Reading For Friday Judges 16:1-31
For some unexplained reason, Samson journeyed to the Philistine city of Gaza, where he met a prostitute. When the men of the city heard that Samson had come, they surrounded the house. They intended to slay their Israelite nemesis at first light. Somehow Samson learned that his enemies were prepared to ambush him, and he slipped out of the house and passed the sentries. He went down to the city gates that had been bolted shut for the night and ripped the doors of the gate off their hinges. Samson carried the posts, the bars of the gate, and the doors on his shoulders to the top of a hill. Evidently, Samson could not resist Philistine women. Even after his fiasco at Timnah, and his near escape from the house of the harlot in Gaza, Samson became involved with yet another Philistine woman, the infamous Delilah. Tradition says that she was the younger sister who had been spurned by Samson a few years earlier. Samson loved Delilah, but he never suspected for a moment that she would bring about his downfall.
The Philistine lords took note of the attraction that Samson had for Delilah. They promised to pay her eleven hundred pieces of silver if she could discover the secret of Samson’s strength. Their intention was to overpower Samson and then torment him, and the Philistines would stop at nothing. To his credit, Samson resisted the feminine wiles of Delilah for a time and lied to her three times about the secret of his strength. Even after it became obvious that Delilah was laying a trap for him, Samson continued the relationship. Delilah continued to press Samson on a daily basis to reveal the secret of his strength to the point that he was "vexed to death."
Finally, Samson told her that he had been Nazarite to God from birth. The secret of his strength was in his unshorn hair, the outward symbol of that Nazarite vow. Delilah had a sense that he had revealed the truth, and she summoned the Philistine lords. She put Samson to sleep on her lap, while a servant came in cut the seven locks of his hair. When she awakened him, Samson again jumped to his feet thinking that he would shake free from any attackers as on previous occasions, but he did not know that things had changed, and God had left him. The Philistines seized Samson and gouged out his eyes. He was taken and bound with bronze chains. Samson was made to serve as a grain grinder, a job normally performed by oxen. Samson's hair began to grow back. There was nothing magical about Samson’s hair, for his strength came from the Spirit of God. The hair was only a symbol of his strength. Sincere repentance grew in the darkness of the mill chamber and positioned Samson for one last heroic act in the drama of redemption.
The lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god. When they saw Samson the people praised Dagon for delivering Samson into their hands and while their hearts were merry, the crowd demanded that Samson be brought forth into the temple to amuse them. Three thousand jeering Philistine men and women heaped their abuse upon the once formidable enemy. When Samson sensed that he was standing near the main pillars of the structure, he devised a plan. He asked the young man who was leading him by the hand to let him lean against the great pillars upon which the house rested. In his desperation, Samson cried out to the Lord and asked to be strengthened one more time that he might be avenged of his two eyes. He braced himself between the two main pillars, with his right hand on the one and the left hand on the other. After praying that he might die with the Philistines, Samson pushed with all his might against the pillars and in his final act of defiance, Samson killed more of the Philistines than he had during his lifetime. This final blow wiped out the entire leadership of the Philistine people. Samson’s family came down to Gaza and retrieved the lifeless body of Israel’s great hero, and they buried him in the tomb of his father, Manoah.
Thing To Consider:
- How could God choose to use an unfaithful and immoral man like Samson, a man who violated his vows and abused his gifts?
- Samson’s giftedness did not match his character. Does that matter? Why?
- Why do you think sexual temptation is so strong?
- When is the right time to repent?