Dying on the Sunny Side

Title: Dying on the Sunny Side

Bible Book: Judges 16

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Sin; Joy; Eternal Life



Calvin Coolidge was known for brevity of speech. For example, he once attended a dinner and was seated beside a lady who had made a wager with a friend that she could get the President to say more than two words. The lady turned with a smile to President Coolidge and said, “I made a bet with a friend that I could get you to say more than two words to me tonight.” President Coolidge reportedly said, “You lose,” and never said another word to her all evening.

An interesting story surrounds President Coolidge when attending one day. He went to church without his wife and after returning he had one of those classic conversations with her.

She asked, "How was church today?"

The president answered, "Good."

Then she questioned, "What was the sermon about?"

Calvin replied, "Sin."

Mrs. Coolidge probed for more information, asking, "What did the preacher say about it?"

Coolidge replied, "He was against it!"

Our subject today is sin, but we will not be able to dispose of it as quickly as did President Coolidge, for sin is a subject which affects us all. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Like J. Vernon McGee explained when speaking of this verse, sin is like someone trying to jump from the Santa Monica pier to Catalina Island 25 miles away. Some might jump farther than others, but no one is going to even come close to jumping all the way. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God. Some of us may be better than others in our moral lives, but all of us fall short of the mark of God's holiness.

That reminds me of the preacher who asked a rhetorical question in his sermon, "Does anyone hear know of someone who is perfect?" He did not expect an answer but he got one. A man in the congregation said he knew of a perfect man. The preacher asked who it was. The man said, "My wife's first husband."

In reality, only Jesus was without sin. We commit sins of omission and commission. Let's consider today a man who was a great soul but whose sin caused much trouble for him. We will see that through God's grace and power he was able to die on the sunny side. I want us to look at the life of Samson, and by doing so to understand the power of sin and how to overcome it.

I. A Great Man

There is no doubt that Samson was a great man. He is one of those Old Testament characters that captures our imagination. Like a lot of great believers, he had a dark side and it led to some really bad circumstances in his life. My father often repeated this verse: "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall! (1 Corinthains 10:12)" Those who think they are above the failures they see in others must be extremely careful, since they are setting themselves up for a tumble down sin's hill. The scripture reminds us that, "Sin lies at the door!" (Genesis 4:7)

Let's look at Samson and get an idea of the kind of person he was. We can say that he was ...

A. Sunny

Sunny is what the name Samson means and that is what he was like. He was a man with a sunny disposition. He was outgoing, gregarious and upbeat. He was the type of person that people have been drawn to in every generation. No doubt he had a big, bright smile and a friendly way about him. He lived up to the name he was given.

All of us like people who have warm and happy personalities. When you ask a person how he or she is doing, you don't want to hear a litany of aches and pains. I have known a man since childhood who always exudes a positive spirit. He has experienced cancer and other maladies, but those who ask how he is doing get the same reply each time, "I couldn't be better." That man lived in a small town and early in his life he seemed to have few prospects of success. Yet, he went on to become extremely successful as a salesman. He was a bright effective Christian as well. I never saw him that he was not smiling, even when he was ill and knew his days were short on this earth. We enjoy people like that. They seem to live on the sunny side of life.

Samson strikes me as a man who carried himself with confidence. They called him Sunny (Samson) and he bore the features of his name. But, there is thin line between being confident and being arrogant. The time came when Samson, the sunny man, would cross that line - much to his own peril.

Note also that Samson was ...

B. Spiritual

Samson loved the Lord from his youth. Note that you can be spiritual, have a sense of humor, have a bright personality and lead a happy life. In fact, the way of the sinner is hard (Proverbs 13:15), but the way of Lord is filled with joy (Nehemiah 8:10). Samson was a spiritual young man with a happy personality.

We see as well that Samson was ...

C. Separated

“Nazir” is the word used in Hebrew to define “separated.” Samson was a Nazirite – from his mother's womb. It is apparent that his mother and father told him what the Lord had said to them about him, and he listened to them. It would be wonderful if more children born to believers would listen to their parents. It is apparent form the statistics we see today concerning the behavior of the children coming from Christian families that many Christian parents are failing to instruct their children, or their children are refusing to listen - and the latter has become the greatest problem in Christian homes today. Either way, it has led to some very sad circumstances.

Samson chose a path of deep and responsible living in order to serve the Lord more faithfully. He was separated from some things that were forbidden to him and separated to the Lord. Being good is more than simply not being bad. In Samson’s case, he took very seriously his devotion to God. Here again, one must step lightly in these areas. Those who claim separation as a major goal have a great big bulls eye on their hearts - one that the devil aims for every day.

The qualities we have observed so far also led to Samson being ...

D. Strong

Samson was strong, indeed! His strength was a gift from God. He did not get his muscles from the local gym, though having a gym membership would certainly not hurt some of us. God always gifts those who are His and are committed to Him, and Samson was no exception.

God gifts people in different ways. Physical strength may not be the gift that God gives you, but when one is dedicated to Him, He will always supply some gift or perhaps several gifts to be used in for His glory through your life.

In the New Testament sense, God gifts us through the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has a gift or gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts may be enhancements of our natural qualities, or they may be something totally outside our normal abilities, but they are given to enable us to serve Him better in this world. Some Christians feel that they do not possess special gifts. They often feel this way because they fail to understand that applying the gift or gifts God gives you, however small they may seem, is the description of greatness in the kingdom of God. Some of the most faithful believers are not those whose names are well known, or who stand before great crowds to speak or sing. In heaven we will all be surprised by the people whom God will honor because of their faithful use of the gifts He had given them. Those saints were faithful in ways not seen by masses of people, but God saw that they did their best with what He had given them. God will honor that in this life and the life to come.

Samson, however, was one of those who stood out and his gift from God was undeniably public in nature. Those who have gifts that places them in the public eye must be very careful in regard to the use of those gifts. Public acclaim can lead to public shame, as Samson learned through his own experience.

All thess blessings in Samson's life led to his being very ....

E. Successful

Samson rose to be a Judge in Israel, which was the highest position available in that day. God blessed Samson and Samson served the Lord. His position brought a lot of prestige and power. He was popular, successful and extremely well liked. In fact, that became the basis of his problem. Samson, like so many others, began to think of his success as granting him certain rights – some of which led him into a terrible distraction and into an evil interaction with someone who was not committed to the Lord or to Samson.

Tiger Woods recently won his first golf tournament in five years. Terrible physical problems had put him out of the sport for along time. But, that was not his greatest problem. The great golfer was caught in a web of sinful activities - sinful acts that embarrassed him and his family. He lost his marriage, and I'm convinced that the stress cause the havoc that weakened his body. When Tiger stood to confess his sin and ask for the public to forgive him and to give him a chance to start over, he said something that was profoundly honest. He said that his fame had made him feal that he was "entitled." Perhaps Samson felt the same way. He felt entitled to do things that might not be right for others but he was privileged and could do them if he desired. The truth is, those who possess special gifts have an even greater responsibility to handle those gifts honorably and carefully. Always remember, the higher you rise with blessings, the greater the fall if you fail!

We see how incredible Samson was and how blessed he was, but note next ...

II. A Great Mistake

A. He lost his Locks

Samson became involved with a woman named Delilah. His family advised against it, but by this time Samson was proud and too sure of himself to listen to anyone. He wanted this wife from among the Philistines and he didn't care what anyone said about the wrongness of it or the danger in it. Delilah turned out to be a “mole” or “spy” working for the enemies of God’s people. She coaxed Samson into telling her the secret of his strength.

Samson's hair was an outward expression of his inward commitment. Samson failed in his inward commitment to God and that led to an outward demise. Sin is always an inside job! It comes from the heart. But, sin also leads to outward degradation and defamation. That is what happened to Samson. Delilah led to the loss of Samson’s beautiful hair – but again, his hair was simply a symbol of his inner walk with God. He lost his commitment on the inside before he lost his power on the outside!

Every believer must keep a guard on his or her inner thoughts and ambitions. Always remember that Satan is looking for a foothold in your life. He just wants to get a toe in the door of your heart and he will wiggle himself inside. It is too easy to give the appearance that all is well on the outside when you are slipping away on the inside. Often, the people who know you well will notice over time a change in you that you do not realize is showing. They will advise you or question you in the issues of your life. Don't take those questions for granted. If Samson had simply listened to his parents advice regarding Delilah, he might have avoided a tragedy in his life.

When he lost his locks - his hair ...

B. He lost his Liberty

The Philistines captured him and bound him. Be sure of this one thing, sin will not free you, it will bind you. People think that sin leads to greater freedom; actually, sin does the very opposite. Sin promises greater liberty but it actually binds the sinner with cords of imprisonment. Sin is like a chain. Illegal drugs serve as a good example. A person thinks that he or she can possess drugs. Actually, however, the drugs possess the person who uses them. Soon, the drug user is gripped in the awful chain of addiction. This is true of all sin. You often read in the newspaper that someone has been arrested for the possession of drugs. Every time I see that I think, “No, that person did not possess illegal drugs, the illegal drugs possessed that person.” That is how sin works. It looks for a place to get a solid “grip” and then it binds the sinner ever tighter!

I almost laugh when I hear someone said, "I'm not going to be a Christian or be religious, because no one is going to tell me what to do." Then, I want to cry when I see that same person gripped with veneral disease, drug addition or held behind bars for some crime that has been committed and discovered. Bob Dylan was right when he wrote the song, "You Gotta Serve Somebody." He repeats in the song, "It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody." The only real freedom in this world is the freedom that God gives us when we come to His Son for salvation and discover the removal of the chains of sin that have bound us.

Note also ...

C. He lost his Light

The enemy blinded Samson by removing his eyes. The loss of his eyes was symbolic of the darkness into which a man goes when he departs from the way of God.

Three-hundred beached whales were discovered some time ago. Scientists tired to figure out how so many whales could have made such a deadly mistake. They came to the conclusion that the whales were beached while chasing sardines. The sardines were so delicate and exciting to the whales that they ran ashore and died trying to catch them.

Samson took a great life and chased the sardines of lesser things and ended up beached like a giant whale. He took his eyes off the Lord and placed them on something so much less important, and the rest became history. Before we judge him too harshly, we all need to think of how many times we, likewise, have done the same thing. Some enjoy possessions and discover that in chasing after some earthly bauble or trinket that they have put themselves in a position so that they cannot honor God with His tithe. Others do that with time. The love of pleasure and leisure keeps them from giving time to the Lord's work. It is true, however, that those who fall from the greatest heights always make the most noise when they hit the bottom! That is what happened to Samson. Whether our fall is heard around the world or only in heaven, it is nonetheless a sad story every time it happens.

Samson had burned the Philistines fields but he could not control the burning lust in his own heart.

Samson had killed a lion on the path but he could not stop the animal-like desire inside himself.

Samson had broken the bonds of the Philistines in the past but he could not break the cords of his own making.

In short, he could control others, himself he could not control!

But, we come now to a wonderful truth. Look at ...

III. A Great Mercy

A. Samson’s Hair

While being held by the Philistines, Samson’s hair began to grow once more. The return of his hair was a sign that God was not through with him. The biggest mistake the world can make is to think that because a man fails God that God is through with him - nothing could be further from the truth.

Look at Simon Peter – he denied the Lord but he was restored and preached the great sermon at Pentecost that was a part of the birth of the Church.

Look at King David – he sinned with Bathsheba but was allowed to prepare everything needed for the building of the Temple under his Son, Solomon.

Look at Samson. He moved from being a victim of his own sin to being victorious for the sovereign Lord.

Look at ...

B. Samson’s Heart

Something happened in the heart of Samson - that is where his sin began – in his heart. Now his restoration begins in the same place. Restoration always starts in the heart. Have you strayed from the Lord? Have you grown cold and indifferent? Perhaps you have slipped into behavior that is appalling to you and the Lord. It all began in your heart. But, you can experience renewal by going back to the Lord in your heart! Note that Samson prays - he turns to the Lord in his heart. Before he prayed you can be sure something had gone on down deep inside of him – down in his heart. That is where we must first turn to the Lord. It all begins in the heart!

But, the change moved to ...

C. Samson’s Hands

His hands on the pillars of the Temple of Dagon are an expression of great faith. He believed God had forgiven him. He knew God would help him. He believed in the mercy of God, the great mercy of God to forgive a sinner and use him again.

There was a preacher who lost his sermon notes. He apologized to the congregation saying, "I will just have to depend on the Lord this week, but I will come better prepared next week". My friends, you cannot come better prepared than simply depending on the Lord in the deep of your heart. That is exactly what Samson had learned. He needed to depend on God and not on himself!

Samson pulled down the edifice built to honor the false god of the Philistines. God renewed his strength. Samson died doing something great for the Lord. He died on the sunny side! I can say that Samson had reached the point that he would rather die doing something for the Lord than to live without honoring the Lord. That is what it takes to truly be a faithful servant. Honoring Jesus must take priority in your life.


Someone in this very service is in danger of ruining a great witness. In your heart you are struggling with temptation. You are about to ruin your family, your business and/or your name. Stop! Return to the Lord where it really matters - in your heart! Be sure your sin will find you out. Now is the time to turn around. The pleasure you are seeking will only lead to greater misery. Renew your commitment to the Lord today - right now!

You may think that you have gone to far and can't turn back. Let me tell you something very important – you can die on the sunny side. God is a God of mercy and love. He is the God of the second chance – and the third chance - and the fourth chance – and, well you get the idea. We can make a new commitment to Him and He will forgive and restore. Don’t go on in the cords of defeat – come to the Lord today.

Others here have been held in the cords of sin all your lives. Only Jesus can break those bonds and free you. He died to save you. He rose to give you the promise of eternal life. Come to Him. Turn to Him. Don’t delay. Be ready to live and die on the sunny side of life! Or perhaps I should call it the Son’s-side of life. For only God’s Son can grant you real, victorious and everlasting life!

Posted in


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top