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Judges 16:1–22

“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” (vv. 21–22).

In our study of the life of Samson, we have seen that although there was evidence of faith in his life (Judg. 15:18–20), this judge of Israel was an imperfect man. He appears to have been driven in large measure by lust, for he sought out Philistine women and did not marry within the people of Israel (14:1–4). Furthermore, his lack of piety was evident in his breaking his Nazirite vow (vv. 5–20; see Num. 6:1–21). Nevertheless, God used him to wreak great havoc upon the Philistines, who were enemies of Israel (Judg. 15:1–17).

Samson hated the Philistines, yet he could not keep himself away from Philistine women. He thought it acceptable to visit a Philistine prostitute, which violated God’s laws mandating sexual purity and was yet another way in which he did not set himself apart from the world even though that was his duty under the Nazirite vow (Ex. 20:14; see Num. 6:1–21; 1 Cor. 6:16–18). But it was the Philistine woman Delilah who proved to be Samson’s undoing.

Delilah agreed to seduce Samson and discover the source of his strength in exchange for eleven hundred pieces of silver (Judg. 16:4–6). What followed was a series of false claims by Samson regarding how he could be weakened. Delilah followed Samson’s guidance each time, only to be disappointed when his strength remained (vv. 7–14). These exchanges reveal Samson’s foolishness and arrogance. Surely, Samson knew that Delilah was conveying what he told her to the Philistines, for he repeatedly found himself under the constraints he said would sap his power. Apparently he did not care. His lust for her was greater than his resistance to her as his enemy. Each of the false constraints also gave Samson a chance to prove his strength yet again, which points to his pride in his power.

Samson finally revealed the real source of his strength when he admitted to being under a Nazirite vow requiring his hair not to be cut. We have seen the weakness of his dedication to God, but here Samson reached a point where his lustful impulses fully overcame his dedication. It was as if he told Delilah that he did not care that he was set apart to the Lord (vv. 15–17). So, God allowed Samson to feel the full weight of his lack of dedication, taking away his strength when Delilah shaved his head (vv. 18–19). Samson ended up a slave, being disciplined by the Lord, but God did not leave him utterly alone. His hair began to grow back, indicating a renewal of dedication to God and a hint that the Lord would restore his might (vv. 20–22).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We fall into sin when our desires overcome our dedication to the Lord. When this happens, God is gracious to forgive us when we repent (1 John 1:8–9), but our goal should be to fight our sinful desires so that we are not overcome by them. One way we can do this is by not entertaining sinful desires or thoughts but forsaking them immediately. Let us resist our sinful impulses the moment we feel them, asking the Lord to keep us pure.

For Further Study
  • Genesis 3:1–7; 4:1–16
  • Romans 12:21
  • 2 Peter 2:19

Samson Avenges Himself on the Philistines

Samson Victorious

Keep Reading Key Questions about Prayer

From the March 2019 Issue
Mar 2019 Issue