“Then Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.”
Judges 16: 1, Amplified Bible
“Passion’s Pervasive Power”
Pervasive: To spread throughout. To permeate.
“Rule your passions or they will rule you.”
Is there a “passion” in my life that permeates all I do?
Is this “passion” uplifting or downgrading?
Have I given the “passionate” entirety of my life to my heavenly Father for His mastery and control?
“The happiness of a man (or woman) in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his (her) passions.”
“Passion, for all its dangers, needs uncaging if we are to move towards completeness as human beings and if our walking with Christ in faith is to pass beyond the cerebral and the emotionally anemic.”
You would think after the murder of his wife and father-in-law, Samson would have stayed away from the women awhile. Perhaps taking some time to grieve for the person who “pleased” him so much – the girl he just had to have.
Instead, after hiding out near the tribe of Judah for awhile, in the cleft of the rock at Elam, Samson found even the Israelites didn’t want him around for they feared retaliation by the Philistines who informed them they had better turn Samson over or else!
In another display of cunning and strength, Samson showed off his power by luring the Philistines into a trap. Seeing Samson bound with rope, the enemy thought him powerless and attacked, only to find they had made a huge mistake as Samson grabbed the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1,000 men with it. After the devastating results of this one man battle, Judges 15: 20, (Amplified Bible) states: “And Samson judged and defended Israel in the days of the Philistines for years.”
Then in the very next verse in Judges16: 1, we are told “Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.”
Evidently, Samson thought he’d pick on another heathen woman so he went over to where the Gazites lived and stopped in to receive the services of one of their prostitutes. However, Samson had someone watching him, who informed the Gazites that the man-about-town was visiting a woman-about-town, and so the Gazites plotted that in the morning, they would kill Samson. Possibly Samson noticed the house was surrounded for around midnight, he got up and left in the dark, lifting the gates of the city off their poles, carrying them on his back, and leaving them on a hill near Hebron.
Again, ruled by uncontrolled passion, apparently of a sexual nature, Samson let his desires dictate his behavior. And here’s where we get to the central core of the life of Samson.
I think most people would concur with my assessment that much of what we have heard about Samson focuses on his relationship with Delilah. Popular culture has helped with this viewpoint having even produced a movie about the sexual attraction between these two individuals.
Add to this the fact that many sermons I’ve heard through the years about Samson usually highlighted as fact the notion that “sexual” passion can send you down the road to ruin. And there is plenty of evidence in the Bible and throughout history that this idea has some truth to it.
But to limit ourselves to the belief it was just an uncontrolled sexual appetite which got Samson in trouble would be to miss the broader lesson God intends for you and me to learn from the life of this man.
If we review Samson’s behavior, he had more than sexual passion on overdrive. His entire emotional nature was out of control. He was impatient. Demanding. Hostile. Hot-headed. Vengeful. And these passionate qualities, when under the rule of Samson, had no regulator at all to balance them.
The fact is, it wasn’t one passion, a sexual one that led to his downfall. Samson’s problem was much bigger. All his passions brought him down because none of his passions were under the “Master’s” control.
Herein lies the key to not only Samson’s failure, but our own.
The Apostle James writes. “The earnest, heartfelt continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working” (James 5: 16, Amplified Bible). Usually we read this text and stop without continuing. We shouldn’t, because the next verse, James 5: 17 says. “Elijah was a human being with a nature (passions is the word used in the King James Version) such as we have, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain and no rain fell.” The point of this text is that passions – feelings, affections, drives, emotions – permeate all our lives. God made us this way. It isn’t abnormal to be passionate – it’s normal.
The question for Samson and you and me is: “Under whose control are our passions?”
Samson’s entire life is a lesson on what happens when we let our selfish nature rule our passions. It is very clear what the result is – our passions dominate us. And when passions rule us, we lose our freedom. We become slaves to that which we cannot control.
This is why I appreciate the comparison the Bible draws between Samson and Elijah, both passionate men. If you don’t believe me, wait until we study about Elijah and Jezebeel. There’s a passionate story for you. But instead of letting himself be ruled by evil passions, Elijah was encompassed by the Ruler of heaven and earth. Samson had the same opportunity but instead chose to let his passions dictate his every move – and what a fearful price he paid.
“I have one passion, and it is He, only He.”
Nicolaus von Zinzendorg
“Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, Thou hast made us for Thyself, so that our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing Thy will, no weakness from doing it; but that in Thy light we may see light, and in Thy service find perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
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