Judges 12: The narcissistic judge

Judges 14:1-15:20

Judges 14:1-4 – Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.


If I have to choose one character in the Bible that baffled me the most, it would be Samson. When I was young, Samson was the character in the Bible I wanted to be. He was the very definition of a superhero. Every other judge in the book of Judges did God’s work of salvation through an army. But not Samson. He did not need anyone. Samson was blessed with a superpower to defeat the enemy singlehandedly. He was like the Superman of the Old Testament. But when I studied the life of Samson, I found his story to be perplexing and disturbing. Think about it. Last week, we mentioned how Israel’s spiritual condition grew worse and worse, to the point that they did not even seek God’s help and they did not want to forsake their sins. And God’s answer to Israel’s refusal to forsake their sins is surprising grace. Samson is a gift of unmerited surprising grace to God’s unfaithful people. And the story of his birth prepared us for a wonderful, powerful judge. Samson is the only judge who was chosen before his conception. We can’t help but have great expectations because of the account of his birth.

But as we are about to see, what we will find instead is by far the most flawed judge in the book. Samson is violent, impulsive, sex addict, emotionally immature, and selfish. He is very narcissistic. One preacher says Samson is a he-man with a she-weakness. His life is very disturbing. But most confusing of all is that the Spirit of God is at work in Samson and uses his narcissism to do mighty works. That is why I am baffled by Samson. He is a judge who does not look like a judge at all. Samson is a man driven by his own desires and impulses instead of the desire to save Israel or obey God. And yet, Samson is God’s chosen judge to save God’s people. So, the question is, how can God use such a narcissistic person like Samson? Throughout the book of Judges, we have seen again and again how God is faithful even though His people are unfaithful. But now the story pushes this truth even further. Get this. God is faithful even though His judge is unfaithful. And God can use people’s unfaithfulness to accomplish His purpose.


So, let’s get into the story. I have three points for my sermon: The desire of Samson; The weakness of Samson; The paradox of Samson.


The desire


Judges 14:1-3 – Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”

Samson is now a grown man. And he does what a grown man does. He has a crush on a woman. And there is nothing wrong with a man desiring a woman. It’s normal. But the problem is, the woman Samson has a crush on is not an Israelite. Out of all the women in his life, he has a crush on the worst possible option, a Philistine woman. So, he goes to his parents and says, “Daddy, Mommy, I saw a beautiful Philistine girl and I want her. Now get her for me as my wife.” So, the very first word we hear from Samson is, “Give me what I want now.” This is not love at first sight; this is lust at first sight. And the reason why he tells his parents to get her for him is that they lived in a culture of arranged marriage. How many of you are glad we do not live in that culture? All the singles raised their hands. How many of you want to bring back that culture? All the parents raised their hands. And I am sure his parents are devastated when they hear it. Because they remember what the angel told them many years ago. God would use their son to deliver Israel from the Philistines. But now Samson wants to marry a Philistine instead of fighting the Philistines. They say, “Son, there are so many other women in Israel you can choose to marry. You have tons of options. Why would you choose to marry an uncircumcised Philistine?” And the key word is the word ‘uncircumcised’.

Circumcision is a sign that they are in a personal covenant relationship with God; it is the external sign of God’s people. So, the issue with marrying a Philistine is not racial; it is spiritual. God is not against interracial marriage but inter-faith marriage. God has warned Israel not to inter-marry other nations because if they do, their spouse will make them worship other gods. But the Israelites disobeyed God and lived together with the Philistines. But what is shocking about this story is that the one who wants to marry a Philistine woman is none other than God’s chosen judge. So, Samson’s parents try to talk him out of it. But Samson is not willing to listen. He says to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” Note the phrase “She is right in my eyes.” Where have we heard something similar before? This is the exact approach to life Israel is adopting, isn’t it? They are doing what is evil in God’s eyes because it is right in their own eyes. All that matters for Samson is that he wants her, and she is right in his eyes. So, from the very beginning, we are already given hints that Samson is not going to be the judge we were hoping for.


Let’s hit a pause button on the story and let me give you two applications. One personal application and one corporate application. First, personal application: We are not to be in an intimate relationship with an unbeliever. The Bible is crystal clear on this. It is a matter of black and white, not grey. But I have met many Christians who turned the black and white of the Bible into grey. They know that they should not date non-believers. But what can they do when they are in love, right? So, they would tell me, “Well, it’s not like we are going to get married. We are just going to hold hands and have coffee together for the next 2 or 3 years and see where it goes. I know he is not a Christian, but he is a very good guy. And who knows? Maybe through me, he will get to know God. You know how you always talk about reaching wide with the gospel? I feel like this is me reaching wide. Maybe this is God’s will for my life. And besides, he is very hot.” And I would reply, “Yeah, so is hell.” That’s a joke. I would not say that. I would try to reason why it is not God’s will for them and why it won’t go well for them. But most of the time they ignored my warning. And very soon, they began to lose their desire for God. Do you know why? Let me explain. When the person you are with does not share your faith, there is great pressure on you to adapt to that by pushing God to the sideline. As a Christian, God is supposed to be the centre, the motivation, and the goal of everything you do. But you are in an intimate relationship with someone who does not understand the very core of everything you do. And the natural response to this is to adapt to that person and make God less central to everything. Otherwise, you would be in constant conflict with that person. This also applies to people in the church. Just because someone is in the church does not make that person a Christian. It is very possible to be in the church and holds to an unhealthy man-centred theology where everything is about us instead of God. So, hear me loud and clear. Reaching wide dating does not work. Full stop, no comma. So, if you have a crush on someone who is not a believer or holds to a man-centred theology, share the gospel with that person. And if that person believes and becomes a Christian, then great. Give it a year to test whether the faith is genuine or fake. And if the faith is genuine, then you can hold hands and have coffee for the next two or three years.

Second, the corporate application: We must not adopt and adapt the values of the world. Michael Wilcock puts it nicely. “There is no such thing as harmonious co-existence between the church and the world, for where there is no conflict it is because the world has taken over.” In the times of Samson, Israel adopted and adapted the values of the Philistines. That is why they do not resist the Philistines. And this is extremely dangerous. Because what makes Israel different from other nations is that they are God’s people who lived by God’s standards. But now they have forsaken God and become like other nations around them. They are on the brink of extinction. The same also applies to the church. One of the greatest tragedies in the contemporary church is that many churches try to become like the world in order to attract the world. So, we look at what works in the world and try to adopt it in the church. What ends up happening is church becomes an entertainment place that focuses on attraction and performance rather than God. Praise and worship become Coldplay concerts and a sermon becomes a stand-up comedy or TED talk. If we do that, we might be able to attract crowds, but we lose our original purpose. Christians are meant to be different. The way we think is different from the world. The way we live is different. The way we use our money is different. The way we love our family is different. Our priorities are different. Our lives are not to be like the world but to show the world that God is at the heart of everything we do.


So, the question is, what does God do when His people have become like the world? Judges 14:4 – His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel. God does not remain silent. When God’s people have become too comfortable in the world, God initiated conflict between His people and the world. Samson’s infatuation with a Philistine woman is part of God’s divine plan. Left to themselves, Israel would disappear from existence. Like Samson, Israel is eager to marry into Philistine society. But God has other plans. God is seeking an opportunity to strike the Philistines. And God uses Samson’s sinful desire to bring about a confrontation between the Israelites and the Philistines that is so desperately needed. God is so unconditionally committed to His people and His promises that He will fulfil them not only in spite of their sins but even through their sins. It does not mean that Samson’s parents are wrong to object to Samson’s desire. It does not mean Samson is right in desiring to marry a Philistine. It means that nothing can prevent God from accomplishing His purpose, not even Samson’s sinful desire. God can and will use the sinfulness of people as camouflage for bringing about His secret will. God is so sovereign that He can use both good and evil to accomplish His purposes. And this should offer hope to us. Sometimes, what we can see with our physical eyes is only disappointment. Sometimes, what we can see is only chaos and evil. All Manoah and his wife can see is their beloved son rebelling against God’s will. There is nothing more heartbreaking for Christian parents than to see their children walk in willful disobedience to God. It is devastating. But they have no idea how God is working behind the scenes, bringing His good purposes to fruition. Listen. What we don’t know may yet prove to be our deepest comfort.


The weakness


Judges 14:5-9 – Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes. After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

So Samson and his parents make their way to Timnah to meet the girl and her family. And they come to the vineyards of Timnah, where a young lion comes toward Samson roaring. And I love what happens next. Then the Spirit of God rushes upon Samson and he tears the lion in pieces with his bare hands. This is probably the first time in his life Samson experiences the Spirit of God working in and through him. And note, this is the secret to Samson’s strength. Samson is strong not because of his long hair. Samson is strong because of the Spirit of God. But the part that catches my attention is where it says that Samson tears the lion in pieces as one tear a young goat. And I thought, “As one tears a young goat? I don’t even know how to tear a mouse. What do you mean by as one tears a young goat?” Evidently goat-tearing is common in those days. “What did you do on the weekend?” “I tore a few goats.” But Samson takes it to another level. He tears a lion in pieces.

And I don’t know about you, but if a lion attacked me and I tore the lion in pieces, it is definitely going to make it into my Instagram reels. I am going to use it in my sermon illustration again and again. I will be like, “Have I told you about the time that I tear a lion in pieces? I have? Would you like to hear it for the hundredth time?” I am going to use the nickname, ‘the lion slayer.’ I’ll make sure everyone knows about it. But Samson keeps it to himself. He doesn’t tell anyone, not even his parents. Why? Here is why. Remember the three vows of a Nazirite? First, you must not cut your hair. Second, you must not drink any produce from the vines. Third, you must not have any contact with any dead body. Samson cannot touch a dead animal. But in killing a lion with his hand, he touches a dead animal. He breaks the Nazirite vow. That’s why he doesn’t tell anyone about it. But that’s not the end. So, he continues his journey and meets the girl and her family. After some days, he returns to take her and he sees the lion’s dead body and there is a swarm of bees and honey in the body. Samson should have known better. He should have left it alone. But instead, he touches the lion’s dead body and scraps the honey into his hand and eats it. He breaks the Nazirite vow again. Can you see what happened? Samson seems to care very little about the Nazirite vow. The only thing that matters to Samson is the satisfaction of his own appetite and desire. Let’s continue.


Judges 14:10-14 – 10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” And in three days they could not solve the riddle.

This is Samson’s bucks party. He holds a feast. And in the original language, this is a drinking feast. “Wait. I thought a Nazirite cannot drink any produce from the vine?” Exactly. And to make his bachelor party more fun, Samson turns up the heat. He turns the lion and the honey incident into a party game. He says, “Let me give you a riddle and let’s make a bet. If you can solve the riddle within a week, I will give each of you a pair of suits and underwear. But if you can’t, you owe me 30 pairs of suits and 30 sets of underwear. Deal?” “Deal. Bring it on.” So, Samson tells them a riddle. And we smile right now because we know about the lion, the bees, and the honey. We are in on the secret. But the Philistine men have no clue. They spend three days trying to solve the riddle, but they can’t. And they are nervous about losing the bet. So, they do what they can do. They go to Samson’s unnamed woman.


Judges 14:15-18 – 15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.”

There are two important lessons here for every husband. First, do not let anyone plough with your wife. Second, do not call your wife a heifer. A heifer is a cow by the way. Verse 18 should come with a warning, “Husbands, do not try this at home. Try at your own risk.” So, the Philistine men threaten Samson’s wife to get the answer to the riddle. So, she pressures Samson. And she is very cunning. She plays the “you don’t love me” card. If you have been in a relationship for a while, you are familiar with this card. If you know what I am talking about, say ‘Amen.’ So, she keeps crying and nagging Samson throughout the feast. Till Samson can’t take it anymore and he tells her the answer. Then she tells the answer to her people. And voila, Samson loses the bet. And he says, “If you had not messed with my wife, you would not have found the answer to my riddle.” Samson is blaming them and his wife for losing the bet. But it is actually Samson’s own fault that he loses the bet. He would have won if he kept his mouth shut. And if we know Samson’s story, we can’t help but notice that this is a foreshadowing of the far biggest mistake that Samson will do in the future.


Judges 14:19-20 – 19 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

Every time Samson displays supernatural strength, it is because the Spirit of God rushes upon him. So, Samson in his anger attacks another Philistines’ town, kills thirty men, takes their garments, gives them to the thirty men in Timnah, and goes back to his father’s house. And his parents-in-law is like, “Okay, so what should we do with our daughter? Oh, let’s just give her to Samson’s best man.” Now, can you see what happened? Samson is not thinking about Israel at all. He is not thinking about what he should do to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Samson is simply following his own desires and responding to the situation as he pleases. This is a man who cannot control his desires and temper. This is a man who acts out of impulses and does not care about his God-given role. Samson is acting and behaving like someone who does not know God. And yet, this is exactly the occasion that God is seeking. Remember that God is seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. And God is using Samson’s selfish sinful narcissistic acts to bring about His will. God is starting to save His people by causing division between Samson and the Philistines. What a gracious sovereign God.


What can we learn from the story so far? There are two major weaknesses in Samson’s life that we must avoid. The first is compromise. Samson broke the Nazirite vow that God has given him. Up to this point, he broke two of them. He touched a dead body, and he drank wine. And the third will follow later, which leads to his downfall. Samson might think, “There is no harm in breaking the vow. I did it a few times and I am still fine. Surely it is okay for me to compromise here and there.” Little did he know what would happen to him later. The same is true for us. We might think, “There is no harm in a little compromise here and there. I got away with it a few times. Surely God does not mind. Surely a little porn doesn’t hurt. Surely a little fling is not a big deal. Surely a little lie on the income tax is okay. Everyone else does it. I can get away with it.” Friends do not play around with sin. A little compromise has the potential to destroy our life. That’s the first.

The second is to follow our hearts. One of the greatest lies of our culture is that we must follow our hearts; we must be true to ourselves. If we listen to the graduation speech commencement, we will hear something along these lines, “Follow your hearts. March to the beat of your own drummer. Be true to yourself.” But let me suggest to you otherwise, “Do not follow your hearts. Do not march to your own drummer. And whatever you do, do not be true to yourself.” Let me tell you why. Being true to ourselves and following our hearts is the recipe for disaster. How do I know? Because that’s the life of Samson. Samson is a man who is controlled by his passions and desires. He does whatever he wants that pleases him. If he wants a woman, he gets her, doesn’t matter who she is. If he wants honey, he eats it, doesn’t matter where it is from. If he is angry, he kills people, doesn’t matter what the consequence is. Samson’s primary driver in life is what pleases him. He is the very definition of a man who follows his heart, and it will destroy his life. Let me give you an example: texting and driving. We know we should not text and drive. Research tells us that typing on a phone while driving makes us 23x more likely to have an accident. But people do that anyway. Why? Because we feel that pleasing ourselves by knowing what others send us or what they posted is more important than our safety and the safety of people around us. The point is not simply don’t text and drive. The point is following our hearts is very dangerous. Do you know how many marriages and families have been destroyed because people decide to follow their hearts? Let me be crystal clear. Christians are not those who follow their hearts and are true to themselves; Christians are those who follow God’s will and deny themselves. If we don’t learn to deny ourselves and submit to God’s will, we are going to destroy our lives. So, we must decide. Will we be true to ourselves and follow our hearts? Or will we follow God’s will? What drives our decision? Is it what pleases us or what pleases God?


The paradox


Judges 15:1-8 – After some days, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a young goat. And he said, “I will go in to my wife in the chamber.” But her father would not allow him to go in. And her father said, “I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead.” And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.” So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.” And he struck them hip and thigh with a great blow, and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

After some days, Samson visits his wife bringing a young goat as a gift. I guess a young goat is a romantic gift in those days. “Hey babe, look what I got you for Valentine. It’s a young goat.” “Oh babe, that is so sweet of you.” Guys, try at your own risk. Let me know if it still works today. Samson is in the mood for love. But he does not know that his wife is now married to his best man. And his father-in-law says to him, “You can’t sleep with her. She’s married to another man. Why not take her younger sister? She is prettier than her.” And Samson is mad. So, he catches 300 foxes, turns them tail to tail, and put torches in their tails. He then sets the torches on fire and lets the foxes run wild and burn the surrounding areas. Some of you might think, “This is animal cruelty. We must sue Samson.” But I think it is funny. Poor foxes, but humorous, nevertheless. And when the Philistines hear that Samson is responsible for burning their grain, they retaliate by burning his wife and her family. And Samson returns fire by striking the Philistines. Can you see what happened? God has set the ball rolling. The game of retaliation between Samson and the Philistines has begun.


Judges 15:9-13 – Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a raid on Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.” 11 Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” 12 And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” 13 They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

By now, the Philistines realised that Samson is no ordinary person. So, they gather an army to fight Samson and raid the city of Judah. And the men of Judah negotiate with the Philistines, and they promise to surrender Samson to them. So, 3000 men of Judah come to Samson. And notice what they say. “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” Sad, sad, words. Can you see what is happening? The people of Judah have accepted the Philistines, their enemy as their rulers. They rather lived in peace under their enemies than fight for what God gave them. And if you remember, Judah is the first tribe that began the war in Judges chapter 1. And now in chapter 15, they are spineless wimps. They are so keen to remain at peace with their enemy that they have no idea that God has raised up a judge to save Israel. They see the Philistines as their rulers and Samson as their enemy. How the mighty have fallen. But Samson will not fight his own people. He makes them swear that they will not attack him and simply surrender him to the Philistines. So, they swear and they tie up Samson and take him to the Philistines.


Judges 15:14-20 – 14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 16 And Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down a thousand men.” 17 As soon as he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand. And that place was called Ramath-lehi. 18 And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the Lord and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkore; it is at Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Once again, the Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he becomes a Super Saiyan, I mean a Super Samson. He finds a fresh jawbone of a donkey and uses it as a weapon to strike 1000 men. And he breaks his Nazirite vow again by using a dead donkey’s jawbone as a weapon. After the fight, Samson is very weakened and thirsty. And for the first time in the story, Samson asks God for help. God answers Samson’s prayer and gives him water to drink. And pay attention to the last verse. “And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.” It means that Samson has not saved Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Samson judged Israel for twenty years while Israel is under the slavery of the Philistines. This has not happened before. Usually, a judge would save Israel from the enemies and judge over them. But not this time. Not Samson.


So, here is a question that I want us to wrestle with and I am done. What are we to make of Samson? Because the life of Samson is a paradox, isn’t it? On one hand, we see the Spirit of God at work in and through Samson. It enables him to become a Super Samson and kills a lion and many people. On the other hand, we see how sinful Samson is. In the same person, we see the power of God at work for salvation, and we also see the sin of Israel at work for destruction. Samson is probably the closest judge to a Christ figure, but he is also a walking disaster. So, how can God use people like Samson to do God’s work? Shouldn’t God choose a better, more godly person? The problem is that if we think like that, we put God in the box. It would mean God is limited by humans and can only work when people are being good and make godly decisions. It would mean that God is not a God of grace, but rather a God who responds to good works. But that is not the God of the Bible. This is the way Timothy Keller puts it. “The amazing truth is that God works through sinners, and through sinful situations. He keeps his promises to bless his people in the dark and disastrous periods of our lives, as well as through the times when things are going “right.” Not even our own sin will stop him saving us, or using us.” What glorious news. The God of the Bible is not limited by sinners or sins. He can use sinful people and sinful actions to bring about salvation.

And let me close with this. Isn’t this the story of the gospel? The gospel tells us that sinful people nailed Jesus to the cross and killed him. And yet, God used the greatest sin in history to accomplish the greatest work of salvation in history. The Jews and Romans killed Jesus, but Jesus was delivered according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge. Though the people who put Jesus to death were doing so wickedly, God worked in such a way that their wickedness only bring about God’s redemptive purpose. Samson’s story points us to Jesus Christ, who succeed in every place Samson failed. Like Samson, Jesus did the work of salvation by the power of the Spirit of God. But if Samson is the narcissistic judge, Jesus is the selfless Saviour. Unlike Samson, Jesus never compromised. Jesus obeyed every commandment and fulfilled the law to the very iota. Unlike Samson, Jesus did not choose to follow his heart. Jesus chose to follow God’s heart. On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus prayed to God, “Father if you are willing, you can take this cup away from me.” Jesus wanted to escape the cross. But he continued, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Jesus surrendered his will to the Father, and he died on the cross to pay the price of our sins. And through the greatest sin in the universe, through the hands of sinners who put Jesus on the cross, through the death of the holy Son of God, God accomplished His greatest work of salvation. And when we see and believe what Jesus did for us, it enables us to live the way Samson could not. Listen. Because of the gospel, instead of saying, “How much can I get away before I get into trouble?”, we say, “What can I do to bring the most glory to God?” Instead of saying, “I follow my heart and do it my way”, we say, “I follow God’s heart and do it God’s way.” We no longer need to compromise because we know God’s way is the best way. We no longer need to follow our hearts because we know God always has our best interests at His heart. The cross of Jesus Christ is the once and for all proof that God loves us, and He is for us. Let’s pray.



Discussion questions:


  1. What struck you the most from the sermon?
  2. Why an intimate relationship with a person of different faith or theology does not work?
  3. Look at the two weaknesses of Samson (compromise and follow heart). Which one is more of a danger to you and why?
  4. Look at the game of retaliation between Samson and the Philistines. What does it teach us about God?
  5. How does the gospel enable us to do what Samson could not?
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