Doug Batchelor - Samson, Honey from a Lion
If I were to ask you who in the Bible do you think of if I were to talk about the smartest person who's ever lived, who would that be? Solomon.
If I was to ask you to tell me, in the Bible, who was the person that had the greatest patience and suffering, who would that be? Job.
And if I were to say, who in the Bible was the physically strongest? Who would that be? Samson is the one people think of when they think of who is the physically strongest man who ever lived.
And we're going to be talking, in the next couple of presentations, about Samson and what we can learn about walking the Christian walk, about our Savior and what other lessons the Lord might have for us in His word from that.
You'll find the story of Samson in the book of Judges - if you go to the book of Judges chapter 13 - Samson is the last of the judges mentioned. Now some believe that Samuel is among the judges, but you don't get to Samuel until you get to the book of Samuel. But, in the book of Judges, Samson is the last judge that is mentioned.
Most scholars believe that there were approximately twelve judges - and four chapters in the book of Judges are dedicated just to Samson - a very interesting character. And it even was foretold in the book of Genesis, when Jacob was blessing his sons, it told us that from the tribe of Dan, which is where Samson came from. It said, "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel." Matter of fact, the name 'Dan' means 'judge' and the name 'Daniel' means 'Jehovah is my Judge' or 'Elohim is my judge'. And so, Samson was from the tribe of Dan.
Now, if you turn in your Bibles to the book of Judges, we're just going to read it. And I believe there's things that God wants to say to you, today that I know nothing about. I believe that there's inherent power of the Word of God that, as I read through this story the Lord is going to speak to different people maybe in different ways, because there's power in the Word of God to do that, amen?
Chapter 13 - Judges - verse 1, "Again the Children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord," - there are about seven apostasies mentioned in the book of Judges, this is the seventh of them - "and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar" - that means strong - "drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
You notice how often God raises someone up during times of great adversity? When was Moses chosen? A time of great oppression and adversity. And you'll see people like Daniel - comes at times of great adversity and oppression. Elijah - a time of great adversity and oppression - prophets of God are being persecuted - Jesus - the Romans were ruling the world - a time of great oppression.
So Samson, during this time of national oppression, the people are praying to God. God answers the prayer by raising someone up. And, usually, these people that God has raised up during times of oppression to deliver His people are types of Christ - flawed though they may be on the human side, you'll see things in there.
For one thing, a promised son - supernatural visitation of the angel that's given - something like Ishmael and Isaac and John the Baptist. Someone said, 'Great men are born for times of great oppression.' And now, the instruction that the angel gives - have you ever wondered before? Was Samson strong because he was just bigger than everyone else and he was real beefy muscles - just hard as a rock? Or was it nothing to do with that? And I've heard theories all over the place. If you saw Samson, did he look stronger than other people? Was there something different about him physically? Well, when Delilah starts to give him a hard time, she says, 'What is the secret of your strength? And you would think that if he had great big ol' Schwarzenegger muscles, that the secret of his strength would have been obvious - he was - big muscles.
But there's something else they didn't understand. But then, again, if there was nothing physical about the strength of Samson, then why did the angel come and go to such great lengths to tell the mother, 'Be very careful in your prenatal care, because God is going to do something extraordinary with this baby and you need to take care of yourself.' So what the angel said to the wife of Manoah is just not for the wife of Manoah, but every expecting mother and father need to realize their habits and health are reproduced in the children and they've got to be careful.
They've learned now - you know, DNA is a very interesting science, and they've discovered that your DNA is not the same from the time you're born until you die, your DNA changes through your life, by your lifestyle, behavior, exposure, your diet - it will alter your DNA. Your DNA can actually be altered. And so, what you're doing affects your DNA that will then be reproduced in your children. Because we've heard before that sometimes a parent's habits can be inherited. Some things can actually be inherited tendencies. So you want to be careful to take care of your health because you may pass it on to the third or fourth generation.
So it says here he would be a Nazarite. What is a Nazarite? Turn in your Bible to the book of Numbers chapter 6. And there's some interesting information here - and I’m not going to read it all, but you need to understand this to understand something about Samson, and to understand something about where he kind of meandered a little bit. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses," - I’m in Numbers 6, verse 1 - "Speak to the Children of Israel, and say to them: 'When either a man or a woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazarite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice," - meaning fresh - new wine - "nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine," - he was supposed to stay out of the vineyard.
Now that comes up later - "all the days of his vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God.” Meaning, even if your family member died - father and mother - you were not to touch their body. I mean, you know, someone dies you have to care for the body. They did for Jesus but, you know, biblically, when you touch a dead body, you're unclean until sundown - you're supposed to wash - and that's just good sanitation rules.
But if you were a Nazarite, it didn't matter if it was your father, your mother, your brother, your sister - you are to be fully consecrated to God. And didn't Jesus say, 'He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.' And so it was saying that the Nazarite was to be fully consecrated to God. There was to be no risk that his mind was going to be affected by the wrong spirit. He was not supposed drink wine or strong drink or anything of the sort. And so, this was the Nazarite vow.
Now, with that in mind, we're going to delve into the second part of what happens in the next chapter. "Now Samson went down to Timnah." Now Samson's growing up, you know, as he got to be a teenager and he was an only child, as far as we know, and he maybe made some local friends and he said, 'You know, if I would just go four miles down the hill' - even though the Philistines oppressed them, they saw them every day. They traded with them, he probably spoke the language, as you'll see. And through constant exchange and making friends with some of the teenagers of the Philistines, he - one day his eye saw a young Philistine girl and he thought, 'Wow, she is really pretty. And look at the sparkle and the personality, and what a beautiful girl. I find myself so attracted.' So he went down and he saw a woman in Timnah, of the daughters of the Philistines.
Now Samson's not that old yet, because you'll read later it says he judges for twenty years - that hasn't happened yet, that comes later. And he's probably in his late teens, early twenties when this happens. He comes to his father and his mother and he says, "I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife." Then his father and mother said to him, 'Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people," - look, if you can't find one among the Israelites or even among the tribe of Dan - "that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?"
Now, I won't take this too far, there were other tribes around Israel: you had the Edomites, you had the Moabites, you had the Ammonites - they were all related to Lot - they practiced circumcision. He's basically saying, if you're going to marry outside the faith, at least marry someone that was related to Abraham that believes in Jehovah, but you're going to the uncircumcised Philistines. That was, they thought, the worst thing that could happen.
Samson was strong minded and he was persuasive and his answer was, to his mother and father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well." Here he starts to sound like a real muscle head, doesn't he? His logic was, 'I just really want her.' He couldn't argue with them except to say, 'I want what I want. Get her for me.'
What does the Bible say about these forbidden unions? "When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, you shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following me, to serve other gods, so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly."
That's very serious business, and yet, it still happens. People raised in the church, they say, 'Yeah, I love the Lord. I gave my heart to the Lord.' And then they start dating a pagan. They start dating a Philistine. And in their mind they think, 'Oh man, he pleaseth me well.' 'She pleaseth me well.' 'What a man.' 'What a girl.' 'I’m sure - they just - the few things they don't understand about Jesus, but I'll talk to them. I'll marry them and then I'll convert them.' Or they say, 'I’m going to date them and I'll give them Bible studies while we're dating.' That's a bad idea because you'll both end up influencing each other and you end up - it's a siphon effect - compromises are made. If you don't like what I’m saying, friends, you take it up with the Lord.
Let me give you more scripture. 1 Kings 11, "But King Solomon loved many foreign women," - now, up until this point in Kings, Solomon was on a trajectory to heaven. It says there in 1 Kings chapter 3, Solomon loved the Lord, walking in all the commandments of the Lord. He prayed and God gave him wisdom. God said, 'I’m going to bless you with wisdom and I’m going to make you rich and you're going to live long and you're going to be famous.'
And Solomon is going from good to better to best to excellent - he's going like that - and he builds his palace, he builds the temple of the Lord and people are coming from around the world and the land is full of gold and silver like stones, and the Queen of Sheba is left breathless - you've heard the word 'breathtaking'? Comes from the story - the Queen of Sheba - it says there was no more breath in her when she saw - and it's going like, like, like that. And listen to what it says next: "But king Solomon loved many foreign women" - what do you think happened to the kingdom then? Went down.
That was the turning point - he "loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites from all the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.'" It didn't happen overnight. And his wives turned away his heart. "For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God. It doesn't say he gave up on God he just compromised. His faith was diluted.
I could go on and on. There's several very clear statements in there and, of course, you've got the new testament, "do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people.' Therefore come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.'"
So God is telling us, 'If you're a believer, that means you've made a decision you want to go to heaven. That means that your world view - Jesus is the most important thing to you.' Am I right? Why in the world would you think about making the most important decision in your life about marrying somebody who does not make Jesus the center of their life, who has not made that person a priority, and your children - your priorities - you'll say, 'You know, let's - we're going to go to church. Sabbath's the holy day.' And they say, 'No it's not, it's a holiday for us. Saturday's party day.' Your home is divided. You're going to have a problem. You're going to want to pray and they're going to say, 'No, we're going to go pay for some counseling.' Or 'We're going to buy a book.' And you're going to say, 'We're going to church.' They say, 'No, we're going to the theater.' 'We're going to church.' 'We're going to the mall.' And 'We're going to eat clean food.' And they say, 'No we're not.' and you're going to find yourself trying to cook two things at one time. I’m telling you, friends, it can be rough.
Now, sometimes you find the Lord and your spouse doesn't and you've got a believer married to an unbeliever. Sometimes people backslide and, while they're out of the church, you get a believer marries an unbeliever and then they come back to the Lord and they've got to live with the results. And, if you're in that situation, you're married. But why would you deliberately want to do that and go down to Timnah and marry someone outside of your faith?
The devil has done more damage to dilute the effect of the gospel in the world by getting half-hearted believers who don't understand the importance of finding a life partner where Jesus is first in their life. So when you're considering somebody, the first thing you want to know is that Jesus is first for them. Don't even think about it. He said, 'Boy, but they're really good looking and they seem so smart and they're so...' 'They're almost a Christian.' 'They act like a Christian in so many other ways. They're Christian-like.' I hear all these things. They're so polite and they've got Christian morals. They're atheists. 'Oh, but they've got Christian morals. They love humanity.' And I hear all these bad arguments. Don't do it. Can I get an amen?
It's just what God says. And, you know what? Samson got what he wanted. Be careful what you pray for, you might get it. And then it was nothing but trouble. This created a fork in the road for his life. Instead of marrying a girl from among his people, he married a Philistine and his whole life got off course and it started with this. You watch and see. God had a big plan - he had more opportunity than anybody in the Bible. "so Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah." Now what was a Nazarite supposed to do and not do? Don't have nothin' to do with grapes. If you're not supposed to eat a raisin, if you're not supposed to eat a grape seed, if you're not supposed to drink any grape juice, don't walk through a vineyard. Is that a good idea? If you're an alcoholic, don't get your apple juice at the liquor store. Right?
"Now, to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat. Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. After some time, when he returned to get her," - so they contracted for the marriage and he finally returns for the wedding feast - "he turned aside" - he wants to go back and says, 'Was I dreaming? Did I really kill that lion?' He turns back and, in the weeks that have gone by, the animals had kind of hollowed out the carcass of the lion and, within the ribcage, it says, "behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion."
Now you've maybe seen bees swarm before and, you know, they'll find a hollow log and they could even, you know, the cavity there of this lion, for whatever reason they took up residence and they'd already begun making honey. And "He took some of the honey in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother," - he had a big pile of comb - "he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion." Why? Because, first of all, a dead body's unclean. What was a Nazarite supposed to do? Stay out of the vineyard. Don't touch anything dead. And, if you're going to touch something dead, make it a clean animal that's dead. But a lion is an unclean animal. So he's got an unclean carcass on an unclean animal and he gets honey from it.
"So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so." So here they're having the wedding feast and the word 'feast' there is 'wine banquet'. You see what's happening now? Samson's compromising in that area as well. So he's down there and he's acting like the Philistines when he's with the Philistines when he has a feast. And finally he says, 'Let me pose a riddle to you.' ‘They'll never get this.' - he thought, 'They'll never get this.' So he said to them, 'Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.'
Now for three days" - they never would have gotten the riddle. His parents didn't even know what happened. Nobody knew - no way anyone would ever guess that. - "But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson's wife," - now, notice it doesn't say 'fiance'. They had - they were married now. Several times she's called 'his wife,' so he did marry her. And he loved her. - "entice your husband," - I didn't say she loved him - "entice your husband that he might explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father's house with fire." what are they threatening to do? Burn her.
Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people. He told her - he confided in her; she immediately betrays him. And, you know, she's scared. So they say, "What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?" Samson now is so mad. He looks at his wife who's probably looking down - "So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father's house." He said, 'Look, this is supposed to be the honeymoon.' He said, 'We're married now,' He says, 'but I am so mad at her.' that he storms back up to Dan and he goes back up to his father's house.
"After a while, in the time" - I’m in chapter 15, verse 1 - "of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat." He starts getting lonely and he's thinking about it and he said, 'Oh well, maybe I was too angry and this is all over with.' And he gets down to his father-in-law's house and he said, 'Yeah, I’m going to go see Betsy' - whatever her name was and the father would not permit him to go in. He says, 'No' - he said, 'I thought you purely hated her; therefore I gave her to the best man.' And Samson said to him, '"This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!' Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes;"
Now he didn't do it all in one day. And if you read some of the ancient accounts of Israel during the time - especially around the hills of Judah, it was a lot more forested. There were rabbits and small varmints and foxes were numerous, running - there were foxholes everywhere. So the idea that he caught 300 foxes in that country at that time is not really that amazing. He didn't do it all in one day but he would catch these foxes. And he says, 'I am going to destroy the Philistines - it's called slash and burn - you destroy their food source - 'I’m going to subjugate them economically.
He'd light this brand filled with pitch on fire, have it tied to two foxes' tails - you ever see how a fox runs? They don't make a straight line. You get two foxes together and it is just a crazy zig zag. And they go rip snorting all around, through these fields and they're just - the fields are just going up in flames. And, at first, they thought it was a fluke, but then day after day their fields are burning. You notice it said it was during wheat harvest? And it decimated them economically and they're saying, 'Who did this?'
They said, 'Who has done this?' verse 6 of chapter 15 - and someone answered, "Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion." The Philistines thought, 'Well, that is pretty bad. Take a guy's wife and give it to his friend.' "So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire." You know, if she had been loyal to her husband, he would have protected her. But, instead, she sold out and the very thing she feared came upon her. Isn't that sad?
Now Samson's feeling pretty lonely. His parents are upset because he wouldn't listen to them. He doesn't want to endanger his parents now that he's become a marked man with the Philistines, so he said, 'If I go home they're in danger.' He's lost his wife and he has no friends, and he's up dwelling in a rock by himself. When he decided not to do what he knew God wanted him to do and he forsook the guidance of his parents - his believing parents, and he thought that he could compromise with the enemy, everything started going sideways.
You wonder how much trouble we brought into our lives because we thought, 'Well, I know the Bible says this, but I don't have to follow that that closely.' And now he's living in a cave all by himself. But that, even in itself, is a sign that God's going to speak to him there.
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