JUDGES CHAPTER 16, “Story Of Samson’s Demise:  Samson And Delilah

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.      INTRODUCTION

 

1.1.                     In our last study, we looked at chapters 14-15 and how that Samson had his parents arrange for him to marry a certain Philistine woman, and that situations then began to arise in Samson’s life that led him to exact revenge upon the Philistines.

 

1.2.                     In our study today, we are going to look at chapter 16 and Samson’s tragic demise as he continued down his spiral of spiritual decline and compromise and eventually has a tragic and early death.

 

1.2.1.  The story of Samson and Delilah we are going to study today has been made into movies, popularized in television commercials, and captured the imaginations of millions.  It has all of the ingredients that great stories have been known for in this world:  love, sex, deception, and violence.

 

1.2.2.  Warren Wiersbe described the life of Samson as being much similar to how Winston Churchill described the Russians in his day, “a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma.”  No other man among God’s people of the Old Testament had any greater opportunity or potential to be used greatly by the Lord, and yet because Samson did not walk closely with the Lord his life really is a life of tragedy and only worth remembering because of lessons to learn from his mistakes and because of the great ways in which the Lord worked through his life, yet really worked in spite of him.

 

1.2.3.  We have seen that the Spirit of the Lord began coming upon Samson and giving him great power so that he could exact revenge against the Philistines.  The Spirit of the Lord first came upon him and gave him the power to kill with his very hands a young lion that attacked him. 

 

1.2.4.  Then, we saw that the opportunities for Samson to exert revenge against the Philistines began occurring, and several times Samson demonstrated supernatural strength and abilities as he killed and brought harm to the Philistines, for instance:

 

1.2.4.1.      Samson killed 30 men in order to pay off a gambling debt over a riddle he had propounded to some Philistine men.

 

1.2.4.2.      He performed an incredible feat of capturing 300 jackals and in pairs tying their tails together around a torch which he set on fire, and then he let the animals run into the fields of the Philistines and they burned up all of the crops of the Philistines.

 

1.2.4.3.      He killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.

 

1.2.5.  We saw though that Samson had no real regard for his Nazarite vow that he was to be under, and thus no real regard for the Lord Himself, for we see that he began breaking each of the regulations of his Nazarite vow.  He touched a dead animal carcass, went through a vineyard, and then attended a drunken wedding feast in which he most likely got drunk.

 

1.2.6.  Also, we saw that Samson was not a spiritual man and he had no regard for the law of the Lord for though it forbid him to marry outside the nation of Israel, he had his parents arrange a marriage for himself to a Philistine woman.

 

1.2.7.  Evidently, Samson was a man whom his parents had never properly disciplined and never learned to say ‘no’ to when he desired the things that the Lord had forbidden for his life.  We see that this is probably the case because although Samson’s parents objected to his marriage outside of Israel to a Philistine woman, something that was forbidden under the law, they none the less arranged this marriage for their son.

 

1.2.8.  Samson has become such a popular legend in our culture, with the various movies that have been made about his life, that we have tended to think of him as being this huge and powerful he-man.  However, we have seen that the scriptures do not tell us that he was a huge man but rather that the source of his strength and power was the Spirit of the Lord.  When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson he performed mighty supernatural feats and exacted revenge against the Philistines.

 

1.2.9.  We have also seen that because Samson was not following the Lord closely that the works that he performed were not the battles of the Lord but Samson’s own personal vendettas and revenge.  However, the Lord was allowing Samson to do these things and even empowering Samson in order that He might weaken Israel’s oppressor and enemy, the Philistines.

 

1.2.10.                     Today, I want to propose to you that Samson was actually a very weak man.  Although he was a man upon whom the Spirit of the Lord would sometimes fall and cause him to perform great feats, he none the less was so weak that he could not conquer his own passions and lusts.  Samson could not conquer himself and thus was controlled by his passions to the extent that, being controlled by his fleshly sinful nature, he made very stupid decisions, decisions that eventually led to his complete demise and early and tragic death.

 

1.2.11.                     Samson’s main weakness in the flesh is women and sex. 

 

1.2.11.1. He first saw a Philistine woman of Timnah in chapter 15 and just because she looked good to him and regardless that the Lord had forbid marriages outside of Israel, he persuaded his parents to arrange a marriage for him with her.

 

1.2.11.2. Here we see in this chapter that Samson goes and has sex with a prostitute in the Philistine city of Gaza.

 

1.2.11.3. Then, Samson later falls in love with this woman Delilah who ends up betraying him by getting him to confide in her that the secret to his great strength was that he was under a Nazirite vow and that if his hair were to be cut he would become weak.  She then she tells this to the Philistines who cut off his hair and afflict and enslave him.  Samson finally comes to an tragic death at an early age.

 

1.2.12.                     In Gary Inrig’s commentary he has the following quote about Samson from Ambrose an early Christian writer, “Samson, when brave, strangled a lion;  but he could not strangle his own love.  He burst the fetters of his foes;  but not the cords of his own lusts.  He burned the crops of others, and lost the fruit of his own virtue when burning with the flame enkindled by a single woman.”

 

2.     VS 16:1-3  - 1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. 2 When it was told to the Gazites, saying, “Samson has come here,” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, “Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.” 3 Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron. -  Recklessly living his life against the will of God, Samson goes and has sex with a prostitute in the Philistine city of Gaza

 

2.1.                     In the Old Testament law of Moses we read that the Lord strictly forbid sexual relations outside of marriage:

 

2.1.1.  Lev. 19:29, “29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.

 

2.1.2.  Deut. 22:20-21, “20 “But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

 

2.2.                     There are many scriptures also that speak of the folly of Samson for not being in control of his own passions and lusts, including the following:

 

2.2.1.  Prov. 25:28, “28 Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.

 

2.2.2.  Prov. 16:32, “32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

 

2.3.                     Though he should have known better, Samson was a very undisciplined man, which was probably a reflection of how his parents raised him.   Samson does not even attempt to live cautiously and prudently and instead is very reckless.  It is Samson’s lack of discipline and recklessness that cause his spiritual demise that eventually leads to his death.

 

2.4.                     Samson here was flirting with temptation instead of fleeing from it and as a result he gets ensnared in sin.

 

2.5.                     Following lust leads a person to eventually lose all control of himself.  The path to falling into sin, you see, is not a big cliff that one day a person inadvertently falls off.  Instead, it is a gradually decline, one that involves gradual compromises with the world and flirting with sin.  When a person has finally hit rock bottom he doesn’t even initially realize where he is at or how he got there.

 

2.6.                     Going to a prostitute in Gaza, Samson surely knew was a very foolish and risky thing to do, after all the Philistines were looking for any opportunity to kill or harm him.  However, whenever a person has given himself over to living for the fulfillment of his lusts he loses all sense of logic and reason and as a result may do many a stupid thing.

 

2.6.1.  In our world today, we are almost daily hearing stories of people who suddenly break and do something very violent such as commit a mass murder.  This occurs because the person first had unbridled lust in his life.

 

2.7.                     The Philistines had been looking for an opportunity to kill or harm Samson, and now they have heard that he is in their city, so they lay a trap for him.  They thought that they could contain Samson in the city because of the impregnable construction of their city gates.  The city gates were constructed of wood covered with metal and nail studs and were very heavy.  Their posts had been pounded deep into the ground.

 

2.8.                     Because the Philistine guards at the gate of the city thought that there was no way that anyone could escape out of the city, they evidently got lazy and fell asleep at their guard.

 

2.9.                     Knowing that a trap had been set for him and that the Philistines planned to capture him in the morning when he left, Samson decided to leave the harlot and the city at about midnight. 

 

2.10.                This time when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson He gave Samson great strength so that he picked up the doors of the city gate and carried them up either to a hill on the way to Hebron, or all of the way to Hebron itself, an uphill distance of 38 miles.  The text allows either interpretation, and either feat can only be explained in supernatural terms.  No strong man competition ever saw any feat performed that is even close to that performed by Samson on this day.

 

3.     VS 16:4-5  - 4 After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” -  Samson falls in love with a woman named Delilah

 

3.1.                        We don’t really know much at all about this woman Delilah. 

 

3.1.1.  Her name is Semitic not Philistine, however she lives among the Philistines, therefore she may be the result of an intermarriage.

 

3.1.2.  She may very well have also been a prostitute, but we aren’t specifically told this.

 

3.1.3.  She was evidently a very attractive woman and Samson surely had a sexual affair with her.

 

3.1.4.  Samson desired her for more than just sex, he actually fell in love with her.

 

3.1.4.1.      Love blinds a person.  As an application here, many a Christian guy or gal has initially thought that a date with a non-believer would be harmless however after they have fallen in love they lost all reason and were willing to have sexual relations or a marriage relationship which is outside God’s will for their life (marriage for a Christian is only to be with those who are in the Lord).

 

3.2.                     Delilah was a woman who loved things and used people.  She used the men in her life for her own purposes.  She enjoyed being with Samson but she loved money and the finer things in life more than she loved him, therefore for a good price she was willing to sell him to the Philistines for what would be his torture, imprisonment, and perhaps death.

 

4.     VS 16:6-14  - 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.” 7 Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered. 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have deceived me and told me lies; now please tell me how you may be bound.” 11 He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For the men were lying in wait in the inner room. But he snapped the ropes from his arms like a thread. 13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web [and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web]. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web. -  Delilah tries to get Samson to tell her the source of his great strength

 

4.1.                     We see in these verses again that Samson is flirting with temptations instead of fleeing them.  Knowing that Delilah is trying to find out his weakness to use it against him, Samson thinks that he is stronger than he is and that he has the ability in his own strength to withstand the temptation to tell his secret.

 

4.2.                     We see here that Samson had plenty of opportunities to flee this temptation, and that the promise in 1 Cor. 10:13 was surely true for him, “13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

 

4.2.1.  Just as Joseph fled out of the bedroom of Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him, so Samson at this point would have been wise to run fast and get as far away from Delilah as he could get.

 

4.2.2.  Many years ago, Jon Courson once said that he came into one of his kid’s rooms when the child was a baby.  As he walked over to the baby he noticed that the baby was reaching up trying to grab something.  When he got closer he realized that his child was reaching up trying to grab a deadly Black Widow spider that was hanging from a web over the crib.  This is the way we Christians look to the Lord whenever we are flirting with temptations in our lives.

 

4.2.3.  If a person plays with fire they are eventually going to get burned, so a person who flirts with temptations will eventually succumb to sin.

 

4.2.4.  Someone once spoke about the lives of Christians, especially those committed to ministry, that the hand of the Lord is not heavy upon their lives.  Therefore, it is not wise to tempt and test the Lord by flirting with temptation for the Lord may allow you to fail and fall right on your face into sin.

 

4.3.                     Apparently, the Philistines were hiding in the house and listening whenever Delilah would tell Samson that the Philistines were upon him.  If Samson could not break his bindings when Delilah woke him telling him that the Philistines were upon him then Delilah would yell and the Philistines would come quickly into the bedroom and capture him.  But, if Samson broke his bonds then the Philistines would remain in hiding.

 

4.4.                     As Samson is flirting with this temptation to reveal the secret of his great strength, notice that he begins to get closer to the truth by suggesting to Delilah that his strength had something to do with his hair.

 

4.5.                     It is worth noting that Samson’s strength was not really the result of his long hair.  It was the Spirit of the Lord who gave him the great strength, not his hair. 

 

4.6.                     To this point, Samson has now broken every aspect of his Nazarite vow with the exception of not cutting his hair.  Instead of Samson trying his best to be as faithful to the Lord as he can be, he thinks in terms of how far he can go outside God’s perfect will for him without losing the empowering from the Spirit of the Lord.  The only thing left intact of his vow of separation as a Nazirite involved his hair.  This I believe is the reason that Samson felt that if his hair were cut that the Spirit of the Lord would no longer strengthen him and use him against the Philistines.

 

5.     VS 16:15-19  - 15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” 16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. 17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him. -  Samson finally breaks and tells Delilah all of the secrets of his heart including the fact that if his hair were cut he would not be empowered by the Lord any longer

 

5.1.                     Samson underestimated the power of a woman’s tears.  After Delilah’s continual crying, begging, and manipulating Samson to tell her the secret of his power, Samson finally gives in.

 

5.2.                     Foolishly, Samson trusted Delilah with his very life.  Samson not only lusted after Delilah, he also loved her truly from his heart.  However, Delilah was a woman with a divided heart, and she loved money and the finer things in life more than any man.  She would betray Samson even to his death if it meant great gain for her.

 

5.3.                     Evidently Samson was quite the sleeper and whenever he slept he went into deep sleep.  When Samson has finally fallen asleep on Delilah’s knees, Delilah has the Philistines come and cut off his seven locks of hair.

 

5.4.                     Then, to test Samson’s strength Delilah began to inflict him with injuries to see if he still regained his strength, but Samson’s strength had now left him.

 

6.     VS 16:20-21  - 20 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 departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. -  Samson is seized and bound by the Philistines and they gouge out his eyes

 

6.1.                     Notice here how sad a thing it is that Samson didn’t know that the power of the Lord had now left him since his hair had been cut off.  Samson was now out of fellowship with the Lord and therefore the Lord would not come upon him any longer and give him great strength as he had done at other times.

 

6.2.                     After flirting with sin for many years and compromising time and again his Nazirite vow, with his hair cut Samson now had nothing remaining intact of his Nazirite vow of separation from the world and unto the Lord.

 

6.3.                     How pathetic it is now to see Samson, our hero, bound with chains in the prison and working as a grinder (probably of meal). 

 

6.4.                     Preachers have often preached about how what we see here with Samson is the grinding, binding, and blinding power of sin. 

 

6.4.1.  When we give ourselves over to our lusts and live in sin, the result is a “grinding” and wearing down of us.  Sin gradually sucks the very joy of living right out of a person.

 

6.4.2.  When we give ourselves over to our lusts and live in sin, the result is also that we find ourselves “bound” in our sin.  Whatever a man submits himself to he becomes the slave of, and if it is sin then he becomes “bound” as a slave to sin.  A person may think that he has control of his lusts, however when he begins to give himself over to them they begin to control him and slowly destroy his life.

 

6.4.3.  When we give ourselves over to our lusts and live in sin, the result is yet again that we become “blind” to reality, “blind” to the truth, “blind” to our real condition and the real condition of the world around us. 

 

7.     VS 16:22-25  - 22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off. 23 Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice, for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hands, Even the destroyer of our country, Who has slain many of us.” 25 It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. -  The Philistines call a great feast and they send for Samson so that they can torment and torture him and amuse themselves thereby

 

7.1.                     This calling of Samson to the feast by the Philistines in order to amuse themselves by torturing him reminds me of what the Romans did when in the first 300 years of the church they persecuted Christians.  In the coliseum in Rome they would make the Christians fight to the death wild animals, gladiators, or even each other, all to the cheer of the blood thirsty and sadistic crowd.  Thousands of Christians were killed in this way in the first 200 years of the church.

 

7.2.                      The Philistines were a “sea people” who had originally come to the land of Palestine when they were driven from Asia Minor, and thus being “sea people” we see here that they are worshipping Dagon the fish god.

 

7.3.                     The Philistines were exulting here that their god was more powerful than the God of the sons of Israel and thus that their god had given Samson into their hands.  This was a foolish thing for them to do.

 

7.4.                     We aren’t told how that the Philistines tortured or taunted Samson to the crowd’s delight, however it must have been the most humiliating experience imaginable for Samson.

 

7.5.                     We see here that Samson’s hair began to grow, and we can guess that Samson had now also come to that place of realizing that he was just like the prodigal son of Jesus’ parable who had become estranged from his heavenly Father and living among the pigs and actually eating the food of the pigs. 

 

7.6.                     Because Samson’s hair had begun to grow and because Samson had also now surely repented of his sins and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for his sins, he is now in fellowship with the Lord, and thus the Lord will use him again.

 

7.6.1.  Isn’t it wonderful how that the Lord uses a man or a woman again after they have fallen into sin? 

 

7.6.2.  What grace is seen in this story, and this grace comes from the God of grace who is willing to restore all who have fallen into sin and then just like the prodigal son of Jesus’ parable have confessed and repented of their sins.

 

7.6.3.  When we as Christians fall into sin we only need to confess our sins and repent and the Lord because of His grace can and will begin to work through our lives yet again.     

 

8.     VS 16:26-31  - 26 Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there. And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them. 28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his father’s household came down, took him, brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. Thus he had judged Israel twenty years. -  Samson calls upon the Lord to grant him the strength to perform one final act of revenge upon the Philistines

 

8.1.                     This is the second and final prayer that Samson prays in the book of Judges, and it is a prayer in faith to the Lord to give him the strength to destroy a huge number of the leading men and women of the Philistines.  Samson knew also that in performing this feat that he would die with the Philistines.

 

8.2.                     The Spirit of the Lord one last time comes upon Samson and he pushes two foundational pillars apart causing the roof to collapse upon the 3,000 Philstines gathered together, killing all of them.

 

8.3.                     One author I read mentioned at this point that Samson’s death here was really the death of a martyr since Samson was now in fellowship with the Lord and the Lord granted this request of his, and I guess that I agree with this assumption. 

 

8.4.                     The Lord was using this opportunity to significantly alter and weaken the Philistines inner civil structure and aristocracy.

 

8.5.                     Samson’s family finally come and take home his body. 

 

8.6.                     What a tragedy it is that this man who could not control his own passions and lusts had to die at such a young age and in such a pathetic way.

 

8.7.                     When we closely look at Samson’s life we have to realize that from him we need to learn what not to do in life, for there are really few positives that we can point to.  His life is an enigma and a life lived of unfilled potential and wasted opportunity.

 

9.     CONCLUSION:

 

9.1.                     Learning from Samson’s life, we Christians must commit ourselves to becoming disciplined believers, people who have learned to control our own passions and lusts.

 

9.2.                     We must all realize that we cannot expect to flirt with temptation without being burned.  Temptation must be fled from not flirted with.

 

9.3.                     When we look at Samson’s life we see that the Lord worked through his life, but worked in spite of him, and we wonder what great things the Lord could have done in his life if he had truly been surrendered to the Lord and obedient from the heart to the Lord.  May each of us determine to be people who are in line with God’s will and purposes so that if He should choose to use our life that He wouldn’t have to work around or in spite of us.

 

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