SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 4 July 2021
Sermon Text: Judges 13:1-25
Sermon Series: “Judges” (#19)
I. Samson’s birth in a time of spiritual darkness
II. The barrenness of Samson’s parents
III. God sent His Son to deliver us from sin
From chs. 13 up to 16 of Judges, we read about the 12th judge, Samson. This name Samson excites many of us as this name stirs up our memories of Sunday School years. To many children and adults, Samson seems to be not simply one of Israel’s judges, but God’s mighty warrior and hero. He is a special character with his extraordinary strength. The source of his strength, that is, his thick and long hair, also excites young and old believers. Delilah, Samson’s love, and her betrayal add more drama to the story. Yet, the most exciting part is what Samson did at last, that is, saving Israel from their fierce enemy, the Philistines. Of course, other judges also saved Israel from the hands of their enemies, but Samson’s dramatic story of delivering Israel is regarded as the best among the stories of judges.
His interesting story begins from his birth narrative. This is unique; the Book of Judges tells us what happened to Samson’s parents before his birth unlike the cases of other judges. When something recorded in the Bible is special like Samson’s birth story, that special thing always carries a special message. So, what’s the special message Samson’s birth story delivers?
I believe this story is recorded to bring every believer’s attention to the birth of the one and only Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. This story is to draw everyone’s assent to the office of Jesus as the Saviour and Mediator as well as the nature of His deliverance. I mean, although this mighty warrior and deliverer Samson was born in a similar way to Jesus’ birth, Samson was never a perfect saviour for the people of God whereas Jesus is the One who freed – and still frees – God’s elect from sin and death. Every verse in this story of Samson’s birth reminds us of how good and perfect Saviour Jesus is.
Simply put, Samson’s birth story is to tell us how sick all men are, and how desperately all people need a true Physician, true Saviour, who alone can heal and revive them from sin and death.
I. SAMSON’S BIRTH IN A TIME OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS
The first part of the message Samson’s birth story delivers is the time of his birth. That is, an era of spiritual darkness. V. 1 of ch. 13 says, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” When Israel was entangled in sin, Samson’s birth was announced to his parents, and soon the baby Samson was born. He was born in the darkest days in Israel’s history.
But, please don’t misunderstand what this verse says, assuming that Israel used to be faithful before God, but at this moment in time, they turned their eyes away from God and dwindled and backslid. No, that’s not what this verse means. It tells us that Israel briefly seemed to be faithful to God and His commands, but that was all; they immediately returned to their old way of sin and evil. It was like, they squirmed a bit from the pit of evil and sin, intending to leave that place, but, that was it; they flopped back on the filthy mud of sin. That’s what this verse means when it says, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.”
Let me elaborate why we should interpret the situation of v. 1 in this way. As you remember, when there was a foreign invasion and suppression over Israel, the Israelites cried out to God for help and deliverance. Then, God sent a judge – that is, a ‘saviour’ – and freed them from their enemies. But that was all. When they became free again, they soon forgot about their God and returned to their old sinful ways. This is the backbone of the entire Book of Judges. This became worse at the time of Samson’s birth. We find no such a cry of the people seeking a help from above. V. 1 says that Israel was under the oppression of the Philistines for 40 years. But no mention of Israel’s cry for help is found. They were happy with their enemy’ ruling and oppression.
Let me remind you of the true meaning of foreign oppression in the Book of Judges – it is not a political issue but a spiritual matter. Israel under a foreign power means God’s people under the dominance of sin and the devil. Yet, none of Israel – who were supposedly God’s people – sought God nor asked freedom! They were content with evil; they were satisfied with the devil and, in fact, worshipped the devil by committing sins! How dark it was at the time of Samson’s birth!
Samson was born in the midst of spiritual darkness. A judge – deliverer or saviour in other words – was born to faithless Israel. But speaking more specifically, God sent a deliverer to His people! Although Israel did not ask, God sent a deliverer to save His own.
Does this not draw your attention to the coming of Jesus Christ? Of course, it does. At the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel was under the power of the Roman Empire. I don’t mean, Romans were devils; I want you to know the spiritual meaning of that situation. God’s people were under the oppression of God-haters. However, no one lifted their eyes to heaven and cried to God for help and deliverance. The Sadducees were those who occupied and inherited high priesthood of Israel working together with the Roman government, and they were not interested at all in seeing a Messiah. The Pharisees were slightly better than the Sadducees because they read the Scriptures and taught them to people, believing things like bodily resurrection despite the Sadducees’ plain denial of it. No need to mention the populace under the leadership of such people. No one was interested in God-sent deliverer.
In such a dark time, God sent His Son, Jesus, to save His people, free all elect of God from the dominion of sin and its curse, that is, death. While everyone was busy with each day’s bread and meat and wine, while all were content with the Romans, content with their sinful life, into such a dark world, God sent His Light to lead His people to the entrance of eternal life. Samson the judge, deliverer, was born in spiritual darkness. And his birth story draws our attention to the birth of the only Saviour and perfect Deliverer of God’s people, Jesus Christ!
II. THE BARRENNESS OF SAMSON’S PARENTS
The next part of the message Samson’s birth story delivers to us is the barrenness of Samson’s parents. They could not have children; they had no biological capacity to reproduce. Someone might point out and say that not both of Samson’s parents but his mum was sterile. But that comment is half true because God makes husband and wife one body and flesh through marriage. So, barrenness was the problem of both parents of Samson, as was the barrenness of Sarah the problem of Abraham also.
By the way, you and I know and confess that nothing in this world is accidental but everything is in accordance with God’s will and plan. So we know that this barrenness of Samson’s parents was by God’s will. And to this barren couple, God sent His messenger and announced the coming birth of a child. Then, a few questions arise. Why would God do that? Why would He leave them barren, unable to have children, then, announce the birth of a child?
The answer is simple; God planned this to tell all people that that was exactly who we were and God’s announcement of His grace was and is what all in mankind need. In other words, all men and women are ‘barren’ spiritually – unable to reproduce, being dead inwardly. God’s plan with the barrenness of Samson’s parents was to tell them, first of all, and their contemporaries, second, as well as all true worshippers of God after them, including you and me that we’re dead in sin, thus, none can save himself/herself, let alone saving others.
Therefore, we need God’s message that declares the end of our spiritual barrenness, bankruptcy or death. Unless God sends His messenger to us to announce His grace toward us, none of us can be freed from this eternal trouble, sterility, death of spirit. Listen carefully the message God’s messenger delivered to Samson’s mother in v. 3: “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, BUT you shall conceive and bear a son.” This is the good news, Gospel, of God in the name of Jesus Christ delivered to all sinners in the world. ‘You are dead in sin; you can never save yourself, let alone anyone else; BUT you shall live and have the blessing of new life, and this life eternal will be given to you through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ!’
Truth is that this good news of God’s grace has always been preached to the ears of God’s people. Let me remind you of the case of Sarah, Abraham’s wife and Isaac’s mother. She was barren for many many years. But God’s message was delivered to her, then, Isaac, the son of God’s promise, was born. Rebekah is another example. Like her mother-in-law – Sarah – Rebekah also was unable to have children. But God gave her twins. Isn’t it interesting to find that Rachel, Jacob’s wife, was also barren? All wives of Israel’s patriarchs – Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel – were unable to bear children. But all of them received children as God’s gracious gift.
What is the Lord’s message with their sterility? The message is this that the nation Israel began by God’s gracious gift and, more importantly, the spiritual Israel composed of all true believers of all ages began by God’s grace alone! This is what God’s messenger declared in v. 3, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, BUT you shall conceive and bear a son.” It is not you who saves, but God alone by His grace alone, through His gift alone, that is, Jesus Christ! We read earlier this morning from Rom. 3:21-26 and that passage explains the nature and effect of this gracious message of God delivered to Samson’s mother, and alongside her, all of us.
The point must be grasped is that neither you nor I, nor anyone on earth can save oneself because all of us are sterile, barren, dead inwardly. We cannot produce anything that is living because we’re dead in spirit due to each one’s sin. Unless one repents from his/her sin and believes in the Saviour God sent, that person will reap the fruit of sin, that is, death and eternal damnation in hell! But, all who come to the Son in faith will live and bear life eternal!
III. GOD SENT HIS SON TO DELIVER US FROM SIN
Let me draw your attention to the message God’s angel declared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to all of us. It’s recorded in Lk. 1:31-33 and we read this message about the Saviour whose office is not at all temporal but eternal, and whose work has a permanent effect on all people He saves. This is the message: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” The same angel appeared to Joseph and said, as recorded in Mt. 1:20-21, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
God sent to us His Son to be our Saviour, and all that is required of us is faith in Him. In other words, knowing our true nature as sinners and realising who Jesus is as the only Saviour and perfect and eternal Deliverer of sinners! Then, bowing to Him, seeking His deliverance from our sins. In fact, this is our worship – that is, coming to Him the Saviour, and taking our refuge in Him the Lord.
The birth story of Samson lifts our eyes up to see once again the birth of Jesus who came to be our Saviour and Lord as well as King who reigns now and forever! ***