This morning, we pick up our study of Samson, twelfth Judge of Israel, in the period of Israel’s history between the conquest of the Promised Land to the time of the Kings.
So far, we’ve learned about Samson’s life, how an angel of the Lord appeared to his parents telling them, that though his mom was barren, she would have a son. The angel instructed them to set him apart as a Nazirite, no one could cut his hair and he had to abstain from alcohol.
The Holy Spirit was upon him, and gave him great strength, such as the ability to rip a lion apart with his bare hands. Though set apart for God’s purposes, he wasn’t blameless. He chose to marry a Philistine woman, even though they were Israel’s enemies, they ruled over Israel, and were a cruel and godless people.
The Holy Spirit’s purpose with Samson was to begin Israel’s deliverance from the hands of the Philistines. His marriage showed how much the Philistines hated the Israelites, indeed it showed how little they valued life, even of their own people.
After Samson wisely went home to his parents after the disastrous wedding feast where his bride manipulated him into telling her a secret he hadn’t even shared with his parents, his father-in-law gave her in marriage the best man. When Samson cooled down and graciously went to see his wife, bringing with him a peace offering, even though he wasn’t the one offended, he discovers the truth. They had no honour.
So, justly furious, he devised a plan to cripple the nation. The harvest was nearly ready. It was dry, the farmers were greasing the tractors and combines, giving the John Deere’s, Case International, New Hollands and the odd Claas a final go over.
Samson, I have no idea how he did this, caught 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail in pairs, attached a torch to every pair of tailes, and sent them into the grain. In this way, he was able to set multiple fires at once, covering a huge area. Why did he use this method? Maybe he couldn’t find any Israelites to help him. I mean for this plan to work, he would have needed at least 150 others, spread out over a wide area to set multiple fires at once.
The result: no or very little harvest for the Philistines. Thinking about the rain we’ve received, and the impact it has had on our farmers, the marsh, the whole area has been affected. Some have lost 40% or more. Now imagine it’s the day before you’re about to bring in the crop. All of a sudden, all your summer’s work is gone. The whole nation is depending upon the farmers, everyone expecting a great harvest, gone.
So what did the Philistines do? Instead of finding Samson, apologising to him and saying, “Hey, what your Father-in-law did was wrong, don’t take it out on the whole nation. Can we come to some sort of agreement?” No, they did what they’d threatened to do to Samson’s wife, they killed her and her dad. Atrocious behaviour.
Samson rightly attacked them and slaughtered many of them. Now we might look at this situation and wonder, why did Solomon do this? It is because the Philistine people were so wicked and evil, that they didn’t consider God and his truth. They treated people like nothing. They even destroyed their own. They thought nothing of murder, they applauded evil, they encouraged hatred. There was no love, no fear of the Lord.
After his revenge, Samson went off on his own and hid in a cave.
The Philistines mustered their army, and set off against Israel, but didn’t attack. They sent out messengers saying, they wanted Samson. The Israelites responded with fear. They couldn’t see God’s plan in and through Samson. They didn’t recognise him as God’s judge. They didn’t see in him a saviour, a deliverer of the people. They didn’t recognise the hope that he was bringing, the path he was leading Israel down. He was beginning to set them free, free from bondage to a foreign people.
But all they saw was disruption. They saw him upsetting the relative peace they enjoyed. It would be like if the allies had sent in a single leader to lead the resistance in Holland during WWII. But instead of rallying around this brilliant Canadian commander, they sought to hand him over to the Occupying force instead. That’s what they did to Samson.
And in this, in his willingness to go, after hearing them promise not to kill him, Samson went. Just like Jesus went with the mob brought by Judas. Jesus willingly went with his accusers, willingly went into the enemies hands, and by that action, brought about the total deliverance. Jesus’ death on the cross completely destroyed Satan and his forces. The occupation is over, freedom reigns.
While it looked like the Israelites were merely keeping the way things were, Samson had another plan. As soon as he reached the Philistine camp, the Holy Spirit came upon him with power, the new ropes melted off him like butter, he took up a jawbone of a donkey, and with that killed 1000 soldiers. He began Israel’s deliverance.
Samson was spent. He had nothing left. He needed the Lord. He cried out, and the Lord answered him. “Deliver me, O God, save me from my thirst.” And God answered his prayer, he caused a spring to form, and Samson drank and revived.
Where are you today? Maybe, like Samson, your life, your work, your school, your neighbourhood, your illness, your church, your whatever has completely drained you. You’ve got nothing left. You’re weak, thirsty, spent.
Come. Come to the living water. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” ().
Believe in Jesus. Trust him. Anyone who believes, anyone who trusts will have the Holy Spirit upon him or her.
Trust. Let your life be transformed! Let go of your fear! Let go of your bondage! Be free! Live, really live in Christ! Receive him this morning! Receive him and your eyes will be opened, your heart will be changed, you will see how he is leading you, directing you, leading us, directing us, as his body the church! You will see, you will be amazed, you will rejoice and be glad! Humble yourself, open your heart, receive Christ and let him work in and through you, feel the Holy Spirit come upon you in power! Amen.