Every human life is full of potential. If you doubt that just think for a moment about individuals who were born with severe limitations and yet accomplished great feats: Fanny Crosby, for example.
1. There are many people who were born with no limitations and yet never realized their full potential. What are some things that keep a person from reaching his or her full potential?
2. What role does spiritual compromise play in failing to reach one’s full potential? (Wrong choices; following one’s own desires and plans rather than God’s; undisciplined; pursuing things that are trivial; etc.)
At one time or another we have all, most likely, asked ourselves if we have or are reaching our full potential. That is a question we should ask ourselves from time to time and allow God to give us the answer. We generally think of someone else when we think of people not reaching their full potential.
Our study today is about a man who accomplished a great deal in his lifetime and yet it is obvious to all that he failed to reach his full potential. His name is synonymous with physical strength—Samson.
A brief outline of Judges 13-16:
· Samson’s birth as the Lord’s purposeful gift to a childless couple.
· Samson’s strange yet divinely useful marriage to a Philistine woman of Timnah.
· Samson’s further revenge of the Philistines when his wife was given in marriage to another man.
· Samson’s dangerous casual romantic relationship with a prostitute in the Philistine city of Gaza.
· Samson’s love for and betrayal by a woman named Delilah, resulting in Samson’s abandonment of his Nazirite vow and loss of strength.
· Samson’s bitter defeat, enslavement, and final act of suicide-vengeance against many Philistines in their temple.
· Samson’s burial in his father’s tomb.
Samson is the last judge talked about in the Book of Judges. The last judge and first prophet was Samuel.
Please Tell Me! Read Judges 16:4-6
1. From what we know about Samson, what would you say was his fatal flaw? (He was attracted to foreign women, and even seemed to go after them rather than Israelite women.)
2. Why might the residence of his love interest matter? (She lived in northern Philistia where the enemies of God’s people lived. Nothing good could come from this illicit relationship.)
3. What was Delilah interested in from this relationship? (The money she stood to gain by betraying Samson to her kinsmen.)
4. In what ways was falling in love with Delilah a spiritual compromise for Samson? (Unless Samson was on business for God he had no business in the Valley of Sorek! He was being led astray by his own evil desires.)
5. How does a person keep from falling in love with the wrong person? (Stay out of Philistia!)
Samson gave temptation a foothold in his life when he began a relationship with a Philistine woman. The Philistines were enemies of the Hebrew people and did not worship the one true God!
Nagging! Read Judges 16:7-12 (See Prov. 25:24)
If You Love Me! Read Judges 16:13-15
1. After several failed attempts to discover Samson’s secret what was her next approach?
If Samson had guarded his heart and followed Scripture in his relationship choice, he could have avoided this situation.
2. In what ways might unbelievers and wayward Christians manipulate a believer so as to nullify, even destroy, Christian potential and influence?
Samson and Delilah’s relationship was built on lies and deceit. Yet instead of turning away from temptation, Samson continued to play along with Delilah’s trickery.
3. Samson seemed to realize the relationship with Delilah was a trap, yet he did not turn away from the relationship. Why do you think that was the case?
4. Why do we sometimes continue to play with temptation even though we know the dangers?
From the time of his birth, Samson had God’s presence blessing him. Yet because Samson did not stand against the temptation that he encountered, he never achieved his full potential. It seems as if he was a spoiled child, who always got his way and never grew up!
The Philistines Are Here! Read Judges 16:16-20
In the Old Testament the Spirit of God came upon people at specific times for specific reasons. As long as Samson had not cut his hair God’s Spirit was with him.
1. When Samson first awoke after his hair was cut, what difference did he fail to realize? (It is a sad commentary that Samson did not even realize God’s Spirit was no longer with him. He had unknowingly broken the Nazirite vow and God’s power was no longer with him.)
2. What false assumption do we see Samson making in this passage?
3. What other false assumptions do you see people make that lead to compromise and failure? (Far too often Christians think God will overlook one small sin, then another and before you know it they are blind to the fact that they have no power because sin has taken over their lives.)
Samson fooled himself into thinking he could treat temptation lightly and still have victory over it. We must never think that temptation is something to be toyed with or treated lightly.
4. How does standing against temptation show that we love God?
5. How does giving in to temptation show that we love ourselves?
6. What are the dangers we face when we stumble into spiritual compromise?
The Philistines captured Samson, gouged his eyes out, put him in shackles and forced him to grind grain as a beast would do. Samson’s spiritual blindness led to physical blindness and his enslavement to sin led to physical enslavement.
The Philistines weren’t any smarter than Samson, though and they let his hair grow back out. At a great feast they brought Samson in to make fun of him but he got the last laugh by asking God to give him strength to bring down the building. God did and he did.
Those he killed outnumbered all of those he had killed in his life time before imprisonment.
What are we to learn from Samson?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How can Samson’s experience instruct us as we weigh the relationships we form with people? (It’s not only okay but good that we have relationships with non-Christians—BUT—our closest relationships should be with those who are like-minded in faith and practice.)
2. How does compromise in our lives impact our Christian testimony among our family and friends?
3. How does compromise in our lives impact our relationship with God?
4. What actions can we take to fend off temptations to compromise Christian beliefs?
5. What can we do to encourage one another not to succumb to spiritual compromise?
Our involvement within church and small groups is important so we can have relationships rooted in the common foundation of Christ!
Father, strengthen our group as we seek to draw closer to You and turn away from any temptation we may encounter.