THE FALL AND RISE OF A MIGHTY MAN OF GOD
PART 5: THE RISE OF SAMSON
SAMSON HAS FACED THE CONSEQUENCES THAT WE ALL FACE WHEN WE WALK AWAY FROM THE LORD, WHEN WE “GET INTO BED” WITH THE WORLD – HIS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH HAS GONE, HE HAS BEEN BLINDED AND FINDS HIMSELF IN CAPTIVITY. HOWEVER…GOOD COMES OUT OF THIS – HE REALISES HIS MISTAKES, TURNS BACK TO GOD, REDEDICATES HIS LIFE TO HIM (SYMBOLISED IN HIS HAIR GROWING) AND BECOMES SPIRITUALLY STRONG AGAIN. HE IS IN THE ENEMY’S STRONGHOLD, AND HIS ENEMY IS LAUGHING AT HIM, BUT WITH DIVINE STRENGTH HE DESTROYS THAT DEMONIC STRONGHOLD. HE LOSES HIS PHYSICAL LIFE BUT GAINS HIS ETERNAL LIFE AND, AT THE END, FULFILLS THE PURPOSE THAT GOD HAS CALLED HIM TO. WE TOO MAKE MISTAKES, WE TOO FIND OURSELVES CAPTIVE TO THE WORLD. BUT WE HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WHEN WE RE-DEDICATE OUR LIVES TO THE LORD THAT WE WILL BREAK DOWN THOSE STRONGHOLDS AND HAVE A SECOND CHANCE TO FULFIL OUR PURPOSES IN LIFE. LET US CHOOSE THIS DAY TO REVIEW AND RENEW OUR DEDICATION TO HIM, SEE THOSE STRONGHOLDS IN OUR LIVES DESTROYED AND BE THE PEOPLE THAT GOD HAS DESTINED US TO BE.
[VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv5nwN9dQVU
37:40 – 42:30
Let’s use this clip to come to a greater understanding of the lessons to be learned}
THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT – JUDGES 16: 21-31
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding corn in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, ‘Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.’
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
‘Our god has delivered
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain.’
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, ‘Bring out Samson to entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, ‘Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.’ 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.’ 29 Then Samson reached towards the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led[d] Israel for twenty years.
Samson had failed. He had let his God down. He had “got into bed” with the world. He had walked away from God to satisfy his own lusts and needs. He had not remained faithful, he had not remained obedient. But, in prison, he realised his foolish mistakes and he repented – turned back to God, re-dedicated his life to Him…and God accepted him and gave him a second chance to fulfil the purpose to which He had called him even before he was born.
When an employee lets down their employer their boss has two options: on the one hand his boss can say “you have let me down, you have let the whole business down. I can no longer trust you. I can no longer use you. You have failed so I am firing you and replacing you with someone who can do better”. Or the boss can say: “you have let me and the business down, but I can see you are sorry and I can see that you have learnt from your mistakes, so I am giving you a second chance, the opportunity to put it right”. Which boss would you rather work for?
We have a loving Father in Heaven whom we always seem to be “letting down”. Like Samson we fail, disobey, walk away, and give our love and loyalty to the world. But, like Samson we have a loving God who is always willing to give us a “second chance” to put things right and come back to Him. Like the son in the parable of the “Prodigal Son” we are not worthy to be called His son any more but He is ever waiting for us to return to Him. He surrounds us then with His loving arms and restores us to our former position and gives us the opportunity to fulfil our God-given purposes in life.
Let us choose to return to His loving arms right now and be over-awed by His longing to give us a second chance.
BREAKING DOWN THE STRONGHOLDS
A “stronghold”, when described Biblically in a bad way, is anything that has a “strong hold” over you.
Samson had (literally) “got into bed” with the world and the world came to have a strong hold over him. His stronghold was his love, his infatuation, his “need” for Delilah. She had such a strong hold over him that he lost his spiritual strength because he had walked away from dedication and obedience to the LORD.
This strong hold that so looked like an angel, turned out to be a demon. The result was that he was literally trapped in a stronghold. In his case it was firstly a prison. The strong hold that the world had over him ended up imprisoning him. His eyes were gouged out – he had been symbolically blind to the strong hold that Delilah had over him and now he was no longer able to see – God, a way out, any hope. The strong hold that Delilah had over him seemed so delightful – now, in prison, he was put to work – he had become a slave to the strong hold, the pleasure had turned to pain.
In Samson’s case the literal stronghold was, secondly, the temple of Dagon in Gaza. What this shows is that when the world had a strong hold on Samson there was a spiritual element behind it all. Dagon was the chief god of the Philistines – supposedly the father of Baal and seen to be half fish and half man – reminiscent of their days as a great sea-faring nation – and was undoubtedly a demon. This temple of Dagon showed that his (and our) true enemy, the devil, had him in his stronghold. And Samson was laughed at, mocked, made the source of entertainment – a fool who had walked blindly into the arms of the world and had lost all his strength; a man of God who had now been entrapped in the spiritual stronghold of Satan.
Can you see all the applications to us? There are “strongholds” in our lives – the hold that the world (behind which is the devil) has on our lives – strong holds on us that appear so desirable, and become so addictive, and yet prove to be entrapments that we are blinded to and that enslave us turn quickly from pleasure to pain. And they spiritually weaken us and blind us to the love of God for us. And our enemy, the devil, laughs!
And what can these strong holds be in our lives? Addiction – to drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, money, possessions, power, fear, inadequacy, anger – is the most obvious comparison to the story of Samson for us. These are addictions that look so pleasing, yet quickly enslave us, blind us, weaken us. And our enemy, the devil, laughs!
But…the GOOD NEWS!
Although blind, now finally Samson can see – can see what a fool he has been; can see how he has been deceived and enslaved; can see that he must repent and re-dedicate his life to God.
Symbolically, his return to God is seen in the re-growth of his hair. It is not because his hair is again long that he is again strong; it is because he is again dedicated to God that he is again strong.
Now notice…he does not ESCAPE from this stronghold, rather he DESTROYS this stronghold. He recognises what holds this stronghold up (the pillars) and with his God-given strength he pushed and the whole edifice comes tumbling down. The stronghold is destroyed, the enemy is defeated, and in this last act the purpose for his life is fulfilled.
Let this be a lesson – and an encouragement – to us.
2 Corinthians 10: 4 tells us this:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds
We know what the weapons are that we fight with – we have studied them in the “full armour of God” series and offensively they can be summarised as “The Word and the Spirit” underpinned by prayer. Let us recognise the strong holds in our life; let us put our faith in God; let us rededicate our lives to God; let us not seek to run away from these strongholds but (like Samson) let us put the whole weight of the Word and the Spirit against the things that hold these strong holds up in our lives and see them demolished! Halelujah!
PURPOSE FULFILLED, ETERNITY GAINED
For Samson, the stronghold was demolished but he lost his life in the process.
Maybe we need to see this from another angle. Before he was born his mother was told that his life would be one of beginning to destroy the enemies of God’s people. At the end of his life he fulfilled his purpose more emphatically than at any other time in his life. And for him, his death was NOT the end – but just the beginning. We must see this from a spiritual point of view. The strong hold destroyed, his purpose fulfilled, now – in victory – he enters eternity – freed forever!
For us it is the same. Our death is NOT the end – it is just the beginning. Our purpose on earth completed, our Father calls us home with a “well-done, good and faithful servant”.
For us, as for Samson, it will be “purpose fulfilled, eternity gained”!