Judges 16:22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
In spite of his many mistakes, Samson’s life would end triumphantly. As he worked in prison, grinding grain for his enemies, Samson’s hair began to grow. This was the sign of his Nazarite vow and the secret of his strength.
Then one day, the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands (Judges 16:23). This was not a small gathering. There were three thousand people on the flat temple roof, and many more inside. Then they brought in Samson, their trophy of war, to entertain them.
With the help of a servant, Samson made his way to the temple’s supporting pillars. There he prayed, Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes (Judges 16:28). Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived (Judges 16:30).
Samson’s final display of strength is supported by archaeology. Philistine temples have been discovered with central pillars that were close enough for a tall person to push them apart. Since this style of architecture was uncommon, it is good evidence for the story’s authenticity. Since the Bible is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16), we can expect ongoing support from the field of archaeology.
Samson is one of the most tragic figures in the Bible, but his story leaves us with an important point. Regardless how badly we fail, God can still use us if we renew our commitment to him. In fact, the New Testament actually applauds Samson because of his faith (Hebrews 11:32). From Samson we learn that the most important thing about us is not who we are, or what we have done, but the God to whom we belong.
Judges 16:31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.
Samson died in the temple of Dagon, but was buried in the Promised Land. This should be an encouragement to imperfect Christians everywhere. As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). But all who believe in Jesus Christ are kept by him (John 10:29), and will arrive in the Promised Land of heaven.
Judges 17:1-2 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim said to his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.
This strange story shows how far God’s people had fallen away from his word. To summarize, Micah stole some money from his mother, but then he gave it back. In return, she bought an expensive idol and gave it to Micah. Micah put the idol in a shrine, along with some household gods, then hired a Levite as a priest. But the priest stole Micah’s religious items and became the priest of a larger group. True religion had almost disappeared.
If you blend grape juice with apple juice, you might call it grapple juice. Syncretism is the blending of ideas to come up with something new. Micah took a few ideas from God’s word, and blended them with a few ideas from paganism, to come up with a religion that violated God’s word at almost every point.
This is the natural course of religion unless we are committed to God’s word as our final authority. If God’s word is not our final authority, something else is. It could be culture, tradition, another book, or even ourselves. Whenever another authority is allowed to compete with God’s word, it will produce a religion that contradicts God’s word. And the further we stray from God’s word, the further we stray from God.
Judges 19:1 Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.
The Levite was probably married, and took a concubine to have additional children. She did not have the status of a wife, and was not happy in the relationship, so she returned to her parents. Four months later, the Levite went to her parents’ house, and persuaded her to come back to him. On the way home, they stayed overnight in the town of Gibeah, in the territory of Benjamin. There they received lodging from an old man who let them stay at his house.
Judges 19:22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.
This shocking development reminds us of Sodom and Gomorrah before God destroyed it with fire from heaven (Genesis 19). Morality among God’s people had plummeted, and this Levite was not any better. In order to save himself, he threw his concubine outside. The men proceeded to rape her until she was dead (Genesis 19:28).
To get his revenge, the Levite cut his dead concubine into twelve parts and sent them throughout Israel. The nation was so appalled, it declared war on the town of Gibeah. Victory should have come quickly, but the tribe of Benjamin defended the town of Gibeah, and civil war broke out. There were heavy losses on both sides, but in the end, Benjamin was defeated.
Judges 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
This is the final verse of the book of Judges, and aptly describes the moral and political chaos of the time. God had parted the Red Sea and led his people out of slavery. Then he led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. But they did not completely conquer the land, and were no better morally than the pagans who lived there. They needed a godly king to help them fulfill their destiny.
Kings were later appointed, and things improved a little. But the kings had problems of their own, and often did more harm than good. Then one day, a righteous king arrived. The people took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel! (John 12:13).
That king, of course, was Jesus Christ. He died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), and will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). Then we will have the king that we need, and the world will be set right. That is where the Bible is going, and that is the movement of history. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20), wrote John.
Reflection and Review
Was there anything good about Samson?
What was Micah’s biggest mistake?
Why does the world need a righteous king?