Pastor Terry Tatum
For the last couple of weeks we have been reading through the book of Judges. Last week Craig taught us about Gideon, a man the world didn’t see as very valuable but God used him to do great things. The week before Mindy explained the cycle the Israelites were on at that time: disobedience, defeat and distress, and deliverance. We learned that God delivered His people from bad situations time and time again, but despite his deliverance they continued to do things their own way, thus repeating the cycle.
With both of those teachings in mind I want to introduce a new character to the story today, Samson. Samson was born to a man named Manoah whose wife was unable to have children. But the angel of the Lord appeared to his wife and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.” (Judges 13:3 NIV) “No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5 NIV).
There are two biblical terms that we need to understand before we move on. 1) Nazarite: An Israelite consecrated to the service of God. Nazirites were to abstain from alcohol and let their hair grow. This is what Samson was, a Nazirite, set apart by God. Samson was also 2) Anointed: consecrated, set apart, empowered. My own personal definition of anointing is this: God has put His Spirit on a person for a purpose, meaning God has a calling on your life.
Samson was truly anointed. He was the strongest man anyone could ever imagine. Blessed by God with great strength and called to deliver his people from bondage. Also note that the angel said, “no razor may be used on his head.” His hair becomes a major piece of this story.
Though this message is about the man called Samson in the Book of Judges, the main point and what I want you to understand clearly is that ALL believers have an anointing from God. The Bible says it in 1 John 2:20 NIV: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it…”
Every one of us has been anointed by God, set apart for a specific purpose.
What I’ve found over the years is that most people fall into one of two categories, either they don’t realize they are anointed or they are fighting their anointing. We fight our anointing in lots of ways like what we say and do, what we watch and listen to, etc. When we do things we know we shouldn’t do, we handcuff ourselves and make it difficult to follow God’s call on our lives. That’s exactly what Samson did.
If you don’t take anything else away from this message, I want you to understand that we are all called/anointed for a purpose. Following that purpose can be hard and frustrating. A lot of people in your life won’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. I once heard a pastor put it this way: “When you live into your anointing the world will hate you!”
I don’t know if I completely agree with that quote, but you get the point. Doing what God wants you to do isn’t always the popular thing to do. Not only is it unpopular, it also can be difficult at times.
Samson’s mission (calling) was to deliver the Israelites from bondage. He was set apart by God from birth for this specific task. The story of Samson starts with a miracle and ends in tragedy, but along the way it illustrates for us how difficult living out God’s calling for your life can be.
So how do we live out our calling? Remember: we are all called/ anointed by God. To live out your calling, first you must…. Know who to turn to.
God blessed Samson with incredible strength, but following God’s will wasn’t always Samson’s first priority. Samson had some issues. Among other things he was promiscuous, violent and arrogant. He was not living his life the way God intended for him to live. At one point Samson married a Philistine woman. This was when the Philistines were ruling over his people, which means she was literally the enemy. As you can guess, things turn out bad, his wife tries to trick him, and eventually she is given to another man and killed by the Philistines. Samson vows revenge and his revenge sets the stage for the rest of the story.
When Samson was at the height of his physical power he intentionally went and married someone he knew he shouldn’t. I’m willing to bet there are people reading this who are doing things they know they shouldn’t be doing or who have a false sense of pride and accomplishment. You think you’ve got it under control, that you’ve accomplished this or done that … but let me be the first to tell you, without God you would have never accomplished anything. Like Samson, the person who gave us all we have is who we should be running to but instead we are running from Him.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 NIV).
Living your life in a way that isn’t pleasing to God is running from God!! In order to live out our calling we must turn to God alone for our strength. A second thing we must do in order to live out our calling is to… Guard your heart.
After Samson’s wife is given to another man, he burns with anger. But then he falls for another Philistine woman, Delilah. When word got out that Samson had fallen for Delilah, “The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.’” (Judges 16:5 NIV).
Clearly Samson is a man who thought he could do whatever he wanted to do with no regard for others, especially God — the one who gave him all he had. In his own arrogant way Samson gave his heart away to a woman who only wanted to harm him. Samson didn’t follow God’s will for his life. He let sin and lust enter in and it eventually cost him everything.
How often do we give our hearts away? Let me ask it another way: What do we love in this world more than God? Do you love your spouse more than God? Your children? Your job? Yourself?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we have all let things into our hearts that shouldn’t be there. We’ve rearranged our priorities to make things more important than God at times.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).
If you are going to live out the calling on your life, you must learn from Samson’s mistakes and Guard your heart. A third thing you must do is know who you are.
Samson falls for Delilah, but Delilah agrees to help the rulers of the Philistines find out the source of Samson’s great strength so they can defeat him. She asked Samson several times where his strength came from and Samson made up different stories about his strength. After Delilah told the Philistines several things that turned out not to be true, she became angry and said to Samson, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me?” (Judges 16:15). After that, Samson told her that his great strength came from his hair that since birth had not been cut.
Next we read that Samson fell asleep, and “Having put him to sleep on her lap, [Delilah] called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.” (Judges 16:19 NIV).
Let’s stop here for a moment. After all the arrogance and living with no regard for the call put on his life, Samson loses his strength. In other words, there are consequences for our actions, but it doesn’t change what we were put on this earth to do. As we read in Judges 13:5: “No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5 NIV).
No matter what Samson does, or what trials he faces, his calling never leaves, and neither does ours.
“Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.” (Judges 16:21 NIV).
Samson goes from the strongest and one of the most feared men in the world to a blind man forced to work his days away in hard labor. But here’s the great thing, when Samson was at his worst, God was at his best. In the middle of this awful situation, “the hair on his head began to grow” (Judges 16:21 NIV). The source of his strength began to come back.
God never forgot who Samson was and what he anointed him to do, and we shouldn’t ever forget our calling either. No matter what hand life has dealt us, we are still placed on this earth for a purpose. Whether the hard times are our fault or not and no matter what poor choices we’ve made, like Samson we are all anointed for something special. And we can never forget who we are and who we belong to.
The final thing you must do to live out our calling is remember that God has called YOU!
The Philistines worshiped a god named Dagon and they believed that Dagon had delivered their enemy into their hands. “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.” (Judges 16:24 NIV).
To celebrate what their god had done all the rulers gathered and they brought Samson out to “perform” for them. Remember he is blind, and performing meant they would watch and laugh as he fumbled around aimlessly not knowing where he was going. But somewhere in the midst of all this Samson remembered his calling. “Samson said to the servant who held his hand, ‘Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.’” (Judges 16:26 NIV)
The Philistine rulers along with thousands of men and women were gathered. They were all there to see how far the mighty Samson had fallen. But while Samson was touching the pillars, he cried out to God, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28 NIV).
Samson was finally ready to do what he was called to do, no matter the cost.
As Samson was between the pillars, he began to push with all of his strength. He cried out, “Let me die with the Philistines!” (Judges 16: 30 NIV). He pushed the pillars down and the temple fell in around them. Samson was killed along with all who were there. All the rulers of the Philistines were dead. Judges 16:30 tells us that Samson “killed many more when he died than while he lived.”
You must remember, as Samson finally did, that God has called YOU! It doesn’t matter how far off track you get, God has a calling on your life.
Let me ask you a question, do you believe the Bible is God’s Word? God’s Word says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it……” (1John 2:20 NIV).
That verse means that God has set each of us apart for a special purpose. EVERYONE OF US! Do you believe that? Then why are you fighting His anointing?
Some of us are fighting our anointing with everything we’ve got, even running from God as fast and as hard as we can. Some of us have been running and fighting so long we can’t remember what it feels like to walk with God. Maybe we’ve let something in our lives become more important to us than God (spouse, child, job, reputation). Or maybe like Samson we have forgotten who we really are.
This message is special to me. You see, the last few years have been the toughest in my life. The town I grew up in and love was destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Our church family was devastated by the same storm. And just when we were about to make a comeback we were hit with a global pandemic. And on top of all that, life kept on happening. Personal issues still came up. I recently found myself in a not very good place spiritually. But then I realized (or remembered) that God put a call on my life years ago. He anointed me to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. No matter what life throws at me, or what mistakes I make, God’s call on my life never changes. And yours doesn’t either.
No matter what you’ve done, God’s anointing will never leave you. You may think that the things you have done are so bad that God could never use you, but he can. Things might have happened to you that are so bad you can’t seem to move past them, but God can get you past them. No matter how bad things seem, God still has a call on your life. His anointing that’s just for you.
Ask God to help you live into your calling. Ask God to help you get past things that are holding you back. Ask Him to help you start living in His will. And believe that He will.