** AUDIO MISSING – Will provide transcript soon **
Last week we began our series on Samson called “Potential Wrapped in Humanity”. Samson is one of the more well known Old Testament characters even though his recorded life consists of only 4 chapters and half a dozen short stories. But it’s his overwhelming power that makes him noticeable. And it’s his utter failure and redemption that makes him memorable. In chapter 13 we saw the announcement around his birth and studied up on the Nazarite vow. We saw that Samson was going to be set apart for God from the time he entered this world, but no matter what his upbringing or the situation he was placed into, eventually Samson had to choose whether or not to follow God. Today as we get into chapters 14 & 15 we start to see his humanity overshadow some of that potential.
To understand the culture Samson was raised in you need to know a little bit of historical background:
· For a period of a couple hundred years between the death of Joshua and the reign of king Saul, God raised up a series of Judges to keep Israel from being completely overrun.
· But because of their disobedience, God allowed other countries to invade and conquer portions of their land.
· The Philistines inhabited the area of Gaza. At this time in history they pushed into Israel and took over the inheritance of Dan along with some of Judah and Benjamin. Dan moved to the north.
· The confusing thing about the Old Testament is that we expect the books of the Bible and the stories in them to be in chronological order, but that isn’t always the case. If we want to find out what happened between the birth of Samson and the time when our story picks up in Judges 14, we first need to look at 1 Samuel chapter 4.
· The high priest Eli died
· Samuel had already been recognized as one who had authority but now is the only spiritual leader
· For 7 months the Philistines had the ark but it caused death and outbreaks of tumors on the inhabitants of any city it resided in. They took it back to Israel with an offering in tow.
· For the next 20 years, the tribes of Israel accepted the rule of the Philistines over the SW portions of their land until Samuel leads them to defeat the Philistines in 1 Samuel, chapter 7. It was around the time of the Philistines defeating Israel and capturing the ark that Samson’s adult life of a one-man insurrection begins. And after his death and after he weakens their rule, the Israelites are able to rise up against them and drive them out.
Now with quite a bit of history concerning the state of Israel at the time of Samson, we need to take a look at his choices along his life as a one-man insurrection. In reading Judges, chapter 14, we’re going to see a few stories that illustrate the pride & arrogance of a man that was still used greatly by God. Outside of Him telling us it’s so that God is glorified rather than man, we can’t completely understand why God chooses to use us – sinful, flawed people – to accomplish His will. What we do know is that even when we make bad choices in life, God can still make good come from them. Sometimes the good comes because of our repentance and sometimes completely in spite of ourselves. The final question for each of us today is whether or not we want God to work through us in obedience or in spite of our sin.
1 Samuel 4: 3-11
Judges 14: 1-14
Judges 14: 17-20