This week, Pastor Gene's wife Heather brought our message on the account of Samson.
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good morning it's always so epic i don't know we have to keep that in our future videos um good morning and welcome my name is heather i am pastor gene's wife i take care of a lot of the administration here at the church and from time to time i get the opportunity to share a message with you we have some unhappy campers this morning it's all right um we have been working our way through the bible in our series the rest of the story we dive into the details of the stories of the bible that you may not have heard of or be as familiar with we're breaking down those details to better understand what it actually says not what we think it says or what we want it to say we have made our way through genesis to joshua and now we are in judges where we have seen the pattern of the israelites getting blessings messing it up and then doing what they saw was right in their own eyes and then being punished by god and the cycle repeating itself over and over and over again they've had many leaders through this cycle from moses to joshua although they were not judges the cycle of the israelites begins with them and now we're working our way through the judges as dean has walked us through them so far we've had deborah his comment do not underestimate a woman or anyone that you think might be the least of these because they may surprise you today we are in samson who is probably one of the most famous judges in the old testament and again you may think you know his story but the rest of his story is actually the beginning of his story the israelites are going through a series of oppression again blessings getting taken away and god punishing them so they are under the rule of the philistines at this point of the birth of samson for about 40 years there's a couple living in the town of zora minoa and his wife and interestingly through the entire story of samson we never get his mother's name i don't know why but it's just not there they're unable to get pregnant and she is considered barren that is until one day an angel of the lord came and appeared to her in judges 13 3-5 and told her she would soon become pregnant and give birth to a son there's a butt she has to follow some very strict rules she's not allowed to drink any alcohol eat any grapes or raisins or eat any other forbidden food or cut samson's hair her son's hair and as he will be dedicated to the lord as a nazirite now nazarite is someone who couldn't cut their hair could not touch a dead body or drink anything containing alcohol so keep these three things in mind as samson is growing up and from birth he is going to begin to rescue israel from the philistines not rescue them entirely but begin to so of course she's in shock because she thinks she's barren she takes this news and goes and tells her husband what had happened describing the angel as terrible to see so manoa praise to the lord and says lord please send this angel back to give us a little more clarification and instructions on what you want us to do lord hears his prayer and the angel returns what's interesting is is when the angel returns and speaks to them manoa doesn't realize that it's actually an angel at the time the angel returns they try to feed him say would you like something to eat trying to be hospitable he says no thanks i'm good so they decide to offer the young goat and the grain that they had as an offering to the lord so they build a fire and while the fire is burning the angel ascends to heaven from the flames not before manoa asks him his name and says what's your name he says it's too wonderful for you to understand so after um you see a man who can't pronounce his name to you because it's too wonderful to understand and then flies up from the flames of the fire that you're burning into the heavens you then realize that it's actually an angel who has visited you so their faces fall to the floor in to the lord now realizing the full realization that an angel of the lord has appeared to them so they are definitely going to follow all the rules that the angel gave to them and a son is born not the only time an angel comes to a couple to announce the birth of a son the most famous one jesus of course an angel comes to mary and then also joseph for different reasons we know the story is very classic he has to reassure joseph and but the main point is an angel comes to announce that a son is born in order to do god's work so they follow the instructions samson is born and they say that the lord has blessed him while he is growing up so he grows up into a fine young man with wonderful original 80s glam rock hair because he's not allowed to cut his hair so you can imagine that in your head i didn't pull up any images because i want you to figure just put that in your head for yourself and if you remember what jean has told you samson has actually taken a liking to a philistine woman now if you remember jean has told us that the israelites are not allowed to marry foreign women there's a good reason for this aside from the fact that it's in the law because obviously they don't believe or listen to everything that's actually they believe the law but they don't listen to what's in the law exodus 34 15-17 in deuteronomy 7 1-4 they're not supposed to marry foreign brides so they don't worship their pagan gods so samson's parents say uh samson isn't there a woman in our tribe that you'd be more interested in marrying rather than a pagan wife and samson says no i want you to get that woman for me in the town of timna where i saw her they could have refused her but they didn't realize that the lord was at work with this situation to create something that's going to work against the philistines so on the way to timnah it seems although it's not very specific samson and his parents take separate directions to timda samson's attacked by a lion in judges 14 5-7 and the spirit of the lord came powerfully upon him he's able to rip the lion's jaw apart as if it's a young goat jewish hercules here insert imagination and with his bare hands the key detail of this story is he does not tell his parents about the encounter with the lion you would think that that would be something be like yo guys do you realize what just happened me on my way here almost got killed by a line i tore it apart nope doesn't tell him so they go to timnah make the arrangements go back home now they have to come back to timness some time later again they take separate roads samson decides to take the path where he left the lion carcass he passes across it and realizes that some bees have made some honey inside of the lion i don't know about you but first of all i'm not gonna go near a deadline second of all a beehive he's hungry i guess decides to eat some of the honey takes some of the honey out of the lion decides to bring it to his parents as a gift they eat some of the honey as well once again he still has not told his parents about the lion or where he got the honey from this is an important detail seems trivial but it's important so samson's father is making final wedding preparations and samson is thrown a party at timnah which is a custom for young elite men at that time the bride's parents saw him and chose 30 men in the town to be his companions kind of our version of groomsmen samson you know he's got to kill some time says hey i got a riddle for you if you can solve it i'll give you 30 fine robes and 30 sets of festive clothing okay if they get it wrong then they have to give it to him like sure how hard could the riddle be so they agreed and then samson gives them the riddle out of one who eats came something to eat out of the strong came something sweet so three days goes by no one can figure out they decide to go to sampson's wife and tell her that if you don't get the answer from samson we're gonna burn your father's house down with you inside of it okay so the bride of course under threat of death and terrified of this goes to samson in tears judges 14 16-20 so samson's wife came to him in tears and said you don't love me you hate me you have given my people a riddle but you haven't told me the answer i haven't even given the answer to my father or mother why should i tell you so she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration i'm gonna sidestep here for a second what a debbie downer every day for her wedding she's crying but we have to remember she's under threat of death that her father's house is going to be burned with her inside of it so she's going to cry every day to get this answer from simpson hopping back in at last on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging then she explained the riddle to the young men so before the sunset of the seventh day the men of the town came to sampson with their answer what is sweeter than honey what is stronger than a lion samson replied as hard as funny to read if you hadn't plowed with my heifer you wouldn't have solved my riddle again i'm going to sidestep out of here for a second obviously we don't call our wives heifers anymore or at all you might get nagged further and or hit remember don't underestimate a woman so what that actually means if you haven't manipulated my wife you wouldn't have gotten the answer he would hope that they had actually figured it out for themselves so we're going to step back in 19. then the spirit of the lord came powerfully upon him he went down to the town of ashkelon killed 30 men took their belongings and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle samson has a bit of a temper samson was furious about what had happened and he went back home to live with his father and mother so his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been samson's best man at the wedding makes sense i guess wife left that altar best man standing there hey not gonna leave her alone you can marry the best man awesome right samson doesn't get the memo he's back home furious calming down his temper says you know what maybe i should go back and see my wife whom i'm married and i'll bring your gift so young goat okay i don't ever buy me a young goat but says all right i'm gonna go see my wife brings her a young goat goes to her house and the father won't let her in to his wife's room he holds it tells him judges 15 too i truly thought you must hate her her father explained so i gave her a marriage to your best man but look her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is marry her instead okay but samson wanted the wife that he actually married not the younger sister so he vows now angry tells the father i cannot be blamed for everything i'm about i'm going to do to you philistines okay so this is where the story gets even more interesting so the first means of revenge now remind you that he's already killed flying he now decides judges 15 3-5 samson captures 300 foxes and i want you to consider the logistics for a second here of capturing 300 foxes how long that may have taken and i i don't know they don't give you the details that's where you can insert your imagination now when he captures the 300 foxes he decides to fasten a torch to each pair of the tails now if you remember what gene said about the torches last week they don't burn out very easily so he has to fasten pairs of foxes two torches so now i have 150 pairs of foxes he lights them on fire and sends them through the grain fields of the philistines their sheaves their uncut grain and not only do they ruin all of their grains crops they're vineyards and olive groves as well so you can only imagine how furious the philistines are going to be over this loss of green vineyards uh samson doesn't care because cantering alcohol grapes anyway but they're all of the groves as well so that is a huge loss to them but i want to paint this funny picture for you that you've got pairs of foxes on fire jumping through these fields and that's what samson comes up with as his first means of revenge against the philistines all right so now they need to figure out who in the world did this to them and they found out samson that's gonna be like a bad word to them he did it they found out because the father-in-law and timna gave his bride away to the best man so guess what the philistines do they get the father and the bride and then burn them to death so now the bride who tried to avoid getting put in the fire is now burned to death and it fulfills the original threat that she betrayed samson in the wedding in the first place so interesting full circle that he uses the fire she's burned in the fire so and really interesting samson has now vowed he is going to be on a cycle of revenge that he would not rest until he had taken his revenge on them he continues to attack the philistines kills many of them and then decides to live in a cave in the rock of edom the philistines retaliate of course setting up a camp in judah the men of judah asked the philistines why is this happening why have you decided to camp next to us they said it was because of samson and they came to capture him for what he had done to them judges 15 11-16 so 3 000 men of judah went down to get samson at the cave in the rock of edom makes sense samson three thousand men three thousand to one should be a decent ratio to capturing samson mind you they're also jews so they went to sampson said don't you realize the philistines rule over us what are you doing to us samson replied i only did to them what they did to me great answer but the men of judah told him we have come to tie you up and hand you over the philistines all right samson said but promise that you won't kill me yourselves we will only tie you up and hand you over to the philistines they replied we won't kill you so they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock right two new ropes samson it's like putting superman in handcuffs it's obviously just for show as samson arrives at lehi forgive me i don't know how to pronounce that properly i'm guessing the philistines came shouting into triumph they think they've captured samson but the spirit of the lord came powerfully upon samson he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax and they fell from his wrists then he found it's interesting again the jawbone of a recently killed donkey i can't make this up he picked it up and killed a thousand philistines with the philistines with it and then samson said with the jawbone of a donkey i've piled them in heaps with the jawbone of a donkey i've killed a thousand men now i'm guessing in the original language that had a better rhyme to it but certainly not a nursery rhyme you're going to tell your kids before they go to bed at night so samson only needed a jawbone of a donkey a recently killed donkey to kill a thousand men but also with power of the lord inside of him so after this incident it says that samson judges over israel for 20 years we don't get any details about him judging what happened while he was judging just that he is a judge over the israelites for 20 years while the philistines dominated the land then we get another part of the story a brief story where samson carries away the gates of gaza on a night that he spent with a prostitute his achilles heel is obviously women they're going to capture him so of course they hear samson's in town they decide all right we're going to get samson in the morning samson decides instead at midnight he's going to take hold of the doors and the gates of the town and carry them away now i don't know about you no gina has told you i love watching my historical dramas i'm a history nerd used to be a history teacher city gates and ancient civilizations were extremely important that was the only way in and usually only way out unless the reports are usually like can we find another way into the town it's a one way in one way out so it's a line of defense it's extremely important and so samson decides to again imagination lift the gates of the town can't imagine how tall the walls are carries them away not just like a couple of steps over 30 miles to hebron so you really had to make a show of his strength now leaving them vulnerable so the gates of gaza are now left wide open they have to rebuild the gates he is costing the philistines a ton of money and aggravation with his cycle of revenge so now comes the final piece of samson's story probably the part that you all know in his famous love story with the infamous you guys know her name delilah yes delilah hey there delilah she has a plan for samson he falls in love with her it doesn't say but we assume that she's another philistine woman like his first wife her name meaning seductive is a word play on the hebrew name of leila which means night or dark which is kind of what samson's going to be in through this entire situation unknown to samson she's approached by the philistine leaders there are five of them one for each capital city ashdod ashkelon ekron gath and gaza to get a hold of samson's secret they're going to pay her eleven hundred silver pieces each now i know that doesn't feel like fifty fifty five hundred silver pieces big deal now again nerd inside of me i'm like what is that actually worth all right that's almost two million dollars in today's money and if you're a woman in ancient times that means you're independently wealthy you don't need to marry that is a lot of money and so she agrees and she is going to go back and forth with samson trying to get his secret so she can collect on this 5500 pieces of silver so she decides to ask him what makes him so strong his first answer is seven new bowstrings if you tie them around me i'll be as weak as anyone she allows the philistines to hide in a room he falls asleep she wakes them up samson the philistines are here to capture you he breaks free of course it doesn't work second time now she's getting mad you've been making fun of me and telling me lies now please tell me how you can be tied up securely he's still not onto the fact that this is happening right so they buy brand new ropes that had never been used tie him up again again she lets philistines hide wakes him up same thing happens again now we're on a third time she gets really mad and he says all right fine seven braids in my hair if you tie it into the fabric of your loom and fasten it i'll be as weak as anyone so while he slept now mind you she must have had to do this very delicately because he's not allowed to drink alcohol so he is definitely just a deep sleeper has to fasten his hair into her loom okay not waking him up in doing so same thing happens again the philistines attack and now she's really upset finally she nags him enough judges 16 15 through 16. then delilah pouted how can you tell me i love you when you don't share your secrets with me you made fun of me three times now and you still haven't told me what makes you so strong she tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it obviously the women have figured out his weak point that should have been his weak point not necessarily the hair so claiming that he doesn't love her he finally gives in tells her that it's his hair she ends up shaving it off cuts the hair lets the philistines capture him when they capture him they gouge out his eyes and imprison him to work so now he has become a prisoner in gaza kind of full circle here where he was once there showing off his strength and left the city gates vulnerable he is now a prisoner in gaza bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in prison so kind of funny full circle he's now bound has no hair and grinding grain the grain in witch that he had originally ruined from the foxes and in the town where he had ruined their gate so they think that they have won and are going to parade a man around the man who would cause them so many problems funny enough they forget about his superpower in his hair maybe they thought if they cut it once it deactivated it permanently and they let it grow back while he's in prison so imagine how long he had to be in prison for his hair to grow back fully so one day during a festival to their god dagon whom they thought had given them victory over samson they wanted to make a mockery of samson and bring him out to be put on display so samson asks obviously remember he's blind to be placed between two pillars in order to support himself and so while he's there he asks god one last time for the power to come over him and he takes out all of the philistine leaders and over 3 000 philistines in the process and sacrificing himself when the stadium comes crashing down on him interestingly god allows samson to destroy more philistines in this moment than he killed in his entire life all while they're worshiping their false god so when we look at strength samson's strength we're given a picture of a man who is given physically worldly strength that only works when god grants it to him amazing how man has craved for his leaders to have physical attributes expecting that those worldly attributes are what are going to save us but strength comes in many forms samson's was a physical one i know for me those of you who know me well i love feeling physically strong i'm very competitive i love lifting heavy things i used to beat boys up for lifty living masculating kind of part of my personality but i've had to put that aside a bit i'm still working on it but i know that that power that strength gives a person superiority over their world it makes you feel good about yourself however christ has come in and given us an example of a different strength an inner strength he's given us the holy spirit that gives us the strength supernatural strength at all times not just when we activate it it cannot be seen and it is often used in those who are considered less than and underestimated and we see those stories time and time again in the bible as god uses the least of these to guide us just look at the disciples and their stories we've got tax collectors and sinners not only with that inner strength we see another parallel with blindness samson being blind one of the disciples being blinded the most famous one being blinded physically before he can truly be able to see and do god's work is paul being blind to physically is not always as debilitating as being blind when you can actually physically see so samson being blinded blinded by the love for delilah he eventually becomes physically blind for not seeing what was right in front of him nagging brought samson down and have you ever and it's funny to think about this but have you ever let anyone convince you or pers persever persuade you to do something bad he unfortunately suffered the consequences of not using his gift for its purpose when he was supposed to and became physically blind but then finally able to see in the end and he fulfilled his purpose for god in his final sacrifice because even when samson could see he was blinded by his love for delilah but how many times have we used our own blindness our emotions our fear our love for someone to blind us against actions that we're taking in our own lives isn't it so much easier to point the finger at samson and judge him for not seeing what delilah was doing to him like literally three times you read the story you're like dude every time she asks you for your strength you almost get captured like you haven't caught on to this how often do we see wrongdoing going on in other people's lives rather than taking that same lens and looking at our own how much trouble would we save ourselves if we weren't so blinded by something that was keeping us from what god had for us in fulfilling his purpose for us in our in our lives remember that saying hindsight is always 20 20. pretty funny in this case for samson right things are always more clear in situations when we get past them than when we were in them sometimes we're so close to them we can't see them when we step away it seems easy to take samson's inventory judging the judge for giving in to a nagging woman but how many of us have been overcome by our sin and then allow it to derail us from god's purpose for us i know it's always easier to look at someone else's sin and go wow aren't they messed up don't they see how that sin is ruining their lives without even looking at our own remember we have to take the log of our own eyes not judge so how can we learn from samson have some wisdom and learn from his mistakes i heard a saying once that the definition of intelligence is learning from your own mistakes but the definition of wisdom is learning from others mistakes so what can we take from this samson had all the worldly gifts that made him a great leader physically strong wealthy feared amazing hair sure if there were photographs he would have photographed very well but in the end it was his weakness it was in his weakness that he fulfilled his greatest victory sacrificing himself in the end to do what he was supposed to do being a precursor to christ who also sacrificed himself christ being a reversal of this story samson was the typical leader of the world one we would have described had all the proper attributes to make a proper leader christ son of a carpenter not physically strong not a king not wealthy not a judge nothing in this world that would have had made him great and yet he made the ultimate sacrifice for us he was not a judge not a soldier not a king although tempted by it turning it down he was a man from a humble background who would end up being the ultimate king of all kings so now we who are all gifted who get the wonderful blessing of the holy spirit and have that inner strength inside of us that has no bound and no limit unlike samson's physical strength that had to be given to him when the time was right we have that inner strength that gives us the power to overcome our sins and those things that are holding us down around us in this world we're human of course none of us are perfect i'm raising my hand i'm so not perfect it's not even funny always working on it but if you caught yourself judging the judge this morning i think i might know what you are human we're human we're perfectly flawed in every way we need a power we are in need of the power that is greater than our own inside of us christ and the holy spirit to overcome whatever problems we're going through because isn't it so much easier to point the fingers at others judge and gossip take other people's inventory be self-righteous think you know better than they do rather than taking our own imagine how much further in life we would get if we just put our fingers down spent that time that we're using talking about other people, how they're messing their lives up and perhaps fix our own, take that time instead of watching tmz or strolling through the gossip reading our bible app instead. working on ourselves, i know it's so much easier said than done, again progress not perfection, but maybe just maybe you can, not be so blind in your current life, have that hindsight that 20 20 vision now, and allow the strength of the holy spirit inside of you to guide you back to wherever you need to be in your current life. take you away from whatever sin might be holding you down, sin that keeps you in the dark, that keeps you blind from the world around you, and prevents you from fulfilling god's purpose for you in your life. so perhaps we can practice looking at ourselves, take a few minutes at the end of each day, perhaps see where we wronged others. maybe apologize for it and then maybe not do it again that's an idea perhaps we can stop pointing our fingers at each other and instead turn that finger into a helping hand to help each other out of our sins or reach your hand up and ask for help yourself because asking for help i get it it can be one of the hardest things you ever do but don't let that sin get the best of you don't worry about getting hindsight get the clarity now don't wait life is so short you never know because all sin does is keep you dark and blinded and we are given a gift like no other that strength inside of us above any physical strength he's just learning how to rely on it rely on him rely on one another it's what we're here for it's what church is here for and allow the holy spirit to transform you into the best version of yourself and i know it's hard to ask for help those of you who have heard my story know that is like the hardest thing i've ever ever ever had to do and i still have a hard time because i still think i've got it and i have to remember that asking for help is the best thing i've ever done it can be the best thing that you ever do in your life and for everyone around you so don't wait don't take it for granted don't wait to suffer the consequences like samson did living in a life of revenge resentfulness and anger he had to suffer the consequences before he could fulfill his purpose learn from the story don't judge the judge use the judge as a good bad example of what not to do don't let it be another passing story on a sunday morning let god guide you let go let god let us help and let him help because remember above all we love you and most importantly he loves you thank you you