In Luke 6:46-49 Jesus is explaining that to build a house (life, family, ministry, etc.) upon Jesus and His sayings (His words) is wise, because as the winds blow and the raging rivers come up against the house, it will remain standing because it has a sure foundation. Anything else, any other foundation, Jesus goes on to explain, is like building your house on sand. The rains, rivers, winds, and any other trial in life will beat against your house and the foundation will be undermined with incredible ease. Next, your house will fall, and as Jesus said in verse 49, “And the ruin of that house was great.”
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he lamented that moral and spiritual decline had entered into the churches at that time, but his heart rested in the fact that “Nevertheless, that the foundation of God standeth sure…” (Second Timothy 2:19a). Whether Paul means that the one true church will remain despite the apostasy of the coming age, or whether he is referring to the one true doctrine of Christ and the Holy Bible standing sure, one fact remains…Paul acknowledges that there is only ONE true and lasting and secure foundation for which we are to build upon.
Consider Deuteronomy 5:29, “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, AND KEEP ALL MY COMMANDMENTS ALWAYS, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.” Remember Luke 6:47-48, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them…He is like a man which built a house…founded upon a rock.” Jesus is referred to as a rock. Ephesians 2:20 refers to Jesus as being the chief cornerstone. Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 calling Christ, again, the chief cornerstone (First Peter 2:6-7).
So it’s obvious that we need to build our homes and lives and other ventures on the solid foundation of Christ our Rock. However, lest we forget, Jesus is also called the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Even though Jesus was present in the physical body in the New Testament, it’s plain to see that Jesus’ commands, principles and precepts are recorded in the Old Testament as well, through the voice of God the Father. Recall that Jesus said He and the Father are ONE (John 10:30; 17:11). So the words of the Word are present in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, not only are we to have Jesus the Rock as our foundation but also the Word, which, one may argue, is one and the same.
I say all that by way of introduction to call attention to the idea that even though the foundation we build upon is perfect, our choice of building materials and the upkeep of our structures will be anything but perfect. Our homes, ministries, endeavors, and so on will need constant evaluations and upkeep to be certain we take full advantage of our firm foundation. We may have a solid structure that is a glowing testament to godly living, but if we are on the lookout for large easily visible structural defects, and miss the “minor” flaws, we’ve done but half the job. It’s the small stuff that, over time, and with sufficient number, may cause the house to fall, despite being founded upon Christ and the Bible.
Enter Samson. His brief life is encapsulated in Judges 13-16. Many recognize the name Samson for raw strength. Others know him for his long hair. Maybe others have heard Samson pulled down an entire temple killing all who were in there, including himself. Yes, in some ways Samson is the Peter of the Old Testament. He was arrogant, and had many other moments that were less than perfect, but, unlike Peter, Samson let at least seven “little things” cause his life to become unstable and ultimately come crashing down. See, he let a bunch of “small stuff” accumulate until they together became one big problem, ultimately destroying his life.
Sampson had boundaries in his life that he did not remain within. When his parents were visited by an angel (some believe Christ Himself) prior to Sampson’s birth, the angel told his mom what to eat and what not to eat, as well as what not to drink. The angel told Sampson’s parents that he was going to be a Nazarite for life. The rules for Nazarite living were spelled out in Numbers 6, and no doubt, his parents were aware of them and taught Sampson that. They were simply this…don’t drink of the vine…don’t cut your hair…and don’t touch a dead carcass. Sampson sinned several times in his life, which led to his demise, but it all began with not remaining within the boundaries God set forth for his life. Here’s what we need to figure out…is there any part of the Bible that we believe doesn’t pertain to us? Are there some of God’s precepts we’re pretty slack on?
Another thing that weakened Sampson was the fact that in the course of his whole life of ruling Israel, it’s recorded only twice that he went to God for help. Once was when he was nearly dying of thirst and the other was when he was at the end of himself, having been captured and humiliated, and he cried to God one last time for strength to eliminate those who had reduced him to nothing more than a means of entertainment. The great and mighty Sampson was being laughed at, and he summoned the power of God in his life when it couldn’t get any lower. Do we seek God in good times and in bad? Do we pray and spend time with Him on the mountain tops or only when we are in the valleys? Sampson did not have a consistent prayer life.
Here’s a big one for today…Sampson was led away by lust on three separate occasions. He wanted to marry the woman from Timnath, which was completely against God’s will. Next, he was led away by a harlot in Gaza, and since that wasn’t enough, he married Delilah, which proved to be costly. It’s not so much that Sampson committed sins against God and himself in the form of fornication or marrying a heathen like the lady from Timnath, but it was the fact that bad things happened to other people as a result of these sinful relationships. Crops and personal property was burned. Thirty people were killed. Lastly, scores of people were killed in one final act that was the direct result of involvement with Delilah. The principle here is that the consequences of sin may cause us to act in a more evil way, only compounding the problems we created.
Kids, all that Sampson experienced could have been prevented early on in his life before he even married the woman from Timnath. His PARENTS pleaded with him that it was wrong to marry from among the Philistines. But he ignored them and did not heed their wise counsel. He pretty much disobeyed them. Of course it’s not just children who can be guilty of not heeding wise counsel. How often does your pastor plead with his congregation to flee fornication, not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to marry outside the faith, not to disobey your parents? How many times must your pastor plead with you and how many times must you tempt God and not heed your pastor’s godly counsel? Who knows how different Sampson’s life would have been had he listened to his parents’ wise counsel.
Sampson was also very proud and arrogant and over estimated his own cleverness. He knew he had sinned and done wrong by getting honey from a dead lion (breaking a Nazarite vow). But he wanted to glory in what he did and tempted others to discover what he had done. In chapter 14, Sampson challenged people at the feast to figure out what he had done by putting forth what he thought was a riddle that would never get solved. Under circumstances less than honest, the riddle was solved. Now Sampson was wroth with anger. Suddenly what he had done was no longer his little secret. I have no doubt that some who read this are living with one foot in the Bible and the other in the world. You think you’ll get away with it. You’ll be vague to one of your friends you feel you could trust, only to find that they’ll betray you and expose your sin. Then the real problems will begin.
If you’re like Sampson, your temper will get you in trouble. All of Sampson’s vengeful acts stemmed from his anger that was the direct result of how he responded to the consequences of those sins. When he was not allowed to see the woman from Tinmath because she was given to the best man, he became angry and burned crops of the village people, who, in turn, killed the woman from Timnath and her father. When he lost his bet, and a wager he could not cover, he killed thirty innocent men and took their spoils to pay off his debt. Do you have any idea how hurtful we can be in our anger? Do you know how destructive anger can be to relationships? Bridges can be burned and friendships can be killed, all because you are vengeful, angry, and ruled by your temper. You may need to watch that.
I’ve already written about lying, but Sampson used lies and deceit several times. He never told his parents where the honey came from because he knew they would know he broke his vow. Also, with Delilah, he lied at least three times about what would deplete his strength. Imagine that, lying to a person you love. Oh, like we’ve never done that before. OK, but let that be the last time. He lied to his parents. He lied to his love. In the case of his parents, had Sampson told the truth, maybe they could have helped get Sampson back on the right track. Whether Delilah ever loved Sampson is difficult to say because by the time he spoke his heart to her in truth, she had discovered three prior lies and was probably void of feelings for him, despite his honesty. Don’t think lying will get you out of trouble…it won’t. Also, don’t think a history of lying will be erased with one episode of honesty. Don’t be sour to the fact that trust will not be easily built again, nor will it be overnight.
So there you have it. Sampson…just one of the guys. His life was built upon the foundation of God and the Pentateuch. He had godly parents. Intellectually he knew what he needed to know, but that head knowledge never became heart knowledge. He never applied what he knew. He was a free spirit that ignored the precepts of God’s Word. His prayer life was lacking. Because of his inattentiveness to the Scriptures and to prayer, he allowed himself to be ruled by carnal desires such as lust, vengeance, arrogance, and pride. This led to the deaths of people, the destruction of property, and eventually his humiliation and death.
I’m not going to summarize Sampson’s life in a neat little vignette and relate it to you. There’s enough here for each of us to chew on and see that even though we may not face the same difficulties as Sampson, we all have little things that we need to be aware of. It’s imperative that we go against the grain and “sweat the small stuff.” Remember, one small snowflake does not make for a blizzard, but enough small snowflakes together will wreak havoc in our lives. May the Son keep away the snow…