Samson Part 5: Real Power
by Sophia Prinsloo with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
Pete didn't feel good about himself. Everything seemed to be going wrong. The other kids at school made fun of him for being too short and for being so bad at sports. He could barely catch a ball. On top of that, all the kids knew he couldn't stand the sight of spiders so, to add to his torment, they repeatedly tried to scare him with a toy spider. Each time they surprised him with a rubber spider, his face froze with fear and he screamed at the top of his lungs, leaving the other students in stitches.
At times Pete tried to fight back. He'd lash out at his tormenters but that always ended in disaster. Afterwards, he'd feel even worse than before. It got so bad that Pete was thinking of taking his own life. That was until Fred befriended him. His new friend opened his eyes so he could see there were still people who cared about him and enjoyed his company. Fred also told him about the great love Jesus had for him. He explained that God had a purpose for his life and would love for him to fulfill that plan.
Poor Samson! He was now helplessly caught in the trap Delilah and the Philistines set for him. Gone was his long hair, gone was his supernatural strength, gone was his dignity and gone was his freedom. To make matters worse, the Philistine soldiers had poked out his eyes so he couldn't see anymore. Try as he might, he was no longer able to free himself from the bonds of the Philistines. "How did I get myself in such a mess?" he asked. It was all because he hadn't taken his relationship with God seriously enough. Instead, he had silenced his conscience repeatedly, sinning time and time again. Many times he got away with his sin but not this time. This time he was stuck.
With empty eye sockets throbbing with pain, and wrists and ankles aching where fetters chafed his skin, Samson was brutally carried away by the Philistines to a prison in Gaza where they locked him up in a cold, damp cell. Every morning, after a miserable breakfast of tasteless bread and smelly water, he was taken to a grain mill and chained to it. There he had to go around and around, doing the work of a donkey, grinding grain into flour for the prison kitchen so they could bake bread for the inmates.
Doing mundane work, going around and around the mill, minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day, gave Samson lots of time to think. By nightfall, every muscle in his body ached from long hours of manual labor. His heart ached more than his aching muscles because he had lost his eyes, he had lost his freedom, he had lost his godly power and he had lost out on God's plan for his life.
Oh, Samson! You got yourself into such a sorry state! Once you killed a lion with your bare hands, but you SINNED by touching its dead body and taking honey from its carcass. Then later, after SINNING with a prostitute, you were trapped. Yet God still helped you free yourself by giving you power to break off the doors of the city gates with their posts and carry the whole works all the way to the top of a hill. But look at you now! You're so weak you can't even break off a prison door to free yourself. Worse yet, you can't even see where the prison doors are.
Once you burned down the Philistines' grain fields, but now you're grinding their grain! Once you killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, but now they're working YOU like a donkey. And don't forget devious, deceitful Delilah!
Why, oh why did you let your passions get the best of you? Why weren't you strong enough to control your flesh? Why did you seek comfort from a woman and not from God? Why did you throw that what was holy before the heathen dogs? Why did you allow a faithless woman to gradually lead you deeper into SIN and rob you of your faith until you could no longer fulfill the purpose God had for your life? Why didn't you listen to the Law of God warning you against touching any evil thing or person? Didn't you know that God is serious about sin?
Oh, wretched man that you are, who will save you from your sins? Repent! Be deeply and thoroughly sorry for touching the unclean, for lusting after faithless women, and for taking lightly the purpose God had for you. Cry out with heartfelt tears, saying, “Lord, please forgive ALL my sins! Forgive me for being so self-confident! Forgive me for being so strong and proud in my own eyes! Forgive me for being disobedient to the leading of your Holy Spirit and for missing the purpose You had for me! Please, help me to believe again!”
Only then will you feel the weight of sin lifted from your shoulders. Only then will faith rise up in your heart again and let you experience God's forgiveness and love permeating your soul, and filling you with inexpressible joy. As you find cleansing, you'll come to realize that you don't really need a woman to fulfill your deepest needs.
You'll understand that God is right there. You'll be able to feel his presence and experience his glory. The angels in heaven will rejoice with you over your change of heart. God, in his grace, won't let his plan for you be hindered. You can be sure that the Lord has his hand on you. Safe and secure, He will never abandon you. He will carry you through, finishing what he began in your life.
With each passing day, Samson's hair grew longer and longer, but the Philistines didn't even notice. They were far too busy gloating over Samson being in their power, too busy planning a great festival for their god, Dagon, whom they believed had given them victory over Samson and the God of the Israelites.
The foolish Philistines worshipped the Dagon idol instead of the true God, thinking he was the one who gave them cereal crops and the one who gave them the ability to have children. Dagon was an ugly idol with the body of a fish but the head, arms and legs of a man. How crazy can you get? He was as dead as the stone he was made of. He couldn't hear, couldn't see, couldn't feel, and couldn't do a thing to help them. But the foolish Philistines didn't realize that.
The temple that they built for their god Dagon had a long assembly room with balconies across the top. Its roof was held up by two wooden pillars. People usually sat on the balconies so they could have a good view of all that was going on down below.
When everything for the festival was ready, the lords and elite men and women of the Philistines came together in the temple of Dagon. They were all there to celebrate, giving praise and honor to Dagon for Samson's capture by bringing sacrifices to their god. They said, “Samson killed so many of us trying to destroy our nation, but our god Dagon has given him into our hands.” Yet Dagon didn't even hear a thing they were saying or see a thing that was there, because he was just a piece of carved stone.
They called for Samson from the prison and when the people saw him in chains, they cheered and poked fun at him. It was as if the devil himself and all his mob from hell were trying to humiliate Samson, trying to remind him of his sin, his mistakes and his weaknesses. But because his faith grew stronger as his hair got longer, Samson found the insults as harmless as water rolling off a duck's back. Taking his eyes off everything around him, Samson began to focus on God and the purpose He had for him. He had not forgotten how God had called him to deliver the Israelites.
When the celebration was at its height, the half drunk and very merry Philistines decided to make fun of Samson so fetched him from the prison again. Isn't this just how the devil works? He tempted Samson to sin and when Samson was suffering punishment for his sin, Satan trampled on him and mocked him, using the Philistines to carry out his plans. They said, “Samson, put on a show for us! Show off what you can do!”
With a young boy holding his hand, leading the way, they made Samson stand between two pillars that held up the roof so everyone in the assembly room could have full view of his performance. He tightened his fists, flexing and bulging his muscles as if he were competing in a body building championship.
The people mocked him, saying, “Ha, Samson! You have such big muscles, but you fell for a weak woman! You're no better than us! Now we've got you just where we want.” Yet, while the Philistines thought Samson was putting on a show for them, he was actually testing and warming up his muscles. When he felt ready, Samson stopped to speak with the young boy who led him around: “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the roof so I can lean on them.”
By then, the whole temple was filled with people. The five Philistine leaders were there, as well as three thousand men and woman, all gloating and praising Dagon for Samson's capture. Then, with outstretched arms and his hands leaning against the pillars, Samson prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord God, remember me and strengthen me one more time so I can pay them back what they deserve for putting out my eyes.”
Believing God to strengthen him, Samson pushed against the pillars, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other, bending his body and flexing his muscles with all his might. Slowly the pillars gave way, cracking and screeching as they moved. The half-drunk Philistines thought maybe they had drunk too much wine but then they realized it was for real — the floors beneath them were actually moving.
Men and women began screaming at the top of their lungs, trying to run for their lives while Samson uttered one last prayer to God: “Let me die with these Philistines.” Of course, whether he lived or died was completely up to the Lord, not Samson.
The roof of the temple came crashing down, crushing their idol Dagon to pieces and killing the Philistine leaders and all the people that were there. For Samson, it was the greatest victory he had over the Philistines in his whole lifetime, killing about three thousand of his enemies. Just like he prayed, Samson died with the Philistines.
News of Samson's victory and death reached his family who came to remove his body from the heap of rubble. His brothers took his body and all his relatives followed them to his father's grave, in a place between Zorah and Eshtaol, where they buried him next to Manoah, his father.
Although they mourned Samson's death, they were relieved his shame had been taken away by the Lord. The Philistines who remained could no longer boast that they had conquered Samson. God's honor was restored and the God of the Israelites was again feared by the Philistines.
To be sure, Samson's life was in no way perfect - he made many mistakes and, indeed, suffered punishment for his sin. God, in his mercy, saw past his imperfections, rewarding him for his mighty faith. To this day, you can read about Samson in the Book of Hebrews, where he is listed as a great hero in the hall of faith. (See Hebrews 11:32.)
In his example, Samson was a very imperfect picture of Christ. Let me explain: Samson died to set free his people — but only partly free — from the oppression of the Philistines, while Jesus came to set you completely free from all sinful thoughts, words, deeds and eternal death. As the Word of God says, your battle is not against people, but against the powers of darkness, which want you to sin.
Satan wants you to have all kinds of bad thoughts, such as hatred, jealousy, revenge, bad feelings toward others and more. He also wants you to speak badly about others, to curse, to use God's Name in vain, to lie, steal, murder (including yourself) and commit all kinds of sinful deeds. That's exactly why Jesus came — to set you free from all those sins. When He died in your place on the cross, He had the greatest victory over Satan and all the devils in hell so that you could overcome their attacks.
Trust in and cling to Jesus and the cross by faith just as tightly as Samson clung with all his might to those pillars. Then you will find REAL POWER, and Satan, the enemy of your soul, will be defeated. Tell Jesus you're giving all those bad things to Him, to let them die on the cross. Ask Jesus to help you learn to really choose to live for Him and to stand strong when others taunt or belittle you, especially about your faith. Ask Him to help you fulfill his plan and purpose for your life.
Even if you've made mistakes and sinned, God loves you more than you could ever imagine. Cry out to Jesus. Tell Him you are truly sorry for your sin and ask Him to forgive you and help you follow Him with your whole heart. He wants to use you for his glory and make you a hero of faith.
1. Why was Samson in prison?
2. What did the Philistines make Samson do in prison?
3. What was the name of the Philistine god?
4. Was Dagon really stronger than Samson's God? Why not?
5. About how many people were at the festival?
6. When did Samson's greatest victory over the Philistines happen? Did it happen before or after he was in prison?
7. What's the one thing that stands out most for you in Samson's life?
A VERSE TO LEARN
“And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee” (Judges 16:28a).
ALTERNATIVE VERSES TO LEARN
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29).
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
Have you ever made mistakes? Were you mocked for your mistakes or punished for them, or were you angry at yourself for making them? Do you think God can forgive you when you ask Him to? What do you think your weaknesses are? Have you been mocked for them? Do you think God can use you and fulfill his plans for you when you ask Him for forgiveness and the power to do his will?
[After discussion:] God is full of mercy and wants you to fulfill his purpose for your life. Never let bad thoughts, words and deeds keep you away from Christ. Instead, let them draw you to Him where you can find forgiveness and power to overcome. God wants you to choose life, not death. Remember, He is near to all those who have a broken heart (Psalm 34:18). Become strong in the Lord and learn to shrug off the insults the devil throws at you. He's a loser but will always try to belittle those who follow Jesus. If you feel you cannot fight him alone, find someone who knows Jesus to come alongside and help you. If you're strong in the Lord, come alongside and help someone else who's struggling.
Go now and reach out to someone. Ask God to help you become a hero of faith for his glory.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me of all my sins,
weaknesses and mistakes. Help me to have faith in Jesus,
to know that You will forgive me of my sins and that
You will give me real power to fulfill your plan and
purpose for my life. Please use me for your glory.
In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
CAN YOU FIND THIS STORY IN THE BIBLE?
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When Mr. Satan knocks at my heart's door,
And says, "May I come in?"
I say, "No! No!" for Jesus loves me so,
And He took away my sin.
Then he turns around and runs away.
I hope he's gone away to stay.
When Mr. Satan knocks at my heart's door,
I just say, "No! No! No!"
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