From birth, Samson was actually called by God, set apart by God, empowered with supernatural strength from God to fulfill God’s calling on his life.
The mission for Samson was to help deliver the Israelites from the oppressive hands of the bad guys, or the Philistines.
And even though he was given all of this power and this divine calling, he continually messed up again and again and again.
Samson was an incredibly strong man with a dangerously weak will and broke his vows to God chasing after the wrong women, touching things he wasn’t supposed to touch, drinking things he wasn’t supposed to drink, and getting a really bad haircut when he was never supposed to get his hair cut.
Samson was emotionally driven, not Spirit led. That’s a problem for a lot of us, our emotions get out of control and we end up letting them drive us rather than the Spirit drive us.
Samson didn’t come to ruin in a day or in a moment. It was a series of small, bad decisions.
We’re going to pick him up in the story when he’s supposed to be delivering God’s people, he’s actually now a prisoner and his eyes had been gouged out. He’s in shackles. He is fastened to this big wooden grind. Typically an ox or animal would have this job. He’s pushing this thing in a circle as everybody’s mocking him, throwing stuff at him, calling him names, making fun of him.
His past has caught up with him. His past is almost being personified in the big wooden grind that he’s carrying around in circles. You wonder what he’s thinking about. Is he rehashing what he could have done different? Is he regretting his decisions?
I believe some of us live in this moment that Samson is having because of our pasts. We’ve done things we can’t undo, we’re embarrassed, we’re ashamed, we hurt people we love, we strayed from God created us to do and here we are walking around in circles, carrying our regret with us.
If Samson was He-man (like in my mind) and I was She-ra (clearly) I would stop the big wooden grinder for a minute and I would say this to him:
Just because you failed at something does not mean that you are a failure.
A failure is an event, never a person.
Just when it looks like Samson failed way too much for God to ever even love him much less use him, we see a God who still accomplishes His purposes through a man that repeatedly could not get it right.
I’m here to tell somebody some good news. Just because you’re down, you are not out. If you failed at something, you are not a failure, because a failure is an event never a person.
Here’s what the Bible says in Judges 16:23:
Now the rulers of the Philistines(the bad guys)assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god Dagon has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”…
The Philistines would have been gathered in the temple, but for our understanding it looked more like a coliseum, that’s what we would picture. There’s a big open area, and then there’s layers of seating on top of each other. And there would have been gathered at least 3,000 people at this event, maybe as many as 5,000. And they’re worshiping Dagon, which was the god of the harvest. And Dagon, the image of this god had a man head and a fish body. The man-fish god. And so, they were going, ‘Man-fish god, thank you for delivering Samson into our hands!’ And they’re making sacrifices and praising the man-fish god.
Vs 24 When the people saw Samson, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”
While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
It doesn’t get any lower than this. He is totally and completely, 100% totally and completely shamed in front of God’s enemies, he has failed massively.
Now, there are two responses to failure:
The natural response is remorse.
And this unfortunately is where a lot of us camp. Remorse, “I feel bad about what I did, I shouldn’t have done it, I’m a bad person.” Sometimes remorse will turn inward, “I’m horrible, I’m no good, I’m the worst person who has ever lived, I have no future, I hate myself, I hate my life!” and it turns inward.
Other times, it turns outward into kind of the “I’m the victim and it’s someone else’s fault.” It’s, “This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t…”, and “I didn’t ask for this!”
There’s a better response and that is:
There is remorse, the natural response; the better response though is repentance. And that sounds like, “I own it, my fault, I blew it. And I’m sorry”
Most people don’t ruin their lives all at once. How do they do it? They do it one step at a time. And if you’re going in the wrong direction, what do you do? You turn around, and that’s what repentance is.
Remorse focuses on the bad, it looks back to all of the things we did wrong. Repentance turns from the lower to that which is higher;
‘re’ means turn, ‘pent’ means the highest, we turn from our lower, sinful ways, and turn back to God’s higher ways. It’s not just, “I feel bad about this”, but “I’m turning completely to God to let him redeem me to his divine purposes.”
In life we’re going to do some things we can’t undo.
I still think people are figuring out how to group text or how NOT to group text when you respond it goes to everyone!
And here’s the deal, there are some things you cannot undo! You cannot unsend, but you can repent!
You can’t undo the bad deal that you did, but you can repent. You can’t unsay what you said, you can’t unlook at what you looked at, but you can repent.
I believe that Samson, he comes to some point in his life where he remembers who he was created to be. He thinks to himself or maybe even says out loud, I wasn’t created to be entertainment to the enemies; I was created and set apart by God to do something significant.
And it’s my prayer, that somewhere along in this semester, that you will remember that you were created to honor and glorify God with your life, that you’ll remember who you were created to be. And you don’t let your spiritual enemy lure you into a remorse, looking back, “Oh, I wish I could have, if I would have, I shouldn’t have, I didn’t, I hate myself, it’s my fault.” But instead of being remorseful looking back, repentance says, “I’m not going to let what I did stop me from doing what God wants me to do. I’m turning away from my sin and I’m turning toward God! I cannot change my past.”
You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. Just because you’re down, you are not out. Don’t internalize the failure; you are not what you did, you are who God says you are. And watch as Samson realizes this in verse 25:
When they stood him among the pillars…
So he’s in this temple, it’s like a coliseum with these giant pillars that support the weight of the place. Samson, in verse 26 said to the servant who held his hand:
“Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple so I can lean against them. Samson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me. O God, please strengthen me just once more…”
I love this more than I can tell you. He says, “Please strengthen me just once more.”
In other words, ‘I’ve blown it a thousand times, but God I need one more chance. One time God, one time. Just find it in your mercy to give me your strength just this once more.’
He’s broken. It’s no longer about him, now it’s all about God. He stepped across some kind of spiritual line, From this moment forward, whatever I have left I will give it all to the God who gave me all that I have.’
And he steps across the line and he says, ‘I’m no longer the main character of this story, my God is the main character of this story and everything that I have I will use to honor him just one more time.’
Even in our failures, God can still accomplish His purposes.
Verse 29:Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
He pushed the pillars with all of his might. Everything came crumbling down and he destroyed more of God’s enemies when he died than in all of the years that he lived. He was a hero. He did what God asked him to do, he sacrificed even his own life and obeyed God.
It goes to show you that despite your failures, God can still use you. Even though you’ve messed up, it’s not over yet. You are not what you did; you are who God said who you are.
If you are a Christian, you have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living inside of you. You may be down but you are not out. You can be a man or woman of God. You might be thinking “Well, I messed up so bad and all the stuff I did!” Guess what? That makes your story even better! Look what God brought you out of!
God is not finished with you yet. The past isn’t your whole story
We can’t just say, “I want something to be different”, and not do anything different. If you want a different result, you’ve got to do something different. You’re going to call and get counseling, you’re going to check yourself in for rehab, you’re going to confess to a friend, “I need help!”
You’re going to stop being an every now and then XA attender and you’re going to be a real man/woman of God; you’re going to get yourself here and in a small group and actually grow spiritually.
It’s not just pretending you’re going to do something about it. You’ve got a calling on your life; don’t wallow in the past, turn. Not remorse, “Well I feel bad, I feel guilty!” Do something different. Turn away from your sin, turn toward God and watch as God shows you, you may be down but you’re not out.
Proverbs 24:16 Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.
If you’re a Christian, you have resurrection power within your life! Don’t give up! Satan loves to make strong men weak; but our God loves to make weak men strong!
Push those pillars down, die to yourself and live for God!
This campus is yet to see what God can do through one man wholly surrendered unto Him.