Locations of visitors to this page
Samson: He Disregarded God's Warning
Scripture: Judges 15:1-20; John 11:47-50;
Track 4 of 5 in the The Weight of the World series
Running time: 1 hour, 03 minutes, 06 seconds.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

It is not God's intention to be a killjoy in life. That is one of the main criticisms about God from those who reject Christianity. God doesn't let people have fun. Being a Christian means a person has to give up all that is fun and begins a life that is dull and always under the cloud of fear that God will zap them if they step out of line. Unfortunately, many in the world get that impression from watching the lives of the Christians they know. They see the church zapping people for making mistakes, God also must be the same type of person.

What they don't understand, being a Christian means living a life that is free. One of the greatest gifts Jesus gave us when we were set free from the weight of our sins was freedom in Christ. God wants us to live a life that is exciting, prosperous, fruitful and totally committed to Him. He removes the shackles and restraints so we are fully free to go out and be all we can be for Him and His glory. We are not chained down by rules and regulations by how we should serve each other. He lifts the rules and allows us to go far and above anything we ever have done to serve God and man.

But there are warnings and there are reasons why God wants us to follow His examples in life. There are reasons why God wants us to listen to His counsel and to pay attention to His ways. In living a life for Christ with full freedom, there are things He asks us to do and there are ways God asks us to follow. He is not doing it to enslave us or to hold us back, but he asks us to do them to enhance our freedom to serve and to better prepare us to be successful for Him. Better yet, He commands us to do these things to protect us from evil and most of all, to protect us from ourselves.

Do you have areas of your life where you are your own worst enemy? How do you protect yourself from you in these areas? God wants us to live rewarding lives. He doesn't want us to become monks but he does put limits on our actions so we can be fully human. Do you understand what that statement means? What does it mean to be fully human and how is that a good thing in God's eyes?

Jesus asks us to limit ourselves for His best interests as he limited himself for our best interest. God didn't prohibit food, recreation, money or friendships. But as the Designer and Creator, he asks us to use these things only as he intends them to be used. That is the problem for many Christians; we use the things God gives for the things God never intended they be used for. This is especially true when dealing with our own bodies.

This was Samson's biggest problem. God gave him some awesome talents to use for God's best interest but Samson started using His gifts for his own personal desires and lusts. This led Samson to make some really bad decisions that was leading him down a very bad path.

Even though his marriage feast ended up a disaster, how did God help make the situation better for Samson? What lessons should he have learned from the experience and how should Samson have changed his life around? What opportunity did God give Samson?

Judges 15:1-5 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.

Can you imagine the shocking disgrace the family of the bride must have experienced in front of their friends and city when Samson rushed out and never came back? I can understand what the father did here. Scriptures tells us that some time had passed before Samson returned to his wife. According to common sense, I would suppose Samson was an idiot for thinking he could return to his wife without there being some changes taking place.

Today, in our culture, we don't live by the rules that we find in many places in scripture. Verse 1 gives us an indication of the kind of marriage that was contracted. It was similar to the marriage Gideon had with his concubine in which the wife continued to live in her father's house, with the husband paying occasional visits. The technical name for such a marriage is called a sadiga marriage. The gift of a kid for his wife seems to be the customary price for conjugal visits. The same is found when Judah agreed to pay Tamar for his little visit in Genesis 38. What is fascinating about Samson, it never occurred to him that he was a little late to attempt to consummate his marriage.

Did Samson have a legitimate claim to take revenge against the Philistines? Was he really wronged? Did the father-in-law underestimate Samson? Did he realize who he was really dealing with? It is interesting to note that the wheat fields in that section of Palestine extended continuously for thirty miles. The fire started would be similar to what we see today in California. It would have gone on for many miles ands the destruction would have been extensive, both materially and financially. The damage Samson inflicted definitely hurt the Philistine economy.

Once a feud starts, how hard is it to stop it? How far can these go and when do they stop? What can stop them?

Judge 15:6-8 When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

There is a lesson here for Samson, the Jews and for us, in those times we do things against God, things can come back around and work against us. The whole reason why Samson's wife did her treacherous act was to keep the Philistines from burning her and her family to death. That act eventually led to the very thing happening that she tried to stay away from. We see other examples of the same thing later I the New Testament.

John 11:47-50 What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

We know from history that it was this very act that resulted in the priests losing their place and the Romans took away their nation also. Their evil act came back to bite them and the destruction they tried to avoid actually came upon them.

What lesson can we learn from this? What warning is God sending to us from the events in Samson's life? What do you think the purpose was in burning Samson's wife and family with fire? Why do this to his wife rather than go out and take revenge on Samson? What does Samson dwelling in a cave tell us about this event?

Feuds never end when one side has completed its revenge. They keep going on and on until something really bad happens that sort of shock everyone into stopping the fight.

Judges 15:9-14 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?" He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves." "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting.

It is impressive that the Philistines send up and army of 1,000 men to take Samson. But notice that the threat isn't against Samson, but against Israel. The Israelites were scared that if Samson didn't get this feud straightened out, the Philistines would take their revenge out against the nation. This is the 13th time that an oppressor has inflicted pain and suffering on Israel. 12 times before, God raised up a judge and through God's help, smashed the oppressors with a judge that he raised up. The nation of Israel never once looked to Samson as their next judge, but was willing to betray a brother into the hands of the enemy.

Here is the scene, 3,000 Israelite soldiers go and get Samson from the cave he is staying in. Out of a magnanimous gesture, Samson agrees to be turned over to the enemy only if his own nation doesn't kill him. Samson willingly allows his own people to bind him and betray him to the Philistines. 1,000 Philistines stand and face the Israelites of 3,000 + Samson and the Israelites are scared of the situation. Israel has the enemy out numbered 3-1 and they see themselves as servants to the Philistines.

What does this tell us about the nation of Israel and where they are heading? Why were they willing to give up one man to save their own necks especially of the enemy they faced was much smaller in number? Have you ever acted in a cowardly behavior towards God when faced with a difficult task in life? When things get real tough or overwhelming, do you normally complain and blame God for the situation or do you turn to him and depend upon him to help you through the situation?

What does this tell us about Samson and his relationship with Israel and Samson as a man?

Judges 15:14-17 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.

This event is a very important event in Samson's life as well as Israel's. With every encounter against an enemy, Samson never used or was helped by anyone. He is the only judge who defeated the enemy by himself. Here in this battle Samson did all the fighting and killed the entire army with a weapon from the carcass of a donkey. The jawbone was still moist, not dried out so it was sturdy and wouldn't break easily. It is interesting that he did this using something he wasn't suppose to touch due to his Nazarite vow as an army of Israel stood by and watched.

There are a number of translations of what it was that Samson actually said. In Hebrew he said the following:

"With the ass's jaw-bone a heap, two heaps; with the ass's jawbone I smote a thousand men."

This poetic strain that Samson sings gives us some good detail as to what happened during the fight. The words "a heap, two heaps," point to the conclusion that it did not take place in one encounter, but in several. Once Samson shook off his bindings, the enemy fled, and he pursued them, smiting one heap after another, as he overtook them, with an ass's jawbone which he found in the way.

Judges 15:18-19 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.

This set of verses tells us something of Samson that many people don't give him credit for. In spite of all his mistakes, all his bad decisions, his lusts and desires, the reference to himself being God's servant reveals the true heart of the man. Samson did love God and the enemies of God were Samson's enemies as well.

The English translation of his cry to God sounds as though Samson was mocking God. But the actual Hebrew meaning teaches us that Samson really thinks his end has come and he laments the realization that God gave him such a great victory only to end up dying from the lack of water, what an ironic shame. But God loved Samson and didn't let that happen. God provided for him and restored Samson back to strength. This passage is the first time we ever see Samson praying to God for help. The only other time he will pray is right before he dies when he asks God to give him strength one more time to destroy his enemies.

This chapter ends with Samson at a high point in his life. In fact, the writer of Judges points out that Samson judges Israel 20 years. It is during this period in time that Samson settles down and serves God well. The warning to Samson and to all of Israel is the Philistines are evil people and God wants to rid the nation of this group. There is nothing in common between the two and Israel should stay away and not associate with them. As long as Samson and Israel did as God told them, peace seemed to be in the land.