Dumber than Rocks
Posted on 09/20/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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- Carlos Hesten
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IT IS YOU
As we lift up our hands
will you meet us here
As we call on your name
will you meet us here
We have come to this place
to worship you
God of mercy and grace
It is you we adore
It is you praises are for
Only you, the heavens declare
It is you, it is you
Holy holy is our God Almighty
Holy holy is his name alone (yeah)
Holy holy is our God Almighty
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Will you meet us in this place
by your mercy and grace
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto Lord a new song
sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great,
and greatly to be praised!
I CHOOSE TO WORSHIP
I could stand outside your gates
and never enter in
I could let this moment pass
and go my way again
I could just keep silent
and hold from you my praise
Or I could give my heart away
I choose to worship
I choose to love you
To reach out and touch your heart
I want to know you
Here in this moment
O I choose to worship you
I won't stand outside your gates
and never enter in
I won't let this moment pass
and go my way again
How can I keep silent
and hold from you my praise
Lord I give my heart away
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of today's message is, "Dumber than Rocks."
You probably know the story of Samson. His name has become synonomous with strength. Once, he single-handedly killed a thousand of their enemies, using a donkey's jaw bone as his weapon.
I don't know what his parents fed him, or what vitamins he took; we do know that he didn't drink wine and he didn't cut his hair. His strength didn't come from spending time at the gym or eating right. His strength came from God. And as we see from the way his life came to an end, he was strong only when God made him strong.
So it wasn't diet or exercise that gave him his strength, and it most certainly wasn't intelligence. Samson was about as dumb as a box of rocks.
But we'll get to that in just a minute. First, let's back up a little and take a look at Samson's beginnings, for he was a child of promise.
Just like so many times before and so many times after, Israel had displeased God with their actions, and God turned them over to their enemies.
We find this account in the book of Judges, and chapter 13. Judges, chapter 13, beginning with verse 1:
1 Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
Fourty years. That's a long time to be turned over to your enemy. Compare that to a life sentence in prison. Generally, you'd be behind bars for 25 years before parol could be considered. That's a really long time to be in bondage. But the Israelites, at least in this particular instance, were in the hands of their enemies for almost twice that long, 40 years. An entire generation.
Let's read on.
2 Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children.
3 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
Isn't it interesting how God works? Elizabeth was barren, but an angel of the Lord appeared to her and promised her a son; and not just any son, but the one who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
Mary was a virgin and could not possibly be pregnant, but an angel of the Lord appeared to her and promised her a son; and not just any son, but the Savior of the world, who would save the world from their sin.
And Samson's mother was barren, but an angel of the Lord appeared to her and promised her a son; and not just any son, but one who would begin to deliver God's people from their captivity.
4 Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean.
5 For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
Remember what the angel said about John the Baptist? He was never to taste strong drink. There were instructions, conditions, which had to be obeyed. In fact, in this case, Samson's mother was instructed to observe these same restrictions, as we're about to read.
And Samson was to be set apart to God from the womb, never having his hair cut, or eating the fruit of the vine, or drinking wine. There were also a number of other vows a Nazarite had to take. Most of which Samson broke. But we'll get to that in just a few.
Down to verse 13:
13 So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful.
14 She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe."
24 So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
In the next chapter, which we won't take the time to read right now, Samson falls for a Philistine woman. As he is going to talk with her, a lion attacks him. The Spirit of the Lord moves upon him, and he kills the lion with his bare hands. As he returns from where he was headed, he notices that a swarm of bees was in the lion, along with honey.
Now let's think about that for just a moment. One of Samson's Nazarite vows was that he could not touch anything dead. The lion was certainly dead. And it's interesting to remember that it was God who gave him the strength to kill the lion in the first place.
And as Samson passed by, it says that "he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion."
Wouldn't you? I mean, think about it. You're He-man. You tore a hungry lion apart with your bare hands. Ug! And now you walk over to gaze upon your glorious victory.
Is it normal to find bees in a recently-killed animal? And more than that, to find it full of honey? Maybe I haven't watched enough National Geographic, but I kind of doubt it. It takes time to make honey, and what self-respecting colony of bees would build a hive in a rotting animal?
Here's an idea: Samson apparently liked honey, because he took it home. Could it be that God put the honey there? Perhaps the bees were there because the lion was full of honey. But, then, God doesn't tempt us to sin, and for Samson, touching that dead lion was breaking his vow. So just maybe that honey was put there by satan, or by another fallen angel.
Whatever the source of the honey, Samson wouldn't have seen it and been tempted by it if he hadn't stepped aside to gaze proudly upon his work.
Have you done something you think is great? There's nothing wrong with being pleased with your work. But beware! There just might be a bit of honey stuck in the middle of it, perhaps even by the enemy himself.
Consider cases such as Jim Baaker, or the many other ministers who have fallen because they saw some golden honey inside of something they had done, something which they now must keep their hands off of.
At any rate, Samson broke his vow and touched the dead lion, and brought the honey home to his parents. But he refused to tell his parents where he had gotten the honey. Was he going to tell them he broke his vow?
And it didn't end there. Samson was so pleased with himself, that he just couldn't keep quiet about it.
At his wedding feast, he posed a riddle, and promised 30 linen garments and 30 changes of clothing to whoever could solve it.
The riddle went like this: "Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet."
He broke his vow, but was so proud of himself and just HAD to let the world know, without outright blowing his secret.
That reminds me of the child who has done something they know they weren't supposed to do, but it is on their mind so strongly that they keep hinting at it, until they blow their own cover.
And here was Samson, in one of his many "dumber than rocks" moments. But no one could solve the riddle.
So the Philistines threatened Samson's wife and said they would burn her and her father's house. And after a week of crying every night in an effort to get the answer, he finally told her.
Doesn't that sound like another woman Samson just couldn't refuse? But we'll get to that in just a moment.
So Samson told his wife the answer, and she told the Philistines. Surprisingly enough, Samson knew that his wife had spilled the beans, because he said to the men, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!"
He really should have remembered this lesson.
But what happened next? Well, let's take a look at verses 3 and 4 of Judges 14, and see what it says about this situation, so we will understand what happens next.
Samson was begging his father to let him marry this woman, and in verse three, we read this:
3 Then his father and mother said to him, "Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" And Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well."
4 But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD -- that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
So this Philistine woman was God's idea! And everything is playing out perfectly.
First, a lion attacks Samson and God enables him to kill it with his bare hands.
Next, the lion is full of honey, and Samson has to break a vow to get the honey, sealing his lips from telling what happened, but burning in his heart so he has to let it out SOME how.
Then, he has his chance to tell his secret without actually telling it, and poses a riddle to the Philistines.
Next, his weakness for the feminine charm causes him to tell the secret to his wife.
Then, he realizes his wife betrayed him, and he is angry.
Let's see what happens next, starting with verse 19:
19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father's house.
20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
That's quite some setup, don't you think? All that just to kill 30 men. And then, when he gets back home, his wife is with his best man!
But once again, Samson demonstrates his great brilliance, for in the next chapter, we read this:
1 After a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat. And he said, "Let me go in to my wife, into her room." But her father would not permit him to go in.
2 Her father said, "I really thought that you thoroughly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister better than she? Please, take her instead."
3 And Samson said to them, "This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!"
So it took Samson awhile to even realize she had been given to his friend. But once again, this was part of the unfolding story. God's purpose for this wild story was not finished, and the story continued to unfold still.
So Samson caught 300 foxes, turned them tail-to-tail, and put a torch between their tails, then set the torches on fire and set them loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. They managed to burn up not only their grain, but also their vineyards and olive groves.
Yes, the little foxes spoil the grapes, especially when they have lit torches tied to their tails!
Of course this made the Philistines very angry, and they came out to put an end to this Samson character.
Samson did something the Israelites didn't like, something that went against what they thought should be done, something that displeased them. The thing is, they were fallen human beings who themselves were not in right standing with God.
The truth is, THEY did something GOD didn't like, something that went against what he knew should be done, something that displeased him. That's why they were in captivity to their enemies.
And just as they bound Samson and delivered him to his enemies, so God had bound Israel and delivered them to THEIR enemies.
But in both of these, God displayed his glory and power and his patience and mercy toward his people of promise.
Let's read on, starting in verse 14:
14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.
15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.
16 Then Samson said: "With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey, I have slain a thousand men!"
17 And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi (or, Jawbone Height).
18 Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, "You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?"
19 So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore (or, Spring of the Caller), which is in Lehi to this day.
20 And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
God's purpose for this story in Samson's life was not to kill 30 enemies, but a thousand. The story simply had to play itself out.
How many stories are playing out in our lives right now? Maybe we've been like Samson and have broken vows, made careless decisions, said things we should have kept to ourselves, and have honestly been dumber than rocks?
But just hold on! Don't think everything is lost! For just as God used even Samson's mistakes and bad choices to bring freedom to his people, so he has written his OWN ending to every story in your life.
But let's change gears here. Let's consider this point in Samson's life as our present time, in fact, as TODAY. Of course there are stories in your life that have not ended, or that you think have ended but have not. But regardless of what you've done in the past, there's absolutely no reason for your life to end the way Samson's did.
You see, Samson had a real weakness for women. In Judges chapter 16, Samson sees a prostitute and sleeps with her. The Philistines surround the place, but Samson sneaks out at midnight and takes the city gates with him.
You'd think Samson got away with it. But while the act of fornication had ended, the cancer of sin was still in his heart.
In the next few verses, we read about the infamous Delilah, who was sent by the enemy to entice him.
And here we see any ounce of Samson's intelligence melt into a soppy mess, as he is lured by his passions into the darkest time of his life.
In Judges 16 and verse 6, we read this:
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."
7 And Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
8 So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
Remember how Samson knew his wife had told the Philistines his secret? He was so angry with her, that it was a very long time before he knew that she had been given to his friend.
But, then, he was married to her. They weren't living in sin. Delilah was a different story.
Samson wasn't all that brilliant to begin with. And trust me, no matter how bright you or I think we are, we're not all that clever. Not really.
But then we see one event that spells out Samson's doom. It was not Delilah. Rather, it was that inner sin that was played out with the prostitute. He was obviously spending the night with Delilah. It sounds as though they lived together. Don't think for a moment that you can live with some guy or girl, and it's not that big of a deal. There is a price to pay, and if you don't repent and get out of that sinful situation, it just might be your spiritual life.
Samson was a man who obeyed his passions. And if our passions are not brought to the obedience of Christ, then you and I will end up, in one way or another, just like Samson.
So here is Samson, with this woman to whom he is not married, obeying his passions rather than his vows to God. And even though it should have been obvious that Delilah was out to kill him, here's what happened after her first attempt, starting in verse 10:
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with."
11 So he said to her, "If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
Of course she bound him securely with new ropes that had never been used, and the Philistines attacked. This happened time after time, and yet Samson, under the shadow of his sin, didn't get it.
In fact, he ends up telling her the truth. And, duh, as if he shouldn't have known, she had his head shaved.
20 And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
He knew his hair had been cut. You don't go your whole life without a hair cut and not know when it's been chopped off. So he knew his HAIR had departed from him. What he DIDN'T know was that the LORD had departed from him.
After all, why should He? Samson had touched a dead animal, and God had not left him. He had slept with a prostitute, and God had not left him. He was living with a woman he wasn't married to, and God had not left him. In fact, every time his enemies attacked, God delivered him, giving him supernatural strength.
What is the bigger sin? Sleeping with a prostitute, or cutting your hair? Surely, if Samson were going to "cross the line" with God, it would have to be with something bigger than fornicating with a hooker.
But God doesn't think like we do. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways. After all the big sins Samson had committed and the big vows he had broken, this one small thing was the sin that caused the presence of the Lord to leave him.
In the next verse, we read this:
21 Then the Philistines took (Samson) and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.
So here is Samson, weak, blind, and in chains, grinding grain in prison for his enemies.
But Samson's weakness did not begin here, for he had been weak to his passions for years.
Samson's blindness did not begin here, for he had been losing his sight for years, and was blind in the arms of his seductress.
Samson's chains did not begin here, for he had been bound by his sins for many years.
And as his hair was cut away from his head, so the veil between the spiritual and the natural worlds was cut away, and his spiritual weakness, blindness, and captivity spilled over into the physical in one single night.
Where is YOUR invisible line? It might not be some big, horrendous thing like you'd think it is. And whether or not you ever cross it, that line will only bring out into the open what has been true in the spirit for years.
Are you spiritually weak? If you're not breathing the air of God's presence throughout your day, eating the bread of God's Word every day, and fellowshiping with him for strength, sight, and freedom, then you are weak. That's all there is to it.
Are you spiritually blind? Sin and compromise will blind you. Even if you can solve complex problems or build working space ships from tin cans in your sleep, if you have sin or compromise in your life, you just might already be spiritually dumber than rocks.
Are you spiritually captive? If you obey sin or fear, than you are captive to it. In fact, WHATEVER you obey, you are captive to that thing. Make sure you're obeying the Word and the voice of God, and ignoring anything that would go against his command.
Well, we know the end of the story. Let's read the last few verses of Judges chapter 16, and then we'll close with a time of prayer and ministry.
Judges chapter 16, starting with verse 23:
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said:
"Our god has delivered into our hands
Samson our enemy!"
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said:
"Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy,
The destroyer of our land,
And the one who multiplied our dead."
25 So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may perform for us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars.
26 Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them."
27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there -- about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, "O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!"
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left.
30 Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.
31 And his brothers and all his father's household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.
Even through his time of torment, even through his darkest life's story which he had inspired with his own hand, God still wrote His own ending.
Here were the enemies of God's people, praising a false god for defeating the one sent by the True and Living God.
And they thought they would get a kick out of putting Samson on display and having him perform tricks. They thought they would get a few laughs, but they had no idea he was going to bring the house down.
As we read this, we're glad that the enemies of God were destroyed. It seems as though Samson has the last laugh. But notice his prayer. He didn't ask for strength so that these enemies would know their false god has no strength to deliver. He didn't ask for strength to glorify the God of Israel and magnify his name among the nations. Instead, he prayed for strength so he could take vengence on the Philistines for putting out his eyes.
Oh Samson, great man burdened down with passions and pride, those things which were really what led you bound to this place of torment. Now you are put on display, a public spectical, and even now, those passions which control you are crying out to God to get back at the people who put out your eyes. Not for his glory or the deliverance of his people, but to avenge your own honor and loss.
God still re-wrote the end of your story for good. But what might your life had been if you had kept your vows, and walked with the Lord your God?
We may never know what might have been. But we WILL know how YOUR life will end. And I would like to encourage you to not take the same path Samson took. Don't compromise with sin. Don't let your passions control you. Don't be a spiritual weakling who is also just one hair cut away from your destruction.
Don't wait until the Spirit of the Lord has left you, your eyes have been put out, and you are put on display for the enemy to mock. Instead, cry out to the Lord to strengthen you NOW.
Just as Samson did on the day he died, cry out to God:
"O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on your enemies, and that I may be set free to serve you, to walk with you, and to live the life you have ordained for me to live!"
Anyone here today who's on the ministry team, please come stand at the front.
Maybe you've messed up like Samson did. Maybe you've obeyed your passions and pride, maybe you've compromised with what you know God wants you to do, or to not do. Maybe you've let yourself grow spiritually weak.
But just as God did in Samson's life, so he will rewrite the ending of every story in your life so that it serves his purpose. And, unlike Samson, your life isn't over yet. This very day, you can choose to write with your life's pen the words that God has spoken over you.
Every thought, action, and word is a stroke. Every day is a page. Dedicate yourself today to fill every page with the Lord, with his presence, with his Word, and with things that please him.
And you won't end up like Samson, who avenged his eyes while his whole body was crushed. And instead of being dumber than rocks, you will walk in the wisdom of the Lord.
You see, God is no respector of persons. You don't have to have super intelligence to live a life of great wisdom. Just learn and obey the Word of God! And as you walk after his Spirit instead of after your fleshly passions and pride, then you will learn to hear his voice, and the most tallented genius on earth will not be able to live a more successful and effective life as you.
I'd like to open this altar for a time of prayer, ministry, and worship. You're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front.
If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, instant message me or anyone else on the ministry team. Those listening outside of Second Life can go to almcyberchurch.org and click the Prayer Room or Pastors' Offices and contact us there.
If you need to go, you're free to leave. If you can stay through this time at the altar, you're invited to join us afterwards in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.
Come, let's gather together, and let's make sure that from this day forward, we are walking on the path God has carefully designed for each and every one of us to follow.