I learned something about quicksand this week. When you are in quicksand, the more you struggle, the faster and deeper you sink. But if you relax and remain calm, your body will float. Those whose life is out of control going deeper and deeper, need to give up and rest and simply let God take control, find that peace in the middle of chaos. “let the peace of God that passes all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Review of last Sunday's message in which Samson began a downward spiral, one bad decision leading to another. If Judges 14 were the inspiration for a self help book, the Title: How to make a mess of your life in Seven Easy Steps… review the first four Chapters:
Ch 1 Go to the wrong place… Samson went to the land of the enemy…we all have places that are wrong for us, triggers, situations, unhealthy environment in which we will not make good choices… instead, go to the right place. Stay out of the mud..
Ch 2 Look for the wrong thing…. Instead, look for the right thing.
Ch 3 Reject Godly counsel… instead, Know God’s Will and Obey…
Ch 4 Continue a wrong pattern…. Instead, flee the devil.
Like quicksand, the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. The Downward Spiral continue for Samson…
Chapter 5 of the book… how to make a mess, Compromise your Commitment
Samson compromises his commitments. While they are traveling to Philistia…, Samson encounters a young lion in a vineyard. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he tears the lion apart with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6). Judges 14:6 adds this detail: “he told neither his father or his mother what he had done.” Why? I’d think he’d be like Morgan Simpson and tell everyone about his exploit of hunting down a bear! Samson doesn’t tell them because killing the lion meant touching its corpse after it was dead. That is a violation of his Nazirite vow… when Samson is born, this is part of the deal….
The same thing happens in Judges 14:9. Samson is traveling alone and stops by the vineyard to revisit the scene. Bees have a hive inside the carcass. Samson scoops out the honey with his hands. Later he gave some honey to his parents but did not tell them where it came from. To tell his parents would reveal he had touched a dead body.
Samson is shown to be a compromised man in Judges 14:10, too. The banquet is a bachelor party, the word used means they got drunk. Samson’s life’s vow was to not drink. Compromising your commitments leads to a downward spiral, an erosion of your relationship with the Lord. Some of you have secrets you don’t want anyone to know.
How do people get out of control? Compromise your commitments. How does flirting a little bit online hurt anyone? Living two lives. Harmless fun! Tell a dirty joke. 1001 ways… Samson kept the appearance of keeping his vows because of his long hair, he didn’t tell anyone what he had done. But he was a compromised man. Some of you have secrets.
The positive alternate title, instead of compromise your commitment, Be attentive when things are small… its almost too easy when you are struggling in quicksand just to stop. Surely it must be harder! As we begin to sink in quicksand, the natural instinct is to fight, to do something to save yourself. It goes against nature to stop. If Samson would have just confessed the first time he touched the dead lion, it would have meant very little. A simple story from my own life:
If Samson would have only admitted his deed… it’s your heart that matters, not the way you look to the world, not the length of your hair, let your yes be yes even when its hard, get out of bed on Sunday morning even when you don’t feel like it not because there is anything magic about going to church but rather because you need the people of God constantly in your life. If it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, life will go on… Whatever it is, keep your commitments… you need the discipline so your faith is a way of life, you need the constant encouragement to listen to the Spirit of God. It starts with the little things… Compromising your commitments causes you to sink faster in the quicksand, losing sight of what God wants for you…
Chapter 6 of the downward Spiral. Avoid the Truth of Your Weakness
The wedding itself is upon Samson and his bride beginning with a 7 day feast. On day one, Judges 14:11, Samson challenges the 30 Philistine groomsmen with a friendly riddle. The riddle involved the honey that Samson took from the carcass of the lion he had killed (Judges 14:14):
Samson added a bet, all meant in good fun, but the fun got out of hand. The 30 groomsmen had 7 days to solve the riddle. If they did, Samson would give them 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes. If they couldn’t, they would give Samson the same. The first day came and went and the groomsmen were stumped. The 2nd day passed… By the fourth day the groomsmen were nervous so they approached Samson’s bride and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death.” (Judges 14:15). Yikes. Samson didn’t really know the people he was getting involved with. There’s another lesson in that truth, but I’ll let you write that chapter…
The word “Coax” “Trick” is fascinating, it means, “to seduce a simple-minded fellow.” 20 years later, the same word is used with Delilah (Judges 16:5) Samson could be tricked because he was not using his brain, only his emotions. Samson’s weakness was apparent to everyone//but him. His enemies knew it, but he didn’t. Wow.
For 3 days his bride-to-be pleaded with Samson to tell her the riddle. Finally, the 7th day she makes an amazing statement: “You hate me! You don’t really love me.” (Judges 14:16) She’s probably right! There is no evidence Samson truly loved this woman. He hardly knew her. He like her looks! To cover up, to prove he “loved” her, he revealed the answer. What a basis for a great marriage, competition. Games.
Samson was a weak man. His fiance manipulates him, and he falls into the trap. You sink faster when you refuse to deal with your weakness. Until you admit you cannot get out of the quicksand by your own strength, you will keep sinking. It is our refusal to deal with our weaknesses that often gets us in trouble. Most of us are just like Samson—we will do anything to avoid dealing with the real issues in our lives. “Tomorrow, I’ll quit popping pills” we say so easily. But tomorrow never comes.
The positive alternative. Instead of Avoid the Truth of Your Weakness… Admit You Need God. Where my limits end is when God’s strength begins. Know your limits. If you fall into quicksand, and you fight, your strength will literally be your weakness. Know your limits. When I am weak, you don’t think God is bigger than our failure… that’s when he begins.
Last chapter, How to make a mess of your life in 7 Easy Steps… Don’t Face Up To Your Foolishness
The groomsmen know the secret of the riddle and they come to Samson at the last moment with the answer. His reply is filled with sarcasm: “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.” (Judges 14:18)
Samson lost the bet. He could have faced up to his foolishness and paid the debt. Instead, “He went down to Ashkelon, struck down 30 of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle.” (Judges 14:19). Don’t you hate it when
Christians do really stupid things. Rather than admit things got out of hand, Samson killed 30 Philistines to pay off his bet. Samson is angry. But why?
—He’s the one who went to Philistine territory in the first place.
Look in the mirror and quit blaming others for your own stupid decisions! Samson blames everyone else but himself. You know anyone like that? And what does it get him? He goes home. His bride marries a different man. Story over. ///As you are sinking in the quicksand, as you are thrashing about, it is exhilarating, the adrenalin takes over, you are heroically trying to do something, anything to save yourself. In the movies it is a glorious way to die. But you die. // Why do we feel that if I only yell a little louder that means I win? flexing your muscles, living on the edge is a rush-- but in the end, the bad decisions, poor judgment, foolishness, will catch up with you, and you will sink in over your head. Aren’t emotions wonderful!
What’s the alternative? If you are wrong, you are wrong. Admit your bad decisions.
Here’s the thing about quicksand, no matter how deep, as long as you have breath, the only thing you need to do is stop, you may be neck deep in mud, but you are more buoyant than the quicksand. You simply need to stop fighting and let the Lord fill you with an inner strength that will cause you to float above the mess of your life. Rest. Pay attention to the small things to stay focused on your faith, know your weakness, and admit your foolishness. There is nothing left to do but let God hold you up.
Go against your natural instinct and let the Holy Spirit fill you with his peace, the peace of God that goes beyond understanding. There is no situation so deep, no place so dark, no mistakes so profound, that you cannot simply begin to turn around by recognizing you are out of control and asking the Lord Jesus Christ to fill you with his peace. I will be saved, not by my strength, but by His power, when I am weak. Amen.