Dr. Ed Young - Redemption
We are wrapped up with superheroes. When I was a boy, I went to the movie almost every Saturday. Cost a dime. Can you believe that? And I watched Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and... most you've never heard of, Whip LaRue. Anybody ever heard of Whip LaRue? I mean, this is a special group. Whip LaRue had that whip, and he was a cowboy, and he would shoot them or whip the gun out of their hands. And so, I made me a whip. I worked for weeks tryin' to be like Whip LaRue, some superhero. And Superman came out, and Captain Marvel came out, and Batman and Robin, and they keep coming out, coming out, coming out all these years. We like superheroes.
And perhaps the one that stands out most in the secular world would be 007, James Bond. License to kill. Beretta. Shaken and not stirred. Did you know he saved the world from disaster 23 different times? Twenty different movies all had the same plot basically. There was this brilliant villain who was destined to destroy all humanity, but then James Bond came with all of his gadgets, and with fast cars, and faster women. And so, we have seen a whole generation of Ian Fleming's novels that came to life in living color. Superhero James Bond. We have in our study today sort of an ancient superhero by the name of Samson. Samson means sunshine.
As we study his life, we can look at his relationship with four females: with his mother, with his wife, with a harlot, and with Samson and? Oh, Samson and? Those four females will give us a good way to understand the life of Samson. First of all, Samson and his mother. Can anybody tell me his mother's name? Hmm, interesting, we don't know her name. Everybody gets an A-plus. But 13 times she's referred to in chapter 13 and a couple of verses in chapter 14, as Manoah's wife, Samson's mom, or the woman. But look at the story here, chapter 13, "Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord". Have we seen this picture before? "And the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord".
Right, we've heard that over and over again. Verse 2, "And there was a certain man of Zorah, and the family of the Danites, his name was Manoah". Look at verse 3, "Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, Samson's mother, and said to her, 'Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head. For the boy shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.'"
Let me tell you something. That is unbelievable verses there. An angel said, "You're gonna have a boy". A promise. Then the angel gives instructions as to how that mother is to live as she carries the boy. Did you get that? You go to a gynaecologist today and you're pregnant, the gynaecologist would tell the woman exactly the same thing, exactly the same thing we read here thousands of years ago in the Bible. Don't drink any strong drink. Be careful what you eat. Gives instructions right here as to what she is to do. And more than that, this angel, who we discover to be divine, in all probability a theophany, Jesus, and says simply, "Look, this boy is to be a Nazarite".
What was a Nazarite? Deuteronomy chapter number 6. Don't get a haircut. Don't touch dead bodies. Don't drink alcoholic beverages. In other words, your boy is to be a special property of God. You are to give him to God from his birth, and this is the kind of character and moral life he is called to live. Boy, right up front. And then on top of that, God tells this mother and his dad, Manoah, "Let me tell ya something, he is to deliver Israel. He is to be the moral, spiritual, political leader of Israel". Tells him the purpose of his life right up front. Some of us wonder, still tryin' to figure out how our children are bent, and this is the instruction.
Look at verse 8, "Then Manoah," Samson's dad, "entreated the Lord and said, 'O Lord, please let the man of God whom you have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.'" And then later on he prays again in verse 12, "Manoah said, 'Now when your words come to pass,'" believed the promise, "what shall be the boy's mode of life and vocation"? What's he doing? Here is a father praying for a boy that had not yet been conceived, saying, "God, tell me how he is bent, what his inclination will be. Tell me how to bring him up. Tell me how to love him. Tell me how to counsel him. Tell me how to mentor him," right here in the Old Testament.
We have principles, we think, "Well, we figured out family life right here written..." no, no, no, no, here it is right in their early stages of God's truth, how to be a dad, how to be a mother. And then they worshiped. They sacrificed, right up front. Could you think of anybody having a better beginning than Samson? Remember his name means sunshine. Boy, what a great name. Boy, to have godly mother, godly father, already praying, already asking, already committing that son to the living Lord. What a great beginning he had. So, we see his relationship with mom was terrific. It was right on target. Then we see the relationship to his wife. Things begin to go downhill.
Look at chapter 14, "Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came back and told his father and mother, 'I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.'" Latter part of verse 3, "Get her for me, for she's good looking". She's sexually appealing. Get her for me. Then again, move down, it says, verse 7, "And he went down and talked to the woman; and she look good to Samson". Samson saw this Philistine gal and said, "Man, she is a knockout. I've never seen anybody like that. That's who I want for my wife".
Let me tell you something. You marry on the basis of just external appearance and look out. Look out. Manoah, Samson's dad, said, "Is not there an Israeli girl who could attract you? Is not there one of the Jewish girls"? He was saying, "You're marrying somebody who's going in a different direction, has a different world view, makes the decision about what's right and wrong in a totally different venue of what you've been taught". And let me tell you, he was saying, "Your marriage in the beginning has great, great difficulty".
Let me tell you something, that's true today. Now, unequally yoked, sometimes it works out, but I can tell you most of the time it does not, because you've got two backgrounds, two cultures, two different gods entirely, coming together and trying to be one. And that's one reason we have so many disasters, divorces, in which half of those here today married have been through a divorce. That's our culture, because somehow, some way, we married people who were going in another direction from the direction that we were taught to go. That is the basic bottom line truth. I've experienced it in my own family, immediate family.
So, here we go. And they go down, the wedding is arranged. That's what parents did, and we see what happened. Samson goes down to the wedding party. By the way, you see the phrase here, "Went down, went down, went down"? And do you see the phrase, "Not knowing, not knowing, not knowing"? When you go back and study this passage, you see, "Went down, went down, not knowing, not knowing," and that is almost a symbol, a story of downhill. When we start down, we plead ignorance. When we start down, we are ignorant. When we start down, we always end up lower than we thought we were going to go. This is what happened to Samson. Along the way, he killed a lion. Interesting.
Later on, the marriage is set and it's a 7-day celebration. And they start having parties, and so his bride and her family, the Philistines, they invited some young men to come, 30 young Philistine men to come and celebrate with them. And Samson always been the life of the party, always been on top of things. He said, "Let's have a little wager". And he said, "I propose a riddle. If you get the riddle right, I'll give each one of you a change of clothes. If you don't, each one of you give me a change of clothes". Pretty considerable bet, and he proposed a riddle. It says, "Out of the eater comes something to eat. Out of the strong come something sweet. What am I talking about"?
What he was talking about was simply the lion he had killed on the way there months before, and now bees had got in there and produced honey. He was talking about a lion's carcass where there was honey. Out of the eater comes something to eat. Out of the strong comes something sweet. And they couldn't figure it out. They didn't know what he was talking about. They were going to lose, so they went to his wife, as she's called. They're still in a engagement period, preparation for the wedding, seven days. And says, "If you don't tell us this riddle, we're gonna burn you up and burn your family up".
You see, when you get in a new family relationship and a new culture, they think differently from what you might think. Ladies and gentlemen, when you marry, you marry the whole family. If you hadn't figured that out, you haven't been married very long. "Well, I don't know about your brother". You're marrying her brother too, make no mistake about it. So, Samson here, he is caught up in this deal. And finally, the wife cries for seven days. The marriage was be consummated and she cries every day for seven days. How do you like that in your wedding party? First day, she cries, "Oh, if you don't tell me, you don't love me. The answer that riddle, oh, these guys, they don't want to give..." and she cries for seven straight days, folks.
Listen, women, tears are deadly. Had an argument with your husband and when you shed a tear, man, it's all over. You just won, but you may have lost by wasting your tears. But she cried every day until finally Samuel says, "Okay, I got it. Here's the secret". He told her, and she went and told these 30 men, and they won the bet. And Samson said immediately, I don't know exactly what this verse means, but he said, "If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you would never have guessed". And that could have a lot of interpretation, but that means that, "My wife-to-be sold out to you".
And then he goes and he gets violently angry, and he does an amazing thing. He goes and catches 300 foxes. Three hundred foxes. And this is harvest time in the Philistine world. They got all their crops out there, all the wheat. And he ties their tails together and he puts a torch between the foxes' tail, and releases 300 fox with torches on their tail all the way through the harvest of the Philistines and destroys the wheat, the vegetables, everything they had. By the way, that's the first illustration of taillights in all of history, but this obliterated the Philistine harvest. And they said, "Who in the world has done this"? And they said, "Look, it's been Samson because of what happened there in the deal".
And Samson in the meantime before this had gone back after he got over his anger. He didn't consummate his marriage. He went back and tried to get back with his wife, and her daddy said, You know, "I thought you were through with her and the marriage wasn't consummated. She now is married to the best man". And this is what led Samson to this deed. But when Samson went back later to try to get in relation with his wife, he took with him a young goat to give to her.
Now guys, you're looking for creative gifts. I'm bringing you a goat, honey. In the Bible, it talks, you know, and so that didn't work, and he kills another handful of them, and they get angry. Finally, he picks up the jawbone of a donkey and slays a thousand of them. So, that's what happened with his marriage, and then they ended up burning up his wife, never was consummated, and all of her family because they got the Philistines in such a tough situation. What a story. Believe it or not that a lot of people in contemporary marriages... I can tell stories almost as tragic and disastrous as that. The biggest decision you'll ever make outside receiving Christ is when you say, "I do".
Here we see what happened to Samson and we see how this whole period of his life was governed by this. And now we see what else happened to Samson. Before we do that, I want you to look at the 20th verse of chapter 15. It says, "So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines". Now, I hold onto that verse because the most amazing thing is that Samson is listed in Hebrews chapter 11 among their heroes of faith. In other words, here's a who's who of God's kingdom family on this earth and Samson is on the list. How in the world did he get on God's list? The only answer I have is this 20th verse when for 20 years, he ruled. He helped his people, restored his people and Israel. That's the only merit I can see in this guy. But that's enough to have got them into the Lord's Hall of Fame.
But then we see Samson in the relationship with his mom and relationship with his wife, and then we see his relationship with a harlot. Twenty years had gone by. "Now Samson," chapter 16, "went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went into her". And this is what it says, "And when he 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". You see, the Philistines knew Samson better than he knew himself. He went back into sensuality. He was still addicted. He thought he'd won the battle 20 years. The Philistines knew their man. They knew their man. And then we know this, the illustration in order to get out of the city. They thought they had him. He went and tore down the gates, and went to the top of the mountain, and held the gates of the city above his head.
You see, he was a super-charged man with great, great, supernatural strength. And then after this, we see the fourth relationship he had, and it was with Delilah. Look at chapter 16, verse 4, "After this it came about he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, 'Entice him.'" That word "entice," boy, it's the second time we've seen it here. They told his wife to entice him to get him to turn him in. We see Delilah to entice him. You say, "What a dumb, stupid man he is. He gets conned by all these women time and time again".
Hold on, guys. Hold on. Satan sees our weaknesses and plays to our weaknesses. And when it worked this time with his wife in that situation, it worked this time with a harlot, now we have somebody who is beautiful, magnificent, charming, alluring, charismatic, and she's an entrepreneur on the side. She cut a deal with the Philistines. "I'll find out the source of this strength, but you gotta pay me $5,000 apiece, every one of you". And the contract was made, so Delilah with all of her charms begins to entice him. Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you".
In other words, what's the source of your strength? And so Samson says, "Well, it's new cords". And, "Philistines upon you, Samson". And he broke those cords. "No, it's new rope". "Philistines are on you". He broke those new ropes. And then he said, "Well, if you'll plait my hair a certain way and put a pin on it". And, "Philistines are coming," and he took the pin out and he was handling them. Until finally Delilah said, "You don't love me. You don't trust me". I wonder why. And so, "You don't really care about me". And then he told her the secrets of his heart.
Ladies and gentlemen, when you know God and know Christ, there's some secrets in your heart with God and with him that you don't share with anybody. When somebody shares with you the secrets of their life, that's holy ground, but there are secrets we have with God that's between you and God and between myself and God, you don't share with anybody. Samson just opened up all of it and she knew that he'd bared her heart and said, "The secret is in his hair". And so she put him to sleep in her lap, called a man in, and the man shaved his head while he was asleep, and that's the infamous hair cut in the devil's barbershop.
And then when he awakened, one of the saddest verses you can read in the Bible. "The Philistines are upon you, Samson". Verse 20, chapter 16, "And he awoke from sleep and said, 'I will go out at other times and will shake myself,' but he did not know that the Lord had departed from him". If the Lord departed from you, would you know it? You see, Samson had had grace, right? And Grace, and grace, and grace, and grace. He said, "Boy, it's just all grace. You can do anything and God will always forgive. There'll be no punishment".
Look if you would at a verse in Ecclesiastes. It says in Ecclesiastes 8:11, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil in". In other words, because judgment does not come quickly when you and I sin, we think, "Boy, there's just grace, grace, grace. There'll be no judgment". But you read the Philistines took Samson. You know the first thing they did? They gouged his eyes out. They gouged his eyes out. Bound, blind Samson. The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. Not for Samson. They gouged his eyes out.
Now he's a grinder. He is pulling around, grinding the meal there. He is in prison. He is blind. And then we read a tremendous verse, a fabulous verse, one of the also great verses in the Bible. The other verse was tragic, "He did not know the Lord had departed". But this is a powerful verse. It says he's blind, he's in prison, but verse 22, chapter 16 says, "The hair of his head began to grow again". The hair of his head began to grow. Now, Samson had turned to God. Samson saw, I'm sure, the trash in his life. Samson saw the poor choices he's made. But his hair begins to grow, the secret of his strength.
You see, gradually he moved away from being a Nazarite. Dead bodies, strong drink, and now his hair. But now his hair begins to grow. He begins to get back in relationship with God, and you know the story. They took him there to the Temple of Dagon and they were worshiping. They said, "Samson, entertain us". And here's this blind brute there entertaining them, the one who had killed and oppressed them for 20 years. And they're celebrating and they're saying, "The god of Dagon is so much better than the God of Israel".
Listen, when a son or a daughter of the Lord Jesus Christ falls, the secular world applauds and says, "They're just like everybody else". Dagon had won a victory, but then Samson has a lad to lead him over to the pillars of that Pagan place of worship. He says, "Let me feel them," and then he prayed to God. Only the second time Samson prayed in these four chapters. And he asked the Lord to remember him. His hair had grown back, his strength had come back, and he took and he crushed those pillars, and the whole temple fell down. And he killed more Philistines, more ISIS-like people, in his death than he had in his life.