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Playing With Fire Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2024 12:00 am

Playing With Fire Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 26, 2024 12:00 am

Welcome back! In the previous episode, we witnessed the tragic beginning of Samson's downfall. Blinded by lust and tempted by the lure of forbidden things, he began a dangerous slide into compromise. Samson, a man of legendary strength, succumbed to the weakness of his own desires.

Now, as his story continues, we'll see the full extent of his crash... and the glimmering possibility of redemption amidst the ruins of his life. Let's rejoin Stephen as he dives deeper into this cautionary tale from the Book of Judges.


Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered something like this?

How did I ever come to this point? If you could have shown Samson a photograph at this point in his life of himself a year from that point, he would not have believed it. That he is this weary man, bent over from hard labor, with empty eye sockets, chained to a millstone.

There is no way that's me. If we had the ability to see into the future, and to see the consequences of our decisions, it would have a profound impact. That's especially true when it comes to the consequences of our sin. Sometimes we face consequences that, earlier in life, we thought could never happen to us.

Sin has that effect, and that's why we need to learn strategies to help us deal with sin effectively. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey concludes a series entitled Breaking Up Stony Ground. Stephen closes this series with this lesson called Playing with Fire. Now we divided up Samson's biography into three chapters in this case study of temptation. We called the first chapter the word sliding.

Just simply that, sliding. Samson is governed by his eyes. He is sliding on the toboggan of lust. It's time now to watch him get introduced to a featherweight named Delilah. We're going to call this next chapter in Samson's life by this one word, crashing.

From sliding to finally, crashing. Let's rejoin the narrative here at chapter 16 and notice verse 10. Then Delilah said to Samson, behold, you're mocking me. You're telling me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.

In other words, tell me the secret to who you are. And he said, well, if they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man. Now between this verse and the next is at least a day or two, maybe more. Delilah is either purchasing or she has delivered to her new ropes. Then she says to him, you know, one evening, hey, let's play that game again. You remember that secret you told me? Oh, let's just try it.

I want to see if you're really telling me the truth. And she wraps him with rope. Notice the text reads, but he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread. Now from the way the narrative unfolds, Delilah immediately says to Samson, verse 13, until now you have mocked me and told me lies.

Tell me how you might be bound. Again, beloved, I think here's what's happening. Look, I love you and you say you love me and I want to know what makes you tick and you keep making fun of me. You keep laughing at me by withholding the secret. You're just toying with me, coming up with these strange things. It isn't funny, Samson. You shouldn't keep secrets from me any longer if we're ever going to make it any further.

Tell me how you might be bound. Would you notice for the first time Samson comes dangerously close to the truth. For the first time he mentions his hair, verse 13, the middle part, and he said to her, if you weave the seven locks of my hair, you weave my braids with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I'll become weak.

I'll be like any other man. Let me just kind of paraphrase what happens in our vernacular. So while he slept, this time he's sleeping, Delilah effectively wound his braided hair into a small portable weaver's shot hole she had nearby. And then she said, Samson, the Philistines are coming. But he awoke and disentangled his hair from the loom and in the process ruined her sewing machine. And she said, watch this, verse 15, how can you say you love me when your heart is not with me?

That's why the danger signs aren't flying around. He has no idea Philistines are hiding in the attic. She's saying, how can you say you love me when the very secret of your heart that governs your life is kept from me? I'm just trying to figure out who you are, Samson. Verse 16, and when she pressed him hard with her words, day after day, see some time is going by now, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. Let's learn here that temptation resisted does not mean temptation grows weaker.

Sometimes it grows stronger and more stubborn and more persistent. Finally, verse 17, he told her all his heart. He said to her, a razor's never come to my head, for I've been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb.

If my head is shaved, my strength will leave me and I'll become weak and be like any other man. By the way, the Philistines have grown so tired of this game and all the false alarms, Delilah has to go and send a message to them to get them to come back and go back into the attic. But she knew this time she'd been told the secret. So more than likely she smuggles a note out the next day and she tells the Philistine kings, by the way I want to see the money, I know he's told me the truth and I'm going to want to deposit that immediately into my account.

This time she gets him to fall asleep with his head in her lap. Verse 19, and while he sleeps, a Philistine barber shows up, cuts off his hair. Hey, let's play the game again. Hey, Samson, wake up. The Philistines are coming, they're upon you.

And he awoke from his sleep and he said, I will go out as at other times and shake myself free, but he did not know that the Lord had left him. Now, for the first time he's confronted with Philistine warriors. I imagine he swings his once powerful fist against a Philistine shield and this time, to his surprise, his hand crumples in pain. He's grabbed from behind. He strains to free himself. He's bellowing. His mind is racing.

His heart is beating. This cannot be happening. Listen, for decades, Samson had kept this one part of his vow. He'd broken the others by now, but not this one. And God had remained by virtue of the Nazarite vow empowering him for his purposes, but not now. Verse 21 reads, and the Philistines seized him. Notice the rapid nature of this crash. They seized him, gouged out his eyes, brought him down to Gaza, bound him with bronze shackles, and he ground at the mill in the prison.

His hair began to grow again. This is one of the most difficult tasks performed by only the lowest of the slaves. The Romans and the Greeks, in fact, used to punish their slaves by making them turn this stone grinder in a mill. The crash has occurred.

Sliding, sliding, sliding, crashing. I remember several years ago reading a journal for pastors and church leaders about a Christian young man who was increasingly becoming enslaved to pornography, was beginning to lead him ever closer to acting out through fornication. He was, at the time of this article in his early 30s, coming to terms with the fact that he was definitely in need of help. He wanted to break free and decided to tell his story to a pastor he knew, pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in the country.

The article kept both men's names anonymous. He finally arranged to have lunch with this pastor, a man who respected, while they were both traveling in another state. And over lunch, the article said, with a lot of trepidation at first, this younger man began pouring out his story to this middle-aged, well-respected leader. He finally finished his story and sat back waiting for shock or a lecture or some kind of rebuke or perhaps some wisdom and guidance on what steps to take next. Instead, this older gentleman's eyes filled with tears and he began to weep. Finally, he looked up and said to his young friend, you have just described the journey I've been on. Only for me, it developed into one adulterous liaison, one sinful act after another. And he pulled from his coat pocket a piece of paper and he slid it across the restaurant table and said, this is the list of medical prescriptions I pick up when I'm out of town to battle the number of sexually transmitted diseases I now suffer with.

Neither of those men would have ever imagined 20 years earlier how far their slide would take them before they realized that their toys of temptation had morphed into a tragic trap. It isn't long before Samson begins to hear the chanting mob gathering for a celebration. If you look over at verse 23, we're informed that the cities of Philistia plan a great feast. They're going to sacrifice in honor of their god, Dagon, the same god of the corrupt Ninevites, the Ninevites to whom Jonah will eventually preach. They're celebrating Samson's capture. It's going to be held in the stadium of Gaza. From all we can put together, this was a massive building with a covered portion supported by pillars on stone bases that looked out over a huge arena.

The dignitaries sat underneath the portico where columns supported the upper portion which was a sloped roof and it provided effectively stadium seating for 3,000 people or more. And they made Samson, verse 25 tells us, entertain them. Let me clear up what's happening. It's the same verb used over in 2 Samuel chapter 6 where David is dancing before the ark. Same verb. They compel Samson to dance. But this is no random jumping and leaping. It was, we learn this from 2 Samuel's account, this is the war dance of Israel. This is the national anthem of the nation that came with all of the movements of this choreography.

This is the national dance of victory nations had adopted them in ancient days. In other words, the Philistines and the 3,000 people seated in the stadium are forcing blind Samson to go out into the courtyard and dance the war dance of Israel and more than likely chant their national anthem and they jeer him and they jeer his God. God is going to bring the house down not just to answer Samson's prayer requests to be used once more in battle but to judge the blasphemy of the Philistines. Chapter 1 in Samson's biography could be called sliding. Chapter 2 could be called crashing.

Chapter 3 can be entitled renewing. Sliding, collapsing but the narrative now trembles. It shimmers with hope and grace. Now there are two signs that Samson's heart and mind have changed. First, Samson verbalizes genuine repentance. Look at his prayer in verse 28. Then Samson called to the Lord and said, O Lord God, please remember me.

Now stop there for a moment. The Hebrew word for remember is important to understand. If we want to understand his prayer, it's a word linked in the Bible to the idea of forgiving and forgetting and it's used interestingly by Isaiah as he quotes God speaking, Behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. In other words, God is effectively saying I am choosing to forget. Isaiah 65, 17. So Samson is effectively saying, Lord, would you choose to forget? Here, remember me that is in so doing, please don't remember my sins. This is a heartfelt broken prayer of repentance to God.

The wonderful lesson at this moment, by the way, is to discover that no matter how far we fall in our experience, we never fall beyond the possibility of God's forgiveness and even some form of usefulness. Secondly, Samson not only verbalizes genuine repentance, he verbalizes genuine dependence. Look further in verse 28. He says, Please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes. You know what strikes me here is that Samson now recognizes that his strength does not come from his hair, but from God. The hair was the symbol of the Nazarite vow and God chose to acknowledge the keeping of that and through that empowering him, but it was the power of God and Samson realizes that now.

So let me put it to you this way. Blind Samson can finally see. He can finally see.

Spiritual vision is renewed and in fact, perhaps for the very first time, he can see what matters most. So God answers his prayer, as you know, verse 30, the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. It just all went splat. By the way, this would be tantamount to America losing in one catastrophe, the president and the vice president and their entire cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Supreme Court, all of Congress and all of the Fortune 500 CEOs in one fell swoop.

That's what happened to this nation. All five kings are killed, all the dignitaries, all the luminaries, all who had stadium seats, the movers and the shakers of the Philistine world are crushed. The Bible reads in verse 30 sort of this epitaph that Samson killed more at the time of his death than he had ever killed in any and in every battle combined during his life.

Now, if we understand this correctly, this is not your fairy tale ending, is it? God forgave Samson, but Samson lost a full reward and ultimately because of the consequences of his sin, he lost his life. Samson's hair grew back, but his eyes didn't. Samson was restored by God to a demonstration of power, but not to the office of power and that of being a Nazarite judge. Samson had toyed with sin for 20 years.

His chief weakness was his eyes, sexual lust and the fornication that followed the very sin that the Apostle Paul tells us to run from. Don't debate it. Don't defend it.

Don't come up with some reasonable need to justify it. Don't flirt with it. Don't hand out your business card to it.

Don't answer the phone when it calls. Run from it. Run from it.

You're playing with fire, so run for cover. Run for the sake of your family. Run for the sake of your testimony. Run for the sake of your integrity. Run for the sake of your spiritual vitality. Run for the sake of your church, your brothers and sisters. Run for the sake of your own future. You cannot, you cannot tame a blazing fire. Run.

Run for your life. And Puritan prayed it this way, Lord, I marvel that thou shouldst become incarnate, be crucified, dead and buried, and yet your grave calls forth my adoring wonder for it is empty and thou art risen. The fourfold gospel attests it. The living witnesses prove it.

My heart's experience knows it. Give me to die with thee that I may rise to new life for I wish to be dead and buried to sin, to selfishness, to the world that I might not hear the voice of the charmer, that I might not be delivered to its lusts. Lord, there is much ill about me. Crucify it. There's much flesh within me.

Mortify it. Daily purge me from selfishness, the fear of man, the love of praise, the shame of being thought old-fashioned, the desire to be cultivated or modern. Let me reckon my old life dead because of crucifixion and never feed it this old life as if it were a living thing. Grant me to stand with my dying savior, to be content, to be rejected, to be willing to take up unpopular truths to hold fast despised teachings until death. Help me to be resolute and Christ-contained. Never let me wander from the path of obedience to thy will.

Strengthen me for the battles ahead. Give me courage for all the trials and grace for all my joys. Help me to be a holy person, free from pursuing every wrong desire, from everything contrary to thy mind. Grant me more and more of the resurrection life.

May it rule me. May I walk in your power and be strengthened through its influence every day. Father, thank you that you have chosen to give us a few verses on men from these ancient days who did things right and chapters on the lives of men who did it wrong.

We can never blame you for not giving us enough information, for not giving us enough of a warning. As we have together, Lord, as an assembly studied, truths from your Word related to those temptations, those sins that create so quickly a hardened heart, a calloused conscience. I pray we've ended in a balanced, correct place that the danger is ever near. And this is a battle upon which we should choose daily to depend upon you, not partially, but totally. And so you've shown us even in this study of man who lost so much.

Thank you that we can be renewed even tonight and we don't need to lose or miss tomorrow. But it will require of us honesty and accountability and perhaps even help. I'm grateful, Father, for ministries here that can help men struggling with pornography. There are godly men who will come alongside other men who are struggling with temptation.

Thank you for that. I pray every man here who's sliding in the toboggan that this will call them, this will alert them, encourage them to come to you first and foremost in repentance and trust. For every woman as well, in whatever battle, whatever lure, whatever fantasy, whatever myth or temptation that may be capturing her mind, that this would arrest her too. That we as brothers and sisters might encourage and even enable by your Spirit's power the ability of mentoring and accountability and praying and studying together, even hearing one another sing and worship to stand. So we leave here, Father, more aware, I pray, of our dependence upon you, of our gratitude for your grace because we sin and we sin. We don't want to have sin abounding so that your grace would simply abound to us as your servant Paul wrote.

God forbid that. Help us to take advantage fully of your grace. And now, Lord, cleanse us, renew us, strengthen us, set our feet upon the rock of truth and enable us to enter our world tomorrow that will flash before us a thousand times the commercial. Help us to see it for what it truly is.

A mirage at best, a trap at worst. And not for our name's sake, not for our church's sake, though we will all be blessed by it, but for your name's sake, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. With that, we bring this message and this series to a close. Stephen Davey has been working through a series entitled Breaking Up Stony Ground here on Wisdom for the Heart. If you missed any of the messages along the way and would like to go back and listen, we've posted the entire series to our website, which you'll find at

You'll also find these resources on our smartphone app, which is available in the iTunes and the Google Play stores. There's one more way that this series is available. We have it available as a set of CDs.

And if you'd like this resource for your library or to share with a friend, we can make it available to you. Give us a call today at 866-48-BIBLE and we'll give you information on how you can get the series Breaking Up Stony Ground. Once again, that number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Beginning with our next broadcast, we're going to bring you a series from the book of Philippians. It's a series called To the Citizens of Heaven and we begin in Philippians 1-1 next time. As we prepare for that series, I want you to know that Stephen has a book that teaches through Philippians. That book is featured beginning today at a deeply discounted rate. If you'd like to get a copy, ask about it when you call today. I hope you'll be with us next time, right here on Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-26 00:07:46 / 2024-04-26 00:16:19 / 9

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