Judges 16

Judges 16

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Samson and Delilah

16 Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her. The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” And they surrounded the place and set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, “Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him.” But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.

After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”

Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.

Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web. And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.

And 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 you have not told me where your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

The Death of Samson

Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.

Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.

(ESV)


Judges 16 Commentary

by Hank Workman

We like to compartmentalize.  We take things, events and push them back into areas of our mind where we simply don’t deal with them any longer.  This ‘out of sight out of mind’ aspect we are quite good at.  This is particularly true when it comes to sin or choices that are wrong.  Within each of us are aspects we prefer to push back and not deal with. 

Men do this with pornography and lust.  Women do this with berating and over control of their husband.  We all do this with aspects of our life that we know down deep is not right.  When the Holy Spirit whispers and we sense we are wrong in our behavior, instead of dealing with it – we simply push it back.

Samson is such a sad story of the state of man.

He had all the potential and yes calling on his life and he wasted it.  You read between the lines and he did quite a bit of compartmentalizing as well.  He tended to categorize his behavior and actions.  I have no doubt Samson longed to be used by God but he couldn’t get beyond his own will.  He yielded to sin again and again.  He was so deceived by his initial calling from birth and then put more strength in the locks of his hair than in God Himself he was deceived.  He rested on the laurels of his calling but somehow figured there were categories of his life God didn’t care about.

I was struck by the scene of his laying on Delilah’s lap that third time of inquiry before he lost everything.  What are the words he uses?  “…I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb.”  This is by far the saddest scene of Samson’s life.  At this very moment he had a choice to be faithful to God or continue this sinful relationship.  He chose the latter and he lost everything.  Somehow there was a disconnect in his thought.  He had compartmentalized too often and simply thought the calling was enough.  He failed again and again in the living for God.

I have written in my Bible alongside this passage, “Whenever Samson went into enemy territory he went down both geographically and spiritually.”  His choices throughout his life were building blocks to not living to his full potential.  When the Lord left him (verse 20) he had been so used to doing things his way he didn’t even notice.  It was business as usual until he was overpowered and had his eyes gouged out.

How much of our own lives are we doing the same?  Where are we compartmentalizing and justifying our choices?  Here’s the harder question to wrestle with – If the Holy Spirit were to pull out of our life, would we even notice?


Judges 16 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Samson was a man of extremes. As quickly as the Spirit of the Lord came upon Him, He also just as quickly left Him (Jdg 13:16; Jdg 14:4; Jdg 16:20). There was little stability in his life and that really came down to the consequences of his choices. The Lord, however, still used Him for His glory.

I have often had my own theory on Samson’s appearance. Putting a city gate on your shoulders and carrying it up the side of the mountain was an impossible feat for man. Hebron is 40 miles east of Gaza, so it would have taken the better part of a day just to travel that distance, let alone carry a gate on your shoulders!

This is just my own personal speculation (not Scriptural), but I don’t think Samson was physically-imposing. I think he may have been an average looking man, or even scrawny (picture Steve Rogers before he was Captain America). Although he is portrayed in illustrations to have a mighty physique, that would have been a good explanation for his superhuman power. Delilah was given the task of discovering the source of his great strength, therefore, I don’t think it could have been obvious by looking at his beefy muscles.

It’s only by the grace of God that Samson was permitted to use His strength to do all these things. Obviously, we can read and know that Samson took all of it for granted – a lesson in itself. However, the most striking part of Samson’s story for me is his personal motivation. He is never actually motivated for the liberation of his people, but rather, for personal vengeance. Even his last dying breath is done out of spite for the Philistine people. It’s only used by God in the end to help Israel.

We must be very careful that we don’t fall into the same trap. Are we using God’s strength for our own personal agenda? Are we motivated more by vengeance than for the heart of God? This could manifest itself simply by our heart desiring for someone to suffer justice and torment instead of praying for our enemy’s Salvation which we are commanded to do (Matt 5:44; Luk 6:27).

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