Study 5 THE COLLAPSE OF FAITH – SAMSON
MORE STUDIES IN HEBREWS 11
by Francis Dixon
Scripture References: Hebrews 11:32; Judges 13:24-25; chapters 14 – 16
There is one verse of scripture we should remember as we commence this study – 1 Corinthians 10:12. Did you ever know a Christian who at one time was on fire for the Lord but whose faith collapsed so that he became a backslider? – look up Galatians 5:7; and a castaway? – look up 1 Corinthians 9:27, KJV. There are many who were once keen for the Lord but who were afterwards drawn away from Him, and there is no more tragic example of this than that of Samson. His counterpart in the New Testament is Peter, and yet surely the case of Samson is more tragic, because it was after he had judged Israel for twenty years and had on many occasions demonstrated his faith in God that his collapse and downfall came. Samson, like Peter, was impetuous and impulsive, and he went down into ignominious defeat; and this is a solemn warning of the pitfalls into which any of us, but for the grace of God, may fall.
- Samson was an unusual child, and he had wonderful parents (Judges 13:2-3). He was brought up as a Nazarite (Numbers 6:1-21 and Judges 13:7), which means that he had taken a vow to lead a life of separation unto the Lord. He was also a man of prayer (Judges 15:18 and 16:28), but he failed so terribly because he had not learned, as Paul did, to bring his body into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27). Therefore, he became a castaway (that is, God had to put him on one side, for He could not use him for a time, though He restored him in the end).
What a solemn warning we have here against playing with sin in any form! Fancy a judge of Israel in the lap of a Delilah, lulled by the Devil, defeated and defiled, with his strength depleted and his sight gone! – and yet Judge Samson, with all his failings, is mentioned in Hebrews Eleven. Only grace can do this for a man. Notice the following lessons:-
1. Satan’s chief aim is to cause the faith of the child of God to collapse.
Satan masses all his forces to attack our faith. His one objective is to prevent faith – look up 2 Corinthians 4:4, and compare Luke 8:12. His one objective is to cause the believer’s faith to fail – (Luke 22:31-32); and often he attacks the believer’s faith in the most subtle ways (Judges 16:5). He sometimes comes as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8); but more often he comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Always remember that the Devil is out to rob you of your faith.
2. There is no position from which a collapse of faith is impossible.
Read through Judges 16 and notice every detail of Samson’s tragic entanglement with Delilah and of his downfall into sin, and remember that such is the power of the world, the flesh and the Devil that no believer can ever claim absolute immunity from a similar downfall. God’s grace and provision are quite sufficient to keep us, but it is terribly easy for us to take our eyes off the Lord and for our faith to collapse. See how this happened in quite a different way in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-18).
3.The collapse of faith does not take place suddenly but gradually.
The actual moment of collapse may be sudden to all appearances, but this is always preceded by an inward process of heart backsliding (Proverbs 14:14). Spiritual decline usually begins very gradually, but prayerlessness, lack of Bible study, or the permission of small sins in the life is quite enough to start a spiritual landslide. This is what happened with Samson. He married a Philistine (Judges 14:1-7); then we see him gripped by a vindictive spirit (Judges 15:7-20); and then he relapsed into sin with Delilah (Judges 16:1-20). Romans 13:14 is admirable advice, and so is 1 Peter 2:11.
4. The collapse of faith is almost inevitable where there is much outward profession and little inward possession.
Samson was a Nazarite in outward appearance, but he knew little of inward heart-separation to the Lord. It is so easy for us to profess much with our lips and to possess little with our hearts, and to have a religion which is a form but not a force – look up and compare Matthew 15:8 and 2 Timothy 3:5. If Samson had been living in close touch with the Lord his faith would not have collapsed; on the contrary, he would have challenged the temptress and proved the power of the Lord to overcome the desires of the flesh – look up Galatians 5:16.
5. The collapse of faith is bound to follow the deliberate breaking of God’s commandments.
There was one particular way in which Samson disobeyed the Lord, and that was in his marriage to a Philistine wife (Judges 14:1-20). To disobey the clear commands of God is to court disaster (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). How solemn for a Christian to marry an unconverted partner! – look up Deuteronomy 7:3-4, and compare 1 Corinthians 7:39; how wrong for a Christian to go into partnership with an unconverted colleague! – look up 2 Chronicles 20:35-37; how dishonouring for a Christian to link together with unbelievers in a secret society or oath-bound lodge! – look up Matthew 6:19-24 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-3; how questionable it is whether or not a Christian should join a Church where the Bible is not believed, the gospel is not proclaimed and the Holy Spirit is not honoured! – look up Ephesians 4:30.
6.The collapse of faith carries with it a complete loss of testimony.
Think of it! Samson, the judge, the servant of God, in the lap of Delilah, his power gone, blind, and the laughing-stock of the ungodly! – read Judges chapter 16 again. How important it is to abstain from all appearance of evil! (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Joseph was tempted to sin against the Lord but he overcame (Genesis 39:1-23). There is no situation from which the Lord is not able to save us if only we will cry to Him for help (Matthew 14:30-31).
7. When faith has collapsed it may be restored.
Thank God for that! The end of the story of Samson is very tragic, but it does tell us that he was restored to the Lord before his death; and such restoration may be yours and mine by the grace of God. In concluding this study look up Proverbs 28:13, for this tells us the way back, and be sure to compare 1 John 1:9, and then take heed to Ephesians 6:10. God still loves us, even when we stumble and fall. Our sin always grieves Him, and when we turn away from Him, He waits for us to turn back – look up Luke 15:18-24!