Monday, April 29, 2019

Heaven's Heros #6: Samson: Broken Hero

Samson: Broken Hero

Text: Judge 16:22-31

Introduction: Uncle Bob's Tale

A teacher gives her fifth-grade class an assignment, to get their parents to tell them a story with a moral. The next day, the kids come back and one by one begin telling their stories.

Kathy says, "My father's a farmer, and we have a lot of egg-laying hens.  One time we were taking the eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the pickup, when we hit a bump in the road and all the eggs went flying and broke and made a mess.  The moral to the story is 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Then it is Lucy's turn: "Our family farms too, but we raise chickens for the meat market.  We once had a dozen eggs, but when they hatched, we got only 10 live chicks.  And the moral to this story is, don't count your chickens before they're hatched."

Then Johnny is on the spot: "My daddy told me this story about my uncle Bob.  Uncle Bob was a pilot in Vietnam, and his plane got hit.  He had to bail out over enemy territory and all he had was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun and a Kabar knife.  He drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn't break, and then he landed right in the middle of 100 enemy troops.  He killed 70 of them with the machine gun until he ran out of bullets, then he killed 20 more with the Kabar until the blade broke, and then he killed the last 10 with his bare hands!"

"Good gracious!" says the horrified teacher.  "And what kind of moral did your daddy tell you as a result of that horrible story?"

"Don't mess with Uncle Bob when he’s been drinking!"

You’re probably wondering how in the world the story is going to lead to the sermon, but I’m way ahead of you. You see, Uncle Bob is what you would call an anti-hero. He does heroic things but he’s kind of a jerk. And that pretty much describes our Heaven’s hero today. Samson.  Now you may not think calling Samson a hero is justified, but consider that he is included in the Heaven’s Hall of Fame in Hebrew 16.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

There it is, Samson is in Hall of Heroes. So lets take some time this morning and consider why that is the case. Samson’s inclusion in the list of great Biblical heroes was not because of his birth and it was certainly not because of his misspent life. The reason we find Samson in Hebrews 11 is because of his death.

His Suffering Judges 16:23-25

23  Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. 24  And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. 25  And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Samson’s Suffering

He had been captured and the Bible notes that he was bound with bronze shackles, normally it would have been ropes or leather but his reputation was too great to allow the risk. His eyes were put out. This was usually done to captives of great importance. The greater their renown the more dangerous they were and the greater the humiliation they must endure. It was done with a red hot rod of iron, so that he would never see again and the wound would be categized and the bleeding kept to a minimum. He was then turned into an animal, like an ox or the lowest slave grinding out grain in the prison house.

After a time the Philistines had a holy day to worship their God Dagon.
Dagon was a fish God, since the Philistines were a sea-going people whose power was derived from trading in the Mediterranean. He was usually depicted as a being with the upper body of a man but a lower body of a fish. What we would call a Merman.

At the festival Samson was brought out to “make sport” of. The Bible is not specific, but it would usually involve any activity that would seem the most humiliating to a once great enemy now reduced to a blind animal. People would taunt him with insults and challenges. He would be pelted by throw objects. They would have hime fight against small weak opponents, like children or dwarves.

Understanding Heroes

I’ve said that Samson becomes a hero only with his death, but that death would include this humiliation and suffering that he was made to endure. We find throughout scripture that Heaven’s Heroes must learn the lesson of suffering.

True heroes whether they be in the military or in the church are men and women who have learned that victories are never easy and that they must endure suffering and hardship no matter the cost.
Heroes are missionaries who give up their homes and lives to go where God sends them and they suffer. Heroes are pastors who despite opposition, betrayal, poor wages, and poor attendance keep on preaching the word of God. Heroes are soldier who after enduring enemy fire come home to endure fire from their own countrymen, they suffer but they do not quit and what they endured brings them to place where the hero is born.

Illustration: A Flag of Rags except from POW and Senator John McCain.

   In the final years of our imprisonment, the North Vietnamese moved us from small cells with one or two prisoners to large rooms with as many as 30-40 men to a room. We preferred this situation for the companionship and strength we could draw from our fellow prisoners. In addition to moving us to new quarters, out captors also let us receive packages and letters from home. Many men received word from their families for the first time in several years. The improved conditions were a result of public pressure put on the North Vietnamese by the American public.

   In our cell was one Navy officer, Lt. Commander Mike Christian. Over a period of time Mike had gathered bits and pieces of red and white cloth from various packages. Using a piece of bamboo he had fashioned into a needle, Mike sewed a United States flag on the inside of his shirt, one of the blue pajama tops we all wore.

   Every night in our cell, Mike would put his shirt on the wall, and we would say the pledge of allegiance. I know that the pledge of allegiance may not be the most important aspect of our day now, but I can tell you that at the time it was the most important aspect of our lives.

   This had been going on for some time until on of the guards came in as we were reciting our pledge. They ripped the flag off the wall and dragged Mike out. He was beaten for several hours and then thrown back into the cell.

   Later that night, as we were settling down to sleep on the concrete slabs that we our beds, I looked over to the spot where the guards had thrown Mike. There, under the solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling, I saw Mike. Still bloody and his face swollen beyond recognition, Mike was gathering bits and pieces of cloth together. He was sewing a new American flag.  - John McCain. From the files of Leadership.

Transition: Now that is an American hero but what happens next in Samson life is what makes him a Hero of Heaven.

His Sorrow  Judges 16:26-28

26  And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.27  Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. 28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Suffering, Sorrow, Surrender

Samson rests upon the pillars. This was probably an ancient amphitheater made from wood not stone as the movies and books usually show. The main support pillars were made of massive timbers and stood directly underneath the main beams which held up the structure of the roof or balcony.
Samson, humiliated, degraded and broken begins to pray.

Do you realize that in the Bible record, this is the first time he had never prayed before a battle. He had always taken it for granted that his God-given strength would be there, that he would be victorious, that his enemies would fall, but all that self-confidence was now gone. Samson in humility and desperate need prays to the God of Israel. He turned to God acknowledging Him as the source of all that Samson had once had and had now lost.

“O Lord GOD, remember me I pray they and strengthen me I pray thee, only this once O God.”
Look closely at what Samson says. He calls out Lord, this is the word Adonay. It means my lord, my master.

Notice in the KJV the word God is all in caps. This signifies the personal name of God. Samson calls out to Jehovah.  

He calls out, not based upon his birth as an Israelite, nor his position and title as a Judge but he calls out based upon a personal relationship with God. “Adonay, Jehovah remember me.”

Understanding Suffering

Your suffering or struggle may not be as acute as Samson, but it may seem just as impossible to overcome.

Many people simply think that endurance alone will bring them to the other side of the suffering. Others simply seem to get used to it and accept it as their own lot in life. Others come to a place they can’t go on any longer and they quit.

Some quit their families, some quit the ministry, some quit the church and some even quit life.
How do you find the strength you need? The story of Samson shows you turn in your weakness to God’s strength, in your defeat to his promise of victory, in your pain to his hope.

But you must call out, you must repent, you must acknowledge Him as Lord and God.
This is done the first time at salvation but must be done over and over if we are to strong enough to make it.

Scripture: 1Thessalonians 3:4  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation…

2 Timothy 2:12  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…

2 Timothy 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Illustration: I Am One of Them

 This is a cheerful world as I see it from my garden under the shadows of my vines. But if I were to ascend some high mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I should see: brigands on the highways, pirates on the sea, armies fighting, cities burning; in the amphitheaters men murdered to please applauding crowds; selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians--and I am one of them. - Cyprian, third-century martyr

His Strength Judges 16:29-31

29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. 31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Surrender Brings Strength

He wraps his arms around the pillars and the Bible says he bowed himself with all his strength. He then prays his last prayer, “Let me die with the Philistines.”

As the strength of God rushes back into his body, the pillars crack and the with the supports removed the building collapses, like a house of made of children’s blocks.
The Bible makes note of this fact, “The dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”

Samson’s greatest victory was the one that came after he had surrendered to his God, he gave his life in the final battle, but it was now a life that had been wholly given over to God. And in the power of God he accomplished more with that surrender and God’s strength than everything he had done in his own strength before.

Understanding Strength

We have already talked about suffering, sacrifice and strength. You cannot rise to success in any field without these experiences but in God’s service they are very foundation of great service.
In God’s service there must be a losing of ourselves so that we may come to a full reliance upon God. Just as we see with Samson, Peter, Paul, John or any of the great heroes of the Bible.
Finally, there is this necessary element in true service to God, the willingness to lose your life in Him and for Him. When we come to that place, then it will be true for us just as it was for Samson, “In our death to ourselves and our life given to Him, we will do more than in all our life without that sacrifice.

Scripture: Romans 6:3-6, 11 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Conclusion: I Am A Soldier

I am a soldier in the army of my God;
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this army and I have enlisted for eternity.
I will either retire from this army at the rapture or die in this army;
I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out.
I am faithful, reliable and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.
If He needs me in Sunday School to teach children, work with youth, help with adults or just sit and learn,
He can use me, because I am there.

If He needs me in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday, revival or special services, I am there.
I am there to preach, teach, sing, play, pray, work or worship.
God can use me because I am there.

I am a Soldier. I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up or pepped up
I am a Soldier. no one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me.

I am a Soldier. I am not a wimp.
I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name and serving in His Kingdom.
No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy or give me handouts.

I cannot have my feelings hurt badly enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit,

I am a Soldier, I am committed, I will win.
My God will supply all my needs.
I am more than a conqueror, I will always triumph.
I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me,
Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.  Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me and Hell cannot handle me.
I am a soldier. I am committed. Even death cannot destroy me.

When my commander calls me from this battlefield
He will promote me and then bring me back to rule this world with Him.
I am a Soldier in the army and I am marching, claiming victory.
I will not give up, I will not turn around.
I am a Soldier marching Heaven bound.

I am a Soldier. Will You stand with me?

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