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Samson Playing with Fire
Judges 16:1-21
Skip Heitzig

Judges 16 (NKJV™)
1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
2 When the Gazites were told, "Samson has come here!" they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, "In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him."
3 And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4 Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."
7 And Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
8 So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with."
11 So he said to her, "If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
12 Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread.
13 Delilah said to Samson, "Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with." And he said to her, "If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom"--
14 So she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from the loom.
15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies."
16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death,
17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, "Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart." So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand.
19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.
20 And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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07 Judges - Topical - 1985

Before Israel had kings, they had judges, raised up by God to deliver the people from their oppressors. In this series, Skip Heitzig looks at several key stories from the fascinating but tragic book of Judges.


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Father, we open up our hearts as we open up this book, and we pray that the words that are in its pages, Lord would convey truth to us so that we can apply ourselves to its meaning. Lord help us in the application in these poignant truths. We now open ourselves up to you. Touch every heart that has come. In Jesus name, Amen.
"Then Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot and went in to her. And when the Gazites were told, 'Samson has come here!' they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, 'In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.' And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and of the two gateposts, and pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron." About thirty miles away. "And afterwards it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, 'Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.' So Delilah said to Samson, 'Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.' And Samson said to her, 'If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.' And so the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. And there were men lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known."
Now, we're going to read the whole chapter during this morning, but we're gonna just skip over to verse 17. Finally he gets to the very essence of his strength. "He said, 'No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.' When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, 'Come at once, for he has told me all his heart.' So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. And she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' So he awoke from his sleep, and he said, 'I will go out as before, as at other times, and shake myself free!' But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Then the Philistines took him, put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison."
Interesting character, this Samson, one of the most interesting in the Old Testament. He is called the Judge, and yet when you read his life, he's more like a terrorist. We've all grown up, haven't we, with this story of Samson and Delilah, the story of Samson and his strength. And when you were a kid and when I was a kid, what were some of the pictures that were conjured up in your mind when you thought of Samson? This big, incredible hulk, right? This superman. This Israeli Mr. T (light laughter). "(Mr. T impersonation)I pitted a Philistine. Come against me. (laughter)" This incredible man of strength, and yet his strength was spiritual, not really physical. It was really based in his relationship unto God, this vow of consecration that he had taken. But what a man. I mean, he's walking through the forest one day, rips open a lion's mouth. Takes some foxes, ties their tails together, lights them on fire so they go through the cornfields and burn down the cornfields of the Philistines. Takes the doorposts of the city, rips them off and puts them on his shoulders and carries them some twenty-five, thirty miles away. You know, some athletes work out with weights, he works out with doors. Takes the jawbone of a donkey and slays a thousand Philistines with it. He's be a nice guy to have as a big brother, wouldn't he? Growing up I had a big brother. I'm 6'4", he was 6'8". And I was always loved it when my brother was sitting down and we were out somewhere and somebody tried to hassle me. I'd go, "(Whistle) Bob." He'd stand up, "Yeah?" And all of a sudden the countenance on their face changed. They were nice to me then (light laughter). Samson would be nice to have as a big brother, but he is an example to us. The scripture in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians, tells us that all of these people in the Old Testament were examples. They were written about for our admonition. Samson is our example this morning. Sad to say he's a bad example more than a good example. But we can even learn from bad examples. We can learn what not to do from bad examples. You know, you can learn from almost anyone. You can learn from a drunk what you don't want to be. You can learn from Samson some of his good traits, and we can learn not to imitate some of his bad traits.

Again, before we get into this, notice how honest the scripture is about its heroes. It doesn't conceal anything, it says it just like it is. If they're a creep, it says they're a creep. It they're a terrorist, it says they're a terrorist. It shows the good points but it shows the bad points lest when we read it we think that we could never be like that. The scripture is always honest. A group of atheists a few years ago wrote a book called "The Bible Exposed" and they were gonna show those Christians just how ornery and naughty those people of the scripture really were by showing them some of the bad traits. Well they didn't show us anything new. The Bible tells us all about their bad traits. It's the kind of biography that tells us good and bad mixed together so that we can learn.

Now, getting into this, let's look at the background of this man named Samson. It says in verse 17 that he told her all of his heart and he said to her, "No razor has ever come upon me, upon my head. For I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb." This man was consecrated when he was baby. From his mother's womb, he had this vow of a Nazarite. Now if you've read this story before, I trust that you have, of Samson in the previous chapters, we know that his birth was unusual. He had a very godly heritage. His mother was barren, that is, she couldn't have any children. And for an, Israeli woman to not have any children, it was a curse. And she prayed, she wanted a child so bad, and an angel of the Lord came to her and said, "You're going to have a son. And he will be a Nazarite from his womb onward, and you will consecrate him to the Lord." A special kind of a heritage, a special kind of a birth that Samson had through his parents. You know it's been fun the last five months being pregnant. I'm speaking of my wife, of course, not me. And people always ask, "Well, what do you want? Do you want a boy or a girl?" And, we just want anything, right? I mean, it's a 50/50 chance, you get whatever you can get. And it's sort of interesting how some people say, "Well, I really feel it's going to be a girl. And I sort of feel like the Lord really told me it's going to be a girl." Then there's a few who say, "No, you know, I really feel, God, I really think it's really from the Lord it's going to be a boy." And I sort of wish that the angel would just come to us like he did to Manoach and say it's going to be this or that. Settle the issue. Of course you know it's going to happen, if it's a boy, all the ones who said it was going to be a boy say, "See? Told you. (light laughter)"And if it's a girl, all the ones who said it was a girl say, "See? I was right." Well, Samson's folks were at the point where they didn't care what they had. She was barren, it was sort of a curse for an Israeli woman not to have a child, she wanted anything. The Lord said, "You're going to have a son." And the angel knew that this child would be a special child. And he told the parents it's going to be a special child. So they gave it a special name: Sam. Samson. Shimshon. Which means, "like the sun sunlight. Like the sun. now, oftentimes parents would give their child a name because of the aspirations that they had for that child. The son was powerful, was strong, was bright. Hopefully, their child would be strong and bright, strong in the ways of the Lord. Well, he was very physically strong, but he was a spiritual wimp. Moral wimp. A moral weakling. But this was his heritage. He grew up with this. He had the vow of a Nazarite. And you're saying, "What is a Nazarite?" A Nazarite was spoken about before in the Old Testament back in Numbers, where a person would take a special vow of consecration to the Lord. They would take a vow of separation. The word "Nazarite" means to separate or to dedicate or to consecrate. And this person would be wholly sold out to God, living a life of holiness and dedication. Now it says in the second part of verse 17, "If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me and I will become like any other man." Now the secret, and the long-hairs love this verse, "I'm strong and I've got long hair." Just kidding. You take me so serious, I don't know why (light laughter). The secret, he said, was in his- if you shaved off the hair. His strength was not in his hair, his strength was in his commitment to God. The hair was a symbol or a badge of the covenant that he made. For, in number 6, God said you will separated unto me and a symbol or a badge of that, would be that the hair would naturally grow, you wouldn't cut it. You would have no alcohol, you would be completely dedicated to the Lord. Even at his birth, the angel told his mom, you know, "You'll have no alcohol, you'll have no unclean substance, take your prenatals all the way, so this child could be wholly dedicated to me." Samson, from the womb, was dedicated, was a life of consecration. His strength lay in his commitment to the Lord, not in his hair, not in outward appearance. It was an inward thing. As long as he was committed to God, as long as he stayed dedicated to God, the Spirit of the Lord, who was his strength, was upon him. But we're going to see that this relationship sort of dried out. That close relationship that he had with the Lord was sort of dwindling away, even though he was dedicated from his youth, he was dedicated as a child to the Lord, he started falling away from the Lord.

A word about baby dedications. They are not like baby baptisms, as some churches take them. Some people think, "I've got to get my baby dedicated in case something happens to him." Dedication that we do with babies does not secure them eternally. It is not a little thing that we do so that that baby will die and go to heaven. That baby, I believe, is sanctified by its believing parents already. And dedicating a baby is only the beginning. The parents must be dedicated to God. There are some parents who will, "Just let me get my baby dedicated," and their lives are not dedicated to God. It will do no good. The heritage begins with the parents. And the heritage was there with Samson. He was dedicated to the Lord. But that relationship was drying out. Sort of like the sun. You know, you can go outside, the sun is full of strength, especially in New Mexico, it's very powerful. It has the power to generate electricity, it has the power to heat your solar units that are on your roof. But when the days get a little shorter, and let's say there's a cloud cover for five days straight. Yes, the wavelengths can penetrate through the clouds, some of them. But the power is diminished because of those clouds. It was like Samson, who's name meant "like the sun". He was strong and he was powerful. But when those clouds of sin came in, it diminished his strength.

We all probably know people like the one I'm about to describe. But fresh in my mind is a guy that I sort of grew up with. He was our ASV president in high school. Godly person, took a lot of people to church. Always witnessing. All-American. Loved the Lord. I always admired him, I always looked up to him. He was so strong as a Christian. And I remember just becoming a Christian, looking at him, saying, "He's so strong. Will I every attain to that?" I saw him a couple of years ago. I said, "Scott, how are you doing?" "Fine, great! I'm doing this, I'm doing that. I'm working ahead, I've got these ideas in my business." "Great, how's things going with the Lord?" "Oh, well, um, I'm not a Christian like that anymore, Skip." I said, "You mean, you've fallen away from the Lord?" "Well, yes, you could say that." It seemed like he felt no remorse. I thought, "Hey, but you were so strong. You had such a beautiful life and example." Not anymore. Like Samson, our power is directly proportional to our relationship with Jesus Christ. How is it that we often forget that Jesus said, "Without Me, you can do nothing." Samson was now starting to rely upon his own strength, his own prowess, his own power. He had no idea, as we're going to see until the very end, that his power was directly proportional to the relationship that he maintained, the consecration, the dedication that he maintained with God. There's a clue in verse 17 I want you to look at. He says, "I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb." It seems that Samson, looking at this verse, speaks with his relationship with God past-tense, not present-tense. "I have been from my mother's womb." But as we're going to see in the next portion of this, he really wasn't dedicated to God now. You see, a relationship with God in the past-tense is absolutely useless unless you're maintaining it today. How often we have heard people say, "Oh, I remember back when I went to this powerful meeting and God moved in my life." Yeah, how about today? "Oh, well, it's not the same anymore." Like my friend, Scott. Or, "When I was younger, I was into that, just like you're into that now. You're into that Jesus stuff. I used to be into that myself, man, when I was younger. Just like you." Oh, how sad! To speak about it in past-tense. A few years ago, when we first started the church, I got a phone call from a guy. Got on the phone. He said, "Yes, can anybody use a pretty good Bible? I want to give my Bible away." I go, "Yeah, sure, I mean we can find a place for your Bible. Why do you want to give it away?" He goes, "I'm giving up the faith in Jesus Christ." That's what he told me on the phone. I said, "Run that by me one more time." He says, " I am giving up, knowingly, my faith in Jesus Christ. I trusted Him, I followed Him, I've gone through some hard times, I haven't seen His strength in my life. I am giving it up. And you can't talk to me anymore about it," he said, "I've made up my mind." I said, "Can you come in and talk to me." "No. But if you wanna use my Bible, I'll bring it by." What a sad picture, a picture like Samson.

That was his background, let's look at his fall. Verse 1, "Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot and went in to her." Now you're going to find out that this guy had tremendous physical strength, but morally he was a weakling. In fact, before we even get into it, turn back to Chapter 14. Verse 24 of Chapter 13, back a couple verses. "So the woman," that is his mom, "bore a son and called his name Samson. And the child grew and the Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him." Look at verse 1 of Chapter 14, "Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughter of the Philistines. And he went up and he told his mom and dad saying, 'I've seen a woman in Timnah of the daughter of the Philistines. Now, therefore, get her for me as a wife.'" Now back to Chapter 16, verse 1, "Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot and went to her."Look at verse 4 of the same chapter. "Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." What do you see here? What was his weakness? Women (light laughter). He had taken a vow, he was consecrated to the Lord, but he had a little weak spot and that was a good-looking woman. Wherever he was as he's out to serve the Lord, and do you notice the contrast between the strength of the Spirit of God in his life and the weakness of his flesh? Does that bring to mind any phrase that Jesus said to Peter in the garden? "Indeed the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." You see the battle here between the spirit and between the flesh. Between the spirit wanting to govern the life of Samson and the flesh taking control. And when Satan wanted to get at Samson, how did he do it? Through the flesh. And this has been the downfall of more people. Probably this is the biggest thing I've seen men fall with than anything else, is this problem of lust, this problem of women. I had a roommate. Came out to California. Neat little guy. Squirrely kind of a guy, but he was on fire for the Lord. Wanted to serve the Lord. We would go out witnessing. We'd pass out tracts. We'd go out to the pier at the beach, we'd go downtown and we'd pass tracts out and he could really share the gospel. It was beautiful to watch him. He began to grow in the Lord. He was doing so good, making such progress. And then one day at home, he just didn't show up one evening. The next day I figured, well, maybe he had to work late and he spent the night with a friend. Next night, he didn't show up. Next night, he didn't show up. He just disappeared. I wondered, "Where is this guy?" I asked my other roommate, "Hey, do you know where Dave is?" "No." Finally we found out a few days later he was living with a girl. That was his weakness. Trying to serve the Lord so hard but when that gal walked into the store where he worked, he just began to talk and a little thing led to another little thing and the flirting led to this and that. And he was living with her.

Now Delilah, in verse 4, seems to be a little different than verse 1, verse 1 was just a harlot- he paid for her. Verse 4, it says, "He fell in love with her." He loved her. She obviously didn't love him very much, did she? She was ready to take some money over the relationship that she had with him. If she really loved the guy when, you know, the Philistines come and say, "Excuse me, you have a real nice boyfriend. Uh, we would like to beat him up to a pulp. Do you mind? We'll give you some money." "Oh, okay. (laughter) Sure, great." She obviously didn't love him that much. Now the name Delilah means "lustful". She was probably a pretty good-looking woman. And notice that. Whenever Satan wants to get at you, the attacks that he brings you, he packages them so nicely. He makes the bait look so good. Because, you know, he doesn't knock on your door and go, "(Knocks) I want to tempt you today, do you mind?(laughter)" "Uh, well Satan, I don't know I think that this is a trick." He packages it up so it looks so glittery, so beautiful. So it's attractive to you. That's why temptation is fun, because it looks so attractive. And he packaged it up nicely. This lustful young woman. And Samson was attracted to her. Now in verse 4, or verse 5, "The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, 'Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.' So Delilah said to Samson," in that smooth, buttery tone, "Hey, big boy. (light laughter) Tell me where your great strength lies, you big hulk. And with what you may be bound to afflict you."Samson had no business being around this woman. First of all, she was a Philistine, like the woman in Timnah. She was not from his own tribe. She wasn't from his own people, and God forbade that in previous scriptures. God says, "Don't even date people who are your enemies. Don't even date people, don't even go around or marry the people that are enemies, they'll be a snare unto you." Samson didn't care, she looked pretty. There's a lot of people, are there not, who get into this problem of missionary dating. "Oh, I know that if I date him, he'll get saved. Oh I know if I date her, she doesn't know the Lord now, but she will, just watch. Oh, but Skip, you don't understand. He's so good-looking." Or, "She's so cute. And she's so nice."Yeah, I do know. I've seen it so many, many times with so many people. Missionary dating. You know the one who gets converted? The believer gets converted to an unbeliever nine out of ten. And this is what you're going to see with Samson. Check out the scriptural record. We go on, in verse 7, "And Samson said to her, 'If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, I will become weak, and like other men.' So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. And there were men lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known. And Delilah said to Samson, 'Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now please, big handsome hulk, tell me, with what may you be bound?' So he said to her, 'Well if they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I will become weak, and be like any other man.' Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson.' And there were men lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off of his arms as a thread. And Delilah said to Samson, 'Until now you have mocked me,'" Listen to this. This is a spiel. "'You mocked me and told me lies.'" You think he'd figure it out (light laughter). "' Tell me what you may be bound with.' And he said to her, 'Well, if you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom' — So she wove it tightly and the batten of the loom, and said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled the batten and the web and the loom." He's beginning to weaken. He's getting closer. He's mentioning now his hair, that badge of the covenant that he had with God. Now, at this point, I'm going to have to accuse Samson of being a cheesehead (laughter). This happened one, two, three times. And at least she honest, she says, "Samson, how can we bind you so that we can afflict you?" "Well (laughter)." I mean, this is not bright. Which goes to show us just what the flesh can do in destroying our judgement and our values. You know, when we look at something, look at sin and it looks so good we, sometimes when it takes it over, we lose all sense of value, all sense of judgement. We sell out for a moment of glory. "It looks so good." We don't even think straight. We don't even make right decisions, right choices, rational choices. It can destroy our ability to make sensible judgements. That's the power of the flesh when we give into it. You see, he saw this trap coming. He saw it, he knew that it was a trap, but it's fun. "Go ahead, tempt me. I like it. This is enjoyable. Tempt me a little more. I know it's wrong, but I'll resist. I'll see how far I can go without getting into trouble." When you have an attitude like that, you're already in trouble. He was on his way down. He was making those compromises, those little decisions, little by little. He's playing with fire, and fire looks so good. We're cold and we put our hands by it, we want to get warm. Pretty soon it can get out of control and go up your arm and burn you. That's what it did with this guy. David, a man after God's own heart. When Satan wanted to get at him, how'd he do it? The flesh. He's up on his roof one time, looks down, sees a beautiful married woman named Delilah, but he loses all sense of judgement. He must have her. And he did. And it cost him the integrity of his kingdom.

Now we get into verse 15, "She says to him, 'How can you say, I love you, '"Now, I'd turn the question around. "How do you- what do you mean? What about you? " "' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you haven't told me where your great strength lies.' And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words, pressed him so that his soul was vexed unto death," Yes, indeed, nagging is a powerful incentive as we'll see (light laughter). Verse 17, "And then he told her all of her heart, all of his heart and said to her, 'No razor has ever come on my head, for I have been a Nazarite, I have been consecrated to God from my mother's womb. And if I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, I will become weak, and be like any other man.' When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart," she knew this was for real this time, "she sent for the Philistines," she said, "Okay, boys, I'm ready to collect. Come on up."That downward trend of Samson.

Now, this is my problem. See if it's your problem. I have a redeemed sprit and soul, but it's packaged in a body of flesh. My spirit is alive to God, my soul, my mind has been renewed by the spirit of God, but it's packaged in this flesh, and as long and I am in this flesh, I am subject to the appetites and the cravings of this flesh. And so I find that I have two impulses. Part of me says, "I wanna serve God with all of my heart. Oh, I just want to do anything to please the Lord." That's part of me. But there's the other part of me that says, "Do it. Nobody's looking. No one will find out. Do your own thing." And often tells me to do things that I know are not pleasing to the Lord. That's the war that we go through. That's the battle that Samson was going through. Those two impulses. Delilah is like a type of Satan, seeking to find your place of strength and your weaknesses. Attacking you at your place of strength, tearing down your defenses and getting to your weak spot so that you'll fall. Before I was saved, I had a girlfriend. She wasn't a Christian, I wasn't a Christian and I liked the arrangement. Her brother became a Christian, he's with us today. Her other brother became a Christian, and I looked around and I thought, "Man they're falling like flies (light laughter)." The Lord was dealing with my heart. I knew that I should, I should get saved. I knew it. The Lord was dealing with my heart. There was one thing that kept me back from becoming a Christian. What was it? Her. That relationship. And the Lord was dealing with her, I didn't know it. But there was one thing that was keeping her back from a relationship with God. Who was it? Yours truly. So came to her one evening and I kind of made a pact, I made a vow between us. I said, "You must promise that you won't become a Christian." That's what I said. "It's going to be hard. It's going to be tough (laughter). They're going to try to get at you, but don't listen to it. Together we won't do it." And that's what we said. We made a little pact, a little covenant that we wouldn't fall no matter what. We'd hang tough. She said okay. Well, she left, went back home. A few days later, I fell into the hands of Jesus Christ. I decided to go back home to Southern California, meet my friends, my family, and all the while I'm thinking, "Now, what am I going to tell her? How am I going to handle this? How am I going to handle her?" Because I know that if there's anything that would make me fall back, it would be her, it's that relationship. It's that weak point, and I know it's my weak point. And I got back and I went up to her house and she came out with a big smile and she said, "I'm saved (laughter)." I said, "Whew." God even covered my weak point. We know our weak points, don't we? We know our strengths. We know what they are and we know when they're being attacked and so often we like the temptation, even though we know it's wrong, we know we're fallen, it feels good, we like it. And yet we must stay away from our weak points and stay strong, those areas God has made us strong.

Now finally, look at verse 20. Samson forsaken. And she said, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' So he awoke from his sleep, and he said, 'I will go out as before, as at other times, and shake myself free!' But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. "Oh, how sad. Samson had lost his power and he didn't know it. He was ignorant of the fact that God had departed from him, his power left because God left. It said, "The Lord had departed from him." He relied on his past up to this point and he thought, "Hey, I've done this before, I can break out of these things. I'm strong." He did up to this point. They put seven new ropes, boom! Jumped out of them like it was a little string. They tied his hair down with a web, he just came out poles, web and all, just broke loose. And so he thinks, "Oh, I've done this before. I'm strong." Relying upon his own strength. His power was gone. The Lord, it said, "had departed from him." The presence of God is inward; you can't always detect it outwardly. I have seen people come to church for a long time carrying bibles, saying "Praise the Lord" for months. And then I'll see them in the prayer room and they'll say, "I just accepted the Lord today." "You mean you weren't a Christian?" "Nope." I mean, we all look alike. The other night at the New Year's Even celebration, a guy had been coming to church, he knew me, he goes, "Hey, how was Israel?" I said, "Fine." I sat down next to him, he was drunk. He looked like a Christian. Had a Bible. Power of God wasn't in his life. You see, it's not always outwardly visible. It's an inward thing. Samson thought he could break free as before, but the Spirit of God, the power had left him. And then it says in verse 21, "Then the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza and they bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison."THat is, he was grinding corn in the prison house. What a pitiful sight. A man who could've been, a man who should've been, and a man who wasn't. A man who had incredible potential. The Spirit of God came upon his life in power and in measure. He was marked out from his birth by an angel miraculously. His mother miraculously had him as a child. A vow of consecration from his birth, dedicated to the Lord. And now we see him reduced to the level of an animal. It was an ox job to grind corn. The flesh, when it overcomes a person, can reduce you to the level of an animal. Following just animal appetites. Just seeking to please the flesh, he's now controlled and governed. And notice the effects of sin. His eyes were put out and he is bound. That's what sin does. It blinds you and you're bound because of it. Those are the two affects. And so we see Samson, this mighty warrior, now fallen, now forsaken in the prison house, reduced to the level of an animal.

So many people have been called by God, marked out by God, chosen by God and used by God only to be set aside because they never could conquer the flesh. Paul the Apostle in Corinthians says, "I beat myself, I discipline myself, I bring my body under subjection lest, when I have preached to others, I myself become a castaway," or set aside. Conquering over the area of the flesh. There is a ray of hope, though, in verse 22 , "However, the hair of his head began to grow after that had been shaven." God was still going to work in his life one more time, but this time, when he brought the house down, it would cost his life, too.

Now, I want to close with this. Your life and my life, in a sense, are like this man Samson. You have been marked by God. Do you realize that? Jesus said, "You have not chosen me, I have chosen you." That includes you. God has marked you out and chosen you. You are special. He has marked you out to be strong and mighty in the power of God's sprit, like he has Samson. And your strength lies in your relationship with Him. When that relationship begins to dry out, you'll notice that the power and the strength of your life dwindles, dries out too. Your power is directly proportional to the relationship that you have with God. Now I'd like you to do something to apply this lesson. I'd like you to go home this week, you've got a whole week to do it before next Sunday, and you write on a little piece of paper two lists. Number one, "My Strengths". Number two, the second list, "My Weaknesses". Write those down on a little list. Your strength could be that you have personal strength, or that you read your Bible every day and that you pray, or that you have that ability to influence others or that you're a joyful person. Write down all your strengths. Be honest with yourself. And then write down your weaknesses. Your weaknesses could be I have a problem with lust, or I have a problem that I want people to like me so much that I'll compromise just so they'll like me. It could be all sorts of, uh, problems. You might have a problem with, you know, fashion and clothing. Whatever your weaknesses are, whatever the thing that just kind of makes you weak, write that down next to the column. And then watch this week, keep your eyes open, to see how Satan will attack your strongpoints that you've listed as well your weak points. He'll capitalize on your weak points. You'll find out how he just seems to bring those things around to destroy you. And how he'll try to ruin your strongpoints. If you're a strong reader and prayer warrior, watch how he attacks your time of prayer and reading the word. Watch how he does with you what he tried to do with, and he did, with Samson. Then, make that list in your daily devotional time this week your target of prayer. Because as Satan has those custom made arrows after you, you can put up the shield of faith and begin to pray against those things. Pray against Satan. Pray for your strengths. Stand in strength, stand in the power of God, and watch your life change because of it. Let's pray.

Father we are strong in the relationship that we have with You this morning. We've just looked at a bad example of a man marked out with potential, never reaching it, giving prey to being conquered by the flesh. Father, we don't want to be a spiritual war casualty. We want to be victorious. And so, Lord, this morning we take a stand in our own hearts and our own lives against the wiles of the enemy. We stand in Your strength. And Father I pray for those in this room this morning who are being ripped off. They're being lied to, even though they claim a relationship with You. Father, I pray that You'd rescue them. Help them, as a prodigal son, to come to their senses. Bring them home.
And now, as you're praying I want to invite you who need that special power and touch of God this morning on your lives, you've never made a true, full on commitment to the Lord. You've made maybe a verbal commitment, you might have said a few God words now and then, but God has spoken to your heart. Your life this morning is one of weakness and you need strength. You need to come to Jesus Christ. You're empty, you've been searching. You need to be born again, as Jesus said. If God has spoken to your heart and that's your desire this morning, I would like to pray for you this morning. I'd like you to raise your hand and just indicate that you want prayer. Raise your hand up. Those of you who need that touch and you want to accept the Lord, raise up your hand.
Father I pray for all of these. You see their hands. More important, you see their hearts. Bring them, Father, close into your bosom. Hide them in the shadow of Your love. Lord, as they come to you I pray that you'd give them power and strength to be Your witness, to be committed, to be separated. In Jesus name we pray.

Additional Messages in this Series

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12/1/1985
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The Sad Cycle of Israel's History
Judges 2:6-18
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12/8/1985
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Gideon's Fighting Men
Judges 7:1-8
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1/12/1986
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Absolutely No Absolutes
Judges 17:1-6
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There are 3 additional messages in this series.