Made Strong out of Weakness

Since I was a child in Sunday school, I’ve heard about Samson (Judges 13 – 16).  The main thing I’ve always heard was the part of his life with Delilah when the Spirit of Lord left him and he didn’t even know it; then he was captured by the Philistines, had his eyes gouged out, and asked God for one more act of super strength to destroy the Philistines false god’s temple and he died in the destruction of the temple… “in disgrace.”  The question is raised, “did Samson fail to fulfill God’s purpose for his life, due to his repeated sin of lust?”

Samson’s story intrigues me.  His birth is foretold by an angel and the angel communicates to his parents, the purpose of his life; “He shall begin to save Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).”   So part of our task, the Angel helps us by telling us his purpose.  All we have to do is answer the question, but most seem to focus on his sin and never get past it.  So first let’s start by looking at his recurring sin of lust.

In chapter 14:1-2, we are told how Samson’s “eye” was caught by a Philistine woman whom he insisted on marrying.  His parents tried to discourage him but he would not listen.  The important part of this section of the story is not that his parents didn’t want him to marry this woman simply because she was of a different race, culture, or even had a different skin tone; it was because she and her culture worshipped a god that was not the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.   But he was focused on what caught his “eye,” and was not even going to consider his parent’s advice.  And as this section goes on, he leaves his wife and she is given in marriage to Samson’s best man.

Later we are told how Samson went to a Philistine town and spent the night with a prostitute.  Some commentaries try to suggest that the prostitute ran a motel of some sort and suggest he just rented a room for the night.  It is amazing how sometimes people’s intelligence gets in the way of common sense.

Then we come to the part of his life that involves Delilah.  This was not a one night stand or even a week long romance.  We see how Delilah asked him three times about the secret of his strength and each time he tells her something, she does that exact thing to see if he told the truth.  Judges 16:16 tells us that she nagged him day after day for the secret.  Now we all have viewed suspense movies and when a character repeatedly asks about someone’s “secret,” we know they are to something not good.  It is at this point many think Samson fits the dumb jock stereotype.  I think he was so arrogant and so consumed with his lust for Delilah that he just gave in and didn’t think through the consequences of his behavior.

It is at this point that he is caught and his eyes are gouged out.  It is ironic that a man whose “eye” is caught by women in a lustful sense has his “eyes” removed.

Here he is, a great man of Faith, a man who had his heart stirred by God, A man whose birth was foretold by an Angel is now the laugh stock of all of the Philistines.  But did he fulfill his life’s purpose?

Yes he did.  His purpose was to “begin to save Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).”  As that Temple fell, the Bible tells us, “all” of the Philistine leaders were in the building and died in the crumble of it.

This event started Israel on a path of deliverance from the Philistines and we next hear about Samson in Hebrews 11:32 in the section commonly known as the “Hall of Faith.”  Here we are told how he was made strong out of his weakness.

 Yes Samson fulfilled his life’s purpose.  My question for you is, do you have to get to such a low point in life to get your focus right to fulfill your God given purpose in life?

And finally, I want to offer you hope through the story of Samson and invite you to be made strong out of your weakness.

How Far to the Bottom?

As I prepare for our upcoming class on “When Good Men are Tempted,” I have obviously been reading the book.  In chapter 7 (p. 96), Bill Perkins writes, “Any man can find freedom from sexual compulsion.  But he will only do so if the pain of continuing in his addiction is greater than the pain of stopping.”   This is true with any compulsive behavior, be it, food, spending habits, social skills, and countless other areas.  Another form of Bill Perkins quote is, “people must hit rock bottom before they will change.”   I sometimes wonder, “how far must some go to hit their bottom,” while other times I think, “Why do we always have to hit rock bottom to improve ourselves?”  

As a kid I grew up in church, was involved in our youth group, attended Sunday school, went to youth camps, and youth conventions, and attended many other church type functions and many times we would hear from people who had gone out and lived a life like the younger brother in the Parable of the Two Lost Sons, Luke 15 (also known as the parable of the Prodigal Son).  I am sure those presenters had  the intentions of giving God praise for saving them from their lifestyles and at times the consequences of their lifestyles, but in reality, it came across as making a bigger deal about the many sinful choices and acts the person committed.  I have very few memories of people telling us how they chose to follow God’s Word and how they chose not to hit “rock bottom.”  I realize we all have sin and we all need a savior, but can we make wise choices and adhere to the pleas of a wise old man and a wise God.

We find in Scripture, many times, a plea for us to just take God’s Word for what it is from the perspective of a God who loves us and wants the best for us.  One such plea is found in Proverbs 7 (NLT):

1Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands.  2Obey my commands and live!  Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes  3Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.  Write them deep within your heart.  4Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family.  5Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman, from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.

Here we have Solomon expressing the importance of the advice he is about to give, yet we tend to think, “Who was he to try and give advice?”  We have lost the value of hearing from an older, more seasoned, man passing down wisdom to a younger man or boy.

My question for you is, do you really have to hit “rock bottom” to change?  Does the pain of the consequences of your thoughts, your life choices, your compulsions, your sexual sin, have to be greater than the pain of stopping, in order for you to stop, in order for you to change, in order for you to get help?

Solomon tells us at the end of Proverbs 7 that the path with an adulterous woman “is the road to the grave.  Her bedroom is the den of death (V.26, 27).”

Is it possible for us to just hear the words of wisdom and follow them without having to compromise our character, our marriage, our ministry, our career, our witness?  Be encouraged, it is possible to live life with integrity in a sexualized world.