Saturday, January 19, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Sat, 1/19/2013
THE BITTER TASTE OF SWEET REVENGE, Lesson 19b
v. 3-6 SAMSON’S REVENGE
Instead of taking his defeat like a man and going home to regroup and seek God’s will for his life, Samson plans to get even. The problem with getting even is that it is impossible. Samson is about to find out that revenge always escalates out of control. He is about to learn the truth that violence always begets violence.
v. 3 His Motivation – Look at Samson’s language in this verse. He is concerned about himself. He is concerned about what they have done to him. He is motivated in his revenge by vanity. Notice how he even seeks to justify his actions by claiming that they had done worse to him.
Samson’s motivation for attacking the Philistines is all wrong. He should have been attacking them because they were oppressing the people of Israel. He should have been attacking them because it was what God had raised him up to do. He should have been attacking them to help deliver his people from Philistine bondage. Instead, Samson attacks the Philistines because he is mad about how he has been treated. He is doing what God called him to do, but he is doing it for the wrong reasons, and out of the wrong motivation. Can you see that?
This is a good place for us to stop and take a look at our own motivations. Our motives for serving the Lord will determine our faithfulness to Him and will regulate our service to Him.
When we serve God because we receive some benefit in return, we will be shallow in our devotion to Him. When the perceived benefit is no longer there, there will be a drop off in our faithfulness and service.
For instance, someone comes to church out of a sense of obligation or out of a desire to be a part of a social outlet. Then, they join a club or a lodge. That new outlet meets the same need and they stop coming to church.
Or, someone serves in the church because they receive the thanks and gratitude of the congregation. If that thanks and gratitude dries up, so does their service. The same is true for those who serve simply for monetary gain. When the money is gone, so are they.
This is a warning about seeking to attract people using gimmicks. Someone said, “If you get them in with a hot dog, you will have to keep them with a hamburger.” That is exactly right! A lot of the churches that have resorted to worldly methods and gimmicks to draw their crowds will see a falling away when they run out of gimmicks to keep them there.
That is why we need to examine our motives. Why do we serve the Lord? Why do we come to church? Why do we do the things we do? If we are motivated by love for the Savior; if we are stirred by the thoughts of all He did for us in dying for us, saving us, keeping us and blessings us; if we realize that everything we have is merely the product of His grace; then we will have proper motivation for our service to Him. That kind of motivation will enable us to flesh out 1 Cor. 15:58, which says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” What motivates you?
v. 4-5 His Methods – Samson is determined to exact his revenge against the Philistines. He catches three hundred foxes. These animals are probably a kind of jackal that used to roam Israel in large packs. He ties them tail to tail, making 150 pairs of these animals. He ties a burning torch between their tails and sets them free. These terrified animals run through the wheat fields, the olive groves and the vineyards and burn them all to the ground. This would have been a devastating blow to the economy. After all, verse 1 tells us that it was the “time of wheat harvest”.
The fire of revenge burned within Samson’s heart. He is upset about losing his wife, but he still smarts from what the Philistines did to him at his wedding feast. He cannot let it go; he just has to have his “pound of flesh”.
v. 6 His Miscalculation – Samson has his revenge. He probably thinks that will be the end of the matter. If he thinks this, it is a terrible miscalculation.
The Philistines are upset by the loss of their crops, their olives and their vineyards. They ask around to see who did this and they are told that Samson is responsible. Being wicked, selfish men themselves, they are instantly filled with thoughts of vengeance. However, they do not attack Samson to his face, they act like the cowards they are and try to attack Samson through others. They take the woman he married and her father and they burn them alive. Probably, they shut them up inside the family home and burned them to death.
This is a terrible scene, but it showcases the truth that revenge has the tendency to escalate. Someone does or says something about us. We respond back in either actions or words. They respond back to us with even harsher actions and words. And, so it goes until lives are ruined, reputations are stained and relationships are forever shattered.
It is never God’s will for us to seek revenge against those who hurt us. Most people think they have to “defend their honor”. If they are attacked, they think it shows weakness on their part to just take it and let it go. Samson thought this way. Most people are quick to rise up against those who attack them and attack back with an extra measure of violence and vengeance. That, my friends, is not God’s plan for His children!
When we are attacked, we must never attack back. To do so puts us on the same level as those who attack us. Those who attack others, those who spread rumors and gossip, those who try to ruin reputations, are the lowest of the low. To do so tarnishes our testimony and reveals that the love of Jesus Christ is not a powerful force in our lives.
Those who attack others do not love them, but are walking in hatred. To do so reveals pride in our hearts. Those who attack think they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are walking in pride. When we attack them back, we are no better than they are. We are also walking in pride because; we are saying that life is about us, and not about the will of God for our lives.
How are we supposed to respond when we are attacked? I will say more about this in a moment. I think I will be able to show you that God has a better way of responding to our attackers than for us to attack back.
Galatians 6:9 (New International Version (NIV)
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
“God Will Make A Way” By Don Moen (1990)
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way
By a roadway in the wilderness
He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today
Divine Father, God of Declaration, Dedication and Destiny! Help us to be aware of Your presence always and help us to seek You for the right reasons always. Teach us to be blameless and upright, to seek Your justification for all our problems, especially when calamities come our way. Enable us to focus inward where we can find You and not outward. Comfort us by the power of Your Word and Spirit. Direct and guide us in the way we need to go. Be our light and lead us less we fall. These things we ask in Jesus’ glorious name. Amen!
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Friday, January 18, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Fri, 1/18/2013
THE BITTER TASTE OF SWEET REVENGE, Lesson 19a
When we last saw Samson, he was headed back to his father’s house. At his wedding feast, he was betrayed by his bride and he was outwitted by 30 Philistines. In anger, Samson killed 30 Philistines and took their garments to settle a gambling debt. He went back home to soak in his anger.
As we have seen so far, Samson is anything but a good godly example. He was born to be a Judge in Israel. He was sent by God to be a Deliverer of His people. All we have seen thus far is a man who cannot control his passions. In this passage, we will once again see the selfish side of Samson.
In this text, we will watch Samson as he takes revenge against his enemies. We will see the outcome of anger that is allowed to burn out of control. We will see that revenge may appear attractive when it is born in the heart, but that in the end, it becomes a very bitter thing.
I want to teach about The Bitter Taste Of Sweet Revenge. I want to point out the lessons we should all learn from Samson’s life. These lessons will help us to see that getting our revenge against those who wrong us is never right, nor is it worth the cost. Let’s consider the lessons taught in this passage as we think about The Bitter Taste Of Sweet Revenge.
v. 1-2 SAMSON’S RETURN
v. 1a The Plan – As I said earlier, Samson ran away from his own wedding in ager. He never stayed to consummate the marriage. After a time, his anger cools off and Samson decides to make amends with is bride. He brings her a nice present, something that every woman desires; he brings her a goat. He goes to her with the idea that he will consummate the wedding and settle in to live with her has husband and wife. That is Samson’s idea, but that is not how things turn out.
v. 1b-2a The Problem – Samson’s father-in-law refuses to allow Samson into the woman’s chamber. He tells Samson that as far as he is concerned, the wedding is off. After all, Samson demonstrated a lack of love for the girl when he abandoned her at the altar and ran home to mama. The father assumes that Samson “hated” his daughter and he gave her to another man. The marriage was in effect annulled.
v. 2b The Proposal – The father offers Samson a trade. He encourages Samson to take the prettier younger sister instead of the girl Samson was set to marry in the beginning. The father must have believed that Samson didn’t really love his daughter, but that the attraction to her was purely physical in nature, and he was probably right,( Jud. 14:1-3). He assumes that Samson will be just as satisfied with the younger sister.
Samson is learning a valuable lesson in a very hard way. He is learning that you can’t trust Philistines. Samson has been cheated by these people in three ways:
He lost his bet with the Philistines because they cheated by threatening his wife with death if she didn’t help then get the answer to Samson’s riddle, (Jud. 14:12-17).
His wife had been taken away from him and given to another man, (Jud. 14:20).
The dowry, or “bride price”, that Samson had paid for the woman had been forfeited as well. The text doesn’t specifically say that Samson paid a dowry for her, but that was the way weddings were transacted in those days.
I would encourage you to remember that God warns His people against forming close relationships with unsaved people. He forbids marriages like the one Samson was about to enter into, (2 Cor. 6:14). That prohibition extends beyond marriage to all the associations we enter into in life. It includes our friendships, our business relationships, our social relationships, etc. Believers need to be very careful about the kind of people they form close associations with in life. The wrong kind of relationships can have a devastating effect on your own spiritual condition. Listen to these two verses:
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners,” (1 Cor. 15:33).
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed,” (Pro 13:20).
The kind of people we want to have around us are the type that will help us grow stronger in our relationship with the Lord. Listen again to the Word of God:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works,” (Heb. 10:24).
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,” (Pro. 27:17).
“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel,” (Pro 27:9).
The principle taught here is not that we should totally separate ourselves from a lost world. No, for we are commanded to share the Gospel with them, (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20). We should, however, understand that there is a vast difference between those who are saved and those who are lost. When we allow ourselves to get too close to a lost world, we will pay a high price. Listen again to the Word of God, (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (New International Version (NIV)
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
“His Yoke Is Easy” By: D. S. Warner (1893)
1.I’ve found my Lord and He is mine,
He won me by His love;
I’ll serve Him all my years of time,
And dwell with Him above.
His yoke is easy, His burden is light,
I’ve found it so, I’ve found it so;
His service is my sweetest delight,
His blessings ever flow.
2.No other Lord but Christ I know,
I walk with Him alone;
His streams of love forever flow,
Within my heart His throne.
3.He’s dearer to my heart than life,
He found me lost in sin;
He calmed the sea of inward strife,
And bade me come to Him.
4.My flesh recoiled before the cross,
And Satan whispered there,
“Thy gain will not repay the loss,
His yoke is hard to bear.”
5.I’ve tried the road of sin and found,
Its prospects all deceive;
I’ve proved the Lord, and joys abound,
More than I could believe.
Gracious Father, God of Charity, Comfort and Communion! Help us to hear You speak to our hearts and give us direction for our life. Enable us to follow Jesus so closely that we never walk in any kind of rebellion against You. Keep us from being stubbornly addicted to our own desires, wants and determinations. Teach us to do Your will and not with the esteem of men, but to be diligent in pleasing You. Lead us in this land of unrighteousness, to do what’s right in every situation for we delight to do Your will. This we pray in Jesus’ Holy name. Amen!
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Thursday, January 17, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Thu, 1/17/2013
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING EVERYONE!
A GAMBLER’S TALE, Lesson 18c
v. 19-20 SAMSON’S WRATH
The Outburst Of His Wrath – Samson has a debt to pay. He doesn’t go out and buy 30 changes of clothes. He doesn’t have them made, he just goes out and kills 30 Philistines in Ashkelon, some 20 miles away, and takes their garments to the men who won his bet in Timnath. It was cruel and it was vindictive, and it was a further indication of Samson’s heart.
Your reactions to the negative actions of the people around you are a window into your heart. When you are like Jesus, you will react like Jesus, (Matt. 5:11-12; 43-48). When there are problems in your heart, you will react according to your fallen nature. You will be bitter, unforgiving, vengeful, hateful and mean-spirited. Our reactions are indeed a window into our souls.
The Outcome Of His Wrath – Samson is so angry that he does not stay to consummate the wedding. He returns to his father’s house and calls the wedding off. What we have here is a “runaway groom”. When the girl’s father sees that Samson has abandoned his daughter, he gives her to one of the 30 men, probably the one who was acting as “best man”.
This event shows us that neither Samson, his prospective father-in-law, nor the “best man” held the marriage vow in high esteem. Samson showed no love and commitment to the woman. The girl’s father didn’t care that he had been given a dowry, or that he had promised his daughter to Samson. The “best man” didn’t care that the girl was promised to another man. This is just another indication that we are dealing with corrupt hearts.
The outcome of anger and wrath is always tragic. That is why God said, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” (Eph. 4:26). That is why the writer of Proverbs said, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly,” (Pro 14:29). And, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression,”( Pro. 19:11).
Anger is dangerous. It destroys friendship and ruins relationships. One man said, “Anger like fire, finally dies out - but only after leaving a path of destruction.”
Anger also reveals who is wrong in a matter. An old, uneducated cobbler used to attend the public debates held at a famous English university. All the debates were held in Latin. A friend asked him if he understood Latin.
“No,” replied the cobbler, “but I know who is wrong in every argument.”
“How,” replied his friend. “Why, by seeing who is angry first.”
The Ordering Of His Wrath – Verse 19 is one of those verses that causes you to think. We know that what Samson did was wrong. It was wrong for him to marry the Philistine girl, but we know God was in it, (v. 4). It was wrong for him to go out and commit murder, but we are told that he did it in the power of the Holy Spirit, (v. 19).
This is just a reminder that our sin will not derail God’s plan. His purposes will be fulfilled. Verse 4 tells us that God “sought an occasion against the Philistines”. Samson was an unclean vessel, yet the Lord used him in spite of, and sometimes, in the midst of, his sins. God even used Samson’s sins to accomplish His Own will. God used the anger of Samson for the good of God’s people. God was determined to stir up strife between Israel and the Philistines. He used Samson’s anger to accomplish His will. I can’t explain all this, but suffice it to say that our God is sovereign over all things, even the sins of humanity.
Regardless of why and how this happened, let it be said that Samson should have been attacking the Philistines for the glory of God and not for revenge. He will receive no reward for his actions here.
Conc: This passage speaks volumes to us about maintaining the condition of our hearts.
We must take care that we do not allow ourselves to flirt with evil.
We must take care that we do not harbor anger, animosity, un-forgiveness and ill will towards others.
We must beware that we do not seek wealth we have not earned.
We must be sure that we maintain tender hearts and keep short accounts with God.
Hebrews 8:10 (New International Version (NIV)
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
“Love One Another”
Stanza1 "Angry words! O let them never From the tongue unbridled slip;
May the heart’s best impulse ever Check them ere they soil the lip."
Love one another, thus said the Savior. Children obey the Father’s blest command.
Love one another, thus said the Savior, tis the blest command.
Stanza 2 "Love is much too pure and holy, Friendship is too sacred far,
For a moment’s reckless folly Thus to desolate and mar."
Stanza 3 "Angry words are lightly spoken, Bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred,
Brightest links of life are broken By a single angry word."
Holy Father, God of Beauty, Blessings, and Bountifulness! As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so it will yield seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so let Your Word be to our minds, hearts and souls. Your Word will not return to You empty, but will accomplish what You desire and achieve the purpose for which you sent it; so let it be with us in our lives that we may glorify You our Father and God. For Your Word we thank You Father. For Jesus our Lord who is the Word we thank You. For Your Spirit that teaches us from Your Word we thank You! This we pray in Jesus’ Mighty name. Amen!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Wed 1/16/2013
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING EVERYONE!
A GAMBLER’S TALE, Lesson 18b
v. 12-18 SAMSON’S WAGER
Samson’s Gall – We have no indication as to what prompted Samson to give the Philistines the riddle in verse 14. It may have been pride. He may have been trying to prove that he was smarter than they were. He may have done it to break the tension at the wedding. These 30 so-called “friends of the bridegroom” were most likely there to guard the people from Samson. Or, it may have simply been a diversion to entertain them during the days of the feast. Apparently, riddles and hard questions were very popular in the ancient world. When the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon, she “came to prove him with hard questions,”(1 Kings 10:1).
Regardless of Samson’s reasons, what strikes me is the callous attitude Samson holds toward his sin. He looks back on an event in his life that showcases his sin and he makes a joke out of it. He looks back at an event that caused him to break his Nazarite vows, and disrespect and defile his parents, and he uses is as the basis for a riddle. That is a window into the heart of Samson!
A person has real spiritual problems when they cease to be affected by their sins. We all sin, (1 John 1:8, 10), but when we sin as believers, there is chastisement and conviction. There is the sense that we have dishonored the Lord and damaged our fellowship with Him. When we sin, we look for a place of repentance. That is absent from Samson’s life.
When that sense of sin is missing, it is an indication that the heart has grown hard toward the Lord. It is an indication that the conscience has been seared. It is an indication that sin has planted deep roots within a life. God help us to maintain a tender heart toward sin. It ought to break our hearts when we sin against the Lord and dishonor His name, His House, His Word or His people! ( Josiah – 2 Kings 22:19, “…thine heart was tender…”). God will judge those with this attitude, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD,” (Jer. 8:12).
Samson’s Greed – Samson’s wager is simple. If the Philistines cannot solve his riddle by the end of the week, they owe him 30 sheets and 30 changes of clothing. If they solve the riddle, Samson owes them the same thing.
The items called “sheets” were soft, expensive linen wraps that were used as underwear. The items called “garments” were outer clothes worn by the wealthy. This was a very expensive bet. It seems that Samson is trying to make a lot of money without having to work for it.
Samson’s wager has all the hallmarks of gambling. He is trying to make a lot with a minimal investment. He is like the thousands who go into the store and spend a few dollars hoping to strike it rich. Gambling is a sin, whether it is a million dollars on a Las Vegas poker table or whether it is a dollar a hole among friends at the golf course.
There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not gamble”. However, the Bible does warn us against the love of money, (1 Tim. 6:10), and it warns us against covetousness, (Heb. 13:5). The Scriptures also warn us to avoid so-called “get rich quick” schemes, (Pro. 13:11; 23:5; Eccl. 5:10). How much better it is to trust the Lord to take care of you than to rest your faith in, and throw your money away on, some gamble.
J.E. Bedenbaugh said this, “My grandmother, a staunch Southern Baptist, had marched me off to Sunday school and church regularly. So when I switched to the Episcopal church after marriage, she challenged me:
‘What's wrong with the Baptist Church, son?’
‘Well,’ I explained, ‘Carole and I flipped a coin to see if we would go to her church or mine, and I lost.’
‘Serves you right,’ said my grandmother. ‘Good Baptists don't gamble."
Mark Twain said, “There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he can't afford it, and when he can.”
Samson’s Gamble – Samson never thought he would lose the bet. He had is weighted in his favor. He just knew those men would be bringing him 30 new suits of clothes. He did not count on the fact that they might not play by his rules.
When they had been unable to solve the riddle after three days, they came to Samson’s bride and forced her to find out the answer to the riddle. They threatened to burn her and her whole family to death if she doesn’t help them. They even accuse her of inviting them there so she could let Samson rob them blind.
Out of fear, the bride does her best to get the answer out of Samson. She accuses him of not loving her because he hasn’t told her the solution to his riddle, (v. 16). When that doesn’t work, she cries, pleads and pouts for the duration of the feast, (v. 17).
This gets on Samson’s nerves. The phrase “lay sore” means “to put in straits; to oppress”. In other words, she wore him down and nearly worried him to death. Not to mention the fact that she was ruining the party.
There’s only so much a man can take, even if he is the strongest man in the world. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon talked about the problem of a whining spouse,(Pro. 27:15; 21:19; 25:24), and Solomon would have known! Anyway, Samson tells her the solution and she runs to tell his enemies. They come to him at the last moment and give him the answer. He immediately knows how they found out, because he told no one but his wife. I love his response in verse 18. He calls her a “heifer” because she has proven to be unpredictable and stubborn.
Had Samson been more discerning, he could have avoided this problem altogether. He should not have been involved with a Philistine woman. He should not have been playing games with the enemy. Because he refused to keep his distance, he paid a high price.
Samson is like a lot of people in our world today. They are so smart and discerning when it comes to so many things in life, yet they seem so dumb when it comes to their sins. The perils they face are obvious, but they seem oblivious to them. It is a form of willful ignorance, and it will be their ultimate destruction.
1 Samuel 16:7 (New International Version (NIV)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
“Years I Spent In Vanity” By: William H. Newell (1893)
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
Almighty Father, God of Adoration, Atonement, and Assurance. Help us to always walk so closely with You that we never fail to recognize the prompting of Your Spirit to our souls. Enable us not only to identify it, but also to never ignore it. Help us to trust and act upon Your encouragements about the details of our lives. Grant us peace in our spirit so we can hear Your instructions to our hearts above all the noises of life. Keep us from becoming dull of hearing and hardness of heart so we can stay attuned to You and in the way. Teach us to be HEARERS and DOERS of the Word. This we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Tue, 1/15/2013
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING EVERYONE!
A GAMBLER’S TALE, Lesson 18a
In our last glimpse into Samson’s life, we saw a man who little respect for the will of God for his life. He goes to Timnath, which was in Philistine territory, and there he sees a woman that he wants to marry, (v. 1). He demands that his parents get her for him, (v. 2). They try their best to discourage Samson from marrying this forbidden, Gentile woman, but Samson will settle for no one else, (v. 3).
His parents give into Samson’s demands and make the arrangements for the marriage. On their first trip to Timnath, Samson kills a lion in a vineyard, (v. 6). Samson revealed his low esteem for the things of God by being in a vineyard in the first place. On their second trip, Samson goes to look at the carcass of the lion, (v. 8). He finds bee hive in the carcass and he eats some of the honey and gives some to his parents, (v. 9).
Not only did Samson show little regard for his Nazarite vow, he actually violated that vow, and told no one about what he had done. Samson is a man headed for trouble. He is a warning to all those who like to skate near the edge. He is a warning to those who love to see what they can get away with.
I would remind you that our vows to God are sacred! He expects us to fulfill them. He expects us to live for Him at all times, (1 Pet. 1:16). He expects us, not only to not flirt with evil,( 2 Cor. 6:17), but to actively pursue that which is righteous, (1 Pet. 3:8-12).
In this passage we will look at the events that occurred when Samson and his family arrived in Timnath for the wedding. We will see that this wedding was not the joyous event everyone expected. We will see that it was a time of arguments, threats, crying and killing.
I want to teach the events mentioned in these verses. I want you to see that there is a price to pay when we wander from the path of righteousness and gamble with our testimonies. Let’s notice these events together as we look at “A Gambler’s Tale”.
v. 10-11 SAMSON’S WEDDING
The Tradition Involved – Verse 10 tells us that Samson and his family provided a wedding feast. This indicates that they were wealthy people. To be able to provide a feast for all those in attendance that last some 7 days would have been very expensive.
Our text also says that “for so used the young men to do”. This tells us that the events surrounding this wedding were carried out according to the customs of the day. Let me mention a few of those traditions.
The groom and his family were responsible for the expense of the feast. The lavishness of the feast was to be a reflection of their wealth.
The wedding was to be arranged by the groom’s family. Part of this involved the giving of a dowry to the Bride’s parents to compensate them for the loss of their daughter and for their loss of a worker in the home.
A period of time would begin then called the betrothal period. This usually lasted about 1 year.
During that time, the bridegroom would prepare a place for the couple to live. The bride would take this time to prepare her wedding wardrobe and to get ready for the arrival of the groom.
At an unannounced hour, usually at night, the bridegroom would come for his bride. He would arrange for a feast to be ready. He would take his friends and go after his bride. He would come at an unexpected hour, and his arrival would be preceded by shouting and trumpet blasts. The bridegroom would then take his bride home, where the marriage would be consummated.
That’s how things usually went. Samson’s wedding was a little different. Since he was a Jew marrying a Gentile, he brought no guests with him. It appears that the “thirty companions” mentioned in verse 11 were provided for him by the bride’s family. Also, he did not come to take the bride back for the wedding feast; the feast would be prepared at her home. Other than that, this wedding was to be a traditional wedding.
The Typology Involved – While I could never see Samson as a type of Jesus Christ, I cannot think about a wedding and the ancient traditions surrounding weddings, without thinking of the Lord Jesus and His bride, the CHURCH. Let me take just a moment to reflect on what the Lord Jesus will do one day.
He made the first trip and arranged the marriage. He cancelled the debts of His Bride, purchased her unto Himself, gave her His boundless love along with many other amazing gifts, the Spirit indwelling, the church, spiritual gifts, His presence, His providence, etc.
He returned to His house to prepare a place for His Bride, (John 14:1).
When the time is right, He will return to claim His bride. His coming will be preceded by shouting and trumpet blasts, (1 Thes. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:51). He will come in the clouds above the earth, call up His Bride, and take her to His home in Heaven.
When she arrives there, she will be cleansed from her journey at the Judgment Seat of Christ; she will be clothed in fine linen garments; she will be treated to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and she will spend eternity with the Lord Who loved her, saved her and rescued her, (Rev. 19:7-9)!
Thank God, that is what is waiting on us!
The Temptation Involved – The word “feast” in verse 10 refers to a “feast involving wine”. This feast is held in enemy territory and it involves at least 30 wicked men. In other words, Samson had no business being at this feast. As a Nazarite, He was to be separated “unto” the Lord all the days he lived, (Jud. 13:3-5). Samson seemed to enjoy gambling with his testimony. He was a poor witness to the Lord he claimed to serve.
Sadly, it is not a stretch to think of Samson drinking wine with the enemy. After all, he journeyed through a vineyard on the way to Timnath, (v. 5). He defiled himself by touching a dead body and eating honey that came from the carcass of a lion, (v. 8-9). He is about to go through with a God-forbidden marriage.
The whole point of that is this: once you cross the line and get friendly with sin, it will not be many days until you begin to indulge your desires in ways you never believed you would. Sin has a way of spreading in your life. It is like leprosy in the Old Testament, (Lev. 13:8). Sin will spread and it will grow.
Unforgiveness will turn into a root of bitterness that will consume you, an evil act that is allowed to exist in your life will become a habit you will find hard to break. A little slackness tolerated here and there in your spiritual life will cause you to become unfaithful to the church, the Lord and the Word. Once that line is crossed, it becomes easier and easier to go ever deeper into evil.
Romans 10:15 (New International Version (NIV)
15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
“How Shall The Young Secure Their Hearts?” By Isaac Watts (1719)
How shall the young secure their hearts
And guard their lives from sin?
Thy Word the choicest rules imparts
To keep the conscience clean.
2. When once it enters to the mind,
It spreads such light abroad
The meanest souls instruction find
And raise their thoughts to God.
3. Tis like the sun, a heavenly light,
That guides us all the day,
And through the dangers of the night
A lamp to lead our way.
4. The men that keep Thy Law with care
And meditate Thy Word
Grow wiser than their teachers are
And better know the Lord.
5. Thy precepts make me truly wise:
I hate the sinner's road;
I hate my own vain thoughts that rise,
But love Thy Law, my God.
6. The starry heavens Thy rule obey,
The earth maintains her place;
And these Thy servants, night and day,
Thy skill and power express.
7. But still Thy Law and Gospel, Lord,
Have lessons more divine;
Not earth stands firmer than Thy Word,
Nor stars so nobly shine.
8. Thy Word is everlasting truth;
How pure is every page!
That holy Book shall guide our youth
And well support our age.
Sovereign Father, God of Help, Holiness, and Heaven! Help us to hear Your voice speaking to us when we read Your Word and when You speak to our hearts through Your Word, so we can recognize your voice when it speaks to us at other times. Enable us to understand when You give us specific direction so we may move on what You are leading us to do. Grant us the tongue of the learned so we may speak to others that know not Jesus. Teach us to hear Your voice and to follow Your leading in our lives. This we ask and pray in Jesus’ marvelous name. Amen!
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