Part II of Everyday Matters Because Every Day Matters Series
How many of you have ever run out of gas because even though your car prompted you to make a stop and get some, you ignored the warning?
How many of you wound up sicker and for a longer period of time because you kept ignoring some ache or pain or feeling of fatigue and then you finally went to the doctor?
How many of you have ever gotten a speeding ticket in a construction zone where signs to slow down had given you a clear warning that fines would be doubled?
My one and only detention in high school was earned in my shop class. Yes, I took shop. I learned to use saws and drills and memorized the parts of an inch and so on and so forth, and one day, we were making something that I was almost finished with when the teacher blew a whistle signaling it was time to clean up. I only had two more holes to drill in order to complete my Parcheesi Board. Yes, Parcheesi. It was obviously super important that I finish it. Well, I dismissed the whistle, and I kept on drilling. I knew the rule. I was given a warning, a kind and gentle reminder that my Parcheesi playing could wait, and I ignored it. Funny thing, the guy who gave me attention attended our church. It was a bit awkward during that extra hour in his room, but I deserved the consequence.
We deal with warning signs every day. Caution lights. Flashing lights. Emergency alerts that come over our phones and TV’S. Daily, somewhere in the world, people are warned to take cover in a storm or to evacuate. This past week I was visiting someone in Memorial Hospital, and as I was in the crosswalk making my way into the front entrance, an elderly couple about 20 feet in front of me was also walking towards the main entrance. The gentleman was walking with a cane and his wife still had his arm to steady him as they moved about. They weren’t able to move very fast.
Well, a man in a car that had just passed the front entrance area decided to back up, right as the elderly couple was behind him. I could see what was happening, but neither the driver or the couple could, and even if the couple would have seen the car, there wouldn’t have been time for them to get out of the way. Fortunately, the driver of the car had his window rolled down (which was strange given the cold weather we have had) and I yelled, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” The driver stopped about one foot from the couple. Had he ignored the warning I was shouting, the consequences could have been devastating.
We understand what warnings mean in our daily lives, and we know what the risks are for ignoring them, but what about the warnings that exist for our spiritual lives? If our spiritual selves are more important, and even more “real” due to the fact that they are eternal, if they are more important than our physical bodies, how much more should we pay attention to spiritual warning signs?
Proverbs 22:3 tells us, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
The word “simple” here means those prone to evil, those without moral direction. It refers to people who just want to do their own thing as they see fit, people who move about as if there are no consequences for the things they do.
Proverbs 1:22-“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?”
Both verses could just as easily say, “How long will you keep ignoring the warning signs and live for your own ways and desires as if there are no consequences for doing so?”
In Judges 14 we read about a guy who ignored warning signs that would have indicated he was headed for disaster. As a result, he wound up compromising his spiritual vows to God and suffered greatly for it. His name was Samson. Turn to Judges 14 and we will read the first nine verses. I encourage you also to take notes in the space provided for you in your bulletin outline.
Judges 14:1-9 1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.
2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.
7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. 8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9 which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
Samson leaps over many warning signs in this text. In just nine short verses we see many errors, many stubborn and willful decisions and actions that show he was out of control and headed for trouble.
If you look at the chapter before this one here in Judges, you will discover in chapter thirteen and verse twenty-five that the Spirit of the Lord was on Samson’s life, and the Holy Spirit was stirring Samson to prepare him for something great. He was to be a deliverer of his people, delivering them FROM the Philistines. He had been set apart for God’s use. He had taken a Nazarite vow. Part of the vow involved not cutting his hair. Part of the vow involved not drinking alcohol. Nazarites couldn’t even eat grapes or raisins. The vow also included not going near anything dead.
Let’s look at how this passage unfolds and how Samson folds and compromises step by step. Look again at the opening: Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
Let’s be reminded of just who it was that Samson was supposed to be defeating and overcoming in order to free the Israelites from their grasp. The Philistines, right? And who is it that has now caught Samson’s attention? A young Philistine woman. He was smitten with her instantly and impulsively, foolishly desires to take her as his wife. What was he thinking?
Israelite people weren’t supposed to intermarry with people outside of their faith. They weren’t to be unequally yoked in a spiritual union, which is what marriage is, a spiritual union, they weren’t to be married to people who worshiped pagan gods. You would think that as Samson left Timnah and started walking home that he would have started saying to himself, “Samson, you are crazy. You can’t marry her. She doesn’t worship the One, True, Living God. She is a Philistine. You are supposed to be delivering your people from the oppression of the Philistines. You can’t go there. She is off limits. I mean, your parents will never accept her. This isn’t a good decision.”
He either didn’t talk to himself or talk to God about it. It wasn’t like he had a discussion about it with his parents or even asked them for their advice let alone their permission to marry the girl. He just ordered them to “get her” for him. Here’s what we can learn:
When you desire the things that God says are off limits, you are headed for trouble. That is a warning sign.
Most people who are dealing with the strongholds of sin in their life cannot say they didn’t know they shouldn’t have dabbled in whatever they have dabbled in or dove into. Samson knew he shouldn’t have been talking to a Philistine woman. You know that’s how it starts nowadays. You don’t date someone first. You “talk” to them first. Seems like semantics to me, but apparently, “talking” to someone is a precursor to dating them. But anyway, he wasn’t just talking to this girl, he had seen her and decided to marry her. I would call that a little stalkerish, how about you? Don’t you think it is kind of creepy to go from seeing someone to deciding to marry them, but that is what Samson did. I don’t even know if he actually talked to the woman. He was obviously driven by lust on some level to be so impulsive.
He not only was crossing a major boundary with God, one that was clearly stated for all Israelites, but he was also compromising his mission to deliver God’s people from Philistine oppression. Listen, when you ignore the warning signs and step across clearly stated boundaries for your life, you will absolutely compromise God’s intended future for you.
Somebody needs to hear that again. You can’t get down the road where God desires to take you if you are ignoring the road signs. And not only was Samson violating a command, not only was he compromising his future, but he was demanding that his parents also break God’s command by going to get her for him. That’s one thing people like to overlook or minimize—how your sin impacts other people. When you ignore the warning signs, you will likely be dragging other people down with you.
Maybe you are here and you have been dabbling in some stuff. Maybe you have been drinking some stuff, smoking some stuff, injecting some stuff, ingesting some stuff, looking at some stuff, watching some stuff, googling some stuff, texting some stuff because you have walked into the enemy’s camp and have gotten enamored by the way the world lives. God has told you clearly what is off limits. You need to run back home and be talking to God as you do.
Samson had been set apart for a special use by God, but maybe he was a spoiled brat. Maybe his parents babied him and let him call the shots. Maybe he was used to getting what he wanted. Maybe his happiness was the only thing that was important to him. Maybe because he knew he was special he thought he was above God’s laws. Maybe he thought because he was special he could live any way he wanted, as if God absolutely needed him. I don’t know. I only know he should have known better and done better than he did. He had begun a downward and slippery slope.
So, he demanded that his parents make this wedding happen, that this alliance with an enemy of the people of God go forward. Here was their response: “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”
They were like, “There are a lot of fish in the sea, Samson. We have lots of pretty girls here among our people. You could probably have about any woman here, why must you choose someone that God has said is off limits?” There is so much inside of God’s will that is permissive for us, so much He wants us to enjoy, so much He would be absolutely OK with. Why are we always trying to look beyond the safety zone to want what we shouldn’t have? Samson wasn’t even willing to consider his parents’ words. He wasn’t going to listen to them and he just said, “Get her for me. She’s the girl for me.”
When you disregard the counsel of godly people, you are headed for trouble. That is a warning sign.
Now, listen, I know that verse 4 says that this wedding was somehow part of God’s plan to get Samson in a position where he could confront the enemy, but that doesn’t mean God was pleased with Samson’s decision to violate His command. The commands of God aren’t arbitrary or situational. In God’s economy, “Rule aren’t made to be broken.” What the text reflects is that God is Sovereign and even though Samson was making a bad decision, God would was going to use it, but decisions like that didn’t come without a personal price tag for Samson. In other words, God can use our stupidity, but we will still deal with consequences. I’m sure you all want to tweet that right now!
Samson’s parents tried to talk some sense into him. They tried to get him to consider the ramifications of what he was doing, but his mind was made up. He couldn’t see the big picture. He couldn’t consider the compromise. He couldn’t weigh the impact of his decisions on the others around him. He didn’t even think about the example he was setting for the rest of the Israelites. Here he was, the designated deliverer, and he wanted to sleep with the enemy. That’s the truth.
Some of us here today haven’t been real open to godly counsel. We haven’t wanted to listen to the advice of others. We have shut out the voice of truth at times because we wanted what we wanted and we weren’t going to have anybody telling us what to do. That kind of arrogance is foolishness and destructive. We all need direction. We all need correction. We all need perspective. We all need the wisdom of godly people in our lives. Samson’s parents were trying to put a speed bump in his path, trying to get him to think things through, but he wouldn’t listen. It would cost him.
Here’s the thing: When you start to desire things you shouldn’t desire you are creating a pattern for your future. You will be led by your desires rather than by the Spirit and will of God. When you feed unholy desires, they are never satisfied. They only grow and they take more and more evil and wicked activities to bring about the same low level of satisfaction you got in the first place. When you ignore the counsel of godly people, you are creating a pattern for your future. It won’t just be this one, isolated time that you stop listening to people who could help you. You will begin to shut out all the voices of truth that God wants to use to help take you to that appointed and anointed place. Sin creates patterns called strongholds that become harder and harder to escape. That is why we need to take sin and correction very seriously.
As we move on in Samson’s story we see that he and his parents went down to Timnah and as they approached the vineyards, Samson was attacked by a lion. He was given supernatural power and tore the lion apart with his bare hands. But the text says that he didn’t tell his parents about it. Somehow, they must have gotten separated or maybe they arrived and then Samson went for a walk. I don’t know, but his parents weren’t with him when the lion came charging at him.
What I want to call your attention to is where the attack took place. Verse 5 says it happened in a vineyard. What business did Samson have for being in a vineyard? He wasn’t supposed to drink wine or even eat grapes due to his Nazarite vow. Why was he hanging out in a place of temptation? Here is the third warning sign we see in Samson’s life that also applies to us:
When you dare to go places where you will tempted to break your vows to God, you are headed for trouble. That is a warning sign.
Maybe Samson thought he was too powerful to be tempted, maybe he thought he could put himself in places of compromise and not give in. God wanted us to know that it was in the vineyard where he was attacked. It is a detail we must not overlook. Thank God that God protected and helped him even though he had put himself in a compromising position, but doing so revealed a carelessness on Samson’s part.
How often do we make the mistake of allowing ourselves to be in places where we could be asked to compromise our vows to God? It isn’t wisdom to repeatedly place ourselves in circumstances that could damage our integrity and test our faith. It is a warning sign when we no longer see anything wrong with hanging out in worldly places with people who are doing worldly things. Over time, we will be attacked. We will struggle. When those kinds of places become attractive to us, when we would rather be at the bar than Bible study, when we would rather hang out after hours in places where people are doing things they shouldn’t be doing, when that is the kind of atmosphere we are drawn to, we need to take it as a warning sign that something is threatening our commitment to Christ.
Well, it’s kind of funny, but the Scripture does give us the detail in verse 7 that he did at least talk to the girl. After talking to her, it says he liked her. I guess he loved her when he saw her and liked her when he talked to her, and he thought that was good enough for him to continue with his marriage plans. Well, after a while, he went back to marry her and he passed by the lion’s dead body which means he went back into the vineyard again (like I said, sin creates patterns). As he walked by the lion’s carcass he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. Even though he wasn’t supposed to be near any dead person or animal, he stuck his hand in the lion’s carcass and scooped out some honey.
He may not have violated any vow the first time through that vineyard, but he did on the second trip through. Sin is powerful. It lures us back time and time again, wearing us down until we give in. “Oh, I can go to that party and not do anything bad.” “Oh, I can go to that hangout late at night and not do anything bad.” “Oh, I can spend the night at so and so’s and not compromise,” but over time, it happens. The more you frequent the darkness, the less scared of it you will become, and in time, you will be more impacted by the darkness than the darkness will be impacted by your light. I have seen it happen way too many times.
When he broke that vow he was supposed to go find the priest and offer sacrifices. He was supposed to shave his head and start his Nazarite experience over, but he acted as if he had done nothing wrong. I could list that as a warning sign, I suppose. When a person carries on as if they don’t need to repent or start over with God, and just wants to move on with life and sort of sweep things under the rug, that is a warning sign that something serious is wrong in their relationship with God. If searing conviction doesn’t fall on them and lead them to humble themselves, confess, and start anew, they are in the worst possible kind of trouble, but I’ll just let you chew on that on your own time.
Well, Samson not only broke his vow, but he gave some of the honey to his parents and they enjoyed it right along with him. Funny thing, he forgot to mention to his parents that it came from a lion’s carcass. He sort of left out that detail which brings me to the last warning sign that we are in spiritual trouble:
When you deceive others through lies, pretending or omitting the truth, you are headed for trouble. That is a warning sign.
When you lie or deceive people by leaving out the truth, you have basically aligned yourself with the devil who is called the “Father of Lies” in Scripture. It is a very dangerous thing to dance with the devil. Samson defiled himself and his parents through his actions.
Samson’s consequences came later down the road. Maybe that’s why things got so out of hand in his life. Maybe he thought he was getting away with his behavior, with his carelessness, with his lack of concern over the things of God. Maybe this morning you are continuing in some kind of darkness, maybe you are pushing the boundaries, maybe you are simply willfully sinning because you haven’t had any consequences to pay just yet. It’s a good thing God is merciful. It’s a good thing you have an opportunity to come clean today, to humble yourself today, to start anew today. Please understand, in the long run, we will never get away with sin.
Samson’s life did have a victorious ending as well as a tragic one. He did take down the Philistines, but he lost his own life in the process. I wonder how different things would have been if he would have chosen to do things God’s way all along. I wonder how different his ending would have been had he not chosen to ignore the warning signs along the way.