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Our Own Worst Enemy (Judges 16)

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    Today, we’ll be wrapping up the book of Judges with the saddest chapter in Samson’s story as a judge. Today, we’re going to talk more in depth about Samson’s own character flaws as a way to examine ourselves. We’re going to be in Judges 16 today.
    Judges 16 opens with even more of Samson’s lack of moral character. He’s misused the power of the Spirit of the Lord for his own petty and vindictive reasons, despite being set up for success. In Judges 16, we see Samson become his own worst enemy.
    The chapter opens with Samson going down to the capital Philistine city: Gaza. We’re told right away, that Samson spends the night with a prostitute. I want to revisit Judges 14 for just a second, to help us remember a little episode in Samson’s life. Judges 14:1-2 says, “Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So 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.”
    In Judges 14, one of Samson’s character flaws starts off innocently enough. Samson sees a pretty girl and he likes her, so he asks his parents to arrange a marriage with the pretty girl. Never mind that she’s one of the enemies. But, overall, this flaw of Samson’s doesn’t start off too bad.
    By the time we get to Judges 16 though, Samson has stopped trying to be “innocent enough” about his most prominent character flaw: lust. At least with the first Philistine girl, he set out to marry her. Here, there’s no such pretense. Samson’s chief weakness is women, and what we see in Judges 16 is that he is willing to throw everything else away to give in to his lust.
    It only gets worse as Samson begins a relationship with a third Philistine woman, Delilah. In his love and lust for Delilah, Samson is willing to even give away the secret to the source of his strength: his uncut hair. At least, that’s what he things is the source of his strength. Really though, we have to understand that the Spirit of the Lord is the source of Samson’s strength, as we’ll see later in Judges 16.
    But, Samson gives in again, because he’s impulsive and has no self-discipline.
    Samson is also compromising, and not just in his lust. He compromised his Nazirite vow to touch the dead body of the lion, and he compromised his devotion to the God of Israel by having relationships with foreign women who introduced him to foreign gods. In just about every situation that we see him in, we see Samson bending God’s law, adjusting God’s ways to suit his own way.
    Delilah tries, on three separate attempts to get Samson to tell her the secret of his strength. After these three tries fail, and Samson doesn’t give in, we get this scene in Judges 16:15-16, “Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.”
    Aside from the fact that this is an incredibly funny moment in the Bible where Samson feels like he is being pressed so hard by the woman he loves that he feels his soul is at death’s door from annoyance; his response to this annoyance of his soul, is to compromise his secret and finally tell Delilah that his strength lies in his hair.
    This too, is despite the fact that he should already know what’s going to happen. See, every time before when he had told her a lie about the secret of his strength, she awoke him by shouting, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” Now, he didn’t know that the Philistine leaders were actually there, because she would have them hidden, but if you were Samson, wouldn’t you be just a little suspicious? Any rational or reasonable person would probably start to see through the game they were playing.
    Samson doesn’t though, because of his pride, so he compromises. So far, we see Samson’s impulsivity, we see his compromise, and we see his pride.
    Look at Judges 16:17-20, “So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him. She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.”
    When he finally compromises his secret, he just goes to sleep, in Delilah’s lap, knowing that she has the secret to his strength, but he doesn’t feel vulnerable or uneasy at all. He has this over-confidence, and I want you to look closely at verse 20 to see that the reason he was proud, the reason he was over-confident, even after he had compromised himself, was because he believed that the Spirit of the Lord would not depart from him. He thought that because he was God’s instrument, blessed by God, with a divine purpose, that God wouldn’t leave him.
    Unfortunately, Samson’s assumption was very wrong. I want to come back to that though, and cover Samson’s last character flaw, and that was that he was unteachable. This was tied to his pride in some ways. But, if we go back to Judges 14, we’ll see that he refused to listen to the advice of his parents, who, from what we saw two weeks ago, had a relationship with the Lord in a way that they understood the character of God. They point out that marrying a woman who was a Philistine was a bad idea, and they offered to find Samson a bride from his own people, people who were God’s people, but Samson wouldn’t listen.
    Samson was impulsive, always acting on his chief sin: lust. He was compromising. He was prideful. And he was unteachable. Despite all that Samson had going for him, Samson was his own worst enemy.
    All of his issues were a result of him not walking in step with the Lord, not walking in step with the Spirit that was empowering him. The apostle Paul describes this sort of life in Galatians 5:16-21, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
    Samson could probably tick off each of these acts against the Spirit. He was his own worst enemy.
    How much are we like Samson? Aren’t we our own worst enemy? We give into the flesh, we walk by the sinful desires and character flaws that we have. We put ourselves into situations where we give into sin. We compromise on God’s ways. We refuse to be told we’re wrong. Even after we come to Christ, we find this inherent battle between what we know is good and what we know we should do, and what we know is not good, what we should not do.
    Samson’s weaknesses kept him from fulfilling his divine, God given purpose. In the same way, our own human failings, our own refusal to walk in step with the Spirit can also keep us from fulfilling our divine purpose.
    We have to be very careful to understand that we cannot treat obedience to God casually, and then expect to experience the blessing of God continually.
    In other words, we can’t continue to do things our way, live life anyway that we see is right in our own eyes, like Samson did, and expect for God to continue to bless us. We can’t continue to use the gifts and talents He gave us to do anything other than serve Him, and expect for Him to bless the efforts we put forth with those gifts and talents. He does ask us to obey what He has said. He does ask that we live as living sacrifices for Him, completely surrendered to Him and His will for our lives.
    Is this easy? No. If it were, then we wouldn’t have so many believers who fall back into step with the flesh over and over again. It’s not easy to live in obedience. It’s not easy to walk with the Spirit. It’s not easy to live a life completely surrendered. It’s not easy to be a living sacrifice.
    I want to read the end of Samson’s story. Judges 16:28-30, “Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.”
    Samson was his own worst enemy, for sure. We are our own worst enemies most of the time as well. But in Samson’s final moments, he cried out to God, finally. It’s the first time in all of Samson’s life that we see him crying out to God. He cried out, and though we don’t know if the Spirit came upon Samson again, we do know that Samson’s hair had begun to grow back. We also know that in this final moment, God’s will was still done.
    Just before this scene, the Philistines celebrated that they had captured Samson and they praised their pagan god, Dagon, for giving Samson into their hands. They mocked Samson’s God, they mocked the God of Israel, but Samson’s God had the final word. Samson cried out, and God had the victory over the Philistines and their false god.
    That should give us some hope this morning, that if God can give new mercies to Samson, impulsive, compromising, proud, unteachable Samson, then He can give new mercies to us too, if we cry out.
    Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
    Whether it’s been one day or a hundred days since you last cried out to God, His Word assures us that He hears us. That He is waiting for us to come to Him. That His love never ceases, and His mercies never end, that they are new each morning. He does ask for obedience, for a surrendered life, but when we fail to do that, He is merciful.

1. How does Samson compare to the other judges we’ve studied? In what ways did he fall short of delivering Israel?

2. When has God done something miraculous in your life? Did you recognize that what happened was from Him? Why or why not?

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