Goin Down Leads to Turning Aside
The Life and Times of Samson
Going Down Leads to Turning Aside
Judges 14:7-9
 
 
Jesus made an interesting statement in Luke 6:45 when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart[a] brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
 
What was Jesus saying? He was saying that the condition of our heart is revealed in the conduct of our life. What we do on the outside is always a reflection of what we are on the inside.
 
By the way, I read an interesting study this week that focused on why a dog barks.  Do you know why a dog barks? It barks because it is a dog. A dog is going to bark because that is its nature. It does what it does because it is what it is. What it is on the inside results in what it does on the outside.
 
What am I saying? Our actions manifest our attitude. What we do always reflect what we are. The condition of my heart is always seen in the conduct of my life. As the old saying says, “What’d down in the well comes up in the bucket”.
 
If you want evidence of that, look at the life of Samson. Samson was a weak strong man. He was strong physically, but was weak spiritually and morally. Over time what he was on the inside began to manifest itself on the outside.
 
 
Judges 14:7-9
 
Zero in on a statement found in verse 8. I want you to take note of the words "and he turned aside."
 
Here we find another downward step in the life of Samson.  He is continuing to move farther away from the plans and purposes of God for his life.
 
He turned aside! Now keep in mind:  Actions result from attitudes. First of all, think about
 
1. The Cause of Turning Aside
 
Let me remind you where we find Samson. He is found in the vineyard of Timnah. As a Nazarite, he was to have nothing to do with the vine and product of the vine. The last place you should have found Samson was in a vineyard, but that is where we find him.
 
And remember what he’s doing in Timnath? He is moonstruck over a Philistine girl. In light of God's commands about the Jewish people inter-marrying with the pagan nations around them, Samson is now in double jeopardy. 
 
In verse 7 we see for the third time in this chapter the words, "And he went down." We saw them in verse 1 and also in verse 5.
 
And remember, the Bible is telling us about a geographical direction, but the result is a spiritual decline.  Last week, we saw that God sent a warning through the lion that attacked him, but God in His mercy had delivered him.
 
Yet, Samson is not awakened to his downward path by the mercies God has showed him and he continues to go down.
 
What was happening in Samson's life often happens in our own. We find ourselves going downhill spiritually. Instead of going forward, we find ourselves going backwards. A question each of us should ask ourselves today is what is my relationship to the Lord in the present compared to what it was in the past?
 
Remember that great old hymn "My Jesus I Love Thee"?  There is a line in the chorus that says: "If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now." Can we say that our love for the Lord is as great today as any time in our life? Or is it possible that there was a time in the past that we loved Him more than we do now?
 
The Bible says of the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." What was happening to the Church of Ephesus? They were going downhill spiritually.
 
I have discovered that it is possible to have all the potential and possibility in the world and still decline  spiritually.  Now that is an extremely dangerous place to find yourself because “going down” always lead to “turning aside”. 
 
That si exactly what happened to Samson according to verse 8. 
 
 
 
And as we will see in a minute, every move he makes leads him farther away from God's plan and purpose for his life. Ultimately he will wind up desecrating his Nazarite vow. When he turned aside, it was more than taking a side trip, but a path that took him outside of God's will and led him in direct disobedience to the commands of God for his life.
 
I suppose we all know of someone who at one time served God, loved God, and honored Him in their life, but now they are not to be found. What happened? At some point they begin going downhill spiritually and in time they turned aside and turned away from God.
 
And notice the first three words in verse 8: "After some time." I suppose sometimes some catastrophe happens or something causes an immediate falling away from the Lord, but that is the exception.  Generally I have discovered that most people grow cold through a process that happens over a period of time.
 
For example, think about someone dropping out of church.  Generally, they didn't just get up one Sunday morning and make the decision to quit Church. No, not at all! They began missing a service here and there, and over time it became more and more frequent, until one day they were completely out of Church. When our hearts get cold it happens over time.
 
When we get out of God's will, when we get out of fellowship with God, when we get away from God, it is always a progressive decline in our life. That is why every day we must meet God and spend time with Him.
That is why we must not let a day go by that we do not take time to pray and read God's blessed Word. That is why when the Church doors are open we ought to be in God's house. It is a matter of keeping our heart hot. It is a matter of keeping ourselves close to the Lord. When we began to go downhill spiritually it ends up with our turning aside.
 
The second thing I want us to think about is not only the cause of turning aside but also:
 
2. The Contamination of Turning Aside
 
Now as you know, as a Nazarite, Samson had taken certain vows. In Numbers 6 we find that the time of a Nazarite's vow were known as the "days of his separation" (cp. Num. 6:4). Any violation of those vows, as you see in Numbers 6:7, made a Nazarite "unclean." The violation of the vows was a contamination of the life.
 
Over the course of Samson's life he would violate every aspect of his vows. The first violation is found in these verses.  Now remember, Samson has been going down spiritually, and now we see him turning aside, and when he turned aside, it led to the violation of his Nazarite vow and the contamination of his life.
 
Now it all begins with a temptation.  I am sure you have heard the saying, he that lies down with dogs rises with fleas. Temptation is a reality of life, and if we put ourselves in tempting situations, we are only asking for trouble. If we lie down with the dogs we will always get up with fleas. Samson was a man who was strong physically, but he was weak spiritually.
verse 7
 
Two things are very apparent. First, Samson was in a place where he should not have been. Secondly, he was around a people he should not have been around.
 
Do you know why we often find ourselves tempted? It is because we put ourselves in tempting situations. There are places that only invite temptation and there are people that only invoke temptation.
 
Now remember, Samson is down in Timnah, a border town, largely inhabited by Philistines. Here was a place occupied by a people who had no respect or reverence for the God of Israel. It was a place and a people that would pull him down, but even worse, pull him away from God.
 
Let me give you two things you should always remember concerning temptation. First, there are the places we should flee.
 
In was in a place that Samson should have never been, that he became infatuated with a Philistine girl. His desire to marry her was in direct disobedience to the command of God. However, he let temptation blind him to God's command and all he cared about was fulfilling his own desires.
 
I remember an episode of Hee-Haw where somebody said to Doc Campbell, "I broke my arm in two places." He replied, "Then stay out those places!"
 
There are not only the places we should flee, but there are also the people we should fear.
 
Timnah was a place he should not have been and the Philistine girl was a person he should not have associated. I know that young people don't always understand why parents are so hard and strict about whom they run around with. They think their parents are just being mean. But that is not the case at all.
 
Parents know that certain people will have a negative influence on you. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits." Let me give you a Tolbert translation of what that verse is saying: “Hang around bad people and you will mess up your life.”
 
Notice how intent Samson is on messing things up: 
 
Verse 1 says that the first time he went down to Timnah he "saw" her.
 
Then, the second time, in verse 7, we read that he "talked" to her.
 
Then in verse 8 we see a third time that he went to Timnah “to get her”.
 
See the progression? The first time he was only tempted. The second time he went further and he is pulled even further, and the third time he yielded to temptation. Listen:  you will never avoid temptation if you keep putting yourselves in situations that tempts you!
 
And notice the phrase in verse 7, “she pleased Samson well." That is how temptation works. Temptation is that which appeals to our fleshly desires and seeks to get us to fulfill those desires outside of God's commands and God's will.
The simple truth of the matter is; Samson was more interested in what pleased him rather than what pleased God. Gratification was the key word in Samson's actions, not glorification. He was not thinking about glorifying God in what he did. He was a man who was ruled by his senses.
 
As I said earlier, this is the first time Samson violated his Nazarite vow.
 
verses 8-9
 
Now if you are not familiar with the Nazarite vow of Samson’s life, you might be tempted to say, “What’s the big deal?”  It certainly seems innocent enough. 
 
This lion attacked Samson when he was in the vineyard. Samson had killed the lion with his bare hands. Now he returns to Timnah, and for some reason, he takes a detour to see the lion he had killed. And what happens when he gets there results in him violating his vow. 
 
Why was it a violation? 
 
First, the lion itself was considered unclean.
 
Leviticus 11:27
 
So right off the bat, the lion was a beast that was not to be eaten and its carcass was not to be touched.
 
Secondly, Samson was not to have contact with anything that was dead.
 
Numbers 6:6
A Nazarite was not only to not touch anything dead, they were not even to come anywhere near something that was dead. 
 
Thirdly, even the honey itself was off-limits because chances are it was pollinated from the flowers of the vines that would produce grapes.  Samson should have never been in the area to begin with and now everywhere he turns he finds himself in trouble. 
 
The final thing that I want us to think about is:
 
3 The Characteristics of Turning Aside
 
Let me point out two that are illustrated in this scene. First, notice:
 
  • The Consequences of His Sin  
 
Verse 9
 
Remember, the honey having been in the lion, was unclean and off-limits. Samson not only defiled himself, but he defiled his parents in the process.
 
When we sin there are two things we often forget. First, we forget that our sin always has personal consequences. Secondly, we forget that our sin affects others. We forget about how this will affect our children, our family, our friends, and our testimony.
 
The name George Armstrong Custer is familiar to us all. He was a man who sought publicity. Oftentimes he would invite correspondents to accompany him on his campaigns so that he get the publicity that he pursued all of his military career.
As a Brigadier General, he sported a custom made uniform that included shiny jackboots, tight olive corduroy trousers, a wide-brimmed slouch hat, tight hussar jacket of black velveteen with silver piping on the sleeves, a sailor shirt with silver stars on his collar, and a red cravat. He wore his hair in long glistening ringlets liberally sprinkled with cinnamon-scented hair oil.
 
On June 25, 1876, seeking personal glory, he led the 7th Calvary into what has become known as Custer's Last Stand. Some have speculated that the flamboyant Custer was considering a bid for the presidency, and he felt that one more bold and dramatic victory would secure his future. As we all know, he made a decision that cost not only his life, but also the lives of two of his brothers and a brother-in-law that was with him, and as well the lives of over 200 of his men. His was a decision that had larger ramifications than just himself.
 
When we take and eat of sin's honey, others often eat of its defilement as well.   The consequences of his sin, and then notice
 
  • The Concealment of His Sin
 
Verse 9
 
Remember, this is the second occasion that he did not tell his parents about his actions. Why didn’t he tell them?  He was trying to hide what he had done.
 
We know all about that, right?  Is that not what we always do? Sure it is! We always try to hide our sin.
 
 
However, I remind you that we never completely hide our sin. We may hide from those around us, but we never hide it from the One above us. Whether or not Samson's parents ever knew about what he did, I am not sure. But God knew because God always knows.
 
Let me close by asking, where are you spiritually? Have you been going downhill spiritually? Have you turned aside, got out of the will of God, and fellowship with God? Have you been flirting with temptation, or have you already become the victim of temptation?
 
If so, God is waiting for you to return. He will forgive those who have failed. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
 
Let’s pray.
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