• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • April 2023
    M T W T F S S
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Do not take for Granted God’s good Gifts

T. DeWitt TalmageSamson, like many men and women of today, did not always use the graces bestowed upon him in a righteous manner. T. DeWitt Talmage reminds such men and women to not take for granted God’s good gifts:

Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. (Judges 14:1 ESV)

You who are seated in your Christian homes; compassed by moral and religious restraints, do not realize the gulf of iniquity that bounds you on the north and the south and the east and the west. While I speak there are tens of thousands of men and women going over the awful plunge of an impure life; and while I cry to God for mercy upon their souls, I call upon you to marshal in the defense of your homes, your Church and your nation. There is a banqueting hall that you have never heard described. You know all about the feast of Ahasuerus, where a thousand lords sat. You know all about Belshazzar’s carousal, where the blood of the murdered king spurted into the faces of the banqueters. You may know of the scene of riot and wassail, when there was set before Esopus one dish of food that cost $400,000. But I speak now of a different banqueting hall. Its roof is fretted with fire. Its floor is tessellated with fire. Its chalices are chased with fire. Its song is a song of fire. Its walls are buttresses of fire. Solomon refers to it when he says: “Her guests are in the depths of hell.”

Our American communities are suffering from the gospel of Free Loveism, which, fifteen or twenty years ago, was preached on the platform and in some of the churches of this country. I charge upon Free Loveism that it has blighted innumerable homes, and that it has sent innumerable souls to ruin. Free Loveism is bestial; it is worse—it is infernal! … As far as I can understand the doctrine of Free Loveism it is this: That every man ought to have somebody else’s wife and every wife somebody else’s husband. … Never until society goes back to the old Bible, and hears its eulogy of purity and its anathema of uncleanness—never until then will this evil be extirpated. . . .

The Samson of the text long ago went away. He fought the lion. He fought the Philistines. He could fight anything, but death was too much for him. He may have required a longer grave and a broader grave; but the tomb nevertheless was his terminus. . . .

Oh, men of the strong arm and the stout heart, what use are you making of your physical forces? Will you be able to stand the test of that day when we must answer for the use of every talent, whether it were a physical energy, or a mental acumen, or a spiritual power? (“Brawn and Muscle”)

Misguided Strength

T. DeWitt TalmageStrength can do a lot of damage if it is misguided. T. DeWitt Talmage writes:

Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. (Judges 14:1 ESV)

There are two sides to the character of Samson. The one phase of his life, if followed into the particulars, would administer to the grotesque and the mirthful; but there is a phase of his character fraught with lessons of solemn and eternal import. To these graver lessons, we devote our morning sermon. . . .

This giant was no doubt the hero of the playground, and nothing could stand before his exhibitions of youthful prowess. At eighteen years of age he was betrothed to the daughter of a Philistine. Going down toward Timnath, a lion came out upon him, and, although this young giant was weaponless, he seized the monster by the long mane and shook him as a hungry hound shakes a March hare, and made his bones crack, and left him by the wayside bleeding under the smiting of his fist and the grinding heft of his heel.

There he stands, looming up above other men, a mountain of flesh, his arms bunched with muscle that can lift the gate of a city, taking an attitude defiant of everything. His hair had never been cut, and it rolled down in seven great plaits over his shoulders, adding to his bulk, fierceness, and terror. The Philistines want to conquer him, and therefore they must find out where the secret of his strength lies.

There is a dissolute woman living in the valley of Sorek by the name of Delilah. They appoint her the agent in the case. The Philistines are secreted in the same building, and then Delilah goes to work and coaxes Samson to tell what is the secret of his strength. “Well,” he says, “if you should take seven green withes such as they fasten wild beasts with and put them around me I should be perfectly powerless.” So she binds him with the seven green withes. Then she claps her hands and says: “They come—the Philistines!” and he walks out as though they were no impediment. . . .

But after awhile she persuades him to tell the truth. He says: “If you should take a razor or shears and cut off this long hair, I should be powerless and in the hands of my enemies.” Samson sleeps, and that she may not wake him up during the process of shearing, help is called in. … The shears or razor accomplishes what green withes and new ropes and house-loom could not do. Suddenly she claps her hands, and says: “The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!” He rouses up with a struggle, but his strength is all gone. He is in the hands of his enemies.

I hear the groan of the giant as they take his eyes out, and then I see him staggering on in his blindness, feeling his way as he goes on toward Gaza. The prison door is open, Samsonand the giant is thrust in. He sits down and puts his hands on the mill-crank, which, with exhausting horizontal motion, goes day after day, week after week, month after month—work, work, work! The consternation of the world in captivity, his locks shorn, his eyes punctured, grinding corn in Gaza!

First of all, behold in this giant of the text that physical power is not always an index of moral power. He was a huge man—the lion found it out, and the three thousand men whom he slew found it out; yet he was the subject of petty revenges and out-gianted by low passion. . . .

But how often it is that men with physical strength do not serve Christ! They are like a ship full manned and full rigged, capable of vast tonnage, able to endure all stress of weather, yet swinging idly at the docks, when these men ought to be crossing and recrossing the great ocean of human suffering and sin with God’s supplies of mercy. . . .

It is a most shameful fact that much of the business of the Church and of the world must be done by those comparatively invalid. Richard Baxter, by reason of his diseases, all his days sitting in the door of the tomb, yet writing more than a hundred volumes, and sending out an influence for God that will endure as long as the “Saints’ Everlasting Rest.” Edward Payson, never knowing a well day, yet how he preached, and how he wrote, helping thousands of dying souls like himself to swim in a sea of glory! And Robert M’Cheyne, a walking skeleton, yet you know what he did in Dundee, and how he shook Scotland with zeal for God. Philip Doddridge, advised by his friends, because of his illness, not to enter the ministry, yet you know what he did for the “rise and progress of religion” in the Church and in the world. . . .

Oh, how often it is that men with great physical endurance are not as great in moral and spiritual stature! While there are achievements for those who are bent all their days with sickness—achievements of patience, achievements of Christian endurance—I call upon men of health to-day, men of muscle, men of nerve, men of physical power, to devote themselves to the Lord. Giants in body, you ought to be giants in soul. . . .

Oh, men of stout physical health, men of great mental stature, men of high social position, men of great power of any sort, I want you to understand your power, and I want you to know that that power devoted to God will be a crown on earth, to you typical of a crown in heaven; but misguided, bedraggled in sin, administrative of evil, God will thunder against you with His condemnation in the day when millionaire and pauper, master and slave, king and subject, shall stand side by side in the judgment, and money-bags, and judicial ermine, and royal robe shall be riven with the lightnings.

The Source Of Power

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

From the writings of Charles Spurgeon:

“Who is sufficient for these things?” We are weak, exceedingly weak, every one of us. If there is any brother here who is weaker than the rest, and knows that he is so, let him not be at all cast down about that, for you see, brethren, the best man here, if he knows what he is, knows that he is out of his depth in his sacred calling. Well, if you are out of your depth, it does not matter whether the sea is forty feet or a full mile deep. If the sea is only a fathom deep, you will drown if you be not up borne; and if it be altogether unfathomable, you cannot be more than drowned. The weakest man here is not, in this business, really any weaker than the strongest man, since the whole affair is quite beyond us, and we must work miracles by Divine power, or else be total failures. We have all set up in the Divine profession of working by omnipotence; or, rather, of yielding ourselves up to omnipotence that it may work by us. If, therefore, omnipotence be not within hail, and if the miracle-working power is not within us, then the sooner we go home, and plough the fields, or open shop, or cast up accounts, the better. Wherefore should we undertake what we have not the power to perform? Supernatural work needs supernatural power; and if you have it not, do not, pray you, attempt to do the work alone, lest, like Samson, when his locks were shorn, you should become the jest of the Philistines. (An All-Round Ministry, Chapter 9, “The Preacher’s Power, and the Conditions of Obtaining It.” Now published by Banner of Truth Trust)

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