Samson: First a Winner, Then a Loser (Judges 15:1 – 16:22)

After Samson left Timnah, his father-in-law gave his wife to Samson’s companion.  The man offered Samson her younger sister, but Samson declared his vengeance upon the Philistines.  Samson caught three hundred foxes, and tied a torch in the tails of two foxes.  When he set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go in the grain fields of the Philistines.  He burned up the grain, the vineyards, and the olive groves.  When the Philistines asked who had done this, they identified Samson, and explained that he did this because the Timnite gave his wife to another.  They took the man and his daughter and burned them with fire.  Samson saw this as reprehensible, and fought the Philistines, causing a great slaughter.  Other Philistines encamped against Judah.  When the men of Judah asked why they were there, they said they came to arrest Samson.  The men of Judah talked Samson into allowing them to tie him up in two ropes and deliver him to the Philistines.  When the Philistines came shouting against him, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, and he broke his bonds and killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey he found nearby.  He called out to God that he needed water, and God split the hollow place in Lehi in Judah, and he drank.  He judged Israel twenty years.

Samson was trapped in Gaza, but at midnight he picked up the gates and posts of the city and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.  After that, he loved a woman named Delilah.  The Philistines paid her to entice and trick Samson into revealing the source of his strength.  When she asked him, he first said tying him with seven fresh bowstrings, which did not hold him.  Second, he told her that if he was bound with new ropes he would be weak.  That did not work either.  Third, he said that if she wove his hair into a loom, he would be weak, but that was a lie as well.  Finally, he told her of his Nazarite vow and that his hair was the secret of his strength.  She lulled him to sleep, and then shaved his head.  This time he could not withstand the Philistines.  They put out his eyes, and bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.  But his hair began to grow.

The lessons in this story are clear.  When you are fully operating in God’s will, even with an occasional stumble, God’s strength operates through you.  When you face enemies, the Lord will bring the victory.  However, when temptation comes along, little by little one’s resistance can erode and even a formerly strong Christian can fall into a trap and be defeated.  This happened to Samson.  He lost his eyes and his freedom, and was pressed into service of his enemies.  The one redeeming factor to this story is this:  his hair began to grow again.  This lets us know that even after a failure, or an indiscretion, or an utter defeat, God still loves us and will give us redemption and restoration, at least to a degree, and allow us another chance to serve Him.  Praise God!!

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