There was a time of confusion and trouble when judges ruled the Jews. They were army leaders with authority and control, but not leaders of the nation like the kings that followed.
Judges is a sad record. People were greedy for material things; proud and trusted in themselves. As a result, their enemies defeated them. They were afraid and turned from their sin to God multiple times. God is good and always rescued them, but then they went straight back into sin again.
Samson had the possibility of being a great leader, but he failed.
READ: Judges 13-16.
Warning for all believers to not be worldly; to NOT live as the unsaved live. Eternal, spiritual things should always come first. Realise a plain fact that God gave everything for you, and now He invites you to give everything to Him. You can be close to God, and you can delight in the things of the world, but you cannot do them both at the same time.
What ‘being worldly’ means
Simply put, it is ‘living as the unbeliever lives’.
READ: 1 John 2:15-17.
- You want things to please you
- You want the things that you see
- You are too proud of the things you have
READ: 1 Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11 and Hebrews 13:5 – the complete opposite is mentioned.
Samson lived in this way. His desire was to please himself, and this controlled his life.
READ: Judges 14:10, 17 – He spent his time at parties, with people who did not know God.
READ: Judges 14:2 – He wanted what he saw.
The whole story of his life showed his proud attitudes. They controlled him, and he thought that nobody could overcome him.
READ: Judges 14:12-18 – he used tough questions for fun.
READ: Judges 16:4-16 – he played with the enemy.
Then there was something even worse. He had awful spiritual pride. He thought that he would just escape things as he had always done, but then we read that the LORD departed from him (Judges 16:17-20).
That is what ‘being worldly’ means. Samson became very ‘worldly’ in his attitudes and behaviour.
Samson had many spiritual advantages
Think about them, and take notice of the clear warning.
He came from a good home
His parents loved and obeyed God. They wanted to know God’s plan for their son’s life. Before he was born, they prayed about him (13:8-12). Wonderful parents, but this did not prevent him from being worldly later.
He had an attractive nature
His name means ‘sunlight’. There are only a few words about his childhood (13:24) – God did good things for him (13:25).
There was no doubt that Samson was attractive. He could have been of great use to God, but his nature became a danger to him. He loved to be popular, and this ruined him in the end.
He had a good religious tradition
Its rules should have been a help to him. Samson made some special promises to God.
READ: Judges 13:3-5 and Numbers 6:2-8 – he should have remembered them, as he was responsible to God.
There is a clear warning here. Religious tradition is no good if we do not love and obey God. It was easy for Samson not to keep his promises to God, because he was being worldly.
He had true experiences of the Holy Spirit’s power in his life
READ: Judges 14:6, 19 and 15:14 – but he continued to be worldly.
He had some experiences of answers to his prayers
READ: Judges 15:18-19.
They should have encouraged him to stay close to God. There was a time of weakness and danger in his life, and he cried to God for help, who provided for his immediate need.
These things encouraged him, and there were clear signs that God was with him too, but he still lived in a selfish way. He was being worldly all the time.
These things should teach you something, as there are many serious dangers for you too. You might think that you would never be like Samson, but the Bible warns us to be careful, as we could easily fail too.
READ: 1 Corinthians 10:12 and Romans 11:20.
The direct cause of Samson’s failure
Samson became so proud and worldly, and caused so much pain and despair. It affected his family, his nation, and himself. Three things affected Samson:
He did not obey God’s word
The special promises that he made meant that he was a Nazirite (meaning ‘to separate from’). There were 3 rules that he promised to obey;
- He must not drink alcohol (Numbers 6:1-8). This rule was a sign as God’s people are travellers, and not people who ‘plant vineyards and stay put’. Samson did not think that this promise was important. He went to parties where there would be alcohol, and most probably, he was drinking it too. READ: Judges 14:10, 11, 17, 18.
- A Nazirite must not touch dead bodies, but Samson was often in quarrels and fights, and these fights ended in the murder of many people. Samson knew about the demands of being a Nazirite.
- He must not cut his hair (16:17). He told Delilah about this third rule. He knew the rules, but he refused their discipline.
There was another way in which he did not obey God. It could be even more serious. God clearly told his people not to marry people from other nations. Samson refused to obey God in this matter.
READ: Judges 14:1-3; Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3 and Joshua 23:12-13.
This is where being worldly begins. We refuse to accept the control of God’s word. We will not follow its directions.
He did not love God’s people
Samson insists that he will marry a woman from the enemy nation. This clearly shows his failure to love God’s own people, and their friendship was not important to him. He did not really care about them. If he did, he would not want to hurt them by his marriage. His father appealed to him, as he wanted Samson to marry one of his own people, but Samson would not listen (14:3).
There is an important lesson for believers here:
- Do you feel comfortable with the people of this world?
- Are you more comfortable with them than with other believers?
If yes, then you are in danger of being worldly.
He did not give honour to God
God had a purpose for Samson. He wanted Samson to rescue his people (13:5), but Samson became a complete failure. He should have brought honour to a holy God. Instead, his evil life brought dishonour for his nation’s God; to the true living God. Look what the enemy even said in Judges 16:23!
Hundreds of years later, Paul wrote about this same subject. He was sad about the dishonour to God. This was because of the behaviour of first century Jews; their morals were bad; their religion was just words; it had no meaning in their lives.
READ: Romans 2:24.
The word ‘Jew’ had become a bad word. People thought of words like ‘wicked’, ‘selfish’, ‘greedy’ to describe a Jew.
You should have one great ambition in life, and it should be to please God. He loves you. He saved you. So, you should want your life to show everybody how great he is. Then they will want to know him too.
Samson realised his awful mistake in the end
This only happened when he was a prisoner. He now had no eyes, so all was dark. All day, and every day, he had to work for his enemies. He made flour from grain (16:21). Samson spoiled his life. He brought dishonour to God. He did this by being worldly in thought and in life. Something was true about Samson. The same thing is true about everyone like Samson, and it is this. God’s desire is that each one should begin again.
Let us think about how Samson defeated his enemies in the end.
He overcame by grace
This is goodness and kindness to one who does not deserve it. Hear again those wonderful words of hope.
READ: Judges 16:22 – nobody has to feel despair. God gives yet another opportunity; His grace is so great.
He overcame by prayer (16:28)
When you realise your mistake, you should pray immediately. God has promised that he will help you.
He overcame by his death
By his own death, he overcame his enemies. There is something similar for the Christian, and it is probably the only way to escape from being worldly.
READ: Mark 8:34-37.
God heard Samson’s prayer. Samson gave his life. He helped to achieve God’s purposes. He brought honour to God.
FOR GROUP/FAMILY DISCUSSION
Samson’s parents made a special promise for him (Num. 6:1-21). It was usually for a particular purpose and for a certain time (Num. 6:13). It was not usually for a person’s whole life. Why do you think that Samson wanted to continue to keep the promise? Yet it seemed that he just kept his hair long. And he ignored the other demands of the promise. Why was that?
Probably, Samson was sincere when he first made the special promise. So, what turned him away from the standards that it demanded?
We all fail God. How do we know that this makes Him sad (Judg. 10:6-16)?
We read about some serious personal failures in the Book of Judges (Judg. 8:22-27; 11:30-40; 16:16-21). Why do you think that such sad stories are in the Bible? 1 Cor. 10:6-13 helps us to understand. And the passage gives illustrations too.
Why do people forget how good God was to them in earlier times (Judg. 8:33-35)?
Samson’s victory by his death is like a parable. Jesus said that we must die too. Then we can live. What did Jesus mean? (Mark.8: 34-38 and John 12:24-26).
Look again at Judg. 16:22. Think about other people in the Bible whom God forgave after serious failure. How did they say that they were truly sorry? And how did they show that they were truly sorry?