How God Uses Failure
February 27-28, 2021
Going through the Book of Judges, we're meeting a series of deliverers of Israel. They're called judges, not as we sense, but in the sense of delivering Israel. What was happening-- a little backstory, is that it tells us that while Joshua was leading Israel, Israel did well. They followed the Lord fully. The nation was strong, it says. Then when that generation of leaders passed from the scene, the next generation that came out for them, it says, "Did not know the Lord".
Right there, we get a sense of trouble that's going to come. They didn't have a relationship. They didn't have a foundation for faith. It tells us that they did not walk with the Lord. They didn't follow the Lord. They went after the gods of the world, They were worldly in every worldly sense. Sensual like senses, you can imagine all of the things that they represented.
I mentioned before, what was the draw? Why was Israel so drawn to these gods of the world? Because they appealed to every fleshly thing and the nature of man that he's born in. That's why, because it's natural. It's not spiritual, it's natural. The end result of it is death. It sickens the soul. It brings trouble upon trouble upon trouble and that's what it did for Israel. Their enemies arose. They had so much trouble that finally, they finally came to the point of crying out to God.
I tell you, this is important because many of the things, the condition of things that was happening in Israel in that day are happening in our day now. Many people have turned their back on God, walking after the ways of the world that are worldly in every worldly sense and so much trouble arises in their lives. I have never seen so much brokenness as we are seeing today. Brokenness, troubles, difficulties, emptiness because people turn away. They're turning towards the things of the world and troubles arise. Tell you what, God is waiting with open arms. When people cry out to God, He brings them home.
God would send them a deliverer, a help to rescue them from the oppression of their enemies that would arise from the troubles. It tells us that while that deliverer was alive, they did well, but as soon as that deliverer passed, then here comes the next generation, they did the same thing again. Now we come to Samson. We meet Samson here. Perhaps Samson is the most famous of all of the deliverers or judges of Israel.
He's famous really for two things. One, he's famous for his physicals strength. When you see the pictures in children's books of Samson, he looks like Mr. Atlas of the old Testament. We don't know what he looked like, but he was physically strong and courageous and all those sorts of things. He's famous for his strength, but he's also famous for his weaknesses. He had a lot of weaknesses that we're going to see.
You can learn a lot. You can learn a lot from watching people's strengths and successes, but you can also learn a lot from watching people's failures. A person who is wise will take hold of the things that are good and right and avoid the things that are failures.
The story of Samson is intriguing for another reason because it reveals an aspect of God that's very important to understand, and it's how God uses failure for His purpose and glory. We know God uses strength of faith, strength of character. The examples are throughout the scriptures. Noah was a man of righteousness. Enoch walked with God. Abraham was a man of faith. Joseph was a man of character and integrity. God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. Then there's Joshua and Caleb and Ruth and Boaz and David and Hezekiah and Josiah and Daniel, so many others.
We then also know that God uses people with failures in their lives. He used people with failure for His glory. Noah got drunk and humiliated himself. Abraham told a half-lie. His son, Isaac told a full lie. Then his son, Jacob was a liar. Moses killed an Egyptian. David's sin with Bathsheba is infamous. Peter denied the Lord three times. All the disciples abandoned Jesus. In the Book of Acts, Saul persecuted the church due to his misplaced zeal. John Mark quit on his first missionary journey. I'm just getting started.
There are so many examples. We spoke of Moses. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His life can be divided into three 40-year segments. DL Moody once said of Moses, "Moses spent the first 40 years of his life thinking he was a somebody. He spent the second 40 years of his life learning he was a nobody. He spent the last third of his life discovering what God can do with a failure and a nobody who trusts in God."
See, God can use failure. God can use failure in your life. He can use it to get your attention. He can cause you to re-evaluate your life, your priorities. He can open your eyes to weaknesses. He can bring humility and transform character through failures. I remember reading the story of a promising junior executive at IBM. This is a few years ago. This junior executive involved the company in a risky venture that resulted in a $10 million loss. When the CEO called the nervous junior executive into his office, the young man said, humbly, "I suppose you want my resignation." The CEO replied, "You can't be serious. We just spent $10 million on your education." In other words, you can learn from failure.
By the way, interesting little factoid I just happened to read this week, Warren Buffet came out and said that he made a mistake that cost Berkshire Hathaway $11 billion. There you go. Even the Oracle of Omaha makes mistakes. You can learn from failures.
The story of Samson is a story of God using victories, but failures. Frankly, the weaknesses and failures in Samson's life are Epic. The backstory is this. We started reading about this condition in chapter 10, where we read that once again, Israel turned their heart away from God, went after the gods of the world. God gave them over to their enemies, the Philistines and the Midianites, in this case.
The Midianites, they oppressed Israel on the east side of the Jordan. We read about Jephthah, who was raised up as the deliverer for that. Then the Philistines-- In chapter thirteen, God begins to bring help for Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. I say beginning. Samson is the beginning of that help, but they will not truly be free of the Philistine oppression until David arises on the scene. In fact, when we get to this period of history, we're about to meet Samuel. He's going to be a contemporary of Samuel. Then we'll meet King Saul the David very soon.
We recently have been studying through Judges where we've been reading stories of how God uses people that seemingly have every disadvantage. God delights to use nobodys. Here, it seems that Samson is born with every advantage. We know the story, his mother was barren, which in that day was a tragedy. It says the angel of the Lord appeared to her. Now, whenever you read of the angel in the Old Testament, many believe this is a theophany, an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. We'll see that here as well.
The angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her that she would have a son and that he would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines and that he would be a Nazir from birth. Now a Nazir or a Nazarite, not to be confused with a Nazarene, someone Nazareth. A Nazir is a man or woman that would take a special vow. A vow of dedication, a dedication to the Lord. They would separate themselves from things of the world so as to be dedicated to the Lord.
The angel of the Lord says he will be a Nazir from birth. She then should maintain her own vow of the Nazarite while she carries the boy. Now, when he's born, the Lord blesses him and gives him extraordinary strength and courage. Why did he fail? The lessons of his failure are epic and they're the reason why this story is so insightful. Let's read it. We're in chapter 13. Now we'll begin in verse 24. I want to actually start where this angel of the Lord says this word to his mother. The father's not there. The father prays, "Come again and speak this word" and he does.
Now it says verse 17, that Manoah, who's the father, said to the angel of the Lord, "What is your name?" Now, that is a really great-- we want to know. Yes. What is your name? If it's like a regular angel, it's got to be Michael or Gabriel or something. "What is your name, so that when these things come to pass we may honor you?"
The angel of the Lord said to him, "Why do you ask my name seeing as that it is wonderful?" Wonderful is the English translation. It's very hard to capture the Hebrew here because the Hebrew meaning is so spectacularly deep. The Hebrew meaning is the name-- Why do you ask my name? It is wonderful. No, it is incomprehensibly gloriously wonderful. You can't capture that so well so they say wonderful. Incomprehensibly gloriously wonderful. That is my name.
Verse 24, "The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson, which means the light of the sun. The child grew up and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, which is the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." Chapter 14 Verse 1, "Then Samson went down to Timnah, and he saw a woman in Timnah. One of the daughters of the Philistines." Here we start in seeing now the weaknesses of Samson because one of his weaknesses is he's got a thing for Philistine women. This is a thing, and this is a problem.
He came back and he told his father and his mother, "I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines." Me want woman. Well, they didn't say that, but that's the idea. "I saw a woman, one of the daughters of the Philistines. Now, therefore, get her for me as a wife." You might say, "Well, that sounds a little bossy." Well, you're right. It is bossy and insolent, and that's one of his problems too. His father and his mother said to him-- They tried to dissuade him. "Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives or among all your people that you have to go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?"
When you hear that, you have to read that uncircumcised Philistines with a bit of disdain in your voice. "Why do you have to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson said to his father, "Go get her for me, she looked good to me." Literally in the Hebrew is, "She looks right in my eyes." We're going to see this. It's a very important. Weakness. Verse 4 is fascinating. However, his father and his mother did not know that this was of the Lord for he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. At that time, the Philistines were ruling over Israel, so Samson is going to be an agitator.
Samson went down to Timnah with his father and his mother and they came as far as the vineyards of Timnah. As I mentioned, he's supposed to be doing a Nazarite vow. One of the aspects of the vow is, touch nothing of grapes, the finest of the things of the world. Touch nothing of the grapes. What's he doing in a vineyard? Then behold, a young lion came charging toward him. Now we see his strength. It says, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily so that he tore him with his bare hands like one would tear a kid though he had nothing in his hand."
He did not tell his father and his mother what he had done. He went down, talked to the woman, and she looked good to Samson. In other words, she looked good in his eyes. When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass. He's very like, "I just wonder what that dead lion looks like now. It's been some time." Then he sees that behold a swarm of bees has settled into the carcass, in the rib cage no doubt, and that honey was in the body of the lion. He scraped the honey. Wait a minute, there's another aspect of the Nazirite vow, "Touch nothing dead."
He's scraping honey out of a dead carcass. I don't know about you, but this does not sound like good honey, but hey, he scraped the honey into his hands and went on eating as he went. Then when it came to his father and his mother, he gave some to them and they ate it, but he didn't tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of a lion. That would be hard to take. Then the father went down to the woman and Samson made a feast there for the Yeoman customarily did this. It's a seven-day feast.
It came about that when they saw him that they brought 30 companions to be with him, which is to say he didn't have any friends so the Philistines supplied the friends too. Then Samson said to them, "Let me propound a riddle. If you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast and find it out, I will give to you 30 linen wraps and 30 changes of clothes." In those days, that was a lot of money. "If you are unable to tell it to me then you give me the 30 linen wraps and the 30 changes of clothes." They said, "Okay, fine, propound your riddle."
He said to them, "Here it is. Out of the eater came something to eat, out of the strong came something sweet." We have the answer. We know what it is, but they did not, and they couldn't figure it out. It says they could not tell the riddle in three days. Then Verse 15, "It came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband that he may tell us the riddle lest we burn you and your father's house with fire."" These people are not nice. "Have you invited us here to impoverish us? Is this not so?"
Samson's wife went and wept before him and said, "You hate me. You don't love me. You have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people and you've not told it to me." Then he said to her, "Behold, I've not even told my father or my mother, why should I tell you?" She kept weeping during the whole seven days that the feast lasted and it came about on the seventh day that he told her because she pressed him so hard that he couldn't take it anymore. That's another weakness. He can't stand a nagging woman.
She then told the riddle to the sons of her people. The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? We've solved your riddle." Then he said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle." Note to men in the room, do not use this phrase at all.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. He's going to be angry. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, he goes down to Ashkelon, kills 30 men and took their spoil and gave the change of clothes to those who told the riddle. His anger burned, and he went up to his father's house, leaving his wife there, never consummating it. Samson's wife was given to his companion who was his friend. This is the part of the story we want to look at. There's much to apply to our lives.
I want to start by understanding more about this angel of the Lord because I tell you that if Samson would have had the same heart that his father had, "Tell me your name that we might honor you", I tell you this is such an important thing. Honor His name as Wonderful and God will honor you. If Samson would have honored His name as Wonderful, it would have saved him so much trouble. Manoah's heart, his father's heart, is right. He wants to honor his name. His name, however, he says it's incomprehensively gloriously wonderful. See, when you understand the aspect of that, it's like you then recognize the necessity of the same for you and me, honor His name.
I. Honor His Name as Wonderful
There needs to be more honor of His name today. For His name is Wonderful. In fact, you know what's interesting? In Isaiah 9, where we read the prophecy of the coming Messiah, it says, Isaiah 9 verse 6, that His name shall be called Wonderful. The same exact word, incomprehensively gloriously wonderful. Same words. Notice Isaiah 9:6, "A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, the government will rest on His shoulders, and His name will be called Wonderful." That's why we have this connection. We understand this to be a theophany of Christ. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
After the resurrection, when Peter and John were on their way up to the temple, they saw this man lame from birth begging alms. They took hold of him, raised him up, and immediately the man was healed. Then a crowd gathers, they preach Jesus to them, the Jewish leaders come and arrest them, demand they give an account, but would you listen to this account? This is out of Acts Chapter 4 because it speaks to the name. Acts Chapter 4, it says, "When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, by what power and by what name do you do these things?"
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people. Let it be known to you all and all of Israel that it is by the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name, this man stands here before you in good health." Then he adds this statement which is a famous verse, "For there is salvation and no one else. For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Philippians Chapter 2 says, "It is the name above all other names." In the book of revelation, when it speaks of the end of the age and the Messiah of Israel that comes and the redeemer of man that comes at the end of the age, it describes Him. We hear this more insight into the name. Notice, Revelation 19:11-16, "I saw heaven opened and behold there was a white horse and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True. His eyes are a flame of fire. On His head are many diadems and He has a name written on Him, which no one knows except Himself." I suggest to you that it is in comprehensively gloriously, wonderful. "On His robe and on His thigh, he has a name written King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
If Samson would have honored His name, it would have saved him much trouble in life. Then you see all of the things unfolding so there we get great insight, life lessons. For example, here's the lesson right here. See right as God sees rights. Notice, Samson goes down to Timnah. He sees this woman, one of the daughters of the Philippines, "Get her for me. She looks right in my eyes." To me, this looks right.
A. See right as God sees right
See, now this speaks of the very condition. This speaks of what's wrong in Israel. I suggest to you that the condition of things that were happening in Israel in those days is the very thing that's happening in our day to day. People do what's right in their own eyes. That's the problem. That's why there are so many troubles around us.
It says in Judges Chapter 17:6, "In those days, there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes." I suggest to you that today there is a problem for those who look at things according to their own way, will call that which is good evil and they'll call that which is evil good. God calls it out in Isaiah Chapter 5:20-21, where He says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness. Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes." There it is.
In other words, we need a moral compass. We need a moral bearing. If you step back and see the bigger picture that's being revealed here. If you believe that there is a God of heaven, if you believe there's a God of heaven, if you believe that God sent His Son to be the light of the world and you take hold of light, should it not change how you live? See, if you have a faith in that living God and take hold of that light, should it not change? If your faith does not change how you live, I suggest that your faith is not alive. It should change how you live. It should be a light to the path.
Let me give you a great word out of Psalm: 119. Great, great song. "I have restrained my feet from every evil way." You have to restrain your feet from every evil way because the nature of man is drawn to it. It's like your body just wants to go right to it. "I have restrained my feet from every evil way that I may keep your word because your word is sweet. It's good. The way of God is good." He says, "How sweet are your words to my taste." Speaking of honey, "Sweeter than honey from the honeycomb." It's good. Then he adds, "Your word is a lamp to my feet. It is a light to my path." His word should show us the way in which to live our lives. We need a moral bearing. It should change how we live.
Samson, he sees this Philistine woman. This looks right in his eyes so he demands his father and mother get her for him. It was custom in that time for a father to arrange a marriage for his son, which included the giving of a gift of money or something valuable to the woman's father and that seals the betrothal. Samson's father and mother did not approve of this woman, but Samson refuses to listen. That's one of the weaknesses. He has a problem with authority and this is going to prove literally fatal in his life.
He does what's right in his own eyes. He won't even listen to his parents. I suggest to you that that is also one of the conditions that was happening in Israel. It is one of the conditions of the days in which we are now living. In fact, Paul describes it as one of the conditions of the latter days. In fact, this is mentioned in 2 Timothy Chapter 3:1-5, where Paul writes, "Realize this, that in the last days, difficult times will come." It describes, "Men will be lovers of self." This is what's bringing all of the troubles. "Lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers and disobedience to parents."
That will be a mark, a sign of the times of the latter days. I suggest, when we look around at what's happening in the world today, we are seeing a disrespect of parents and a disobedience to parents on epic proportions. Then he says, "They will be in those days without self-control, haters of good, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God." Avoid men like that.
B. God can use difficult people
Going back to Judges, we then see this, it's a very important insight. God can use difficult people. God can use for His own purpose and glory, difficult people. At first, when Samson's parents hear that he wants to marry a Philistine woman, they try to dissuade him to change his mind. "Is there no woman among the daughters of Israel that you have to go and take a woman from uncircumcised Philistines?"
Verse four says, "His father and his mother did not know that this was of the Lord, for He was seeking any occasion against the Philistines because they were ruling over Israel." He's going to be the agitator. Now, how can this be of the Lord? Some might ask. Does God cause wrongful intent? I suggest to you that He most certainly does not but by His sovereign hand, God can use all things for His glory, even wrongful intent.
Woe to the one through whom it comes, because it will cost Samson dearly. Anyone who follows such a thinking will cost them dearly. Notice this insight, Proverbs Chapter 16, fantastic proverb. Listen to this insight, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight." Is this not the same word? "All the ways of a man are clean his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives of the heart." Then he adds this in verse four, "The Lord made everything for His own purpose. Even the wicked for the day of evil." I know that is deep. That is a deep insight into the ways of God.
I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked that very thing since our daughter was killed, "How can it be that evil exists in this world?" The Lord has made everything for His purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil. In other words, each person's going to have to choose how they going to live their life. Then it adds this, "But when a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." God can use difficult people. God can use agitators, but woe to the one who's the difficult one, it will end badly.
I remember many years ago when I was a youth leader in a church, that was many years ago, because I'm getting older now. Many years ago, I had this fellow when I was a youth leader, this fellow who came up and straightforwardly told me that he was going to be sandpaper in my life. In other words, he was going to rub me the wrong way on purpose. To which I then said, "Each person must live as he feels he must live."
God uses sandpaper. God uses difficult people. Woe to the one who is the sandpaper. Woe to the one who is the difficult. Woe to the one who is the agitator. I suggest to you that there are higher callings in life than being agitators and difficult people. There are higher callings. Each person must choose. If you want to be a sandpaper, you be sandpaper. I want something higher.
Every man must give an account. We know God can use all things, even evil intent, He can use. I'll tell you, one of the most amazing stories in this regard comes to us out of the book of Genesis where Joseph, you remember his story, he was betrayed by his brothers. Now that is a despicable thing. His own brothers betray him, sold him to slave traders, where he would be taken to Egypt. They did it out of jealousy and evil intent. That is despicable. Then we come to see that God used the tragic despicable betrayal of his brothers to bring about a great purpose.
The very thing, the evil intent that they intended was the very thing that God used to bring about a greater purpose. At the end of the story, when it's revealed that God used these very things and by His sovereign hand worked in such a way in Joseph's life that he arose in great authority in Egypt that he might be the one that would be used to save many, even these brothers. When this is revealed, they come to him at the end of the story and ask forgiveness. Joseph's answer to them reveals a deep understanding of the ways of God.
Notice in Genesis chapter 50:20-21. As for you, Joseph's responding to them when they ask for forgiveness. As for you, you meant evil. Now when you're quoting someone, it's hard to know how to quote them because you can say it a lot of different ways. Did he say it like this? You know what? As for you, you meant evil. That was what you did to me back then. See, that's not-- I tell you in this case, we know how to quote him because it tells us how he spoke. He spoke kindly to them because now Joseph sees something bigger. There's a great purpose.
II. Devotion is a Better Life
This is so important to grasp in our lives. He sees the greater purpose. He does not respond by being hurt. Notice, as for you, you meant evil. You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. Does God cause such evil intent? No, but God can use it by His sovereign hand can use. He meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive. There was a great purpose. Therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones and he comforted them as well kindly. He's a tremendous example of right heart and character.
That brings us back to Samson and the lessons of life to apply. Here's one of the great lessons. Devotion is a better life. This is what's missing. This is what's missing in Samson's life. There's no devotion to God. Devotion is a better life. Now it tells us that even before Samson is born, he's given this extraordinary calling, he's going to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines, but rather than be dedicated to God's purpose, he's driven by desire. He's got a thing for Philistine women by power, by anger, a guy can use all things, but it's better to have devotion to accomplish.
A. God sets you apart for a purpose
God sets you apart for a purpose. God is setting Samson apart for a purpose and He's going to equip him to accomplish that purpose and the same is true for you and me. God sets you apart for a purpose. We need purpose. We need meaning. It gives deeper value to life when we understand that we must have purpose and meaning in our lives. You want purpose and meaning, it comes from that relationship to God and He will equip you to accomplish that purpose. When you walk in the purpose in which God has called you, you feel His pleasure.
Ephesians chapter 2:10, "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead that we should walk in them" but you must be dedicated to that purpose for it to be accomplished in your life. Keep your life dedicated.
I was thinking of a story many years ago. We had a young man in the church. He really stood out to me because he would come in and sit in the very front row. He had this whole thing. He dressed in this black leather and chains and the hair and that kind of stands out and sit in the front, right? I was intrigued. I said to him, "Hey, let's get together. I want to have lunch." He said, sure. We meet and I said, tell me about yourself. I say, at one point, "What do you want to do with your life? I'm really intrigued." What is it you want to do with your life?
He said, "You really want to know?" "Yes." He said, "I want to serve the Lord in some way." I go, "Really? Do you mean that?" He said, "Yes, I do mean that." I say, "You know what? If you mean that, then I will help you. Come to my office every Tuesdays at four o'clock, you show up at my office and we're going to study together and we'll start building a foundation." I said, "Do you know anybody else that you might want to bring with you?" He said, "Yes, I got some friends." I said, "Bring them all."
Tuesdays at four o'clock, in he comes with about six other friends, right past the receptionist, right past the secretary, they're all wearing their black leather and the chains and the whole thing. All looking the same so they can be different. They all come and they all come right through and sit down on the floor of my office. We're going to do this on the floor. We're going to do it on the floor. We did this, we sat for two years. If there is a dedication to purpose, God can do so much.
This Nazarite vow. The vow of the Nazir is a symbol of dedication. That was the point of it and the requirements of that vow were symbolic of that dedication. I'll just give it to you. Numbers chapter 6:2 we get it from there. "When a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of the Nazir, Nazarite to dedicate himself to the Lord, he shall abstain from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes." That's raisins, "all the days of his separation. He shall not eat anything that's produced by the great vine, from the seeds to the skin and all the days of his vow, no razor shall pass over his head." Which is to say, he is to grow his hair long all the time that he's doing the vow.
When he finishes the vow, because typically, it was only for a set period of time. There are very few examples of someone who was a Nazarite for their life. Samson is one, Samuel would be another and John the Baptist, but typically, a person, when they finished that period of time that they were dedicated, they would shave their head, cut off the hair and dedicated it to the Lord. It was like an offering of burn fire.
It says "No razor shall pass over his head. He shall be Holy until the days are fulfilled, which he has separated himself to the Lord and he shall let the locks of his hair grow long. He shall not go near a dead person all the days of a separation he's holding to the Lord." Let's look at those because these are all symbolic of dedication, no wine or strong drink, even grapes of any form because grapes in that culture represented the finest things that the world had. In other words, the idea was that the Nazarite would separate himself from the finest things of the world so that he could have the finest things of God. Now isn't that a beautiful picture?
The finest things of God? Are there finer things? Are there finest things? There are so many things that God says are finer. Separate those finest things from the world so you can have that from God. It's interesting because even today the fruit of the vine or wine represents the finest of the world, right? You go to a really nice expensive restaurant, oftentimes they'll have a sommelier. A sommelier is a wine steward, an expert in wines. This is his whole thing. He is an expert at wines.
He comes to your table and he says, what are you having for dinner? Oh, you are having duck. You see then want this wine from Europe and this year or whatever. He's a sommelier, he's the finest things of the world. You say, how do you know these things, pastor? Well, I worked in restaurants like this, so I understand that this is the finest. Then it says no cutting of the hair. Well, this was a symbol. It was a symbolist of something. In the '60s, growing long hair was a symbol also, but it was a symbol of rebellion. I know all about the '60s. I read about it in a book and the '60s rebellion was reflected in long hair.
I actually tried to grow my hair long which I couldn't do because I had real stringy hair so my hair went like this and it didn't look like rebellion. It looked like weird. The Nazir, the Nazarite would grow his hair long as a symbol so that people can see and then they would say, ah, you've dedicated yourself. That's good. God bless you. That's good. It encourages people. See, it's an encouragement to see such dedication and I suggest to you that there's a modern equivalent in the sense that when people see such dedication, people can sense it. Wouldn't it be glorious, wouldn't it be wonderful?
Let's say, imagine somebody comes to visit. Somebody comes to this church and they visit and they sit down and they look around and they look about and they say, something's happening here. There's something real going on here. I can see it. I can sense it. See that devotion, that dedication, it's real. It blesses people. It draws people to bless God. People want to see it today. There's such a longing today to see that which is real and genuine. They want to see it. They can sense it.
Then it says no contact with a dead corpse. God is life. God is life. You might say, well, Jesus touched the dead. Yes, brought them to life. That's the idea. Out of dedication to the Lord, don't touch anything dead. I suggest to you today, there are a lot of things that are dead in this world. There are a lot of things that are leading to death. God is life. Now here's another thing. If a Nazir or Nazarite did touch a dead corpse, he could shave his head and begin the vowel all over again. God made an allowance for the new beginning.
B. Inner strength is far greater
Then finally, we'll close with this. Inner strength is far greater. See devotion, something that happens in the heart, it's an inner strength. We look at Samson and he's admired for his great physical bearing. Okay. God uses it but I suggest to you that inner strength is far greater. It comes from devotion. That's of the heart. It's real. That's what's missing in Samson's life. You don't see devotion. Sure, he's used of the Lord. Even the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, but he lacks devotion and this is his great undoing.
If a man or a woman wants to have spiritual increase, devotion is the key. Psalm 62:8, "Trust in Him at all times, you people. Pour out your heart before Him." That is devotion. That is the need of the hour today. Oh, my prayers is that the church would be alive, that people would sense that which is real and genuine because there's real devotion. It's what happens in the heart. There's no sacrifice of worship in Samson. There's no praise. There's no prayer to speak of. There's no love but this is the very thing that God said is the highest aspect of your relationship to the living God. You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That is devotion.
The one who draws near to God, who seeks to honor His name as wonderful, God will honor, give strength, but do it out of devotion. Let there be that which is real devotion. That's where inner strength of the soul is found.
Father, thank you so much for stirring us up, for showing us your heart, your ways. You send your Word and your Spirit stirs. We see such words, power. We want to live to your honor. We want to honor that name, that incomprehensibility glorious wonderful name. God, I just pray for everyone in this place today that there would be something stirring that says, I want there to be in me real devotion. I want your purpose in my life. I want the inner strength that comes from drawing there. God, I want my life to be a devotion to you.
Church would you say that? Is God stirring your heart that you would want to say that to the Lord? Would you just say it to Him, by raising your hand to Him? Just raise your hand to the Lord. This is my heart, God. I want my life to be a devotion. I want to see your purpose and I want it to be real and genuine devotion to you, God, that's my heart. That's my prayer. Do this work in us. Bring revival in us now, God. We thank you for how you're stirring us by your Spirit in Jesus' powerful name, and everyone said--Amen