Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Life & Death of a Biblical Addict. . .

It seems like a long lifetime ago, the days before I believed in God. . . in many ways it was a lifetime ago. . . . There was a time when I looked upon the Bible as a collection of writings of questionable authenticity thrown together by men. . . little different from any other collection of ancient writings. How foolish I was.

I now love studying the Bible. It is an amazing work. There are some 40 different authors, writing over some 17 centuries between the covers of the Holy Bible. There are no contradictions. It all fits and flows together far beyond any ability of a single man sitting in a single room to construct with such seamlessness , let alone all the writers from hugely different periods of time and greatly differing walks of life. The deeper I look into this mind boggling God breathed book the more amazed I become.

Again before I knew God, I questioned the relevance of the Bible to the issues of today. Recently I was called to speak at a man's memorial service. I went to prayer to discover the will of God for my words to the family. The fellow who we were memorializing had battled addictions of various forms throughout his life. What does the Bible say about addiction? Is there an addict in the Bible? The Lord brought an image of Samson to my mind. It did not take me long to discover just how appropriate Samson was to my upcoming talk. It came as a surprise to me, but I quickly realized after just a little study that Samson could accurately be described as an addict.

My definition of an addict is someone who continues in a behavior after it becomes clear that the behavior is causing a serious problem in their life. This cuts away lots of distractions and gets right to the core issue.

Are you an alcoholic? Using my definition, it doesn't matter if you drink alone, have blackouts, or hide bottles of liquor. There aren't any 10 questions and if you answer 'yes' to 4 of them then you are an alcoholic. If drinking is causing you problems in your life and you still continue to drink then I believe you are addicted to alcohol. It is not just drugs and alcohol that you can have an addiction to. You can surely be addicted to lottery tickets or other gambling. Is it causing a problem in your life? Have you had to skip lunch due to buying too many lottery tickets on pay day? Are the buying of lottery tickets causing a problem for you and you continue to buy them? If so, then I believe you have a problem with gambling. Gambling is an addiction for you.

Similarly, you can be addicted to a person. Does your boyfriend cheat on you, punch you, and/or emotionally abuse you and you still keep going back and going back for more? Is your relationship with him causing you severe emotional damage? You may in some way be dependent upon him, like an addict with his drug. It does not have to be only chemicals that an addict is addicted to.

Lots of other things can qualify as addictions: pornography and other sexual stimulation, chat rooms, video games, credit card spending, driving fast, food. . . lots of behaviors can cause big problems in a persons life and be considered addictive. You do not have to be using crack cocaine or meth or heroin to be an addict.

The Biblical account of Samson's life begins before he was born. His mother was instructed by the angel of the Lord, in other words by God Himself, before his birth that he would be the deliverer, the savior of Israel from the Philistines:

Judges 13:5
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

To be a Nazarite, was to take a strict oath regarding what you could eat, drink and touch. As a token or memorial of that vow, you could not cut your hair:

Numbers 6:1-8
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, . . .5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.

It is impossible to say exactly why, but from the first verses that we have concerning Samson, he has a very cocky impertinent attitude. It is possible that he may have gotten a big head from the foretold great things that he was prophesied to do. He does not do things the correct way. He takes chances and shortcuts:

Judges 14:1-3
And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman inTimnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. 3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

The Bible says that Samson's mother and father did not know that God was going to use Samson's misbehavior for the benefit of the Jewish people. but in any respect the Jewish people were to keep themselves separated from those unbelievers in the cultures surrounding them. Samson goes against every commandment of God for the Jewish people to not take wives for themselves from the Philistines and Canaanites.

Samson is very self centered and continues to show a disregard for other people and for the rules of God. Next he killed a lion with his bare hands:

Judges 14:5-6
Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. (6) And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

There is something wrong with this story. First of all, please tell me, what young man kills a lion with his bare hands and does not excitedly rush home to tell his father and mother about the adventure? Samson is sneaking around doing things behind his parents back. Secondly, it says that the lion roared against him. It doesn't say the lion attacked him. The lion gave Samson a warning roar. Lions on the hunt, do not roar. They do not roar when they are stalking someone. They might roar to protect a kill or to defend a territory from another lion. Something shamed Samson into not telling his parents about his killing the lion. I believe it likely that Samson killed the lion merely for the sake of killing. I believe that he recognized that there was no honor in what he did and that is why he did not tell his parents about his feat of strength.

Then some time later he finds a swarm of bees and honeycomb in the carcass of the same dead lion:

Judges 14:8
And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.

Samson not only sees the honeycomb in the body of the lion, gathers it eats it and then. . .

Judges 14:9
And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.

He has gone from just doing little secret things of small shame, keeping secret little things that do not put him in a good light, to doing things that are just not right at all. He takes the honeycomb home and gives it to his father and mother without their knowing where it came from. Samson's mother also took a vow of a Nazarite before Samson's birth:

Judges 13:3-4
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. (4) Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

I don't read that there was any limit to this vow and knowing the depth of gratitude of a formerly barren woman who has been given a child through an act of God, I would not at all be surprised to find her to be still holding to her vow. It is bad enough Samson eating something defiled by being in a dead animal, but he shows absolutely no regard, no respect for his parents in feeding them this defiled honey without their knowledge.

Think about it. I bring donuts over to your house and you eat them. And I didn't tell you that I found the box of donuts in amongst the bones of a dead dog laying along the side of the road. That's not a funny little joke is it? That's a pretty cruel trick. It's surely no way to treat your mother and father who are especially sensitive and have religious prohibitions against eating anything tainted in such a manner.

Samson is playing fast and loose with everything. Everything about him reeks of his high self opinion. He considers himself to be invincible and above all the rules of common decency.

Things seem to accelerate now. Samson then finds, what the KJV translates as 'new', but seems to be more properly translated as the 'rotting' jawbone of an ass and kills 1000 men with this putrid tool, again coming into contact with dead things. . . again using things that should be avoided. . . rapidly declining further:

Judges 16:1
Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her.

Not merely content to commit fornication. That surely would be bad enough, but he joined himself with a daughter of darkness, a woman of the uncircumcised enemies of his people, the blood enemies of his people, those afflicting his countrymen. Made himself one flesh with an idol worshiping whore. . .

We think ourselves invincible in our foolishness. Someone else will be caught, but not I. . .Samson comes closer and closer to the edge, playing with greater and greater fire. . .until he meets that which he cannot control. He begins doing very very foolish things. His addiction is now in full bloom.

How many of us have behaved very badly under the influence of our drug. How many have danced with lampshades on their heads? How many have gotten ourselves into situations where we have terribly embarrassed ourselves. . . or worse. . . a good friend of mine woke up one Sunday morning covered in blood, only having faint and fuzzy memories of a living three dimensional Saturday nightmare a few hours earlier. Under the influence of his drug, he slit a man's throat. He will spend the rest of his life remembering and regretting his actions of that terrible evening. My friend was/is one the nicest man you would ever want to meet. . . sober. He changed into something else, something monstrous when intoxicated. . .His behavior unexplainable if you only knew him sober. . .

You cannot read of Samson's actions and understand them without understanding that Delilah was his drug. He had to have her. He would do anything to have her. Crack addicts steal from their mothers, beat up and rob their fathers. . . they sell their children as sexual toys to utter strangers to feed their drug habits. . . morality. . . common sense are meaningless in the quest for your drug. They will do anything to get their drug. This was Samson in his addiction. Delilah was his drug.

Three times she asked for the secret of his strength. Three times he, the great judge of Israel, three times, the wise one who decided the weighty issues of the day told her the secret, three times only to have her test it and find he was lying. Three times she revealed that she would use the information to destroy him. You cannot comprehend it can you? How could anyone be so stupid. Delilah was his drug. He would do anything to have his fix. It makes no sense in any context outside of an addict and his drug. Finally his addiction takes him to the bottom, he reveals the symbol of his Nazarite oath to God. He tells her of his hair and how it must never be cut or he will be as other men. . . . Finally sated with her he falls asleep upon her lap:

Judges 16:18-20
And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. (19) And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. (20) And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he knew not that the LORD was departed from him.

Can anyone be surprised but Samson? Delilah taunts him. There should be no surprise, if you stay with it long enough the drug always wins. The drug is dead. It is not living. It is beyond you. The drug has nothing to lose. Oh that fateful day when we awake with the realization that we sold our soul for our drug. . . Somehow, someway. . . in that dark pit of blinded hell Samson regained his relationship with God. He regained his Nazarite vow. He regained his strength. . . His courage. . .

I do not have any idea how to unravel the theology and consequences of Samson's death. It clearly says that he committed suicide:

Judges 16:28-30
And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. (29) And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. (30) And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

I do not know exactly what lessons to take from this. Thoughts come to mind. . . First, God can use even an addict like Samson to accomplish a great work, to deliver his people. Second, even blinded, weak, treading grain like an animal, living in the dungeon of an idol's temple God remembers vows and will restore former gifts. . .I don't know. . . the darkness and despair of Samson fills my mind. . .

No further mention is made in the Old Testament of Samson, indeed only one mere mention made of Samson is found in the entire Bible outside of the book of Judges and that in the book of Hebrews. . . I am not sure that that silence does not say a great deal. . .

I know from personal experience the power, the lure, and the seductiveness of a drug. . .I know of the ability of a drug to lead you into doing crazy self-destructive things, but. . .but. . .but I also know of the power of God to deliver. . .

Thank you Jesus

He is my Deliverer. . .
He is my Savior. . .
He is my Lord and my God. . .

Thank you my God. . .


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