Doug Batchelor - Samson, Conquered by Compromise
We're continuing a series that we began a couple of weeks ago dealing with the Bible character of Samson. And today, in particular, we're going to be talking about Samson who was conquered by compromise. Samson's story is something of a paradox, because through the story of Samson, we see shadows of Jesus. He was one of the judges, a leader, a type of Christ in some respects. Many failures, but, of course, David failed, and Abraham failed, and yet, there were things in their life that were clearly types of Christ. And so, you'll see, as we conclude, I'm going to do my best to bring out a picture of Jesus in all of this. Go to verse 4, Judges 16 verse 4. "Afterward it happened that he loved a women in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah."
Sorek was a little bit down the hill, right on the border. It was a place that was famous for wonderful grapes. Right on the border of the Philistines and the people of Israel, the tribe of Dan. And maybe Samson was thinking, "Well, look, you know, I sure like so many things about the Philistines." He spent a lot of time with the Philistines, I mean, that's how he ended up marrying one of them. He thought, "I'm going to find the halfway ground between the two." He was looking for a compromise, and he found a girl that lived in Sorek, Delilah, may have been very beautiful, it says he loved her, but she sold him out, which, again, is another type for Christ.
And so, when he falls in love with Delilah, and by the way, the name Delilah means consumer. It means something that is feeble, and she made Samson, who was so strong, feeble. He was consumed through this relationship. So, the lords of the Philistines come down to her, they said to her, "Entice him and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we might overpower him, that we might bind him to afflict him, and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver." Now, there were five lords of the Philistines that we see several other places in the Bible. They were like governors, there was a joint kingdom, and that means 5,500, if I'm right, pieces of silver.
Now, a piece of silver would be worth about $20 in today's currency. Jesus was sold for what? Thirty pieces of silver. The amount of money that they're offering her is approximately $110,000, just to see if they could find out where the secret was. By the way, that's 183 times what was offered for Jesus. Again, it was silver.
Well, now if Samson's strength was because his mother ate very carefully, and she had good prenatal care, and he was born just super strong, and he had big muscles, then it would have been obvious where his strength was, but the Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he had supernatural strength. They wanted to know what is the secret? We've got to fight fire with fire. There is a spiritual thing happening here. You remember even the king of the Moabites said one time, called Balak, he said, "Look, it's obvious God is with these people. I've got to find the secret to their strength." If you could come and fight fire with fire, if you just cursed them, it's a spiritual battle, and we're going to fight in a spiritual way.
So, they said, "Delilah, there's a secret here. There's something spiritual going on here." I mean, maybe, you know, the Bible doesn't say, Samson could have been five feet five, shorter than me. He could have worn glasses and looked like a computer nerd, and the Spirit of the Lord would come on him, and he'd get his donkey jawbone and go out, smite hip and thigh, and you can't prove me wrong. I mean, I have the glasses, but it doesn't say anywhere he was big, do you realize that? Nowhere, nowhere does it say he had big muscles. Matter of fact, when the Spirit of the Lord left him, it says he was like everyone else.
So, she begins to tease him. "So, Delilah says to Samson, 'Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what might you be bound and afflicted.'" Now, right away, if you're dating a girl and she starts asking that question, how could you be tied up and tormented? I'd say, you know, I'm probably dating the wrong girl. But, you know, when you're being governed by your feelings instead of the truth, you make a lot of bad decisions. How can you be bound? And Samson said, "Well, if they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, that have not yet dried," a bowstring, now bowstrings were very strong, because it needed to hold a strong bow, it needed to maintain the tension of a strong bow. They'd find the very strongest fibers, like, you know, a piano string for us. They'd find the strongest fiber they could find, and when dried, it could handle a long arrow and not break. And he said get fresh new ones, they're not worn. And you think, well, nobody's going to break out of that, that's like steel. Tie me up with that, and I'll be as weak as other men.
She thought, "Okay," so, she has him tied up. "Now there were men lying in wait with her," and she says, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson, wake up." And he wakes up, and he's tied up with bowstrings, "But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn when it touches the fire." You remember our illustration last week. "So, the secret of his strength was not known. Then Delilah said to Samson, 'Look, you've mocked me, and you've told me lies. Please, tell me now and where in where you may be bound.'" Well, I would have been suspicious way before this, but it gets worse. "So he says to her, 'If they bind me securely with new ropes,'" well, he had already been bound with new ropes by his own people when he was handed to the Philistines, but these are new ropes that had never been used.
There's something spiritual about that. "Then I'll become weak and like other men." Notice, he even knows that it might be possible for him to be weak. "Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them," I guess again while he was asleep, and then she shouts, "The Philistines are upon you," again, they're hiding in the background somewhere, and he jumps up, and the Bible says, "He broke them off his arm like thread," supernatural strength. Then Delilah says to Samson, "Until now, you've mocked me and told me lies. Tell me with what you may be bound."
Now, he's getting tired of this, and so, you notice what he keeps thinking? Samson thinks, "I know, I can't trust Delilah," but he was infatuated with her. She may have been beautiful, he might have loved a lot of things about her character, he just couldn't tear himself away. And so, even though she keeps after him about this, he keeps making things up, but you know, interrogators have found that if you keep asking people the same question again, you keep, and say, "Tell me the story," and you say, "Well, I already told you," "Tell me again," every time it seems like they give up a little bit more information and they get closer and closer to the truth. And the devil will wear people down, and so, he's flirting, he's toying with temptation. He thought, "I'm chosen by God, I've got this strength, this power of God," and because he sinned, and nothing happened, he figured he could just keep on going.
This is a very important point, friends, sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking because the sun shines and it seems like our job is good, and the Lord has bless us, that that must mean that even though we're living in known rebellion to God, "I have the favor of God." And because, sometimes we fall, and he gets us out of trouble, and he gets us out of trouble, we start thinking, "Hey, I guess, you know, this is just the way it's supposed to be, is that I just keep doing what I want, and God keeps blessing me and giving me his power and his Spirit." And we don't realize that we're playing Russian roulette with eternity. The Bible tells us that, if you read in Ecclesiastes chapter 8, "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil."
If the first time that Samson had stepped over the line began to compromise with the Philistines, God had hit him with lightening, you ever seen, they got these collars on dogs, you know, they walk out of the circle and they get shocked, and you can teach the dog, don't go past that point. Matter of fact, I understand, I've never done this to a dog, but I understand that once a dog finds out where the borders are that they're not supposed to go beyond because they get zapped every time they go beyond this, you can take the collar off and they won't go anymore, because they say, "Man, I get shocked." God doesn't teach us like that with a shock collar. He doesn't zap you every time you disobey, have you noticed that?
Now, if you've got the Holy Spirit, your conscience might trouble you, but you can quiet that. And eventually Samson kind of just felt, you know, I'm the exception. I've got the Spirit of God, I mean, look at how many people I've killed, and pride was getting after him. He thought, well, I deserve it, you know, being a judge is tough. And so, little by little, he begins to sacrifice his purity and sacrifice his consecration because he thinks, "Well, look, God's still blessing me."
It's like believing once you're saved you can't be lost, you ever run into that before? And he kept pushing the boundary. He said, "Yeah, my hair," so they tie his hair in the loom, and she again says, "The Philistines are upon you." He woke up from his sleep, he pulled out the batten and the web from the loom. He just gets up from bed and this whole big loom apparatus is clanging and battering behind him. And then she says, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me?'" It says, "It came to pass when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him so that his soul was vexed to death." He's at the point of death.
Do you know the Bible says that Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane said, "I am pressed even to death?" And three times he said, "Not my will, thy will be done." And Jesus was willing to die for a bride that did not love him back, but he was betrayed by his own people into the hands of the enemy, for silver I might add. Do you see it, friends? He couldn't tear himself away. He says, "I've loved you with an everlasting love."
Who does Delilah represent in this story? Well, I told you she kind of represents a corrupt church, but certainly the Lord's not with her, it's the devil, right? How does the devil break us down? Daily, he tries to undermine your resolve to do the right thing. And because we stay so close to the devil's territory, Sorek was a place of beautiful vines. He's surrounded by vines. A Nazarite is not supposed to be near a grape, he's not supposed to be near a raisin, let alone wine, and so he's placed himself on enchanted ground where he's not safe, and daily she's after him.
So, if you and I are living in a world where the devil's after us daily, how do you compensate? Give us this day our what bread? Daily bread, Paul said I die daily. Jesus said if you would live forever, let every man take up his cross daily and come after me. Being a Christian is a daily turning to God, because you've got an enemy that will pester you daily. Can any of you think of a day where you didn't have any temptation? If you think you had a day with no temptation, you were probably totally sold out and didn't know it, because you felt no resistance, you were just flowing, going with the tide, and you didn't notice it. But, if you try to swim against the current, you are going to daily feel temptation, amen? You're in a word where you're just surrounded with evil.
A lady came once to the evangelist Billy Sunday and she said, "Pastor Sunday, you're always preaching against sin, you just keep rubbing the cats fur the wrong way." And he said, "Sister, if the cat would turn around, I'd be rubbing the cat's fur the right way." So, you need to turn around.
So, if you're living in this world, and you're trying to be a Christian, you're just going to meet with temptation. Daily, she's after him. Finally, he's vexed to death, "And he told her all his heart." Notice the word heart. She says, "You haven't told me your heart," and finally he gives her his heart. And he says to her, "No razor has ever come upon my head." I would have moved out at that point. I said, "Now she knows, she can't be trusted. Every time I wake up, I'm tied up, my hair is in a loom, you know. Every time I tell her a secret, the Philistines are in the house." And she goes, "Oh, Samson, the Philistines are here." I mean, you’ve got to be pretty dumb to know that she has nothing to do with it.
Yeah, you ever heard the expression love is blind? Some people think they're in love and they got these strong feelings for someone, and this person is just tearing them down, and they don't see it. Everyone around them says, "What's wrong with you? How come you don't see he's no good, she's no good?" "Oh, no, I love him. They would never hurt me." Come on, have you heard that before? Now, if you're married, you're stuck. I'm talking about the ones who are dating the wrong way.
And so, "She lulled him to sleep," and it said she shaved off his locks, or had a barber come shave off his locks, and boy, he must have had that razor sharp so that he didn't hear it going snip, snip. "And she said, 'Sampson, the Philistines are upon you,'" and he gets up, and he's still a little groggy, he doesn't notice that he's feeling a cool breeze on his head that he had not ever felt before. He doesn't notice the hair laying on the ground around him. He gets up and he thinks I'll go shake myself another time and then I'll throw those Philistines out the window and out the door, and I'll teach them a lesson, and he gets up, and suddenly, he's only five feet five and he has no strength. And the Bible says, "He did not know that the Lord had departed from him."
You know, it's interesting, it says she woke him up and she tormented him. She sang him to sleep and woke him up in torment. The devil will try to stroke your heads and lull you to sleep, he'll get you to sin, and he's the first one to point the finger at you, and he'll make the most of your torment. He acts like, "You just listen to me, you'll really enjoy yourself." You just compromise, and you'll really have fun." And then, when you do compromise, you find out that it doesn't play well. He did not know. You know, that makes me shutter, I don't know about you, just the very idea that you could have the Spirit depart and not know it.
Did King Saul grieve away the Spirit? It says the Spirit of the Lord departed and left him because of his pride, and his stubbornness, and his persistence and rebelling against God. God finally said, "Look, you don't really want me to be in charge, I'm going to let you do your own thing," and God withdrew the Spirit. David, after he sinned with Bathsheba, Psalm 51, he prayed and said, "Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from me." One of the most frightening things is that there'll be people in the last days that will stand before the Lord, and they'll say, "Lord, Lord," he'll say, "I don't know you." They'll say, "What do you mean? We thought we belonged to you." And they didn't have the Spirit of God. A lot of people doing religious things and they don't have the Spirit of God.
"Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza," remember Gaza where he had torn the gates off? He thought, "You could never trap me in Gaza, I'll just tear the gates off." Well, now he's in Gaza, "And they bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in their prison."
How sad, now Samson, who had been called to be a judge of Israel, a representative of God, a leader of God, he's been living by the flesh, and he ends up living like a beast. Instead of being ruled by the Spirit, he had been ruled by the flesh, and so, now they've got him doing what animals typically did. And I'll tell you, it is a pretty pitiful scene. I don't know if you've ever seen how they do that, but there would be a large room, it might be outside in a yard, and there was a big stone circle, and on top of the stone circle platform, there was a big stone wheel that had a wooden axel going through it, and the axel stuck out. And they would throw grain in the middle, and this oxen or something would go around in a circle like this, all day long, making, and then people would be off in the middle of the pole, and they'd be shoveling new grain in. It would be grinding, and it would slowly spill off. It was sloped a little bit, so it would be spilling off, and all day long the animal would go like this, and there would be a rut.
Every now and then, some of the grain would fall into the rut, and that's why Paul says don't muzzle the ox that's grinding out the grain. But now, Samson is going round and round, and he's in the dark. Sometimes the Philistines would come. I mean, he'd been a judge for 20 years, and this is after he'd killed thousands, and he'd done all these exploits. And the Philistines said, "Oh, we've conquered him," and they'd come and they'd taunt him, and they would spit on him, and they would poke him with an ox gourd, and I'm sure they treated him very cruelly, like an animal, and then he'd be by himself, bound at night.
What do you think was going through his mind? Why have I wasted my life? He probably, like Peter, he wept bitterly, day after day, because he had been such a fool. You and I read his story and we can see what Delilah's up to, but it took him until he lost his eyes and he lost his strength to realize how could I be so blind? Now, he's blind and his eyes are open. Before, his eyes were open, but he was blind to what the devil was doing to him. The devil is trying to make a monkey out of every one of you. If he's got you thinking you can continue in a life of sin and everything's going to end well, you're being a fool.
Tell me I'm wrong from the Bible. It does not end well for the wicked. I don't know if I read the rest of that verse to you in Ecclesiastes. "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days are prolonged, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked." It might seem to go okay for a while. God was so patient w Samson. God is loving, he's merciful, but you can't continue to live like that and expect it to end well.
You know, the amazing thing though is that while he was going around, day after day, and he's praying, his hair was growing. But, it doesn't grow overnight, does it? And it's interesting as the people came by and they saw him, you know, he's blind, he's in chains, they weren't afraid, and it just didn't occur to the Philistines, you know, he lost all his strength when his hair was cut, but his hair began to grow. What do you think that means? I don't think the big thing is that his hair began to grow, I think that his heart began to grow. His consecration began to return. He was repenting of his sins, and God was hearing his prayers. He was wishing he could do something else.
The reason he was raised up was to defeat the enemies of God's people that had been oppressing them. And so, there he is, grinding in the prison. It says, "Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer", I'm in verse 23, chapter 16, "To offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god, and to rejoice. And they said, 'Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy.'"
I don't think a year had gone by, because this is the first kind of national Dagon feast their having. All the lords of the Philistines, they come together to Gaza, this one town, they have this big national feast, and, "When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, 'Our god has delivered into our hand our enemy, the destroyer of our land, the one who multiplied our dead.' So it happened, when their hearts were merry, they said, 'Call for Samson, that he might perform for us.'"
And so, they've got this great temple of Dagon, and in the middle there's these two pillars that probably are straddling an altar, or are near an altar, and when they bring him in, it's a good chance they were getting ready to execute him after they tormented him, like someone else we know in the Bible. "Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand," he was blind, he said, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, that I can lean on them.' Then Samson called to the Lord, and said, 'O Lord God, remember me.'"
I don't think he's just thinking about his blindness, I think he's praying that God will forgive them for the Philistines making him blind long before he lost his eyes. There's a lot of Christians out there that are blinded by the world. You may still have 20/20 vision, but the devil's blinded you. Samson realized he had been blinded by the beauty of the Philistines. "I pray thee, strengthen me, just this once, O God, that with one blow I might take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.'
Samson took hold of the middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them." Yes, they must have been close enough for him to reach them both. "One on the right and the other on the left." Jesus died between two thieves, on the right and the other on the left. "And Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines.'" And before they could sacrifice him, he beat them to it, "And he pushed with all of his might, and the temple fell, and the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed by his death were more than he killed by his life."
The whole story of Samson is summarized right here. You know, sometimes at the end of a parable you've got the moral? Samson is a type of Christ in that Jesus, at the end, he stretched out his arms, he laid down his life to defeat the enemies of God's people. Samson, as I mentioned before, is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews as someone of faith. I think God honored his faith. He was growing in the dark, and God gave him strength.
You look at the last few words in the story of Samson at the end of chapter 16, it says, "Then his family, his brother and his father's house, came and they took and brought him up. They took care of his body and they buried him." Did the friends and family of Jesus come and take him from the cross and bury him?
You know, the story of Samson is really the story of Christ. It's a story of warning for us of how we can lose strength, and it's also a promise. You know, the wonderful thing is, Samson was saved in the 11th hour because he turned to God, even though it looked like he had nothing left to offer God, he turned to God, and when Samson surrendered everything, and he was willing to die, he received his greatest strength. When do we receive our greatest strength? When we take up our cross, and we are willing to be crucified with Christ. You know, I just love these stories in the Bible. We don't want to be blinded by the world, friends, like Samson was, we want to turn our eyes on Jesus now, amen?