Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Imagine a scenario where someone thinks he is the most intelligent person in the room. He says something he thinks is wise. But everyone else knows it's not an intelligent statement – not even close! You cringe out of awkwardness for the person's unwitting embarrassment. Now, reflect on the story of Samson. Repetitively, he had these moments. Too often, he put himself in cringe-worthy scenarios unnecessarily. But, he never seemed to realize that the joke was on him.
Samson was the strongest man on the planet and he was an incredible warrior. He had the strength of God in his life! But that wasn't enough. He also wanted people to view him as wise. And, therein lies the first cringe moment.
As Samson was going through a week-long wedding ceremony, he proposed a riddle for people to solve so they would acknowledge his wisdom. In his ancient era, riddles were a way to display intelligence and learning. But Samson was not wise..he just didn't realize it. (Cringe...). So at his wedding, to a foreign and pagan worshiping bride – in front of thirty enemy soldiers who were manipulatively trying to befriend him – Samson shared his riddle:
"Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." He replied, "out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer." -Judges 14:12-14 (NIV)
Can you solve the riddle? No? Don't feel bad. Only people with an inside scoop on Samson's life could solve this composition of false wit. Recognizing this to be the scenario, the enemy soldiers pressured Samson's fiancé into finding out the answer for them. She did their bidding. Then at one of the wedding parties, a soldier announces the riddle's solution, and Samson becomes irate. Immediately, he realizes the soldier had obtained the answer through his wife in a dishonest way. He is so upset and angry that he breaks off his engagement and ends the wedding ceremony!
But, why? What was there to be angry about? He's the one who thought up the riddle, and he made the bet. He's also the one who named the price and the only person who knew the secret initially. And… he's the one who gave the secret away!
I'm cringing. Surely, you are too.
Do you ever wonder if God cringes at the things that make us angry?
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. -Judges 13:5 (NIV)
God had a great purpose and a plan for Samson. He was to deliver Israel! But the only time we ever see Samson ready to fight is when it was for his personal agenda and purpose. Usually, after his ego is wounded and he felt awkward, humiliated, or embarrassed. His actions are cringe-worthy! He's a man who could have done great things for his nation but settled for the equivalence of bar fights or meaningless battles the majority of his life. For example, in this riddle-sharing scenario, he kills thirty men in response to the riddle being solved! Thirty. Men. For solving a riddle!
What makes you want to fight?
Have you ever noticed that we are more apt to fight against someone who comes against our pride rather than someone who comes against our faith? God said let your pride fall, but when you fight, fight the good fight of faith! Faith is something worth fighting for. Unfortunately, many of the things we are fighting for have nothing to do with our purpose, and I wonder if this makes God cringe?
Samson was designed by God from the womb to fight for others, but because he could never establish a meaningful connection with his Heavenly Father, he could never have a meaningful relationship with others. The result of this flaw was that he only discovered the true meaning and purpose for his life in his dying breath… how incredibly sad.
We can all agree that we want lives filled with the meaning and purpose God has planned for us! We don't want to live "cringey" lives!
Now, let's back up one more time to Samson's riddle. Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong something sweet. It's "cringey"! But why? Because Samson is mocking the sin in his own life. He turned his sin into an entertaining moment to flaunt his so-called earthly wisdom.
Here are a few facts we know about Samson: He is not supposed to cut his hair. He is not supposed to take a drink of wine. He is not supposed to touch anything dead or unclean. Yet, Scripture tells us Samson had in one scenario traveled a pathway multiple times over the course of what was, most likely, weeks or months. On one trip, a lion attacked him. But, he tore the lion to shreds with his bare hands! That's a powerfully anointed man! Weeks later, when he passes back through this same territory, he notices that the carcass of the dead lion is still lying there. In the center of the lion's skeleton, a beehive has emerged. The thought of something sweet...It tempted him greatly. He couldn't resist the thought of tasting fresh honey, despite the fact he would have to touch something unclean, (for him something sinful), in order to get his taste. He is fully aware that he is NOT supposed to touch anything dead or unclean. But instead, he desires the honey's sweetness more than he desires to obey the Nazarite covenant he has made with God. So he reaches into the carcass and pulls out the honey, and enjoys it.
Isn't it just like the enemy to tempt us with something sweet right in the middle of something we know we shouldn't be touching? Let's ponder it this way...the enemy has a recurring tendency to put something sweet right in the middle of a place where God has already killed something that was attempting to devour our life. In doing so, the enemy lures us back into an area of attack from which we have already been delivered. He couldn't destroy us the first time because of God's intervention -- God stopped the mouth of the lion -- but, the enemy doesn't quit trying to destroy our covenant with God. The next time we cross his path, he offers something sweet. And tempted, we forget we might get stung if we reach for it!
But...even more, "cringey," Samson takes honey back to his parents, who are also under the same Nazarite law, and feeds it to them… he doesn't tell them where or how he got it. Unbeknownst to them, they eat the honey that is saturated in sin. Samson was deceptive, disrespectful, and dishonoring. Then, he dared to use this part of his history as a riddle for entertainment – showing no remorse or conviction for his actions!
So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: "What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion? - Judges 14:18 (NKJV)
Still, look at this answer the Philistine soldiers gave Samson to his riddle. It is in the form of a question. There is no doubt God is speaking through the soldiers in an attempt to get Samson's attention! God is saying my word is sweeter than honey! What is stronger than a lion? God is! But Samson is so far gone... he doesn't realize when God is speaking...Somebody cringe!
How sweet are Your words, (Oh God), to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! - Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)
By the blast of God, they perish... The roaring of the lion, The voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken...and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. -Job 4:9-11 (NKJV)
The voice of God can come from unexpected places, through a friend, a comment, or a statement… But often, we don't see it or hear it because we are so disconnected from a meaningful relationship with God. I suspect God cringes in such moments.
Prepare now for another cringe moment in Samson's life.
In retaliation for all that has happened, and despite having already killed 30 men in a fit of rage, Samson now gathered 300 foxes. He tied their tails together and placed a candle (or a source of fire) between them. Then, as they are set on fire, he releases them into the ready-to-be-harvested fields of the Philistines. Their harvest was destroyed!
Do you want to know what a meaningful connection looks like to God? It looks like: God tying your tail together with someone else, putting the light of His Word in your relationship, and setting a fire that burns up the harvest field of the enemy! I would venture to say, it's what a good church looks like, it's what a good small group looks like, and it's what a good family looks like!
But, Samson was never "tied" together to anyone in a relationship. As a result, he lacked meaningful relationships in his life. It is likely, even through the foxes, God was trying to show Samson that he was missing the point of his life's purpose.
Samson was strong, but he was dense. He was missing discernment in his life, lacking the common sense to make good decisions. Samson was also in the wrong relationships. God had wisdom for Samson if he had only asked for it! Unfortunately, Samson preferred the attention of many women instead of "Lady Wisdom"… cringe-worthy.
So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure, Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, For the Lord gives wisdom Proverbs 2:2-6 (NKJV)
She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city. She speaks her words: Proverbs 1:21 (NKJV)
I believe it is essential for us to BE STILL before God in prayer, study, and meditation, and allow Him to speak into our lives. The lack of this discipline may have been Samson's biggest problem. He was never "still" with God. The only thing Samson understood about God was movement, excitement, power, and public manifestation. We never see a private moment between God and Samson from his birth until his death. He was never "still" In God's presence he only moved in God's power:
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, Judges 16:20 NKJV
Do you know God in stillness?
We must find a place to be still in God's presence because it will take our relationship with God to a more meaningful place. This approach allows us to get to know God in a way that Samson never did. Samson didn't "know" God was departing from his life. But, if he had been "still" rather than jumping from relationship to relationship and from bad situations to worse situations, shaking himself all along the way, he could have lived out the promise of this Psalm:
Be still, and know that I am God... -Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)
I have a lot more thoughts on this subject that will require a verbal presentation. I invite you to view this message in its entirety at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKRnWGfUpsk
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