the attack.
Once we start to consistently do the will of the Father, as individuals and as a church, we become a treat to the enemy. They will look for our weaknesses in order to exploit them. If we aren't careful we could end up defeated like Sardis.
This morning we will:
1. Discuss footholds and the danger they present to
2. We will take a look at Samson to see what foot holds can do.
3. Examine how we abuse grace of God.
4. Look at how we can address footholds before they are exploited.
What is a Foothold? Webster's Dictionary defines a foothold as, "A position used as a base for further advancement." Footholds can be used to destroy lives and churches. Footholds can become strongholds. These are strongly fortified defensive structures. Footholds are a lot easier to address than strongholds.
It is easy to consider sinful desires as footholds but anything not originating from God is a potential foothold. King Hezekiah's desire to live longer than God wanted him to eventual led to him showing his vast treasurers to the ambassadors from Babylon. Even good desires can be bad when they distract us from God's vision and purpose. I have seen people attempt to minister without being called or gifted to serve in a particular area. This would often result in them becoming worn out and discouraged. Their ineffectiveness would also have a negative impact on those that they were trying to serve.
We have to be careful of self-deception. Our ability to justify sin knows no limits. I have even seen a couple justify adultery as being God's will. You can imagine how much mileage that the enemy got from that. One seemingly harmless foothold in un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness is contrary to God's nature and easily exploited by the enemy to keep a believer distant from God.
God refers to King David as a man after His own heart. Conversely, Samson could be described as a man after his own heart. Did you ever wonder why Samson is in the Bible? I did? During my personal Bible study the Holy Spirit kept had me re-read the account of Samson for several weeks. Each time I would ask why? Finally it was revealed to me that Samson was an object lesson about footholds. When dealing with footholds Samson's life is an exaggeration of most of us. Sometimes God uses exaggerations to teach us. There is also a secondary lesson in the Biblical account of Samson. It shows that God can use imperfect vessels to do his will. Again in this he is an exaggeration of most of us.
Although Samson's life had great promise, footholds of overconfidence (like Sardis) and having to little regard for the things of God eventually lead to his capture by the Philistines. The very first account of Samson's actions shows him desiring a wife that was in direct contrast to God's command and his parent's wishes.
Judges 14:1-3 (NLT) One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, "A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me." His father and mother objected. "Isn't there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?" they asked. "Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?" But Samson told his father, "Get her for me! She looks good to me."
This was also against God's command not intermarry. God gave this instruction to the Israelites concerning the inhabitants of the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 7:3-6 (NTL) You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters, for they will lead your children away from me to worship other gods. Then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and he will quickly destroy you.
On top of all of this Samson should not have been hanging around Timnah. Timnah was noted for its luxuriant vineyards. Samson had taken the Nazirite vows. These vineyards could be a powerful source of temptation for a Nazirite. Abstinence from anything to do with grapes was very clearly spelled out in the law.
Numbers 6:1-4 (NLT) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. "If any of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way, they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine or from other alcoholic drinks, they must not drink fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins. As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine-not even the grape seeds or skins.
In spite of Samson appeared to blatantly disregard God's law, God Spirit empowered Samson to defeat an attacking lion. This occurred as Samson and his parents were going to Timnah to arrange the marriage to the Philistine woman.
Judges 14:5-7 (NLT) ... a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion's jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat.
The model that we see here is typical of Samson's life. He exposed himself to temptation time and time again. Time and time again God filled him with His Spirit - empowered him to do great feats of strength. Even though he displayed a high degree of disobedience the passages that we just reviewed, God was using the incident to work against Israel's greatest enemy, the Philistines.
Judges 14:4 (NLT) His father and mother didn't realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to disrupt the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.
Eventually Samson went too far. He revealed the source of his strength to a Philistine woman named Delilah. Samson finally crossed the line. His overconfidence in God's provision despite his disobedience was his undoing. He became like the king of Sardis who failed to post a guard the night that the Persians attacked. Though he was even more foolish. He knowingly showed the enemy where the path to conquer him.
What happened? Was his strength in his hair? I was always told that as a kid. Now I know his strength only came from God's empowerment. In Judges 16:17 he foolishly allowed the symbol of his special dedication to God to be taken away. At that point he undeniably showed his relationship to the self- serving Delilah meant more to him than his loving and faithful God. It was like a man who takes his wedding ring off to go into a night club. This was the only symbol of his Nazarite vow that remained. At this point it was like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of porridge. God despised Esau for that act. It is not surprising that God removed His empowerment in response. Allowing his hair to be cut was like superman taking his costume off. Clark Kent cannot rescue anyone.
Abusing God's Grace
It's easy for us to say, "Samson was really lustful and stupidly arrogant! I am not like him!" Yet like Samson we have all abused God's grace. We sin and then are surprised that God did not punish us. We can then start to thinking that God permitted that sin as a reward for our otherwise good behavior - after all He knows what it is like to be human. Right? He understands. We must always remember that sin is sin. God doesn't change his rules. We often escape God's judgment because of His grace. He truly does love us. However, if we continue to sin without remorse and without repeating we should question if do truly love God. If we abuse His love and His grace we have the danger of becoming like Sampson.
How Can We Address Foothold Before It' Too Late?
The best way to keep the enemy from exploiting footholds is to actively seek oneness with God. Knowing His heart and His will for our lives will keep us from being thrown off track if a foothold is being used to divert us. I have noticed that when I am able to focus on God, He exposes the tactics of the enemy to me as I need to see them. Looking for these on my own would be futile effort. Not only would I be unable to see the enemy's plans without the Holy Spirit, it would require me to take my focus off of God to look for the enemy. Regularly praising, worshiping, and expressing our gratitude to Jesus is a great way to keep our focus on Him and to be in fellowship with Him. This enables us to hear the Holy Spirit.
We should also be willing to permit the Holy Spirit to expose any footholds within us that we are oblivious to.
Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."
God knows us well and is more than able to show us anything within us that is potentially damaging to ourselves, others, or our relationship with Him. We can fool ourselves but we cannot fool Him.
Psalms 139:1-4 (NLT) O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.
Knowing that our actions can impacts others should motivate us to do all we can to guard against footholds. Remember Lydian solider who dropped and then retrieved his helmet revealing the secret path to Cyrus' army. Sometimes knowing that my failure can impact others helps me to go the extra distance. Like it or not, we are in this battle together. Everyone wins when we ban together with the determination to be victorious in that which God has called us to do. Remember "weak things united become strong."