BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Samson is one of the Bible characters whose births were announced ahead of their conception. Samson was the last of the judges (heroes or military deliverers) recorded in the book of Judges. An angel announced his conception first to the mother and later to the two parents. “Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines’” (Judges 13:2-5 NKJV).
Samson’s mother and the father both thought the angel was a man of God. After Samson’s mother related to her husband what transpired between her and the angel, he sought the LORD to cause the ‘man of God’ who had announced this conception to come again in order to tell them what they would do to the child that would be born. God answered his prayer and the angel appeared again to Samson’s mother who quickly went to alert her husband. “So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, ‘Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe’” (Judg 13:13-14 NKJV).
From what the angel told both Manoah and his wife, Samson was supposed to be a Nazirite. The angel clearly stated what he wasn’t supposed to do as a Nazirite. He wasn’t to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. Likewise, his assignment was very clear. Beyond these mentioned by the angel, the Bible, in Numbers 6, gives a list of what someone who has taken a vow of a Nazirite mustn’t do.
Another thing the angel said about Samson’s birth was his life assignment. He was to begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. And the Bible says that Samson was born, he grew, and the LORD blessed him. “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol” (Judges 13:24-25 NKJV). The King James Version says, “And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol” (verse 25).
The stirring of Samson, at times, by the Spirit of the LORD, was a pointer to God’s assignment for him. It wasn’t that at this time he had stepped into his life assignment – beginning to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines – but the Spirit began to move him in the army camp of his tribe, Dan, a tribe that was unable to conquer the territory allotted to her.
Many times, the Spirit will move our hearts towards what God has assigned us to do. The problem or issue that the Spirit of God is stirring our hearts towards is a pointer to what God has made us to be a solution.
The tragedy of Samson’s life was that he was man of great potential, but he wasted it. He was a lone ranger, who judged Israel for twenty years and died with his enemies.
The life of Samson, in a way, is a case study on how not to pursue the purpose of God for one’s life. It’s a sad story of how a man could be so anointed and yet lived an uncoordinated life that didn’t allow him to maximize his potential.
My objective in this message is not to criticize or discredit Samson. I only want to highlight some of the mistakes of Samson, which didn’t allow him to be the man he ought to have been so that we can learn from him. It’s noteworthy that the New Testament mentions Samson in a positive way with other heroes of faith without any reference to his mistakes (Hebrews 11:32-34). However, if Samson had not made these mistakes, he would have made greater impact than he did, and he wouldn’t have died the way he did.
1.He lacked a sense of divine destiny. He was careless and unappreciative of God’s calling upon his life. Because of his lack of regard for his destiny, he violated the oath of his consecration. A Nazirite wasn’t supposed to touch anything dead so as not to be defiled but Samson touched a dead lion he had killed earlier. He scooped honey out of it, ate and gave to his parents. “After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion” (Judges 14:8-9 NKJV). This was a violation of the vow of a Nazirite.
Numbers 6:6-12 says concerning the vow of a Nazirite: “All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the LORD. And if anyone dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned in regard to the corpse; and he shall sanctify his head that same day. He shall consecrate to the LORD the days of his separation, and bring a male lamb in its first year as a trespass offering; but the former days shall be lost, because his separation was defiled” (NKJV). But Samson living a careless life went to touch a dead lion.
One cannot be too sure that at the feast that Samson made at Timnah, where he had gone to marry a wife, he didn’t violate God’s command that a Nazirite must not drink wine. Judges 14:10 says, “So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so” (NKJV). In Num 6:2-4, God forbids a Nazirite from drinking wine.“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin” (Numbers 6:2-4 NKJV). So Samson would have erred if he had drunk any of this drink in that feast that he made.
In Judges 16:1, Samson did what someone who was not even a Nazirite would not have done. Showing disdain for holy living as God expects of His children, and much more His servant, he went to sleep with a harlot. “Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her” (NKJV). He continued in brazen life of sexual immorality by going into relationship with Delilah, a foreigner that the Israelites were not supposed to have any marital relationship with. “Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah” (Judges 16:4 NKJV). This was where he met his waterloo. And this happened because Samson didn’t have regard for his destiny. Lamentation 1:9 says, “Her [Jerusalem’s]uncleanness is in her skirts; She did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. ‘O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy is exalted!’” (NKJV) This was exactly the tragedy that befell Samson; the iniquity in his trousers led him to die prematurely with his enemy because he lacked a sense of destiny.
How could Samson have disclosed the source of his power to a woman who kept on asking him not once, not twice; and each time he deceived her, he found her using the information against him with the intention of giving him over to the enemy? Yet he went ahead to disclose the source of his power – no razor shall touch his head. This was a vow that a Nazirite was not supposed to violate. “All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body” (Numbers 6:5-6 NKJV). But because he didn’t value the purpose of God for his life, he disclosed this information to Delilah who got his head shaved and called the enemy in to arrest him. “And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:20 NKJV). What a pity! The game was over for Samson. His enemy prevailed against him.
2. He misused his divine gift. He used his power recklessly for personal benefit. Eph 4:11-12 allows us to know that the anointing God has put on those He has called is not for selfish use. Their spiritual gifts are to bless others. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NKJV). However, Samson used the power God had given him for his personal advantage. Because he knew God had given this special power not available to others, he kept on getting himself in trouble and using this power on each occasion to bail himself out. This could not have been the purpose for which God endowed him with such power.
In Judges 14, I cannot understand the purpose of the riddle that Samson gave at the house of his in-law. It was obvious he never imagined that the thirty companions brought the bride’s parents to be with him would be able to solve the riddle. So if they couldn’t solve the riddle within the seven days of the feast, what would have been the benefit of the thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing he expected them to give him? Of what use would these clothes be to him? What was the relevance of the riddle to the assignment God had given him?
In fact, the Philistines saw it as a device to rob them. They told his wife it was robbery – a ploy by Samson to impoverish them. “On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Get the answer to the riddle from your husband, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?’” (Judges 14:15 NLT).
But see how Samson relied on his God-given power for personal benefit to get himself out of the situation his needless riddle brought him when through his wife, the solution of the riddle was found out: “So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: ‘What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?’ And he said to them: ‘If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!’ Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house” (Judges 14:18-19 NKJV).
You’ll see the same abuse of divine power in Judges 16:1-3. God never sent him to go in to a harlot but when he was in trouble, it was the power of God that he abused to get out of the trouble. “Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When the Gazites were told, ‘Samson has come here!’ they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, ‘In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.’ And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron” (Judges 16:1-3 NKJV).
Samson must have been deluded by the unprecedented power of God in his life to think that he could always get out of any situation no matter the type of live he lived. Though it kept working for him, a day came that on the lap of Delilah, that power failed him because he had also failed God over time. Judges 16:20 says, “… So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (NKJV). Did you see that faulty mindset again? Samson was always abusing the gift of God in his life for personal advantage even when his life was in direct violation of the Word of God that endowed him with this enormous power. You must avoid that in your life.
God’s gift in your life is to bless others. 1Corinthians 12:7 says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (NKJV). The New Living Translation says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.”
3. He was temperamental and revengeful. Samson was highly temperamental and revengeful. He usually acted in a fit of rage. He didn’t control his tempers. In Judges 14:19, the Bible says that after the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, he went to Ashkelon where he killed thirty of their men and gave the changes of their clothing to those who had explained his riddle. Then, “his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house.”
Samson was so angry that he left his in-law’s house without taking away the wife he had come to marry. Of course one could appreciate that what happened to him, a great betrayal by the person he wanted to marry, which made it doubtful that she really loved him.
The father-in-law even made the matter worse by handing over his daughter to Samson’s best man to marry. The best man married Samson’s bride! The New King James Version uses the word companion. The word translated companion is, in Hebrew, merea. It means a companion, a friend, a confidential friend. Samson left the ceremony in anger.
However, he came back sometimes later for his wife. But she had been given away to Samson’s best man or companion, apparently to save the bride and the family the embarrassment of a failed wedding ceremony. Some have even suggested that maybe the bride actually loved Samson’s companion more than Samson! The Bible does not say anything like that.
Obviously that was treachery on the part of Samson’s bride and his companion.
Jesus said in John 3:29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (NKJV). When the best man married the bride because the groom went away in anger, something is wrong with the bride and the best man. One may ask: What type of best man was Samson’s? Did Samson just pick him to be his best man? Didn’t they both have a relationship prior to the marriage? Why didn’t Samson know that his best man had been given his wife to marry? Judges 14:20 says, “But Samson’s wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had used as his friend” (World English Bible). Darby’s Translation renders the verse thus: “And Samson’s wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had made his friend.” One is not too sure if there was no close relationship between Samson and this best man or companion to have engaged in such a betrayal.
The Contemporary English Version suggests that the person Samson’s wife was given to as wife might not have been a close companion. Judges 14:20, in the Contemporary English Version, says, “The father of the bride had Samson’s wife marry one of the thirty young men that had been at Samson’s party.” These were the thirty young men at Timnah mentioned in verses 11 and 19.
In verse 11, the Bible says that, at the feast or party, when the Philistines saw Samson, they brought thirty companions to be with him. He posed a riddle to them. After they had found the answer to his riddle through Samson’s wife and told him, verse 19 says the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men. He took their apparel and gave the changes of clothing to the thirty young men, as the promised reward for the answer to the riddle.
The Contemporary English Version shows that the companion whom Samson’s wife was given to marry was a Philistine like his wife. This may explain why Samson took the action he took after he returned to take his wife away, and he was told she had been given to his companion.
To appease Samson, the parent offered him to marry the younger sister of the bride taken by his best man. Samson went into a rage. He saw the betrayal of his wife, in-laws, and companion as a justification for his action. “And Samson said to them, ‘This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!’” (Judges 15:3 NKJV).
Samson decided to punish the Philistines for his own folly! He burnt up their farms, including their vineyards and olive groves. When the Philistines found out it was Samson who burnt up their farms, they also retaliated by burning the woman in question, and her father.
Samson should have known that the Philistines would not take it lightly with him for burning their farms. He should have expected they would react. And they did by getting rid of the woman and her father. However, Samson wouldn’t give up. He moved against the Philistines in retaliation, and attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter and then went down to dwell in the cleft of the rock of Etam (Judges 15:7-8). The Philistines retaliated again.
If you take note of Samson’s life as I’ve highlighted, you’ll easily see that it was significantly marked by revenge. He never allowed any wrong against him to go unpunished even to the point of his death. He didn’t ask God to forgive him and restore his power to him to fulfill the assignment He had called him to do. The only reason he prayed to God to restore the power to him was so that he would be able to revenge the harm and humiliation he had suffered in the hands of the Philistines. He didn’t have to die with his enemies but that was what he asked God for and God gave him his heart desire! “Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, ‘O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!’ And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” (Judges 16:28-30 NKJV). Samson’s last prayer which was actually his second prayer recorded throughout the account of his life in the Bible was a prayer of revenge not of deliverance. His first recorded prayer is in Judges 15:18 when he prayed for water to drink
As a child of God, be careful that your actions are not motivated by need for revenge. The Bible says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21NKJV). You’re to bind Satan your enemy and even resist him but hand over your human enemy to God; He’ll deal with them better than you’ll do. “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV). Jesus also taught his disciples: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV). Don’t live a life of tit-for-tat and an eye for an eye. Even in the Old Testament, this principle was not for individuals to carry out revenge but for those administering justice (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21).
4. He was lustful. Samson had problem with women. All the women he loved (lusted after) were non-Israelites that God had warned the Israelites not to marry. He even slept with a prostitute showing how backslidden he had become. He didn’t keep himself holy; he defiled the temple of God – his body. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16 ) He moved from the woman in Timnah (which was of the LORD) to a harlot in Gaza and to the woman in the Valley of Sorek called Delilah who finished him. Samson had problem with women. Lust destroyed him. And the devil is still using lust to destroy many destinies today. “For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever” (1 John 2:16-17 NLT). Think about that.
5. He was secretive but had poor judgment who to confide in. Samson, though secretive, confided in the wrong people. In Judges 14:5-6, when Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and killed the lion, he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. He kept it secret. Also in verses 8-9, when he took some of the honey from the carcass of the lion and gave some to his father and mother to eat, Samson did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. When he gave that riddle in the house of his in-law, he told his woman he wanted to marry that he had not told even his father or mother and therefore would not tell anyone (verse 16).
But Samson’s weakness was in telling his secret to the wrong person. Even concerning the riddle that he told the woman in Timnah that he had not told his parents, Samson told the woman the solution after she had put pressure on him. And she went ahead to divulge this secret to her people. It pained Samson so much that after fulfilling his promise on the riddle, he left the woman behind.
But one would have thought that Samson had learnt his lesson. No, he didn’t. He was later to find himself in a similar situation with the same Philistines. But this time, the penalty for his lack of discretion was higher and terminal. He had no opportunity to correct himself. Delilah was deadly! After three initial failed attempts, she succeeded in getting Samson to tell her all his heart as regards the secret of his power. “When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.’ So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven” (Judges 16:18-22 NKJV).
Delilahs are still around us every day, looking for someone whose destiny they will swallow. No one who sleeps on the lap of Delilah can survive her ambush. You don’t play with Delilah and think you can outwit her. Delilah will make you comfortable on her lap until you sleep off. Then, she will begin to torment you until you lose your strength. Don’t play with Delilah; don’t deceive yourself that you can handle her. Don’t say you know the right time to stand up from her lap; you’ll see how foolish you’ve been by the time you wake up. You won’t be the same person again! What do you do? Run away from Delilah, just as Joseph ran away from Mrs. Potiphar! “But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside” (Genesis 39:11-12 NKJV).
You must have heard the statement, “He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil” (William Shakespeare). But I dare say it’s a futile effort. No matter how long your spoon is, the devil will still beat you to it! Don’t bother to eat with the devil. Don’t try to play with sin. It’s been rightly stated: “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go; sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay; sin will cost you more than you wanted to pay.” Think about that.
6. He was tricky. Samson manifested himself as a tricky person. He was either coming up with a riddle or pretending to be saying the truth or pretending to be truly bound. In Judges 15:11-14, he negotiated with the people of Judah to be bound to deceive the Philistines who wanted to arrest him. Through that he was able to destroy the Philistines. “As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the LORD powerfully took control of Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then he picked up a donkey’s jawbone that was lying on the ground and killed a thousand Philistines with it. And Samson said, ‘With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve made heaps on heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!’ When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill” (Judges 15:14-17NLT).
We have also seen how he kept on deceiving Delilah about the secret of his power until he told him the truth and finished himself. He had no business tricking Delilah. He should just have bolted from there. If he had run away the first time, Delilah wouldn’t have had opportunity of pressurizing him. Samson ended tricking himself into a premature death. You may fool the person you’re deceiving many times but if the person is on an assignment from the devil, he’ll continue to be patient with you until you won’t know when you’ll give your heart away.
Samson’s tendency towards trickery also showed when he was in the hall of the Philistines after his eyes had been removed and he was being humiliated. “Half drunk by now, the people demanded, ‘Bring out Samson so he can perform for us!’ So he was brought from the prison and made to stand at the center of the temple, between the two pillars supporting the roof. Samson said to the servant who was leading him by the hand, ‘Place my hands against the two pillars. I want to rest against them.’ The temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine leaders were there, and there were about three thousand on the roof who were watching Samson and making fun of him Then Samson prayed to the LORD, ‘Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me one more time so that I may pay back the Philistines for the loss of my eyes.’ Then Samson put his hands on the center pillars of the temple and pushed against them with all his might. ‘Let me die with the Philistines,’ he prayed. And the temple crashed down on the Philistine leaders and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime” (Judges 16:25-30 NLT). Samson pretended he wanted to rest on the two pillars. The boy leading him didn’t know that he was helping to kill himself and his people along side Samson. Samson was a trickster. But like all other tricksters, his art eventually consumed him.
I know that considering the time that Samson lived and the enemies he was dealing with, the tricks he employed may appear justifiable to some extent. It may fit into tactics that the military use in warfare to deceive the enemy but when Samson made this the central plank of his life, it became more dangerous not to the enemy but to himself.
The apostle Paul talked of people being tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4:14-15). Speaking about his ministry, Paul said he didn’t engage in any pretence or cunning practices. He was plain before the people. “But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning!” (2 Corinthians 12:16 NKJV). 1 Peter 2:1 warns us, “So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing” (NLT). Avoid tricks in your relationship with people. Receive wisdom from God; don’t use tricks. Trickery is the wisdom of the world not of God.
7. He was callous and impulsive. Samson was impetuous. He acted rashly. He was neither sensitive to the rights of others nor think about the consequences of his actions on others. In Judges 14:19, Samson went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. These were innocent people he killed because of his own initial fault. He also caused the death of his in-law and wife by the Philistines who retaliated his burning their farmland – standing corn, vineyards and olives. (Judges 15:3-6) Look at what he even said in verse 3: “This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!” (NKJV) That seems to suggest admittance that he was to blame for the previous harms on the Philistines. Even on this occasion, he was to blame. He burnt their farmland, and they killed his father-in-law and his daughter that he had wanted to marry. A more sensitive person would have sat down to consider the possible consequences of his actions.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 warns, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God” (NKJV). That means you think before you speak and not the other way round. Be quick to hear and be slow to speak (James 1:19). Think well before you act. Look at issues from the perspectives of others; don’t consider your own interest alone. Romans 12:10 says, “In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another” (ASV). Haste most times equals waste. Be careful. Proverbs 25:8 says, “Don’t be in a hurry to go to court. You might go down before your neighbors in shameful defeat” (NLT).
8. He was disorderly or disorganized. Samson seemed not to have any plan how to judge or lead Israel. He was not proactive in his attacks – he was mostly reacting to the Philistines’ attacks. He had no company – he didn’t fight with any standing army, though the Spirit of God first began to move him in the army camp of his tribe – Dan (Judges 13:25). He was a lone ranger leading no army or the people – at least there is no record of how he judged or led the people he was born to begin to deliver from the Philistines. Only after his death did we see his brethren and the house of his father coming to take his body for burial (Judges 16:31). Prior to that in Judges 15:11, the people of Judah, 3,000 men, had come to arrest him and handed him over to the Philistines but they struck a deal. There is no record how he actually led the people of Israel.
Imagine what would have happened if Samson had led the people the way Deborah, who didn’t have the kind of power Samson had, led the people. Suppose he had raised an army and provided the kind of leadership that Gideon provided. Suppose he had raised a standing army like David later did in Israel. None of these had the kind of power that God endowed Samson with. But he had no strategic plan how to go about the assignment God had given him. That God gave him the assignment and special power didn’t mean God expected him alone to prosecute the assignment. There are many people today that are still making this mistake that Samson made. That is why though they have outstanding gifts their effectiveness and impact is not being maximized. There is still time for such people to change.
9. He was proud – Samson relied more on his strength than on God. Only when he came to the end of himself did he call upon God. He saw his feat as his own accomplishment. After he killed a thousand Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass, Samson took the credit for this outstanding feat. He said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” (Judges 15:16 NKJV) So it was a victory that his hand gave him! He didn’t acknowledge that it was the power that God gave him that made this monumental feat possible. I consider that as pride on Samson’s part. David wouldn’t have said that.
But not long after then, Samson came to a place where he saw the limitation of his power. He was thirsty and he couldn’t produce water for himself to drink. At this point, he called on the LORD and gave the victory to him. “Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, ‘You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?’ So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day” (Judges 15:18-19 NKJV). One could say that Samson merely used God to quench his thirst! If it had been possible for him to use the power God had given him to produce water, he wouldn’t have cried to God or acknowledged that the victory he had over the Philistines which he had already taken credit for in verse 16 was actually made possible by God.
You must beware of pride. Whatever great work God is doing through you, don’t ascribe the success to yourself. Learn to give the glory to God. That was a similar mistake that Moses made when he thought he was the one that would bring water out of the rock for the people to drink. After all, he had done it before! But it wasn’t him that brought water out of the rock; he only struck the rock while God brought out water (Exodus 17:6-7).
And this second occasion, he was only supposed to speak to the rock but due to the pressure the Israelites had put on him and Aaron, he misfired and struck the rock twice. “And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (Numbers 20:10-11NKJV). He got everything wrong. Neither Moses nor Aaron was capable of bringing water out of the rock. And it was not for him to judge the people and call them rebels. That amounted to pride.
It was also pride that made Nebuchadnezzar to say that he was the one that built Babylon. But he knew better after this unfortunate statement. Seven seasons in the forest brought him to his right senses. “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:34-37 NKJV). He was restored to the throne after his sabbatical in the forest!
But Herod was not that fortunate. He received the honour that was above his status. He equated himself to a god. An angel struck him, he fell down, worms ate him, and he died. “So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:21-23 NKJV). Please take note of how he died. It wasn’t that he died and worms ate him. No. Rather, after an angel struck him, worms ate him while he was still alive but no longer in control of himself and he died.
Beware of pride. The Bible says pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Proverbs 11:2 says when pride comes, then comes shame. Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 16:5). James 4:6 says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (NKJV). 1 Peter 5:5 says a similar thing. Don’t be proud; don’t let God resist you. Be God-assisted, not God-resisted!
10. He had no fellowship with God. Only twice did Samson call upon God and on the two occasions, it was because he was in trouble. As I have pointed out before, in Judges 15:18, he needed water to drink. In Judges 16:28-30, he wanted to avenge his humiliation by the Philistines. Don’t fellowship with the gifts of God in your life that you neglect the Giver. Don’t be carried away by your success. Don’t be deluded by men’s adulation. Don’t neglect your Source. Colossians 1:17 says all things were created through Him and for Him. And that includes you. The twenty-four elders say a similar thing before the throne of God: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11NKJV). You exist for Him, and not the other way round. Therefore, maintain unbroken relationship and fellowship with God. Let your heart pant after him. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV). Don’t live your life apart from God. Life without God is meaningless. It is an unfruitful life. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4 NKJV).
11. He never worked on his character flaws. Samson never learnt from his mistakes. For instance, look at how lust for women remained a problem in his life till he died. Look at how he repeated the mistake of disclosing his secret to the wrong persons. Perhaps, if he had told his parents that he killed a lion and that he got the honey that he gave them from the carcass of the dead lion, they would have helped him to live a holy life and respect the vow of a Nazirite that was upon his life. He was deceived by his physical strength, but our strengths cannot compensate for the weaknesses in our character. The failure of Samson in this regard, led to his premature death and abrupt end of his ministry. God is such a good God – despite Samson’s mistakes, he wasn’t a failure but maybe he could have done better than he did.
It is noteworthy that the New Testament does not mention any of the mistakes of Samson. Samson is rather mentioned alongside Gideon, Barak, David, Samuel and the prophets – the patriarchs of the faith, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:32-34 NKJV).
Samson killed more people at his death than when he was alive; but it was because of the mercy of God, not because Samson was careful to live a holy life. God is a merciful God!
Take heed how you live your life, as Jesus warned his disciples in Mark 8:15 “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (NKJV). Hear what Proverbs 16:17 says: “The path of the upright avoids calamity; he who pays heed to his way safeguards his life” (The Bible: An American Translation). This injunction wasn’t the hallmark of Samson’s life. He therefore endangered his life. The way he persuaded himself was right to him led to the abbreviation of his life. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (Proverbs 16:25 NLT). Live for the will of God not for pleasure. “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1Timothy 5:6 NKJV).
Nobody is perfect. All of us have made mistakes at one point or the other in our lives but God expects us to learn from our mistakes and change for the better. The prodigal son realized his mistake, repented and returned home. He was received back by his father (Luke 15:11-32). But when someone repeats the same mistake over and over, it shows that he has not learnt anything. Such a person is the real failure because he has failed to learn from his mistakes. I pray that you will not dig your grave by failing to learn from your mistakes.
A. W. Tozer said, “…whoever you are and whatever you may be, old or young or in-between, you are not yet a finished product. You are only in process.” Everybody is work-in-progress. So we must look at our lives and with the help of the Holy Spirit correct the flaws in our character. Don’t tolerate your character flaws. Renew your mind daily with the Word of God. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
You will not fail God in Jesus’ name. You will become all God wants you to be and do all that He has created you to do on earth. The LORD will not deliver you to the will of your adversaries. You will not fall into the snares of your enemies in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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