Vol 2 - No 33, April 4, 2007
The Faith of Samson - Part 5:
After killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass and slaking his thirst with water miraculously provided by God from that jawbone Samson judged Israel for 20 years - Judges 15:2020 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
. However, those 20 years were during the "days of the Philistine." In other words, Samson mediated/judged matters between those in Israel while acting as a buffer between Israel and the Philistines who would have given him a lot of leeway in light of the fact he had single handedly trounced them a number of times. Never the less Israel remained subject to the Philistines, which is consistent with what God told Samson's parents before he was born, i.e., that he would "begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" - Judges 13:55 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
We may wonder why Samson didn't marry a little Jewish girl, settle down and have a family. Gideon, one of Samson's predecessors, had married a number of wives who bore him 70 sons and we don't know how many daughters - Judges 8:2 - 312 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?
7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.
9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.
11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host; for the host was secure.
12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.
13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,
14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?
16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
19 And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
. But with Samson the record is silent about a marriage subsequent to the Philistine woman who was given to another man and then murdered by her own people - Judges 15:2 - 62 And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.
3 And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.
6 Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.
. In the verse after the statement that Samson judged Israel for 20 years (Judges 15:20) we learn he went to Gaza where he used a prostitute - Judges 16:11 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
. According to commentaries Gaza was one of five (5) principalities of the Philistines so Samson was really treading on thin ice because, as God's chosen leader, he had no business lowering himself to this. Moses' law addresses God's abhorrence for prostitution in a number of places, including Leviticus 19:2929 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
; 21:7 9 & 14; Deuteronomy 22:2121 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
; 23:17 & 18.
Either someone in Gaza recognized Samson coming to town or the prostitute told them because the men of the city got word and quietly watched all night, waiting for daylight when they planned to ambush and kill him - Judges 16:22 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
. Samson parted company with the woman at midnight (he may have sensed the waiting ambush.) The big gate to the city was locked at night so the men laying in wait may not have been watching it, or those who were may have fallen asleep but whatever the circumstances, Samson tore the posts upon which the gate was mounted out of the ground and carried the gate, the posts and the bar that secured the gate to the top of a hill "before Hebron" - Judges 16:33 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.
. According to commentaries Hebron is 20 miles from Gaza and it may be that this hill was between the two cities so could be seen from both Hebron and Gaza. At any rate, it was a superhuman feat to tear a huge gate out of the ground and carry it away to the top of a hill. When the men who had been waiting in ambush saw what he had done they must have been thankful they had been denied a confrontation with him.
Then Samson steps right out of the fire into the frying pan: "And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." - Judges 16:44 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
. She too was no doubt a Philistine for the Philistines rulers offered her 1100 pieces of silver if she would "entice" him to discover the secret of his great strength so they could capture and torture him - Judges 16:55 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
. In addition to breaking God's law Samson displayed a total lack of good judgment in loving Delilah. With his reputation he would have been quite a trophy for her to have. She obviously didn't love him but turned on her manipulative and calculating charms to get what she wanted. Samson couldn't see it for he got what he wanted, for a short time.
Delilah asked him the secret of his great strength and to placate her he said if he was tied with seven (7) new vines he would be powerless. She tied him thus and hollered that the Philistines were upon him at which he of course broke the vines like so much thread - Judges 16:6 - 96 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
. She turned up her hypocritical manipulation, telling him he was mocking and telling her lies when that was exactly what she was doing. He told her another story to continue what he was getting out of their relationship: that if she would bind him with new ropes it would render him helpless. They went through the same routine as before and of course Samson easily broke the ropes - Judges 16:10 - 1210 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
. She again accused him of mocking and telling her lies, thus wearing him down and getting closer to the truth for he kept his hair arranged in seven (7) long braids and told her if she pinned them together to her loom he would be powerless. She did and he wasn't - Judges 16:13 & 1413 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.
. Then she really laid it on him, going on and on for days about how he had mocked and lied to her three (3) times about the secret of his strength so he must not really love her.
Most of you are aware of what happened to Samson next and this will be examined in our next study. But to close this study we will step back and examine some of the lesson that Israel and Samson have for us. Israel, as God's chosen people would have been able to enjoy freedom and blessing in their own land during the time of Samson, but only under condition they all obeyed God's Law. Instead they violated that law by committing whoredom by worshiping other gods and so fell into bondage to their enemy. God gave Judge Samson to Israel to begin to free them from oppression. He blessed Samson with great physical strength to carry out this assignment, but this special blessing was also conditional, that is he had to keep the condition of God's covenant with him. But instead of reaching his potential Samson committed whoredom with the women of his nation's enemy resulting, as we will see in our next study, in his violating God's covenant, which resulted in his emasculation and agonizing slavery to the enemy.
In human reasoning and perspective the lesson to be learned here is that we should do better than Israel and Samson by obeying God's law and keeping His commandments/ covenants. But such thinking is religion, pure and simple, i.e., doing something for God to make ourselves worthy of His blessing/s. This is not the lesson the Word of God means for Samson's story to teach. The experiences of Israel and Samson point to the need for the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He finished by His death and resurrection. And it was not until after that finished work and our Lord's ascension into heaven that He revealed the full meaning of all this to mankind. He did this by saving Saul of Tarsus, changing him to the Apostle Paul and revealing through him the truth of the impossibility for any human to keep God's law/covenant.
Faith is the substance (or foundation) of things hoped for, the evidence (or proof) of things not seen, Hebrews 11:11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
, and by his witness of faith Samson pointed to Jesus Christ Who did what Samson could not do because Samson was sinful and Jesus was sinless. Jesus kept the law to the letter and then died to pay for the inability of Samson, and all mankind's inability, to keep it. In our next study we will examine how Samson's death was a type of and pointed to the all sufficient sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
Samson didn't have what we have today but his life was a lesson of what we all need, as revealed by the Apostle Paul: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Romans 8:1 - 111 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.