THE FALL AND RISE OF A MIGHTY MAN OF GOD
PART 2: DEDICATION TO GOD ALWAYS HAS CONSEQUENCES
“LIONS AND HONEY”
SAMSON’S LIFE WAS DEDICATED TO GOD (IS OURS?). AND DOING HIS WILL (WAS SAMSON DOING HIS WILL BY GOING DOWN TO TIMNAH TO MEET A PHILISTINE WOMAN??? YES!) SHALL LEAD TO SPIRITUAL ATTACK – THE DEVIL PROWLS AROUND LIKE A ROARING LION. WHAT FORM SHALL THIS ATTACK TAKE (WELL WE HAVE SEEN THAT IN PREVIOUS SERMON SERIES)? THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT SOMETHING “SWEET” SHALL COME OUT OF IT – IN TIME IF NOT IMMEDIATELY – IT WAS ONLY LATER THAT HE FOUND HONEY IN THE CARCASS – AND WHAT COMES OUT OF A REAL CHALLENGE WILL BE GOOD FOR US – AND FOR THOSE AROUND US WHOM WE AFFECT (HE GAVE SOME OF THE HONEY TO HIS PARENTS)
[Video clip – “Samson and Delilah” – from 5:15-12:15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv5nwN9dQVU]
THE BIBLE ACCOUNT: JUDGES 14: 1-9
Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, ‘I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.’
3 His father and mother replied, ‘Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?’
But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.’ 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring towards him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
INTRODUCTION: “THIS IS DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE”
Samson was to be dedicated to the LORD from birth. The Angel of the LORD said to his mother:
“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb.” (Judges 13: 5)
But, it is all very well telling his mother to dedicate him to the LORD, Samson had to take the responsibility of this commitment to the LORD himself. And the sign that he was willing to do this is seen in his keeping of the Nazirite vow – the outward symbol of which was the not-cutting of his hair.
In the same way, only we ourselves can make a vow of dedication to the LORD. When we accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins we became God’s children. However, we still have to choose to dedicate our lives to him – and it is good and right for us to constantly be asking ourselves if our life-styles are matching up to the commitment that we profess to have made to our LORD.
Dedication to the LORD brings with it the joy of having a purpose in our lives. For Samson this was a specific purpose –
“He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13: 5)
….and so it might be with us. But, for many of us our “purpose” once dedicating our lives to the LORD will be the broad one of doing whatever He calls us to do. And again we should be constantly reviewing our lives to ask ourselves whether we are keeping to our vow of dedication to His service.
NOW YOU’VE DONE IT! DEDICATION TO GOD INVARIABLY LEADS TO A HOSTILE ENEMY RESPONSE
- TAKE A REALITY CHECK SAMSON – ARE YOU REALLY DEDICATED TO GOD HERE?
- Hm! He had the OUTWARD appearance of dedication to God (that HAIR!) but he goes down to Timnah – a Philistine town – and sets eyes on a Timnite woman – a Philistine – and says to his mum and dad “get her for me as my wife” (v. 2)
- Surely a dedicated-to-God Israelite would not have done this. For weren’t God’s people told to keep themselves separate from the nations around them?
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations….2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you (Deuteronomy 7: 1-4)
- Sounds rather like Samson was not as dedicated to God as he professed. Sounds like he was being driven by lust (or love) here rather than obedience to God. This is why his parents were upset and asked him not to do this thing.
- However, we have this very important statement in Judges 14: 4 –
His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines
- His request to marry a Philistine was FROM THE LORD!!! Now, being a fact in the Bible we have to accept it on its own merit. But there is another occasion where the LORD asks a man-of-God to marry a wholly unsuitable woman – and that was the prophet Hosea (1: 2 and 3: 1-5). You just can’t “pigeon-hole” God. There is now no doubt – Samson was obedient to God – dedicated to Him – in seeking a marriage to this Timnite woman.
- And the relevance to us? Dedication to God means being open to His leading even when it appears to be ridiculous. In marriage it is right to counsel a disciple not to become un-equally yoked to a non-believer. However, I have known of an occasion where a wonderful Christian lady felt called by God to marry an atheist – and their marriage has been blessed by, and for, God in so many ways. Although he remains an atheist to this day, she remains convinced that she is doing God’s will – and their marriage is a very happy one
- LIONS ARE LOOKING TO DEVOUR DEDICATED PEOPLE
- Now that we are aware that Samson, as a dedicated-man, was doing the will of God, we should not be surprised at what happens next:
Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring towards him (Judges 14: 5)
- His enemy – our enemy – the devil (who was behind the Philistine domination over the Israelites) wanted to stop Samson, wanted to destroy him. The young lion was sent to kill him. A lion has been the symbol of strength and power for all time. We are told in 1 Peter 5: 8 –
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour
- Samson was strong (and not because of his hair but because of his dedication to God) and rather than running away in terror we are told:
The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat (Judges 14: 6)
The lion was not killed by Samson’s inherent physical strength. The lion was killed because the Spirit of the LORD gave him the strength to defeat it.
- The lesson for us here: How we are attacked! Yet, these “attacks” of the evil one, our enemy, come most powerfully when we are living a life of dedication to God. We should not be surprised when it is just when we are really “going forward” in the Lord that the problems – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – become almost overwhelming. Almost…we will NOT stand against the devil’s schemes in our own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit within us we SHALL overcome. Let us recognise these attacks – we need to be alert and aware at all times. And then:
Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5: 9)
The lion, sent to devour us, shall be destroyed. And we must believe that this will ALWAYS be the case because greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world (1 John 4: 4)
- Our conclusion: like Samson we SHALL suffer spiritual attack (which might well take a VERY physical form) when we are living a life of dedication to the LORD but, like Samson, we shall “kill” the “lion” that attacks.
- Just a couple of little asides here to complete this section….
Firstly: why are we told that the attack came from a “young” lion? Possibly because a young lion is far more ferocious than an older one – so the severity of a spiritual attack is magnified.
Secondly, why did he not tell his parents what had happened? Possibly the lesson here is one of humility – we are wont to put Samson down as being so morally bereft. But, he does not boast about his killing of the lion – because he knows it was the LORD’s doing and not his own – he was simply available and trusting.
DEDICATION TO GOD ALWAYS HAS CONSEQUENCES – BUT NOT JUST PROBLEMS…
We have seen that Samson’s surprising dedication to the LORD led to the immediate consequence of an enemy attack; However, his dedication to God, and trust in Him when the attack happened, led to the problem being turned by God into a blessing.
For we read:
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass. (Judges 14: 8-9)
- God used the VERY instrument of attack as the basis of the blessing that he bestowed in Samson. God sent a swarm of bees into the carcass – feeding off the dead lion – and producing honey.
- How many times I have heard it said that the thing that was sent to be a “curse” to a person who is dedicated to God is turned by God into a blessing. This was the declaration of Joseph to his brothers when their plan to kill him led to his being used to bless them during a time of great famine once he had been raised to a position of power in Egypt. He told them:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50: 20)
How many who have been beset by illness have declared that it has brought them closer to God; or that their healing has led others to trust in God themselves. How many who have suffered loss of work or money because of their faith have spoken of the spiritual treasures that have been opened to them as a consequence.
- The choice of God to provide Samson with honey cannot be under-played either. For, in Scripture, honey is the symbol of abundance, provision and prosperity – when God spoke to Moses at the Burning Bush He promised to use him to bring the Israelites to a land of “milk and honey” (Exodus 3: 8). Honey was the food that “sweetened” life and “brightened” the eye (as it literally did to Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14: 27).
God’s promise, through Samson, is, I believe, to bring all these things to us when we are dedicated to Him – prosperity, abundance, provision, joy, and health (definitely spiritually – and maybe even literally as well).
- Our conclusion from the story of Samson? To a dedicated person trouble WILL come – but so too will blessing. Thank God!
- As before….a few “asides” to think on:
- The honey didn’t appear immediately Samson killed the lion – it was “some time later” (Judges 14: 8). Patience and trust is needed when “troubles” beset us. God will use the troubles to bless us – but it might not be immediate. It will be at the right time.
- Samson gave some of the honey to his parents –and I’m sure it strengthened them as well. When God blesses us out of our troubles then we can – and should – pass on that blessing to others – beginning with our family (physical and spiritual) – whether this is encouragement or wisdom or understanding….
SO, WHAT CAN WE CONCLUDE IN ALL THIS AND WHAT CHALLENGES SHOULD WE TAKE AWAY?
- We have to choose to be dedicated to God this day. It’s easy to make a sweeping statement of “I’ve dedicated my life to Him” but maybe it’s more realistic – and more challenging – to say “I’m dedicating today to God”
- The devil, like a “roaring lion” will seek to destroy our commitment to God. Are we aware of this? Are we constantly alert? Are we submitting to God in all things?
- The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us to resist and defeat the attacks of our enemy, the devil. Are we clear on this? Are we trying to deal with the “attacks” in our own strength? If so we shall lose! We can’t fight a “lion” on our own. But, with the power of the Holy Spirit we can!
- God will use these attacks for our benefit (remember that ALL things work together for good for those who love Him – Romans 8: 28) – but just like Samson had to return to look at the carcass of the lion so we have got to be willing to reflect on the things that happen to us and to find the good in it.
Maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to see Samson in a different light….