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Turning aside…

"Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey.  He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along."   Judges 14:8-9

 

I know that most of us love the story of Samson.  His is a story of love and betrayal, power and humility, life and death.  We love the power and strength that comes from God in Samson, and we love how God used Samson to rescue the Israelites from the hands of the Philistines.  However, many times we get caught up in the superhuman strength of the man and his unbelievable feats, yet we overlook the many flaws that plagued Samson along the way.  Samson had a "Burger King" moment early in his life, and it set the tone for his life.  What do I mean by a "Burger King" moment?  "Have it your way right away!"  

In Judges 14:2, Samson says to his father, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife."  Two problems are presented here for Samson, a Nazarite - one dedicated to God's service.  First of all, he was in Timnah.  Timnah was a city controlled by the Philistines.  It was about six miles southwest of his home in Zorah.  Judges 14:5 says that "Samson went down to Timnah."  There is no doubt in my mind that Samson was heading "down."  What was he doing in Timnah, a Philistine controlled city?  Secondly, Samson SAW a Philistine woman.  He SAW her, and he WANTED her.  Samson's "Burger King" moment created havoc in his life and his parents' lives.  His parents pleaded with him not to marry the Philistine woman, but Samson was in the middle of his "have it your way right away" moment.  God, however, used even Samson's sinful desire to accomplish His plan in Samson's life.  Judges 14:4 says, "His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel."  And in Judges 14:5b-6, we see God's power fall on Samson: "As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him.  The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat.  But he told neither his father or his mother what he had done."  As a young boy, I remember my Aunt Nancy reading me this story and showing me the pictures in her storybook Bible.  I told her that I wanted to be like Samson, a powerful man of God!  But Aunt Nancy said, "Let me read the rest of the story first."

"The rest of the story"...I could tell by the tone of Aunt Nancy's voice that something wasn't right.  Judges 14:8-9 gives us the real problem that plagued Samson, and I believe it is the same problem that plagues us today: "Some time later, when he went back to marry her, HE TURNED ASIDE TO LOOK at the lion's carcass, and in it he SAW a swarm of bees and some honey.  He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along."  HE TURNED ASIDE TO LOOK!  Remember, God had a plan and a path for Samson.  God also had commands, vows for a Nazarite: separate himself from wine or similar drink (nothing from the vine); no razor shall come upon his head; and he shall not go near a dead body or touch anything dead.  Samson was a Nazarite, a man set apart for God's work and God's glory.  His path was straight, but HE TURNED ASIDE.  In other words, he took his eyes off the path of God and put them on the path of his own choosing.  It was his "Burger King" appetite: "Have it your way right away!"  And what happened when Samson turned aside?  He saw something sweet; he saw some honey...even though it was inside a DEAD lion.  Samson's sinful desire once again got the best of him in this moment.  This man with incredible, superhuman strength couldn't keep his eyes on the path of God; he couldn't resist even a little bit of honey.  But before we are so quick to judge Samson or ridicule him, we need to take a step back.  We need to look in our own mirrors.  Aren't we a lot like Samson today?  Aren't we consistently TURNING ASIDE from the straight and perfect path God has for us?  Aren't we incredibly smart and incredibly strong, yet we can't keep our eyes on the prize?  Aren't we falling for the "little bit of honey" we see from day to day?  Psalm 16:8-11 says, "I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.  You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  Instead of TURNING ASIDE, we need to keep our EYES ALWAYS ON THE LORD.  God's Word assures us that God's path is the best path.  God's path will bring us gladness, security, life, joy, and pleasure.  That doesn't mean we won't face hardships.  That doesn't mean that we will always be happy.  It means God's path is the best path; His path is better than any other path we may see as we are TURNING ASIDE.  Nothing else I can say will say it better than God's Word in Hebrews 12:1-2.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I would love to hear your comments...

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