(Judges 16:1-5, 18-21)
Judges 16:16-17 “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”
Samson gives in to Delilah’s constant nagging of him to tell her the secret to his power. Could he not perceive she had his ruin in her mind? By telling Delilah the secret to his power he not only betrays himself but God also.
Someone made this observation about Samson in this passage – “The weakness of Samson’s heart in the whole of this history, is yet more astonishing than the strength of his body.” What is the condition of your heart, Christian? Is it strong through the reading and meditating on the Word of God? Or is it weak, like Samson’s was, and susceptible to falling for the temptations of the world, due to neglecting to feed it daily with the Word of God. Do you want to keep yourself from destroying your life with foolish decisions? – Then keep yourself well-fed with with the Word of God.
Samson has trouble staying on the straight and narrow. In fact, it seems he was seldom on the straight and narrow. He had a great weakness to the sins of the flesh. He seems to be forever giving in to the slightest of enticements of the sins of the flesh. This weakness in his character keeps pulling him to the enticements of the Philistines, the oppressors of Israel, and into a whole lot of problems.
“Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.” Judges 16:1. At the close of Samson’s twenty years as a Judge of Israel he intentionally goes to Gaza and shames and defiles himself with a harlot. God’s Word was as clear back then as it is now that we are not to do what Samson did in Gaza “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Deuteronomy 20:14. Instead of being like Joseph when he said “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9. Samson intentionally seeks out this great wickedness against God. Again, Samson’s lack of character to the sins of the flesh is on full display.
We need to establish clear convictions and set clear standards when it comes to these sins of the flesh that Samson was prone too. If he had done the same and asked God to help him with these weaknesses of his, imagine how different the account of Samson would be. (I Corinthians 6:18-20 – Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.)
After Samson traveled to Gaza, and stays at a harlot’s house, his enemies wait at the gates of the city to ambush him, but he tears the gate from its very hinges and puts them “…upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.” Judges 16:3. Again we see displayed the great strength of Samson, which was given to him from God, where all power comes from. (Matthew 28: 18 – And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.)
He then falls in love with Delilah. The Philistines approach Delilah and entice her with 1,100 silver coins to find the secret of Samson’s strength so they can get rid of it and capture their enemy.
Samson refuses to reveal the secret and teases her, telling her that he will lose his strength should he be bound with “seven green withs” She does so while he sleeps, but when he wakes he “brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire.” She persists, and he tells her that he can be bound with new ropes. She ties him up with new ropes while he sleeps, and he snaps them, too. She asks again, and he says that he can be bound “If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.” She does so with similar results “And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.” Judges 16:14.
He finally tells her the secret to his strength. (Read Judges 16:15-19) – Eventually, after much nagging from Delilah, Samson tells Delilah that he will lose his strength with the loss of his hair. God supplies Samson’s power because of his consecration to God as a Nazarite, symbolized by the fact that a razor has never touched his head. Delilah calls for a servant to shave Samson’s seven locks. With this, Samson, sadly, has finally broken the last tenet of the Nazarite oath.
Delilah’s approach is far from subtle: “Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee” Judges 16:6. She asks Samson to reveal the secret of his power so that he could be rendered powerless. What does he think she will do with this information? After his earlier experience with his wife, his groomsmen, and the riddle, one would think that Samson would have wised up in this area.
Judges 16:20 – 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 wist not that the LORD was departed from him.
God will not allow us to escape the consequences of our sin; what we sow we will reap. Even though God’s will is unstoppable by us, Samson still had to face the consequences of his sin. Delilah begged for him to tell her the secret of his strength, and when he did, the last part of his Nazarite vow was broken. “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.” Numbers 6:5.
In the midst of this tragic situation, the author of Judges supplies the reader with a faint word of hope. Samson’s hair began to grow back. (Judges 16:21-22 – But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.) – The great thing we can learn from this is – With God, don’t ever doubt, don’t ever despair too long, because with God there is and always will be HOPE!
Who knows why the Philistines didn’t take note of his hair growing back, or why they did not keep his head shaved. But for whatever reason, they did not take Samson seriously any longer. It was over for Samson, they thought, and all that was left was ample opportunity for them to humiliate him. Now they would make him pay for all he did to them.
The Philistines wanted to celebrate their victory over Samson with a heathen worship ceremony, one that included bringing Samson in to further humiliate him. If Samson was not willing to give credit for his power to the God of Israel, these Philistines were eager to give their god, Dagon, credit for Samson’s defeat. In so doing, they were proclaiming Dagon’s superiority to Yahweh, the God of Israel. This is not the first time other nations would praise their god as superior to the One True God, nor will it be the last. But we should not expect Yahweh to remain silent in such circumstances. Nor would I want to be a part of a nation that is guilty of mocking God, and it is sad to say but right now many are doing so in our own nation. (Judges 16:27 – Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.)
It would seem that Samson now sees things more clearly than he has ever seen them before in his life. Samson came to trust in the God of Israel. He now prays, calling “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” Judges 16:28. He prays that strength may return to him one last time so that he might get his revenge against the Philistines. Is this a model prayer, the kind that others should be encouraged to repeat? I don’t think so. This prayer falls short of the ideal, but taking the words of the writer of Hebrews seriously, I believe this is the point in time when God acknowledged Samson’s faith.
God answered that prayer. Samson was positioned in such a way as to be able to exert pressure on both main supports. When these two supporting columns gave way, the entire building collapsed. The roof and supporting beams, along with the 3,000 people standing on the roof, came crashing down upon those assembled below. While Samson sacrificed his life in order to destroy the building and its inhabitants, more Philistines were killed through Samson’s death than he killed during his life.
And these were not your “everyday,” “run of the mill” citizens. These were the cream of the crop. These were the top political and military leaders of the nation. For all of these leaders to die in one place and at one time would have thrown the Philistines into confusion and chaos, which would render the nation powerless for years to come.
Judges 16:31 “Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.” – This last verse in Judges 16 could be called “family reunion”. It is interesting to note that Samson had a family beyond his father and mother. This verse informs us that Mrs. Manoah did not remain barren after the birth of Samson. Samson had brothers and perhaps sisters as well. When they learned of Samson’s death, they went to Gaza to remove his body and bury it in Israelite territory in the tomb of his father, Manoah. This means, of course, that Manoah had died before his son, Samson. At long last, Samson was restored to his family and to his country. Fitting for a man who is to be found in the hall of faith. (Hebrews 11:32-33 – And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,)
With the Spirit of God upon him, Samson was a powerful man with supernatural strength. We also find he was very intelligent with an unusual sense of humor. While he had almost unlimited potential to deliver his people from the Philistines, his story ends in needless tragedy. He not only failed to deliver his people, but killed himself. The words disobedience, defeat, disgrace, and destruction could be used to describe his life, but the Bible also uses one more word to describe him and that is faith.
Despite all of Samson’s weaknesses, he did turn back to God before he died (Judges 16:28–30). God in His grace used Samson to fulfill His purpose. In reality, Samson’s death did much to stop the oppressive actions of the Philistines. Samson’s destruction of the temple of Dagon was a major factor in their downfall at Mizpah by Samuel and the children of Israel some 100 years later (I Samuel 7:7–14).
Perhaps the greatest lesson we learn is that God desires to forgive and give grace. In the end, God saw Samson as a man of faith. This is evidenced by the fact that he’s listed among those in the hall of faith (Hebrews 11:32). When we read through the list of names recorded there, we find that no one in the “hall of faith” was perfect. Samson was the strongest man to ever live, but it was God who gave him the strength. More importantly, Samson let himself be used by God. In fact, God could have used him without making him the strongest man. He’s willing to meet us right where we are, right now and to take us where He wants us to be if we will let Him (James 4:8a – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.).
There is only one way to understand the story of Samson and that is from a divine point of view. We should not attempt to make Samson a model for Christian men and boys. Samson is a man who illustrates the warnings of Scripture, particularly those we find in the Book of Proverbs. He is a man who lived his life in the pursuit of fleshly pleasures, a man who cared too little about God and about his divinely-given gifts and calling. Samson is a study in how not to live the Christian life.
We should strive to have the faith that Samson had at the end of his life and live to avoid all the mistakes he had in his life as he let his flesh lead him instead of letting God lead him. Decide and determine that you will follow the leading of God in all areas of your life to live in the spirit in fellowship with Christ and not follow the leading of Satan and live in the flesh. (Romans 8:5-8 – For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.)
Picture credit: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-d809-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99