LESSON 53 – Samson and Delilah – Judges 15-16

Discussion

  • Judges 15
    • What acts of revenge are found in 15:1-8? (Samson, hearing that his wife is given to his best man, feels justified in taking revenge by destroying the Philistines’ grain harvest with foxes bound together with burning tails. So then the Philistines get revenge by killing his wife and her family. So Samson takes revenge for that by killing many of them. He then goes into hiding.) The story of revenge is not over because the Philistines camp out in Judah looking for Samson.
    • How does Judah respond to this? (vs. 9-13. They are afraid of the Philistines because they rule over them now. They go to get Samson to turn him in. However, Samson gets them to promise to not kill him themselves, but to just turn him over.)
    • What is the result of this? (the Philistines come to kill the bound Samson. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and the bonds are broken. He then gets the jawbone of an ass and kills 1,000 of them.) After this Samson taunts the Philistines with a poem: “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them.” Unfortunately, the Philistines will not forget this ridicule.
    • What miracle does God perform for Samson? (vs. 18-20. Samson is thirsty after the battle and believes he is about to die. He complains to God that he’s about to fall into the Philistine hands. God opens up a spring of water for him and he is saved.)
    • How long does Samson rule Israel? (20 years)
  • Judges 16
    • How does Samson escape the city of Gaza? (16:1-3. After spending time with a prostitute – note Samson’s bad choice here – the gates of the city are closed and the Philistines think they have Samson trapped inside.  He gets up and calmly takes out the gate of the city with him as he leaves. This is an amazing feat because the gates were built to keep out entire armies from invading them.)
    • Who is Delilah and what plot does she go along with? (She is a Philistine woman with whom Samson fell in love – no marriage mentioned though. She is asked by her countrymen to lure Samson into telling her the secret of his strength. She then is to tell the Philistines so they can get him once and for all.)
    • How many times does Delilah ask Samson about his strength and how does he answer? (vs. 6-15. Four times altogether. The first time she asks, he lies and says he has to be tied with 7 fresh thongs. She does that and finds out he can easily escape. Next, he tells her he has to tied up with new, unused ropes. This fails too. The third time, getting closer to the truth, he tells her that his hair must be braided into fabric on a loom. This is proved useless as he just pulls out the pin and loom and drags it out with him. The last time he tells her that his hair must be cut.)
    • Why does Samson keep telling Delilah these stories as it is plainly evident that she is trying to destroy him? This is the big question.  Doesn’t he realize that when he tells her about the hair that he will lose his strength? No, he doesn’t.  Samson has broken the two other Nazirite vows without a failure of strength; he must believe that since God is on his side, he can do anything he wants. His continued liaison with the wicked Delilah indicates that he has no respect for God or God’s laws. He is the ultimate prideful fool because when Delilah cuts his hair, his strength is gone. God has abandoned him and he doesn’t even know it. He tries to fight but his strength is gone.
    • What happens to Samson? (After his 7 braids of hair are cut, the Philistines, finding him without strength, they gouged out his eyes and took him bound in bronze shackles to prison.  There he does the job of a donkey, pushing a shaft to grind wheat. {Remember his donkey joke back in chapter 15? Well, the Philistines didn’t forget it either.} However, verse 22 gives us hope as it remarks, “but the hair on his head began to grow again.”
    • What did the Philistines do to celebrate their victory over Samson? (vs. 23-24. They hosted a feast at one of their temples to thank their God, Dagon, for saving them. Note from Baker’s Evangelical Bible Dictionary, “Dagon was the highly venerated national deity of the Philistines. Each city of the Philistines had its temple for the worship of this god. The temple statuary portraying Dagon was characterized by an upper human torso, with the lower torso of a fish. The major cultic rite in Dagon’s worship was human sacrifice.”)
    • What happened at the “party”? (vs. 25-30. Samson was brought out to be ridiculed and scoffed at. Samson asked to be put next to the pillars of the temple, so he could “brace himself”. Then he prayed.  He asked for one more time of strength and asked God to let him have his revenge on the Philistines for his eyes. He then says, “let me die with the Philistines” as he pushes on the central pillars of the temple. God answers the prayer and the temple falls, destroying it and the people in it.  He killed more in his death than he had before in his life.) Samson’s family comes and gets Samson’s body and buries it in his father’s tomb.

Application

In chapters 15 and 16 note the times the Spirit of the Lord does not come upon Samson. (When he burned the crops and when he kills those who killed his former wife and family. Lastly, when his hair is cut.)

  • What does this tell you? (possible answers: Samson was not always in the will of God. His plan of revenge on his wife’s family was not sanctioned. Also his ongoing, foolish relationship with the Philistine, Delilah, ended in disaster when God refused to rescue him from his pride and folly.)  Samson, at the end of his life, fulfilled the purpose that for which God had raised him up.  However, because of his sinful choices, he perished as well as God’s enemies. How different the story could have been!
  • What do you see as Samson’s basic problem? (possible answers: He was prideful; he didn’t see that his strength was God’s gift and not attributable to himself; he was arrogant; he was focused on his own pleasure and needs and not on what God wanted, he believed he was invincible, etc.)
  • What lesson do you think we should take from Samson’s life? God calls us to service for him, but we must obey Him and respect His Word. Beware of pride, because you will fall, even if you think you are doing things for God.
  • Why would God use someone like Samson? Actually, none of us is capable of pulling off doing God’s work without His help.  We are all like Samson when we ignore the Lord’s command to live a holy life. We are like Samson when we think that our talents and abilities are due to our own efforts alone.  We are like Samson when we think we can get away with living a worldly and selfish life.  However, we do see that Samson did at the end, turn to God and complete his task.  Discuss areas of pride that you see in the lives of your children (Do this generally, ask them to come up with them, or confront them individually – this is not a condemnation free-for-all activity!) Pray for each other and for humble hearts to live for God NOW. Today. Not someday in the future when your life has been wasted.

Digging Deeper

    1. Samson’s poor choice of women to love is a good study for how to not pick a life partner. From reading of his relationships with women in Judges 14-16, draw conclusions about what his motives were. (Refer to passages to back up your opinion.) On the other hand, find verses in the Bible that indicate what motive one should have in picking someone to marry.  What should one look for in a mate?  What things should not be important? Which of these are most important to you? Which characteristics do you need to work on before you are ready for marriage?
    2. We skipped the story of the 8th Judge, Jephthah, found in Judges 10:6-12:7 and Hebrews 11:32. Go back and read these passages and do a character study on this man. Was he a man of God? Did he do anything wrong? Why is he in the “Hall of Heroes” in Hebrews and what can we learn from his life?