Sundays: 9 & 11am LATEST MESSAGE

Seeing God As He Really Is

Charlie Boyd - 3/27/2022

SERMON SUMMARY

In Judges 13-16, we are introduced to Samson, the final “judge”/”deliverer” mentioned in this book. In chapter 13, we read of his miraculous, angelic birth announcement which raises our hopes and expectations that finally, God is sending someone who will deliver the Israelites from their pagan enemies. Samson has every advantage to succeed, but no sooner do we read that the Spirit of YHWH is stirring him to action, do we also read that he wants to take a pagan Philistine woman to be his wife?! And it’s all downhill from there. Samson is a deeply flawed man. So, what in the world is going on in this disturbing story? That’s the question we will unpack in this study.

SERMON SCREENSHOTS & KEY POINTS

We’ve been saying that Samson was the very worst of all the judges—definitely not a good guy. But if that’s true, what’s he doing in the Bible? What is the point of his tragic story? 

READ Judges 13:1—The “Downward Spiral” we’ve seen over and over again in the book of Judges has pretty much completely broken down. There’s “sin,” followed by God’s “discipline.” But the people do not repent and cry out to God in their “distress,” asking Yahweh to “deliver “them. This time, however, God sends a deliverer even though they didn’t ask for one. In chp13, Israel’s great sin is not simply idolatry. It’s worse than that. They were willingly casting aside their identity as God’s specially chosen people. And, the danger is that they will be completely absorbed into the Philistine culture thru their ongoing idolatry and intermarriage. No more Israel. So Yahweh acts to save them

READ Judges 13:2-25—There’s nothing quite like the story surrounding Samson’s birth in the OT, definitely nothing like it in the book of Judges. YHWH sets Samson apart as a Nazarite from birth. This is unusual. Any man or woman could choose to take a “Nazarite” vow—(see Numbers 6; also, the details are stated in this story—no consumption of anything from grapevines, never cut your hair, don’t touch anything dead, human or animal)—as a way a special way of setting themselves apart to God for a limited amount of time, similar to fasting today. But Samson did not choose this—God chose it for him by God. According to the Angel of the Lord, that would be his manner of life. His mission in life was that “he would begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (13:5). “Begin,” not complete their deliverance. That would not be achieved until King David came along. So, with this great beginning, we’re expecting great things from Samson. God blessed his growing-up years and we’re told that God’s Spirit began to stir in him. Yes, a very promising start, but the author has set us up for a fall.

READ 14:1-4—As soon as we step into Samson’s story, we see him wanting to marry a Philistine woman who he describes as being (literally) “right in his own eyes.” He disrespects his parents by demanding that they get her for him. And, it’s all downhill from there. The story is pretty easy to follow from here, but the thing we have to think through is in 14:4—maybe the most important verse in chps13-16. The narrator tells us—“His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines.” …YHWH was working in Samson's bad choices to “stir up” a conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines. This was the beginning of God’s deliverance for His people that we read about in 13:5. (The message will explain how to reconcile all this with how God sometimes uses disobedient, foolish, and sometimes, evil people to actually further His work in the world (think Judas the betrayer of Jesus).

READ 14:5-20—This is an absolutely crazy story! Samson does not use his great strength against the Philistines for God’s glory. Samson does not act in a way to deliver Israel from Philistine oppression. He gets involved with a silly riddle, a betting game, with his Philistine groomsmen. He tries to cheat him. They end up cheating him. He loses the bet. He gets ticked off and goes 20 miles away to a major Philistine city and kills 30 men. He takes their bloodstained clothes back to the wedding celebration to pay off his debt. He then storms out of the banquet hall, and he goes back home to sulk, leaving his new bride behind. As crazy as all that is, what he did do was stir up conflict between the Israelites and their Philistine overlords just as YHWH had planned.

That’s where we leave Samson this week—angrily sulking at home. But oh, there’s so much more to come. So, what’s the point of all this? First of all, the author of Judges wants us to see that Samson’s story is a personification of Israel’s story. Samson’s story and Israel’s story was dark. And, it’s against this dark background that the diamond of God’s grace shines. We see God IS at work. By grace, YHWH takes the initiative to save His rebellious, idolatrous people who don’t even want saving. They’re content with life as it is. But God, has predetermined that His great plan of redemption will come through the nation of Israel and He will not let them destroy themselves. That leads to our second point—Samson is not the hero of this story, God is. I repeat what Tim Keller says about the grace of God by applying it to Judges—[The message of the book of Judges] is that God persistently and continuously gives His grace to people who don’t ask for it, who don’t deserve it, and who don’t even fully appreciate it after they get it.” Wow! This is who the God of the Bible really is. This is what the Bible is all about. And, we see this God of grace most clearly in Messiah Jesus, a true Son of Israel, the true Deliverer of Israel and of all humanity. Mark it down—the God who worked in the days of the Judges—the God who worked in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—is the same God who is working in our world and in your life today.

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.