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Men For The Hour - Part 13

"Samson, The Broken Vows"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2006 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Turn in our Bibles for our scripture reading just now from Judges chapter 14, Judges chapter 14 - and if you're new to us here in the Iron Hall today, we have been travelling through a journey, looking at the characters of the judges within the book of Judges in the Old Testament. We're almost at the end of that journey, we're looking at the last character, the last Judge - at least in the book of Judges - that is brought and presented to us, and it's the character of Samson. Last Sunday morning we looked at 'Samson, The Promising Start', and this morning in chapter 14 we're going to look at 'Samson, The Broken Vows'.

Why should it be in Samson's life that, with such a promising start, he messes it all up? Why should it be in our lives that with God on our side and all the blessings of God for us, that we should hit so many spiritual dead ends and come to nothing?

Verse 1 of chapter 14: "And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments: But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it. And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so? And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee? And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people. And the men of the city said unto 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 unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house. But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend". Amen, and we know that the Lord will bless the reading of His own truth.

Right away we have a lesson here: when God chooses a man, or indeed chooses a woman, He sets them apart for Himself like Samson. Here was a young man set apart to overcome the enemy

Now we saw last week in our study of chapter 13 that Samson was a man of God, a Judge raised in Israel who started off with a promising start. We found that out as we looked under a couple of points that were illustrated for us in that chapter. First of all, we found out that Samson was a child of promise. In other words, first of all he had a miraculous birth. His mother was barren, she was infertile, but God miraculously in a supernatural way allowed her to give birth to Samson because the nation needed a deliverer. Then we saw that he was a child of promise in the sense that he had many many blessings, he was born with great potential and prospect. If you turn back for a moment in chapter 13 and verse 5 we read that the Angel said: 'For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines'. So right before his conception God had promised, through the Angel, that this would be the man who would begin to deliver Israel from the iron fist of the Philistines. In verse 24 we read also that 'the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him'. As far as I'm aware, that's the only Judge that it is said that God blessed them.

So, this was a child of promise, and that's why Samson had a promising start. He had great prospects and potential for God. We saw added to that fact was the family background that he had, and we found out in chapter 13 that he had very godly parents. They were parents who prayed for him, they also sought guidance from God regarding his upbringing. We saw that they cherished the presence of Christ in their home, they asked the Angel of the presence of the Lord to stay with them, and they brought offerings and sacrifices to the Lord - they were a couple, parents who feared God. So that added to Samson's promising start - not only his miraculous birth, and his many blessings, but the godly parents that brought him into the world and brought him up.

Then we saw that he was set aside as holy unto the Lord right from before his birth, for he was to be a Nazarite, the Angel told Manoah's wife. There were three vows that a Nazarite was under: first, his hair was to remain uncut; secondly, he was to refrain from the fruit of the vine; and thirdly, he was to touch no dead thing. We saw last week that that was the secret of Samson's strength: his separation from the world. We see that right early in his life, he is promising and showing great prospect because he actually proves himself in the service of the Lord in his own home environment. God's power had come upon him, verse 25 of chapter 13, if you read it: 'The Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol'. Great potential, great prospects, a child of promise in his miraculous birth, his many blessings, he had a background of having godly parents who brought him into the world and brought him up, he was set apart as holy by God and by his parents, and right at the beginning of his ministry - if you like - he is proving himself in great Holy Ghost service for the Lord.

Some of us have had the family prospect and promising start of godly parents. They have brought us up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, yet how far short have we fallen from what God has planned and intended us to be?

Right away we have a lesson here: when God chooses a man, or indeed chooses a woman, He sets them apart for Himself like Samson. Here was a young man set apart to overcome the enemy. However, the tragedy was that Samson's enemy and God's enemy overcame him. We learnt last week that Samson means 'sunlight', or 'sunny', and this young man ended his life in darkness, blinded by the enemy that he was supposed to conquer. We might well ask the question: how could someone like Samson, with such promise, such potential and prospect in life, descend to such a pathetic shadow of the man that God intended him to be? That is a valid question, but we might well ask the same question of ourselves, because last Sunday morning we saw that we - as Christians in the New Testament era - we mirror many of the promises, the prospects and potential that Samson had in his early years. We are in Christ, we saw from Ephesians 1 and verse 3 that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We couldn't have a better start - and some of us, even in this congregation this morning as well as last Sunday morning, have had the family prospect and promising start of godly parents. They have brought us up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, yet how far short have we fallen from what God has planned and intended us to be? Why should it be in Samson's life that, with such a promising start, he messes it all up? Why should it be in our lives that with God on our side and all the blessings of God for us, that we should hit so many spiritual dead ends and come to nothing?

Well, the simple answer is found in our title this morning: broken vows. Samson was under the vow of the Nazarite, and we saw from Deuteronomy 23:21 last week that when you utter a vow to God, you have to keep it, or God considers it sin. Another passage on vows is found in Ecclesiastes 5 verses 1 to 5, verse 2 says: 'Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few'. Verse 4: 'When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay'.

Now vows, generally speaking in the Old Testament, were voluntary things - but Samson's was not. God had chosen Samson as a Nazarite before his birth, that meant that after he was separated from his mother's womb he was to be set apart unto God. It was through this separation and the vows of consecration that the power of God would rest upon him in fullness, and God would begin to deliver His people from the Philistines. Now Samson did not make the vows himself. We might well say: 'Well, that's not a bit fair. Why should Samson be held to something that he did not do of his own volition, that God imposed upon him?'. We need to see it as a great privilege: Samson had the greater privilege of being handpicked by God, being set apart for God's use.

Many people who trust Christ fail to see this: they praise God for being set free from the bondage of their sinful habits and the prospect of judgment in hell, but they think that they're now free to do whatever they like - that's not the case

Now my friends, I want you to see the stark reality of the parallels that are in the Christian life here - they're staring us in the face and we need to see them. As Ephesians 1 verse 3 says, like Samson and his promising start, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, everything is going for us; in the same way, Ephesians 1 and verse 4 tells us that we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. We have been handpicked as Christians for God, and the reason Ephesians 1 verse 4 gives us is that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. The privilege of God's grace towards the Christian means that we have been chosen of God out of a world that is dying and damned, and we are set apart to be servants of God in holiness and separation from the world. Once we were slaves to sin, but God has taken us from being slaves to sin to servants of His holiness. But what many believers fail to recognise is this, and I want you to hear this this morning: is that you're either a slave to sin, or you're a servant of God - there's no in between. You're either one or the other. Many people who trust Christ fail to see this: they praise God for being set free from the bondage of their sinful habits and the prospect of judgment in hell, but they think that they're now free to do whatever they like - that's not the case. You now have the privilege, and I want to put it in a positive light, a privilege of being a servant of God - but you're not free to do as you like. As Paul put it in Corinthians, 'Ye are not your own'.

We have, in other words, obligations to God - a bit like vows. We have been set apart for God's use, and if we do not honour our vows of separation, just like Samson we will have no power, personally, in our Christian life - and corporately we will become useless in the hands of God for His service. We end up not living for the purpose and the intention that God's grace has chosen us, and set us apart for - we are wasted, shipwrecked, useless, disqualified for God. Let me just say that many of the points that I'll be hitting on this morning apply to all age groups in our gathering, but particularly to young people - because Samson was a young person here in chapter 14, and many of his experiences you will face, young people, as you go through life. The choices that you will make will greatly affect your spiritual life, just as it did Samson's.

So let's embark upon our study this morning, chapter 14, looking first of all at verses 1 to 4. We see here that his downward spiral of breaking his consecration to God started when he rebelled against his parents. Now, if you're a parent here this morning, you will know that you live daily with a thousand fears of the life choices your children may or may not make - especially today when parental control is largely breaking down. We've even got to the stage, in Europe at least, where if a parent doesn't comply to the child's wishes, they could end up in court! Now, don't forget that Samson's day is not a million miles away from our day - chapter 21 verse 25 tells us that 'Every man did that which was right in his own eyes', because there was no king, no law or restraining force in Israel. We could translate that for our purposes this morning: 'Every child does that which is right in their own eyes', there's no restraint. That was Samson's primary problem in the home, and it's a problem in the home even today.

We read that, as the Lord Jesus' return comes nearer, 2 Timothy 3 verses 1 and 2 tell us that 'in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy'. This rebellion in Samson's life was evidenced first of all in his demanding attitude. In verse 2: 'he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife'. In verse 2 he says 'I have seen', and then he says later 'she pleaseth me well', and in verse 3 your margin should read that it means 'she is right in my eyes'. 'I've seen a girl, and she's right in my eyes, therefore get her for me!' - you see that he's telling his parents what to do, he's not asking them for permission.

That is the mark of a materialistic, or a hedonistic society, a society that is drunk on pleasure, a society that has rejected the rule and reign of God. What you see in society is reflected in individual lives in cameo, and we see people living like this: they are living by sight and not by faith...

Is that not the spirit of the age today? Young people, and not just young people, what they see with their eyes and their heart's desire, they take with their hands - 'If I want it, I'll have it. If it feels right, it looks right, it satisfies me; well, then I'm going to take it to myself'. That is the mark of a materialistic, or a hedonistic society, a society that is drunk on pleasure, a society that has rejected the rule and reign of God. What you see in society is reflected in individual lives in cameo, and we see people living like this: they are living by sight and not by faith. What they see, what they feel, they're living a sensual existence - and this was Samson's problem. In the home he was rebelling against his parents, and it's seen in his demanding attitude where he saw this woman - he began to walk by sight and not faith. As we go through Samson's life, we find that his eyes where one of his biggest problems. He couldn't control his eyes, he lusted with his eyes, he was guided by his eyes rather than the law of the Lord.

We see it in chapter 14 verse 1: 'I have seen', he had seen a woman in Timnath. When we turn to chapter 16 and verse 1, 'Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her'. Verse 21 of chapter 16: 'But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house'. His eyes were his problem, and eventually his eyes would become his downfall and he would lose all sight because of his sin through the eyes. I don't know whether you've noticed, you're definitely blind if you haven't, that we live in a voyeuristic world. You only have to look at things like 'Big Brother', and how people are obsessed with looking into the lives, the personal lives of other people - voyeurism. Satan, the Bible has told us, it is his age-old tactic to use eye-gate more than perhaps anything else to entice and seduce us to sin. The proliferation of pornography everywhere is a case in point regarding that.

Well, Samson had great physical strength, at times he had great spiritual strength as the power of God came upon him - but when it came to women he had no strength, he had no control over his fleshly appetites. Now young people, listen to what I'm saying, and I want to address this in a delicate way: the sexual urge is something very, very strong. If you do not control it, it will control you! Proverbs 6 and 27 tells us: 'Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?'. Many young people and older people today are ignited, completely consumed by lust - and I would say it's perhaps harder to protect yourself and be pure in this society today than it has ever been. I wonder have you got eye trouble? Well, 'eye trouble' is only the symptom of 'I trouble' - because Samson's prime problem was that he was not living to please the Lord, he wasn't even living to please his parents, he was living to please himself. It's seen in this demanding attitude: 'I have seen, she pleases me, she's right in my eyes, get her for me!'.

Then secondly, his rebellion against his parents is seen in the unequal yoke, verse 3. His father and mother said: 'Is there not a woman among the daughters of your brothers, among all the people who you can take a wife? Why do you have to go to the uncircumcised Philistines?'. Now how many times has this scene been repeated in Christian homes down through the years? 'Mum, Dad, I've seen a girl, I want to marry her'. 'Great!', the parents say, 'Where does she worship?'. 'She doesn't'. 'She doesn't? When did she become a Christian?'. 'She's not'. 'Doesn't the Bible say, son...'. 'I don't care what the Bible says! We're in love, and it doesn't matter what you say, what the Bible says, I'm going to marry her!'.

Now how many times has this scene been repeated in Christian homes down through the years?

Here Samson is in the same situation - maybe you're finding yourself in it as a parent. Well, there's nothing much you can do my friend, only pray. Samson's parents reasoned with him from the Scriptures, 'Is there not somebody of your own people?' - and you can reason from the Scriptures with your children, 2 Corinthians 6:14, talk about the unequal yoke, believers having fellowship with unbelievers - but the answer that came back from Samson is the answer that often comes back from our young people: 'Get her for me, she pleaseth me!'.

Now young person, talking to you now: if you have got to the stage where reasoning from the Scriptures with you is a waste of time, you're on Samson's slippery slope. You're not listening to God's word and verses that are quoted, you're on the downward spiral. You present the Scriptures to many, especially young people today, and the answer they give you is: 'So what? Everybody's doing that now, even Christians are doing it - I'm going to do it, whatever you say, whatever you do'. I ask you young person: is that reasonable, to give answers like that to God's word? Are you just going to go ahead even if it hurts your parents, even if it hurts God? Now go right ahead and do it, you're free to do whatever you like - but don't say that it's of God. You see, that's what many people are doing: they're actually bringing God and incriminating Him in the sins that they're committing against Him.

Now somebody will turn round and say to me: 'Well, doesn't verse 4 say in this passage that God was in this unequal yoke with Samson? God allowed this to happen, Samson was looking for an occasion against the enemy'. Now look at verse 4: 'But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines'. I often hear this said from Christians, they say: 'I went out with a non-Christian, and they got converted, it must have been God's will', or 'I left my wife and I married a non-Christian, and they eventually got saved, God moves in mysterious ways' - well, He really does, doesn't he?! In code, what they're saying is this: 'This was of God's will to do what I did, because the outcome was desirable for me' - do you know what that is? That is pragmatism, and it's not found in the Scriptures, it is 'the end justifies the means'. Paul spoke against it when he said in Romans 3:8: 'Shall we say, Let us do evil, that good may come?'.

Samson's story, like the rest of the Scriptures, teaches us that the only way we can help the lost world is with the power of God in our lives

How many are saying today: 'But by doing this as a Christian, and going here as a Christian, and experiencing this as a Christian, it helps me to relate to the unconverted and non-Christian world'? My friend, you're missing the point: Samson's story, like the rest of the Scriptures, teaches us that the only way we can help the lost world is with the power of God in our lives. The only way we can have the power of God in our lives is through separation from that same world, and separation unto God. So what does verse 4 mean then? Well, when it says: 'He sought', 'Father and mother knew not that he sought an occasion against the Philistines', the 'he', I believe is speaking of God and not Samson. Do you know what that means? Even though Samson was rebelling against God's influence in his life with a demanding attitude and an unequal yoke in the face of his parents and the Almighty, God would still have His way. Rebelling young person in the meeting this morning, this is the lesson that you need to see: don't you think you're going to be able to defy God by the choices that you make, and just get away with it without any consequence. In fact, the more you run away from God, all you're doing is hurting yourself rather than submitting to God's will. Like Samson, God's going to have to take you up a rough road to show you the hard way! Parents, if your child has taken the wrong way, take heart - because this is wonderful: the Lord is not limited to your children's wrong choices. Hallelujah! Does that not give you hope? The lesson here is that when God is not allowed to rule, He overrules! We'll see how a little bit later.
 
Then we see secondly that Samson's downward spiral of broken vows took another step down when he renounced his vows in verses 5 to 9. He rebelled against his parents, and then he renounces his vows. Now we read that when Samson and his parents went down to Timnath to make arrangements for the marriage, Samson appears to have gone off the road on his own away from his parents, and he went on a detour into the vineyards - and there, we read, a lion attacked him. Now a vineyard is a dangerous place for a man who's not supposed to have anything to do with grapes, and I just wonder did God send this lion across his path to warn him that he was on the wrong path? I wonder have you taken the wrong road, and there have been lions come across your way to tell you that you're going the wrong direction? You're flying close to the wind, and God is trying to tell you tenderly, but you're not having it! So God's going to have to be a little bit more severe.

We read that weeks later Samson returned to claim his bride the same way, and he turned aside again to the vineyard - and I wonder was he turning aside to gloat over his victory over this lion that he tore apart like a young goat? Now he had already been defiled by going into the vineyard as a Nazarite, and now the Bible tells us he sees in the carcass of the lion a bees' nest with honey in it. He reaches in - he's not meant to touch dead things - and he touches it, and he eats of the honey. Then he takes the honey home and gives it to his parents, and doesn't tell them it's defiled food. Now, here's the lesson: Samson renounced his vow of separation without actually renouncing it - did you get that? Samson renounced it without actually renouncing it - you go through this passage, you'll not find one place where he says: 'I'm going to start drinking wine now, I'm going to cut my hair, I'm going to start touching dead things'. It came gradually, subtly, in a deceiving way. I'm sure if you had stopped him and said: 'Samson, are you a Nazarite?', he would have stood up tall and proud in his strength and said: 'I am' - but do you know something? His life was a shambles!

I just wonder did God send this lion across his path to warn him that he was on the wrong path? I wonder have you taken the wrong road, and there have been lions come across your way to tell you that you're going the wrong direction?

There are many Christians and, like Samson, as far as anybody knows they're still obedient to their dedication and obligations to God - yet the inner symbols of their consecration are null and void, they're gone! Samson began to value his consecration to God less and less, he became comfortable with his broken vows without actually articulating it with his mouth. This doesn't just apply to young people, my friend, this part really applies to more mature folk. I hear them saying from time to time, very wisely: 'Oh, I used to believe that doctrine', or 'I used to take my stand against those things', or 'I used to be more dogmatic', or 'I used to be more fanatical, but I have mellowed and I just don't see things the way I used to see them'. Do you know why you don't? Because the Philistines have put your eyes out! You've got too close to the world, and the world's got too close to you. Sometimes I feel like saying to older folk who say those things: '...and you also used to know more blessing! And used to see more souls saved, more lives touched, more answers to prayer!' - but you see, the secret to power is consecration and separation from the world and to God.

A lot of people in Ulster get one half but not the other, they separate from the world and they think that's what it is to be holy: 'Don't do this, don't do that, don't do the other'. Separation is not just from something, it is unto something - and it's useless unless you're separated completely and concentrated unto God. His first spiral down in broken vows was rebelling against his parents, then he renounced his vows by going into the vineyard, by touching the dead thing - later on, of course, he got his hair cut, and we find that later in our studies.

Thirdly, here's another step downward: he made a joke of his behaviour, verses 10 to 14. Now I don't know about you, but I love a good laugh. It's healthy, at times, to laugh at yourself, and even laugh at Christians - believe it or not! But humour is often a mechanism whereby, when we can't face something face-to-face, we laugh at it and joke about it. There is a problem, as a Christian, if we start to joke about sin, if we poke fun at those who are trying to avoid sin and live holy lives, if we start to accept the world's caricature of what a Christian is, and we start to agree with them about how we view Christians - that's a problem.

Now, I would have to say there are some people - sometimes young people, not always - who can't be serious about anything. I would have to say there's something wrong with someone who has to joke about everything around them and everything in the church. There are some people who just need to grow up, they need to take their sin seriously and start to take their consecration to God seriously. This was a sign of Samson's backsliding: he treated his sin and the vows of holiness that were upon him flippantly. He talked about his faults and his backslidings frivolously. We see him at this wedding feast, perhaps, and he gives this riddle as an offering to his thirty companions. He says to them: 'If you get it right, you'll get thirty complete outfits, and if you don't get it, then I'll get the thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes'.

The riddle is found in verse 14, if you look at it - it's simple when you know the answer! 'Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness', of course the eater is the lion, and out of it came the food - that is, the honey - and out of the strong lion came forth the sweetness of the honey. In verses 15 to 18, when the men failed to guess, they went to Samson's wife and said: 'Persuade him to tell us, or we'll burn your father's home and all your family and your possessions'. She went and hounded him and nagged him, and eventually he gave up the answer. In verses 19 and 20 we see that Samson lost the deal, and he had to go and kill thirty men to get the clothes.

Here's a man who has rebelled against God's influence coming from his parents, here is a man who has renounced his vows by his actions, here is a man who is starting to joke about his sinful behaviour - and where is it leading to?

Now what are we seeing here? Here's a man who has rebelled against God's influence coming from his parents, here is a man who has renounced his vows by his actions, here is a man who is starting to joke about his sinful behaviour - and where is it leading to? He thinks he's leading away from God's will - now God, we will see, is getting him exactly, in a sense, where He can use him again; but not in the blessing that He wants to give him. We find that this sin is leading to more anxiety, more agony, more tragedy in the life of this man Samson. He feasts with the Philistines, he associates with them more and more on a social basis. He begins to play riddles with them, and all the while, what is he disclosing? Not his strength as a man of God, but his weakness as a sinner!

Listen to me this morning, whatever age you are: if you are more comfortable with the people of this world, doing what they do in worldly pleasures and so on and so forth, and you aren't meeting with God's people and doing the holy things of God's church - I say to you: you've lost your consecration. It's gone! It will lead inevitably to further sin and further disgrace. Samson should have been out making war with the Philistines, but he was drinking wine with the Philistines, he was having a feast - and the only thing that could get him going to fight them was when his personal interests were at stake, and it was a spirit of vindictiveness that got him to get on his feet and to go and slay them. No longer was he fighting to uphold the glorious name of the Lord, but he was fighting to fulfil his own will.

He rebelled against his parents, renounced his vows and made a joke of his behaviour - but I want you to see finally: the Lord had the last laugh. You see, when God, as I've said, isn't permitted to rule in our lives, He overrules and He works His will out regardless of our decisions. See it: God used this event to give Samson occasion to attack the enemy. He was going down to marry her, to bring them into his family, but because of this event and the sour way it went, Samson ends up in verse 19 of chapter 14 killing thirty men. Then in chapter 15, the first five verses, we find that he burns up the enemy crops and he slaughters a great number of Philistines in verses 7 and 8; in verse 15 of chapter 15 we see that he slays a thousand men. Now Samson hadn't planned these things, but God worked them out just the same. My friend, you cannot run away from God, especially if you're a child of God! You try and do it your way, God will have His way, He will have the last laugh - the only tragedy will be: you will lose even what you thought you were going to gain in the world. For, when Samson returned, he lost the wife that he'd left his home for, and it was his companion who took her.

There's a wee verse in Proverbs says: 'The way of the transgressor is hard'. You know, we often apply that to people who aren't saved in the Gospel meeting, but it's of double force to the true child of God who has chosen to desecrate a life that was once consecrated to the Lord. Have you made your vows to God in some meeting, some altar call, some decision? 'Lord, I'll give you my life, I'm saved but I'm going to give you my life, I'm going to live for You, I'm going to go wherever You tell me to go, I'm going to do whatever You tell me to do' - if you're not going to pay that vow, shut your mouth and don't say it! Because God could have His way, even if you change your mind. Now God is a gracious God, my friend, don't let me make you think this morning that He's a severe God - He's not. But if you have uttered your voice to God, and you have broken those vows, my friend, God will have the last laugh.

As a Christian, are you going to work with God or are you going to work against God? Either way, He will work what He wants - the big question is: whose side will you be on? Samson had his broken vows, what a promising start - where is your consecration today? Is it still on the altar, or does it need to be put there again?

Our Father, we thank You for choosing us in Christ, lavishing us with blessings. Lord, we thank You that we have been set apart and sanctified in the Saviour to be of the Master's use. But Lord, how often do we get sidetracked? How often do we renounce our vows without uttering an audible renunciation of them? How often do we do touch dead things? How often do we drink of the pleasures of the world? How often are we walking around, and our outward signs of consecration are there, but our life internally is a shambles in Your sight? Lord, forgive us, have mercy upon us. We have so much going for us in Christ, and yet indiscipline in our lives, unrestraint, flying close to the wind makes us devoid of divine power. Lord, may Your power rest afresh upon us all today, as we reconsecrate and rededicate our lives to You. For the glory of Christ we pray, Amen.

Don't miss part 14 of 'Men For The Hour': 'Samson, The Vengeful Victor'Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
February 2006
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the thirteenth recording in his 'Men For The Hour' series, entitled "Samson, The Broken Vows" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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