SanLo Community, an update for the week of November 4, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Judges 16, “Deception’s Reception.” Sometimes we let ourselves be deceived because we forget what is truly meaningful in our lives. We are influenced by the lies that tell us fullness of life comes from our experiences and possessions. Continuing the life and times of Samson in our study of Judges we understand that Samson is the last Judge who God chose to help deliver Israel from the Philistines reflecting God’s great love for us despite our sins. We know that sin is to be avoided but it’s not always that clear how. Sin’s deception often is received more easily than we might think. In fact deception often has a grand reception when we are unknowingly led astray because it feels right and good or we become spiritually blinded and deaf to God’s direction. Why are we so easily fooled? What makes us believe things that are not true? How does this happen? How are we deceived?
1) We are deceived by MISPLACED PASSION. (vv.1-22) Being passionate can be a good but it can also be misleading if we’re not careful. When passion is the primary guiding source in your life it can be especially harmful if misplaced passion leads you away God your Father. (v.1) Samson went to Gaza not necessarily to be with a prostitute but his misplaced passion from past relations led him into another sinful encounter. (v.2-3) His presence in Gaza did not go unnoticed. It was the capitol city of the Philistines. When Samson, the Philistines number one enemy entered Gaza, it was a bold move and insulting when Samson showed off his strength by removing the gates and carrying them to Hebron. The gates of a city symbolized its civic and national strength. Removing these gates not only displayed the tremendous power the LORD placed upon Samson but it also represented God’s power over the Philistines as the gates of Gaza were laid before the chief city of Israel. (v.4) “After this, the time in Gaza, it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” At the start of his relationship with Delilah, infatuation caused Samson to overlook Delilah’s devious ways even though she was probably a Philistine and a temple prostitute. Even as Delilah attempted to discover how to bind Samson three times, he either felt unconquerable or misplaced passion in his love for her. (v.5) The lords of the Philistines went to Delilah and offered her eleven hundred shekels of silver to find Samson’s strength so they could capture him. (vv.6-9) Samson told Delilah to tie him up with seven fresh cords that have not been dried. When the captors were in place to overtake Samson, Delilah calls out, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” You might think this odd for Delilah to warn Samson but in reality she was conniving enough to test Samson. If Samson did not break the seven cords upon her warning then she was confident Samson had lost his strength. What happened? “He snapped the cords as a string of tow or flax straps when it touches fire.” In other words the ropes were easily broken. (vv.10-14) Two more failed attempts by Delilah to find Samson’s weakness and on both occasions she cried out “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” You would think by then Samson would get a clue but in his misplaced passion he accepted and received her deception. Samson was not the only character in this story to receive deception so willingly. Delilah’s misplaced passion to gain wealth, power, and prestige did all she could to have Samson captured. Her motivation was not just money but she also desired prestige to be as the woman who captured the Philistine’s enemy, Samson. Delilah literally nagged Samson to death (v.16) and discovered how he could be overtaken. Samson’s head was shaved and for the fourth time Delilah calls out, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” Unfortunately there was no escape for Samson and he was overcome. But as one commentary observed although it was regrettable that Samson was captured what verse 20 said was utterly tragic, that Samson had become so far removed from God, “he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” His misplaced passion took him away from fellowship with God. It would be wise to stay alert and be aware of the temptation to be passionate about other things rather than Christ. Be diligent and do not let your passion for God be misplaced.
2) We are deceived by MISPLACED PRAISE. (vv.23-27) When Christ followers lose focus upon Jesus, the single most important aspect of life of a Christian’s life, then we are susceptible to deception. The Bible tells us that God is love. We might forget that He even loves the enemies of Israel. If any of the Philistines turned from their god Dagon, repented and began to worship the one true God, God would receive them as His children. But because they misplaced their praise and continually elevated their gods above the LORD, there is no other recourse in His justice but to allow the consequences of sin to take place which is eternal death. Instead of recognizing Samson’s superhuman strength coming from God, the Philistines considered Samson an enemy and praised their god Dagon for his capture. (v.23) “Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice saying, our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.” Their misplaced praise ends with physical death as we shall soon see but more devastating is the eternal spiritual death they will endure.
(vv.28-31) Though he failed in many ways, God redeemed and delivered Samson in the end and he was included in Hebrews 11:32, the Faith Hall of Fame. Samson along with judges Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah were noted as those who by faith accomplished great things with God. Samson in his brokenness in verse 28 calls out to God, “O Lord please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged.” At the lowest point of his life, Samson sincerely cries out to the LORD. Though Samson disappointed God time and again, God in His magnificent love redeems Samson’s reputation by bringing down the celebrating Philistines giving Samson more success in his death than when he lived. (v.30) “So the dead whom he killed in his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” God saved Samson because of faith. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You and I and all those who do not yet know Him, have the same opportunity to have our failures be forgiven by faith and be redeemed by the saving power of God through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.