When you get past the biblical stories you hear in Sunday school, and look a little closer you find a difficult side of Samson. Emotion drove him. Anger burned inside him. And pride filled him. And we all know pride comes before the fall. Samson was a man with supernatural strength and a divine calling, but he also had a dangerously weak will. Samson allows his emotions to control his behavior. We all get emotional at times, but in Samson’s case, he allowed his emotions to control him. If we are honest, we would have to admit that sometimes our emotions have led us to do something we shouldn’t have done. Why? Because we end up acting on our emotions, as Samson did, rather than being led by the Spirit. That’s why the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:16-17 that we are to live by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Bottom line: Be Spirit led, not emotion driven.
Something To Talk About:
Samson was emotion driven, not spirit led. Being led by our emotions instead of our spirit can bring out the worst in us. Now it may seem odd to say that a man known for his strength was emotion-driven. We men don’t like to think of ourselves as emotional. But we are. Anger and pride are two of these deadly emotions that can take strong men down when they are not managed correctly. These things consumed Samson, but we can learn from his example and drive our needs directly to God. Zechariah 4:6 says, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
- Samson burned with anger: Samson was angry most of the time. The best case scenario is that he had anger management issues. He was like the first hockey goon fighting at the first provocation. It didn’t take much to get him going. Rage was his constant companion and he often acted on his anger without thinking. Remember the riddle? When the Philistines came up with the riddle’s solution, Samson immediately got mad. He slew thirty men. Then there was the time that Samson got lonely and went back to the Philistines to get his wife, only to find she had been given to another man. His anger boiled over again. It was now personal pay-back time. He caught three hundred foxes and tied their tails together, set fire to the material tied between the tails of the foxes and turned them loose on the crop lands of the Philistines. The Philistines retaliated by burning Samson’s wife and her family. Overflowing with anger, he slaughtered many more Philistines. This was an angry man. In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul told Timothy: “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” Samson rarely had a clear mind. He rarely was cool, calm and collected, nor did he stay focused on the ministry God gave him.
- Samson was filled with pride: Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, Samson grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. One thousand men. This is the stuff of urban legend – this is off the charts. This has to be a God thing, but somebody else gets the credit. Judges 15:16 says, “Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve piled them in heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” God is conspicuously absent in that verse. Pride takes credit where credit is not due and does not give credit where it is due. Samson is saying “look how strong I am, and how skillfully I fight. Aren’t you impressed? You should be.” Samson forgot where his power and his victories came from. Scripture says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. It is well to remember that when we accomplish something and want to take a bow.
- Describe a time when you let your emotions get the best of you. What resulted from your emotional outburst?
- Samson was emotion-driven and not Spirit-led. Why do you think so many men allow themselves to be driven by their emotions instead of being driven by God?
- What unchecked anger in your life do you need to own up to immediately? How has your unchecked anger affected you and those you love? What does pride look like in your life? Where do you seem to struggle the most with pride?
- Share with your group what kind of man you think God wants you to be. How is your pride and anger keeping you from becoming that man?
- What does a Spirit-led life look like?
- How can you keep your pride and anger in check while at the same time not losing the passion and heart of a warrior that God has given you daily?
Take One Thing Home with You
So how does the Spirit lead us? How do we know we are being led by the Spirit? Throughout scripture, we see examples of how God guides His people. When Nehemiah left for Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, he didn’t have a command from God. He simply said that God had “put it into his heart” to do it. “I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:12). Paul’s spirit was “provoked” about the idolatry in Athens. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16). He seemed to take this provocation as a reason to stay and preach the gospel there. Later in his ministry he would identify a “ambition” that God had put in his heart to preach Christ only where he had never been named. “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.” (Romans 15:20).
The Spirit will lead us if we listen to the Spirit’s voice when so many other voices are vying for our attention. There’s the voice of regrets, haunting us about our past failures and hounding us about missed opportunities. There’s the voice of our fears and anxieties, blasting us with “what if’s” and “if only’s.” And there is the voice of our emotions calling us as they did Samson.
When other voices are calling us, we need to pause and pray and seek the Spirit’s guidance in all we do.