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Judges 16. Samson part 11 – The decline and fall of Samson.

JUDGES-16-170629
length: 64:22 - taught on Jun, 29 2017
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Title: Judges 16. Samson part 11 - The decline and fall of Samson.  

 

Samson's fall and death

 

This coming stage of Samson's life closely follows that of Israel. Israel claimed their prosperity and their land for themselves. They used the gifts of God for self and not for glorifying Him. They rejected the law of God and chose rather the laws of the pagan idol worshippers while they demanded the same blessings from God. Worship is due to God and not self. When worship turns to self without correction there will always be betrayal and loss.

 

God made Samson a Nazirite just as God made Israel a nation. Yet both will take the gift, forget God, and use it for themselves.

 

JDG 16:1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.

 

JDG 16:2 When it was told to the Gazites, saying, "Samson has come here," they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, "Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him."

 

JDG 16:3 Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.

 

Samson could have found a wife among his own people. This is permitted under the law since he is a widow. However, giving into lust over and above God's law, he chooses a harlot. As one commentator roughly puts it, "Samson could break the rope around his wrists but he could not break his own lust."

 

Gaza is deep within Philistine territory, being right on the Mediterranean coast, it was as far and as south as you could go.

 

Lying with a harlot is another violation of his Nazirite vow.

 

The rabbis have a tough time dealing with the indiscretions of Samson, kind of like a mother who dotes over her bratty child while being blind to his bad behavior. They say that the word means innkeeper, which is their blanket reasoning for harlots they want to not be harlots, as in Rahab's case.

 

Gazites are Philistines that live in Gaza. When they discover that Samson is there they guard the city gates, blocking off all possible exits and lay in wait for him. They don't know what house he is in and they probably don't want to go looking for him. They know their only chance is to surprise him with many men and so they lie in wait at the gates throughout the night, hoping to catch him in the morning.

 

The feat of strength is enormous. The gate (~14 ft. wide), the posts, the thick bar, Samson was able to pull up with his bare hands, carry it 40 miles, all uphill from sea level (0 ft.) to 2500 ft.  

 

We don’t know the exact hill he placed the gate upon, and some identify it with a hill that is much closer to Gaza, though no one can be sure. The text seems to state that he carried it all the way to Hebron which is in east Judah, while Gaza is on the westernmost coast.

 

Observations:

 

Samson continued to fraternize with the enemy.

 

He seems to see all of Philistia as a target rather than just the town of Timnah. This is in accordance with God's will since the entire people are God's enemies. It is not a personal vendetta with God.  

 

By going to Gaza, Samson went as far away from his spiritual home with his parents as he could, which represented his full spiritual downfall.

 

Temptation to go astray are always around us. They can come upon us in forms that we have not yet recognized and they continue to come in the forms that we have grown familiar with.

 

1CO 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

 

1CO 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

 

1CO 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

 

MAT 6:13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'

 

I quote from the "coming soon" book The Sermon on the Mount.

 

Can God actually lead us into temptation? God Himself answers that with a resounding "No." So why in the world would we ask Him to not lead us into temptation?

 

Since God can only lead the disciple in the blessed way of the path of Christ and He cannot lead us into the many temptations that lead away from that path, when we pray, 'do not lead us into temptation' (in whatever way we choose to state it), we are in essence asking God to help us to follow Him alone. No matter how mature we may get as disciples we will always be in danger of thinking a certain way in a given situation is God's way when it is not. None of us ever become sinless or flawless. In a state of ignorance we may think we are following the way of Christ when in fact we are headed towards strong temptation. In prayer, everyday, we are to ask the Father to open our eyes to the false way, and for our hearts not to be deceived, as they can so easily be. Being alone, out of fellowship with God, we walk headstrong right into evil. In our private audience with the Father we are asking for wisdom and guidance to walk in our upward call in Christ. [end quote]

 

We should never stray far from our spiritual home, wherever that may be. We all fall and so stray a little, but that should never be accepted or condoned, since if it does, it will soon be accepted to stray a lot. The source of the truth that God gives us and even the geographical place that He desires for us must be maintained until God changes them and only then should we move on.

 

God continued to be faithful to Samson though he continued to violate the vow. Though he is confident and boastful in his strength, God will provide it for a time.

 

God is faithful to us. If one looks up the word faithful in a Bible concordance he will find that it almost always used in association with God. Though we may be on the road to perdition, as Samson is here, God will continue to walk with us, not in guidance, but in warnings and disciplines that reach out to us from His love.

 

Samson and Delilah

 

JDG 16:4 After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

 

JDG 16:5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and said to her, "Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."

 

Sorek is a valley that the town of Zorah overlooks. Zorah was in Jewish hands but the valley was in Philistine hands. Timnah, where the wedding occurred is in the same valley, and so is close by. This is the only woman named in Samson's history.

 

Delilah's name could either mean "flirtatious" or "devotee".

 

If the latter, then her name could be linked with the goddess Ishtar, which might make her a temple prostitute. This is all conjecture.

 

Here again the rabbis have to protect their spiritual giant and so they claim that when the scripture used the term ahav for "love" to describe Samson's feelings for Delilah, it clearly indicates a purely spiritual love. In fact, to them she was a righteous woman, and Samson loved her because of her spiritual qualities. She was willing to marry Samson even though he was a fugitive, knowing that his first wife was burned alive and so her spirituality flowed into great compassion. [Hope you have tall boots on] Some rabbis imagine her to be a Jewess, and others that she was a convert to Judaism willing to be counted a traitor to her own people in order to marry him.

 

These commentaries by the rabbis are excellent lessons in not believing everything you read, even if it is in an authoritative book, written by an authoritative figure with many degrees, and even if it is agreed upon by many. The majority is more often wrong than right.

 

The conspiracy in Philistia runs at the highest levels. Their kings are at its head.

 

JDG 16:5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and said to her, "Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."

 

The word for lords is soren which refers to the Philistine kings.

 

Their goal is to find out where his strength lies. They imagine that the source of it must be something physical. This leads to a rather satisfying question. How big and muscular was Samson? The screen and paintings always depict him as a physical giant, but the Bible never says anything about his actual size, as it does for Goliath for example. The source of his strength is the Holy Spirit, so his size is inconsequential, but God doesn't mention it. We might think that if he was a small man that God would have recorded this as He did with the small size of Gideon's army, but still he is only one man and so that is enough to reveal that only God's power could have given him the strength to do what he did.

 

The kings of the Philistines reveal to us that Samson wasn't a physical giant since they understood that there had to be a secret to his strength.

 

It is a secret to them but not to Samson, and that is a sad testimony upon him. Samson understands that he can only do what he can by God's power and yet he still forsakes God for the beauty of a woman. How many men in history has God empowered with such a gift? Samson is alone in being so blessed that the whole world has known his name and associated it with great physical strength.

 

The believer's strength of soul and heart lies with God alone and not in any human talent or trait that might be advantageous.

 

Samson tried to be really smart to accompany the prowess of his strength by giving his wedding party an impossible riddle and it completely backfired. He was to rely upon God alone. If he did, his life and his end wouldn't have been so tragic.

 

What other people see us as is to be left in the hands of God. For His own glory, God may desire us to look weak and humiliated in one instance and strong and admired in another. When we seek the glory of God we will not seek our own desires.

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