Judges 15:1 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, I’m going to my wife’s room.
It seems that Samson had not consummated the marriage, and went to his wife for that purpose. But in his absence, her father had given her to another. I was so sure you hated her, he said, that I gave her to your companion (Judges 15:2).
This made Samson so angry that he caught three hundred foxes and tied their tails in pairs. Then he fastened a torch to each pair of tails, and set them loose in the grain fields. The fire consumed not only the grain, but also the vineyards and the olive groves (Judges 15:4-5). This was a massive economic blow to the Philistines.
In retaliation, the Philistines took Samson’s former wife, along with her father, and burned them to death. This antagonized Samson even more, so He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them (Judges 15:8).
This made the Philistines willing to wage war on the entire nation of Israel. They would be satisfied, however, if Israel handed over Samson. The Israelites were willing to do this, but the challenge of apprehending Samson was so great that they sent three thousand men to make the arrest.
Samson did not want to kill his own people, so he allowed himself to be bound by two new ropes (Judges 15:13). When the Philistines came for him, he broke the ropes, picked up a donkey’s jawbone, and killed a thousand of them (Judges 15:14-15). With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men (Judges 15:16), he said.
Samson’s violence seems extreme, but he was a warrior of the highest caliber, and was fighting the Lord’s enemies. The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world are always at war, and God himself is the ultimate warrior. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name (Exodus 15:3), wrote Moses.
Since the gospel is a message of peace (Romans 5:1), the church should never take up arms (Matthew 26:52). But when Christ returns, he will come with a vengeance that will make Samson look like a pacifist. [W]ith fire and with his sword the Lord will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the Lord (Isaiah 66:16), wrote Isaiah.
Judges 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.
This is not the kind of behavior we expect from biblical heroes. But There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10), wrote Paul. Samson was a man of great physical strength, and great moral weakness. There was little he could not do physically, and little he would not do morally.
When the Philistines learned where Samson was, they plotted to kill him in the morning. But Samson got up in the middle of the night, tore out the city gate, and carried it to the top of a distant hill (Judges 16:3-4). This was his greatest display of strength, and reminds us that strength is a gift from God. We may never set a world record, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31) wrote Isaiah. Whenever our strength is running low, we should look to God.
Judges 16:4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.
This is the third and final woman in Samson’s story, and she led to his ruin. The Philistine rulers offered her a fortune if she could learn the secret of Samson’s strength, so that he could be subdued. With remarkable candor she made her request. Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued (Judges 16:6), she said.
This became a lovers game and Samson misled her three times. But she nagged him until he was sick to death of it (Judges 16:16). Then he revealed his secret: No razor has ever been used on my head, he said, because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man (Judges 16:17). So when Samson fell asleep, his head was shaved, and his strength departed.
Judges 16:21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.
Samson was a gifted person with the fatal flaw of unbridled sexuality. First he married a Philistine woman, then he went to a prostitute, then he slept with Delilah. In the end, the eyes with which he lusted were brutally gouged out, and the strongest man in the world became weak.
If Samson had conquered his lust the way he conquered the Philistines, his story would have been different. Most of our misery does not come from obeying God, but from disobeying God. We not only break God’s laws; we break ourselves upon them.
Reflection and Review
Why shouldn’t the church use violence?
How does Samson remind us of Christ?
Why does sin often lead to misery?