Samson: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
If you have your Bibles, let’s open them to the book of Judges, chapter 13. We’ve been in Judges on Sunday nights. We will just about finish up this morning.
Some of your old-timers will remember this tune. It’s the tune to that old western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. So, today on Western Sunday, we’re talking about some people you’ve dated a long time ago. All three of them — the good, the bad, and the ugly. No, I’m just kidding. But I’m going to speak this morning about a man in the book of Judges whose life could be described as the good, the bad, and then the ugly. Samson.
We still start looking down in Judges 13:24: “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.”
Let’s pray. Father, bless the reading of Thy Word. I pray that You would help us as we look at this life and learn from it. You don’t put people’s lives — the good and the bad — in the Bible just to entertain us or take up space. It’s there to help us. Help us learn — not the hard way or learn from experience — but learn from other people’s experiences. I pray that You would meet with us today and help us. A lot of different needs. A lot of stuff on our minds. For some, it’s bills. For others, personal issues. Others, it’s emotional battles. For some, it’s housing. Others, it’s pain, rejection, emotional, spiritual, all sorts of things. Lord, only You can take one short message and give everyone something. So, we ask that You do that. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
He has been called the strongest man that ever lived. And we’re talking physically. His name was Sampson. One day, he got angry at the enemies and picked up the city gates. He picked them up, carried them to a hill, and left them there. Another time, he was in a battle — not an MMA battle in one cage — but he fought 1,000 men single-handedly. He picked up the jawbone of a donkey, and that was his weapon. He killed 1,000 men by himself. He’s the one that when they tied him up as a prisoner with all these ropes, he just broke the ropes like they were flax that had melted. He’s the one that put his hands on the two major pillars of the temple, pushed and broke the pillars, causing the temple to come down. I would say he was a pretty strong man.
His background. He lived in the days of the judges. This was a time when God had judged the nation of Israel, much like America. They had turned their back on the Word of God. They decided to do their own thing. When God spoke, they did not listen. And the key verse where it says “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” There is a difference between what is right and what is right in our own eyes. And that’s how they lived. In other words, their philosophy was, “If it feels good, do it.” “If it feels good to me, it doesn’t matter how it hurts anybody else. I am all that matters.” And that is the theme of this book of Judges.
The Philistines. God had removed His hand of protection from Israel. The Philistines, an enemy nation, had taken over the nation of Israel. It was a sad day. The temple was not being used. God was not being glorified. A lot of chaos was going on. So, what did He do in His mercy? He sent what we call a deliverer or a judge to help get the people out of this sad time.
And maybe you’ve experienced that. You’ve gone into captivity where you’ve had dark times and dark valleys. Maybe God sent a Bible verse, or God sent a sermon, or God sent a friend, or God sent something or someone to help you realize, like the song says, “He still loves you, and He still cares.”
And so that’s what this book is about. He sends his deliverer named Sampson. If you have your Bible, I want you to look first at how it began The Good.
Judges 13:3–5 “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God…” In other words, God had a special plan for him. Judges 13:5b “…from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
And so when, when the mother of Samson is going to have this child, an angel appears and announces it. Judges 13:8 “Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.”
So, they were teachable. He says, “We don’t know how to raise kids. This will be our first one.” By the way, how many of you were the firstborn child? They experimented on you. You are the ones that got all the whoopings, huh? You got caught for everything. And how many of you are the caboose? You’re the last child? You spoiled ones. Got away with murder. Your paddle had a pillow on it so when they paddled, you wouldn’t get hurt, and you got to do whatever you wanted to.
So, here’s Sampson. His parents say, “We don’t know how to raise this child. Would you instruct us? Would you teach us how? There’re no books out on parenting to read.”
And then we see in Judges 13:17 “And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?” He wanted to honor this angel that came and announced this good news. Judges 13:24 “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.”
So, we see the good here. Samson had a godly heritage. He had parents that loved God. He had parents that wanted to do right. He had teachable parents. The angel instructed them what to do. He would be a Nazarite. That simply meant following a kind of strange set of rules. He couldn’t cut his hair, couldn’t eat anything from a vine — grapes, raisins, anything — for some reason. God said he would be a special person, and that’s part of it. People will see the seven ponytails coming out of your hair. They’ll know you’re a Nazarite and that you have a special job from God.
So, he had a great upbringing. He had great potential. An angel announced his birth. God says I’ve got something special for you. Potential.
By the way, that’s what everyone has in this room right now. We do not know who is really in this room. We don’t know the potential in the kid’s Sunday School classes today. It could be the next president. Could be the next prime minister. Could be some great inventor. It could be some great evangelist. We don’t know. But I know this: we all have potential.
The first part of Samson’s life was good.
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Hopewell Baptist Church is an Independent Baptist Church in Napa, California pastored by Mike Ray. It is Bible-based with a warm, friendly atmosphere. Hopewell is dedicated to bringing the water of life to the Napa Valley and beyond.