By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. December 2, 2000)

Judges 13-16 The story of Samson

I. General Comments

a. He was devoted to God from his birth.
b. An angel of God told his mother that he would be a Nazirite all his life.
c. God made him strong like no other man. (This is probably from where the legend of Hercules originated.)
d. The Spirit of God moved him at times to do many amazing things.
    -- He met a lion and killed it easily.
    -- He wanted a Philistine woman for his wife and got her from them. At his marriage feast he posed a riddle to them with a promise of new garments if they could guess it. They got his new bride to get the answer from him. So he went and killed thirty other Philistines and gave the garments to his wedding guests.
    -- He went home to Dan and when he came back to get his wife, her father had given her to the best man. So Samson took a bunch of jackals and tied their tails together with a torch between them and let them loose in the standing grain of the Philistines' countryside.
    -- The Philistines retaliated by burning his wife and father-in-law to death in their house. So Samson retaliated and killed all who had done this to his family.
    -- This caused a war with the Philistines and their army showed up arrayed against Israel. Israel bound Samson and delivered him to the Philistines. So Samson took the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1000 men with it.

(Read Chapter 16)
1  Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
2  When the Gazites were told, "Samson has come here!" they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, "In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him."
3  And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4  Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5  And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."
6  So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."
7  And Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
8  So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.
9  Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10  Then Delilah said to Samson, "Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with."
11  So he said to her, "If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
12  Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread.
13  Delilah said to Samson, "Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with." And he said to her, "If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom"--
14  So she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from the loom.
15  Then she said to him, "How can you say, "I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies."
16  And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death,
17  that he told her all his heart, and said to her, "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
18  When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, "Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart." So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand.
19  Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.
20  And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that Jehovah had departed from him.
21  Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.
22  However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.
23  Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said:

        "Our god has delivered into our hands
        Samson our enemy!"

24  When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said:

        "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy,
        The destroyer of our land,
        And the one who multiplied our dead."

25  So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may perform for us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars.
26  Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them."
27  Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there--about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.
28  Then Samson called to Jehovah, saying, "O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!"
29  And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left.
30  Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.
31  And his brothers and all his father's household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.

II. What lessons can we learn from Samson?

Four comparisons:

1. Samson was holy to God. He was given to God - a Nazarite. He had a life-long vow to God.
    What is my vow to God?
    We also devote ourselves to God.
    -- It begins in baptism. Rom.6:1-10
    -- We have taken a life of holiness. Tit.2:11-15
    -- It requires that I pursue and complete holiness to God. 2Cor.6:14-7:1; 1Thess.4:1-8
    This becomes who we are through and through. 1Cor.6:19-20

2. What are my strengths?
    Samson had the strength of God. And so do we. Phil.4:12-13
    How do we get Christ to strengthen us?
    You step out in faith and obey him in everything and he will be there for you.
    By faith we assume the identity. Rom.6:11-14
    We take what God has said about us as saints and we say, "Yes, that's true of me."
    By faith we put on the whole armor of God. Eph.6
    We develop confidence before God. Heb.3:6-14

3. What is my weakness?
    Samson's weakness was sensual. It was women. He is not unique in that, is he?
    Only you can answer the question, "What is my weakness?"
    But you know what it is - you just thought of it. It is that thing that takes your heart away from God. It will usually involve something sensual. Now, recognizing what is sensual is not always easy - because when it is your favorite thing,  - you don't see it. Your Christian brothers can see it, that is where we should be popping up to each other and honestly giving each other feedback about our behavior. Not innuendo or hints - but be frank with me. I may not see the danger. You may not see it until, like Samson, you are away from God and blind, slaving for others in the corruption of the world.
    Remember, (1Pet.2:11) fleshly lusts war against your soul.
    Samson did not know that God had left him. The deceit of sin is that it numbs your soul, it blinds you to the life and love of God. Then you wonder, "What's wrong with me? Why aren't I strong like I used to be?" That is when God will show you the problem. He will show you how evil your favorite thing really is.
    And that is the critical moment for us to wake up. There has to be another crucifixion of ourselves. We have to give up that favorite thing and die to it.
    Your flesh is not going to think that is fair. Rom.8:12-14; Col.3:5-10
    Remember who you really are. Take stock of how far you have fallen and repent.

4. Will God restore me if I have failed and then repent?
    Samson was restored to his full strength and power, and then some.
    He was avenged for his eyes - but it was in his death. (That's what makes him a tragic hero)
    Christ can do much more. He will restore not only your strength, but also your sight. The day will dawn and the morning star will arise in your heart and you won't be blind anymore. 1Jno.1:9-11
God is faithful and just. If you turn yourself around and, like the prodigal son's father, God will see you coming and run to you and fall on your neck and bring you home.

Meditate on Samson's life as an allegory and compare it to your own life.

~ Invitation ~