Samson the Start Up Savior Part 2

Pastor Tom Ascol resumes his study of the Book of Judges with a message entitled “Samson: The Startup Savior, Part 2” based on Judges 15:1-16:31. Though Samson may well have been the greatest of judges, especially considering his exploits, he was tragically flawed. His work in saving Israel was never complete. More than once Samson determined to do what was right in his own eyes, a picture of national Israel’s tendencies. His failures point to the need for a true and perfect Savior.

As an imperfect savior Samson had a deteriorating devotion to God. An example early in Samson’s story is his marriage outside the faith to a Philistine woman. Though Samson was a man of faith (Hebrews 11:34), he failed to control his lust and temper. This resulted in his murder of men for their clothing, the destruction of crops, and the murder of those that killed his wife and father-in-law. It is clear Samson was acting out of his own sense of justice and not out of concern for God’s glory. This is indicative of Samson’s ministry: called to save Israel he acts doing his own thing, rather than seeking to rid the land of the Philistines and their gods.

Yet even in Samson’s shortcomings God’s sovereignty can be seen. Samson’s sinful marriage was used by God to provoke a fight with the Philistines. God used this to help Israel understand its tenuous sinful position. Israel had sold out to Philistine culture. There was little difference between the world and God’s chosen people. They, having given up their allegiance to God, should serve as a warning to modern believers; God wants and deserves out allegiance despite the natural attractiveness of the world system.

Even in our sinfulness, however, this story provides hope. God only works with sinful, flawed people; He is a God of grace. While Samson was not to free to act in error without repercussion, nor are believers today, God continued to use Samson to fulfill His purposes. God can use our failures also. Nonetheless, that is not an excuse to fail; we should strive to honor Him in all our actions just as we shall see in Samson’s final act. Still, Samson’s spiritual adultery was not without cost. His dalliance with a prostitute cost him his eyes and spiritual leadership. Here again Samson’s actions based on his desires not God’s glory is clearly seen. His final surrender of information to Delilah was based on a lowering of his spiritual guard as a result of sinful behavior. He had lost, at least temporarily, his desire for God and God’s glory.

Still, Samson had an excellent end. The Philistines thought they had triumphed as a result of their god and his efforts, proving their ignorance of the inner and true God. In his dying Samson called upon the power of the God of Israel, ending his life with a triumph over evil.

Despite his flaws Samson was used by God. This is seen in Samson’s calling out to God. No victory or salvation came to Israel as a result of Samson’s power but only as Samson yielded himself to the power of God. Yet Samson is only a picture of the true Savior. This start-up savior could not finish, once for all, the salvific work needed to effect a right relationship with God. Only the true Savior, Jesus Christ, by His work on the Cross of Calvary, effected a worthy work whereby humankind can enter into a right relation with the God of the universe. As Hebrews 7:25 notes: “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Come to Him who intercede for us.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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