The Results of Samson's Sin
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles to the book of Judges, that portion of the Word of God which we are studying together. After a word of review, we are going to begin a study of chapter 16 of the book of Judges.

Keep in mind that we have been studying the book of Judges on the basis of the declensions on the part of the nation of Israel, the disciplines which God imposed upon them because of those declensions, and the deliverances that God provided when they cried out to Him.

We have discussed the departures from the faith and these deliverances in the light of the lives of the men whom God used for the deliverances. We have been thinking in the last two lessons about the man, Samson, whom God raised up to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Philistines.

We reminded you that we felt the best way to study this particular portion, which begins with chapter 13 and goes on through chapter 16, was to study the life of Samson himself, whom we said was a man of contradictions. It's almost unbelievable that he could be such a contradictory character. Though we do not have time to review everything that we did say to you about this man, we do want to review briefly some of the things that we discovered about him already.

We discovered, for example, that he was a man of a godly heritage, as is described for us in chapter 13 and the first five verses of chapter 14. We mean by that that he had godly parents who sought the will of the Lord for him before he was born. They sought the will of the Lord during his lifetime. They asked God to give them wisdom and direction, and God did. They followed that wisdom and direction, even though there were some failures on their part. We pointed out to you that here is an example of a boy raised in a godly home with a godly heritage who departed from the Lord.

It would seem to be a contradiction of Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 6; and we recognize that the reason for the departure was Samson's failure to yield to the Spirit of God. We must recognize in our training of our children, we have tried to emphasize to you repeatedly, that the working of the Spirit of God in their lives is something that we need to be praying about. We can train them in relation to all the ethics, but if we fail to pray that God will keep them spiritual, then we can fail indeed.

Then we discovered that he was a man of spiritual power, and we learned how the Holy Spirit came upon Samson for specific needs in his life, which would indicate that he was a man of spiritual powers in the same sense that a New Testament individual or a person living in this Church Age would be a spiritual man if the words of Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18, were fulfilled in his life.

Ephesians 5

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

We recognized that there is a difference between the working of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the working of the Holy Spirit in this Church Age. In this Church Age, the Holy Spirit comes to live within the believer. He comes to abide; He never leaves, but in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon men of God's choice for specific purposes.

Samson was a man of great spiritual passions and yet, as we suggested to you, almost in contradiction to that, a man of fleshly passions. We examined how this man, directed by the Holy Spirit one day, could be consumed by fleshly passions another day.

We reminded you that it is a perfect illustration of the fact that individuals today can walk in the Spirit one moment and walk in the flesh the next moment. If we don't realize that, we won't be able to understand why some Christians do some of the things that they do. So often we say, or at least feel it if we don't say it, concerning individuals, “I can't understand how he, a Christian, could do a thing like that.” Well, let us remember that he, a Christian walking in the flesh, could do exactly that.

Then I believe the last thing that I considered with you, was the fact that Samson was the man who prayed. That may not seem like a particularly significant thing to you, but you will recall it was very significant in the way that God memorialized this incident.

Samson had fought a battle against the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass; he felt as if he were dying of thirst. The land was somewhat like West Texas, I suppose. There wasn't a lot of water around, and he asked God to quench his thirst, and God caused a spring to come out of the jawbone of the ass, the jawbone that he had used as a weapon to slay the enemies. This was such a momentous thing, such a miraculous thing, that people gave that place a name. The name was “The Hill of the Man Who Prayed.” I suggest to you that it would be good if we could be prayer warriors where people could look at something and say, “That is the result of the man who prayed.”

I suggested to you, and I would like to re-emphasize, that the thing that I desire is that as people look at this particular building, they will be able to say that this is the building of the people who prayed, not the building of the people who swung a bond election and not the building of the people who have a lot of rich people, but the building of the people who prayed. This is a real monument and a real testimony when something like that can be said.

We want to conclude our discussion of the life of Samson by considering, first, the man who prostituted God's gifts, and we want to think about two other things as time will permit. First, we are going to think about Samson, the man who prostituted God's gifts, and secondly, we are going to think about Samson, the pathetic man, and we are going to think about Samson, the penitent man.

As we think about these characteristics of this man Samson in detail, I hope that you will be praying that the Holy Spirit will minister the truth of these things to your own heart. I have said to you repeatedly that we do not meet together for the study of the Word of God so you can say, “Oh yes, I know the book of Judges. I studied for nearly a year.” Rather, we want you to be able to say, “I have developed this spiritual trait, for I have learned this spiritual truth out of the book of Judges.” It isn't important how many books you have studied in the Word of God. The thing that is important is that your spiritual life grows along with the truth that is presented in God's Word.

Samson's Gift of Strength

Let us continue our discussion by thinking about the man who prostituted God's gifts. You may wonder why I am suggesting that we think about Samson in this way. Let me say first that Samson had one unique gift of God, one among many. It was the gift of strength. God gave to Samson a gift of unusual strength, strength that surpassed any known physical strength. It was a gift of God.

Keep in mind the gift of Samson was to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Philistines. That was his ministry, just as my ministry is to preach the Word. Your ministry may be to teach. Samson's ministry was to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Philistines.

God never calls anybody to any individual ministry without giving him the gift that will fit him for the ministry. Now, if Samson was to deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines, God had to give him a gift to enable him to do that. Once God gives the gift for a particular ministry, we must be very careful to use it for that ministry. We must be very careful not to prostitute the gift–that is, to use the gift for a foreign purpose.

The Prostitution of Samson's Gift

I want you to notice with me, as we glance through chapter 16, how it was that Samson prostituted the gift. Notice verses 1 and 2:

Judges 16

1Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

Keep in mind, here is the man of God spending the night with a prostitute, and the whole city knew about it, and they said, “When he leaves in the morning, we'll get him.” Samson knew about it, and so in verse 3:

Judges 16

3And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, [notice carefully] and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Let's pause right there and recognize that the first way that Samson prostituted his gift of strength is related to gates and bars. Do you get the picture? He went out of the city; and when he went, he wrapped his arms around the whole gateposts, with the gates, with the bar that was even across them. Without even opening the gates, he wrapped his arms around them, lifted them up, carried them, and set them on top of the hill in Hebron. Every time those Philistines looked at those gates, they were in anger. Remember, they did not give God glory. That's the purpose of the use of gifts–to bring glory to God. But the man who got the glory was Samson, and this was a constant thorn in their side. Every time they looked, they remembered that Samson had made fools of them.

Making Light of God's Gift

You see how self entered into the prostitution of this gift. God received no glory. Samson received all of the attention. Notice now verse 4:

Judges 16

4And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see [notice] wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

There were seven elders among the Philistines, and they said to Delilah, “If you can find out where this man gets his strength [you see, they recognized it was something unusual] each one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” That was a tremendous fortune, really. This was how much Samson was bothering them. And so in verse 6:

Judges 16

6And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.

Samson should have used this opportunity as a testimony. He should have been reminded when Delilah referred to his God-given gift, but he had no business in the house of Delilah. He should have said to Delilah, “I'm a weak man; I am a man of fleshly passions, but you have reminded me by asking me this question that I have no business being here, and I want you to forgive me, and I'm going to ask God to forgive me, and I am going home.” You see, if he had been looking at God's gifts as he should, revering them, looking upon them in a sacred fashion, he would have given some such answer as that; but you will notice down in verse 7:

Judges 16

7And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

He lied. He not only lied; he made light of this God-given gift. He should have said, “Delilah, this strength I have is from God. No man can control it, no man can measure it.” Oh, what an opportunity for testimony he had, but instead he made light. He said, “All you need to do is get seven green withs and bind me with them, and I will be helpless like any other man.”

What in the world are seven green withs? One translation puts it “fresh, strong gut strings,” or, as another translation puts it, “fresh, strong bow strings,” bow strings that were made from the guts of an animal that had never been used. “Get seven of them, tie me up, and I'll be helpless.” Of course, as you know the story, she did exactly that. The Philistines were hiding in her bedroom, and she cried out in verse 9:

Judges 6

9…And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire.

That is, as a thread breaks when a hot coal touches it. Keep in mind, these were gut strings, bow strings, strong strings, but he broke them just like a thread is burned in two when a hot coal touches it. This was the supernatural strength that was his, but did God give him this supernatural strength to show off his own ability and power to tantalize a wicked woman and to tease a nation? No, He gave him that tremendous strength in order to deliver Israel. He was prostituting God's gift.

Notice verse 10:

Judges 16

10And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

“If you bind me with new ropes that have never been used, I'll be just like any other man.” You see, he was lying, and he was making fun. According to verse 12, she did exactly that, and called out the same thing, “The Philistines be upon thee.” The men who were lying in wait were ready to snatch him, but he broke those ropes off his arms as though they were not there.

Then in verse 13:

Judges 16

13And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies…

Imagine what we would call an unsaved woman saying to a Christian man, “You've lied to me.” Imagine that. Imagine a sinner telling a saint that he is not living up to his testimony. But this is exactly what she was doing, and she was exactly right. She said, “You've lied to me. Tell me the truth. Tell me.” In verse 13:

Judges 16

13And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.

Again he lied to her.

Judges 16

13…And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

If I were to ask you what she did, I wonder how many of you could tell me exactly what she did do this time. What did he tell her to do this time? The King James translation, from which we do our reading, does not make it as clear as some of the other translations do, so I would just like for you to notice what is recorded in the Living Bible, because I think it does make it a little clearer. You can understand it perhaps a bit more.

In verse 13, “You've mocked me again, and told me more lies,” Delilah complained. “Now tell me how you can really be captured.” “Well”, he said, “if you weave my hair into your loom…..!” So while he slept, she did just that; and she screamed, “The Philistines have come, Samson!” And he woke up and yanked his hair away, breaking the loom.

That is a little bit easier to visualize, isn't it? How could she fasten his hair with his feet on the floor and the beam on the ceiling. It is just pretty difficult to visualize how she could do that. What he said to her was, “You take this hair of mine and put it into seven strands. You weave it into this loom you have here, which you have used time and time again for weaving; and if you do that, I will be helpless.” Well, she did it, and of course, the same thing happened again. He broke the loom, and went away as if absolutely nothing at all had happened to him.

Are you following me? Are you getting the real sense of this passage of Scripture? Do you realize how awful it is to be reading what we have read? A man of God could take a gift that he knew God had given him and lie about it, pass up opportunities for testimony, use it for himself, his own selfish ends, use it to tantalize and to tease. Things are sacred, Beloved, and all too often in our day and time we make light of sacred things. I don't like to hear people do that, and I think that preachers need to be careful about it from the pulpit.

As I have said to you before, and I would like to emphasize again, the Bible makes a difference between jesting and joking. Joking is when you tell what I trust is a clean joke that provokes humor, provokes somebody to laugh. God created the laugh; it's good for you to laugh, and good clean humor, God does not object to. But when you use the Word of God in your jokes, you're not joking; you're jesting. God condemns jesting in the Word of God.

You might keep that in mind, especially when children and young people, after hearing their elders make comments along this line, repeat such things in all innocence, not knowing the seriousness of it. Joke all you want to, in the proper way, the proper place, but don't ever be guilty of jesting.

The Purpose of God's Gifts

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 12, as I make the final application I wish to make concerning the danger that we may be in of prostituting the gift that God may have given us. In Romans, chapter 12, we read in verse 5:

Romans 12

5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

We pointed out to you in another study that these are all very ordinary gifts that God gives to the believer, but he expects each man to wait on his gift–that is, to exercise it, to exercise it for the purpose for which He gave it.

Why did He give it? Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 12. Just as certainly as God gave to Samson this gift of strength for the benefit of the nation of Israel in their battle against the Philistines, so God has given to you and to me the gifts He has given for a definite purpose. Look at verse 4:

I Corinthians 12

4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7But [now notice carefully] the manifestation of the Spirit…

What was the manifestation of the Spirit in Samson's life? This tremendous strength. What is the manifestation of the Spirit in your life? I don't know. It may be any of the gifts that were mentioned in Romans, chapter 12. It may be any of the gifts mentioned in I Corinthians, chapter 12. It may be any of the gifts that are mentioned in Ephesians, chapter 4, and it is possible it could be others that are not even mentioned there because they are not meant to be complete lists of gifts. The Holy Spirit has given you a gift. Why did He give it? Here it is in I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7:

I Corinthians 12

7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

You notice that last statement, “to profit withal.” Literally it is “for the profit of all,” and the “all” is a reference to the Body of Christ–for the profit of the Body of Christ.

You see, if God has given me a gift to speak, this is a gift He's given me to minister the Word of God, and I have no right to prostitute this gift. I know preachers who are called of God to preach the Word. They knew they were definitely called of God, and God gave them a gift, and they are prostituting it.

I can think of a preacher who used to be a pastor of a large church. He had tremendous ability. When he, as some folk said, settled down to preach, nobody could hold a candle to him. He moved from a town to a larger city and became pastor of a large, historic church. The last I heard of him, he was a representative of a wealthy, private foundation because he had a tremendous ability to sway people. I believe originally God gave him that gift. The salary he is getting with this foundation could not be matched by any church anywhere in the world. I don't pass judgment. I simply use as an illustration; here is a man prostituting the gift God gave him. We need to be careful.

I mentioned the ministry, because I am in the ministry. I can talk about the ministry more aptly than I can other gifts that might be manifested. No one can get too angry because I'm talking about myself, my own class; but Beloved, seek out the gift God has given you, and then be careful you don't prostitute it for your own ends.

Samson, the Pathetic Man

God has given you a tremendous gift of faith. What do you use it for? Do you use it for the benefit of others, or do you use it for the benefit of yourself? God has given gifts time and time again to individuals, and those individuals have started out so marvelously well, and before long they began to prostitute the gift in question for their own benefit, and pretty soon God had to deal with them. The man who prostitutes the gifts which God gives eventually becomes the kind of man Samson became when we describe him as the “pathetic man.”

I don't know of a better word to describe Samson in this particular state. Please go back with me now, to the book of Judges, chapter 16. I don't know of a better word to describe Samson, in the state in which we find him, than the word “pathetic.”

You'll notice, down in verse 15:

Judges 16

15And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;

You see, if he had not been in company with the prostitute, he would never have prostituted his gifts. The kind of company you keep determines how you respect your relationship to God.

You'll notice in verse 17, he couldn't stand it any longer:

Judges 16

17That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Let's stop for a moment. Let's not assume that Samson's strength was in his long hair. His long hair was the sign of his vow. His strength lay in the fact that he was separated unto God, and the only way that men could know that he was a Nazarite was by his long hair. The cutting of his hair did not rob him of his strength, with the idea that his strength was in his long hair. The cutting of his hair robbed him of his strength because it broke his separation, robbed him of his separation. It robbed him of his covenant with God.

We might use the term, in this New Testament age, it broke his fellowship. You see, the man who is controlled by the Holy Spirit is powerful. “For stronger is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.” When fellowship is broken, the Holy Spirit is grieved. We lose our power when we get a spiritual haircut.

Samson told her this would be what it was, so in verse 18 you will notice:

Judges 16

18And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, [You will notice, the other times, she said for them to be waiting in the back bedroom, and she would find out, but she didn't have them there anymore until she knew for sure what it was. When she knew for sure, she said for them to come on up] saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.

You see, his head was shaved; and his strength didn't go from him as soon as the last hair was gone, his strength went from him when he needed it. When there was an opportunity to use it, it wasn't there.

God's Departure From Samson

Notice verse 20:

Judges 16

20And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, [Oh, these are sad, sad, sad, sad words to me] I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

Those are such sad words. He indeed was the pathetic man.

Notice the words “wist not.” They come from the Hebrew word yada , which very literally translated means “he didn't recognize that his strength had departed from him.” You say, “Didn't he know that his hair was cut?” Of course he did. A man who has long hair knows when it is shaved off his head. Nobody needed to tell him that; but you see, Samson had developed the sin of rationalization, which every individual develops when they prostitute God's gifts, which every individual develops when they play fast and loose with the mercy of God. They develop the sin of rationalization. He knew that as long as he kept his Nazarite vows, no man could conquer him; and he rationalized, “Well, maybe I didn't give up my vow just because my hair was cut. Maybe God didn't mean what He said. Though it has happened to other people, maybe it won't happen to me.” On and on and on he rationalized.

He stood up and shook himself like the mighty giant he was. He thought, “This won't be any trouble at all.” He didn't recognize God was no longer with him. “He wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”

I want you to notice that word “departed.” It comes from the Hebrew word cuwr , and it means literally, “to turn away,” “to leave undone.” You see, he didn't realize God had turned away from him. God does that, you know. Oh no, wait just a moment, let's not get into a theological hassle about whether you can lose your salvation and miss the lesson that God has for you. Of course, you can't lose your salvation. You are His; nothing can change that. But oh, Beloved, God can turn away from you. God can leave you undone. God can leave you on your own. God can say to you, “All right, if you would choose the company of a prostitute instead of the company of the person of God, have it your way.” God could say, “If you don't want to use the gift that I gave you for the purpose for which I gave you, if it doesn't mean any more to you than that, then you can barter it away for your own individual pleasure; do as you wish about it. But I am not going to be a party to it.” God turned away, and Samson was undone.

What does that mean, “I'm undone.”? It means, “I don't know what to do.” Isaiah said the same thing, though the same word in the original text was not used; another word was used for the same English word. Remember that when Isaiah got a vision of God, he said, “Woe is me, I am undone, I am a man of uncleanness. I am helpless.” That is what it means: “I am helpless.”

Have you ever felt your own helplessness? Beloved, it is one thing to feel your own helplessness because of your utter dependence upon God. It is another thing to realize your own helplessness because you have sinned and your fellowship has been broken.

A man who lives close to God like Isaiah is constantly conscious of his helplessness. He knows that he has to depend upon God, but a man who lives out of fellowship, as Samson lived out of fellowship, so often is not conscious of his helplessness. He tries to do what can be done in the power of God, but he doesn't know that he doesn't have the power of God with him.

The sad story is repeated here. He doesn't know that he doesn't have the power of God with him. The sad story is repeated here in verse 21. This pathetic man standing up there had taken the jawbone of an ass and slew hundreds of Philistines, but now without the power of God he stood; and the lords of the Philistines came together, a few of them, and they brought him down to Gaza. He couldn't do anything. They bound him. They put out his eyes. Why, if one of them, just before the vow had been broken, had gotten close enough to him to touch his eyes, he could have laid them low with a little blow of his little finger. Here was this mighty man, pathetically in the hands of the Philistines, the people whom God had intended he should defeat. They had taken him, bound him, blinded him, and tied him to a wheel that went round and round and round to grind the grain. Ordinarily they would use two oxen for this. Round and round, day in and day out, hour in and hour out, these oxen would plod. The grain would be ground, but they didn't need two oxen, they had Samson.

Isn't it a sad, sad thing that a man who was destined for such a tremendous ministry should end up in such a sad state? This is sin, Beloved. This is what happens when men don't stay controlled by the Spirit of God. We're not talking about a sinner who has never been saved. We're talking about a man of God, and what can happen to that man of God when that man of God prostitutes the gifts that God gives him. He becomes a pathetic man.

Samson, the Penitent Man

If we had to stop right there, I would have to dismiss you with a sad note, because I am sad when I think about it. But I am glad there is one more thing that we can say about Samson, and that is this pathetic man became a penitent man. I'm so glad that we can close on that note, because not only does it enable me to say something encouraging about Samson, it enables me to say something wonderful and marvelous about our God.

You know the story. We will not take the time to read the actual story. The Philistines gathered together to have a celebration for their god, Dagon, and the idea of the celebration was that Dagon had defeated Jehovah. They said, “Hey, if this is true, why don't we get that fellow, Samson, who has been the champion of Jehovah, and bring him over here, and let's make fun of him?”

They had assigned a little boy to Samson to lead him about. So they sent for Samson. They didn't even bother to send soldiers. What need of soldiers for this man who had lost his power? The little boy led him into the midst of this great crowd of people, thousands of people, and Samson said to the little boy, “Son, take me to where I can put my hands on the pillars.” The boy knew what he meant because the buildings of that day were all built with the entire weight of the building resting upon two pillars right about the middle of the building. They had other walls, but two main pillars. He said, “Son, will you take me so I can rest my hands on those two middle pillars?”

Now look at verse 28:

Judges 16

28And 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.
29And 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.
30And 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.
31Then 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.

Let us not miss the point today by wondering whether Samson ought to have killed all these people or not. This was his ministry, to deliver Israel from the Philistines. That is why God called him, and if the deliverance meant killing these people, this was God's order, not Samson's, and God was not unjust to do it.

I call to your attention the penitent man because it brings tears to my eyes when I read here in verse 28 what Samson said: “Oh, Lord God, I pray Thee, remember me, and strengthen me this one more time. Oh, Lord God, remember me.” Beloved, I am glad that we can all pray that prayer when our fellowship is broken. I'm glad that no matter how far away from God we get, we can pray that prayer; “Remember me.” I would remind you that the word “remember” comes from the Hebrew word zakar, which means literally “think on me.” “Remember me, Lord, think on me. Turn Your thoughts toward me.”

The Prayer of the Penitent

I want to say something that is somewhat of an aside, but it is related. It's important to remember. Maybe there is someone you love who isn't living for God. Maybe they are out of fellowship; maybe they are not interested in saying “Remember me.” They haven't had a spiritual haircut. You know, sometimes it takes a spiritual haircut before people are willing to remember the Lord. Maybe they have not been blinded by sin, as Samson was blinded physically. Maybe they haven't been put to grinding the mill and their life at the moment is not so unpleasant that they are saying, “Lord think about me.” The good thing to know is that you can pray that prayer for them. So if somebody is on your heart, you can say, “Lord, remember them, wherever they are. Lord, think on them.” And when God thinks about somebody, they get His attention, believe you me.

When Samson said, “Lord, think on me, think on me just this once. I've only got one last request, Lord, think on me, and strengthen me, only this one more time.” The word “strengthen” comes from the Hebrew word chazaq , which means “cure me.” “Lord, I am sick of sin; cure me. Lord, I have done so much damage to myself the life I've lived; repair me. Lord, I am helpless, I can't do anything. Take hold of me, Lord.”

Of course, you already know without my telling you that God answered his prayer. But the thing that I do want to emphasize to you, I want you to carry it with you always, and I want you to emphasize it to everybody you know, God never turns a deaf ear to the penitent's prayer. You might pray selfishly, and I might pray selfishly. Sometimes God might have to say, “I'm just not going to hear that prayer. I'm not going to grant you what you are asking,” but God has never turned a deaf ear to the man who says, “Lord, remember me. Lord, I have been such a fool, cure me, repair me, take hold of me one last time.”

Death to Self

God did. The story is that Samson killed more Philistines–keep in mind that was his ministry–in his death than he did in his life. Now this was a physical thing, but I want to draw a lesson. Samson was willing to die. Did you notice that? Did you notice, in verse 30, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines. Lord, I want to deliver these people from the Philistines.” Oh, I know, he said, “I want to avenge my eyes,” but that was because they had laid their hand on God's anointed. “I want to deliver Israel from the Philistines, and I'm willing to die to do it.” He never said that before. You read the story of Samson, and all it appeared that he was ready to do was to satisfy his own fleshly lust; that's all, and he didn't accomplish anything. When he reached the place where he was ready to die, things happened.

Let me make the spiritual application, and I can tell you what perhaps all of you already know. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit.” I have used this illustration before. You are all familiar with the life of George Mueller. If you have never read his biography, you ought to read it. A great man of God, he operated an orphanage in Bristol, England, by faith and had tremendous answers to prayer. He was known among the Christian world as a man of prayer.

One day a young man said to George Mueller, “Mr. Mueller, will you tell me how you got such great power in prayer, how you had such contact with God.” And the person who relates the story in one of his biographies said that Mr. Mueller sat where he was and said nothing for awhile. He had a long, white beard, and they said quietly he sat, and his head got lower and lower and lower until his chin rested upon his chest. His beard was almost down to his waist, but very quietly he said, “Young man, there came a day when George Mueller died; there came a day when George Mueller died.” Without being melodramatic, I want to say to you, Beloved, if your life ever amounts to anything for God, there is going to have to come a day when you die.

Paul said, “I have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.” There has to come a day when you die.

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