Samson: Behind Enemy Lines (Judges 16: 4-22)

Be-StrongIt’s dangerous to linger at the enemy’s border.  You can get caught which is about to happen to Samson.

The Valley of Sorek was on the border of Judah and Philistia. The city of Beth-shemesh was located there. Whenever Samson went into enemy territory, he “went down” both geographically and spiritually

This time he found a woman in the valley, and he fell in love with her.  Samson and Delilah have captured the imagination of scores of writers, artists, composers, and dramatists. When Samson consorted with Delilah, he never dreamed that what they did together would be made into movies and projected in color on huge screens!

* Life Application: Although he could strangle a lion, he could not smother his burning lust and see Delilah for who she really was. How can you keep your desire for love and sexual pleasure from deceiving you? 1. You must decide what kind of a person you will love before passion takes over. Determine whether a person’s character and faith in God are as desirable as his or her physical appearance. 2. Because most of the time you spend with your spouse will not involve sex, your companion’s personality, temperament, and commitment to solve problems must be as gratifying as his or her kisses. 3. Be patient. The second look often reveals what is beneath the pleasant appearance and attentive touch.

The basis for her name is the Hebrew word dalal, which means “to weaken, to impoverish.” Delilah certainly weakened and impoverished Samson!

* Life Application:  A person’s greatest accomplishment may well be helping others accomplish great things. Likewise, a person’s greatest failure may be preventing others from achieving greatness.   Are people helped by knowing you? Do they find that knowing you challenges them to be the best they can be? Even more important, does knowing you help their relationship with God? What do your demands for their time and attention tell them about your real care for them? Are you willing to be God’s instrument in the lives of others?

Each of the Philistine leaders offered to pay Delilah a considerable sum of money if she would entice Samson and learn the source of his great strength. They didn’t want to kill Samson. They wanted to neutralize his power, capture him, torture him, and then use him for their own purposes. Being able to exhibit and control the great champion of Israel would give the Philistines both security and stature among the nations and would certainly satisfy their egos as they humiliated the Jews.

When Delilah began to probe for the secret of his strength, Samson should have been aware of his danger and, like Joseph (Gen. 39:12; 2 Tim. 2:22), fled as fast as possible. But passion had gripped him, sin had anesthetized him, and he was unable to act rationally. Anybody could have told him that Delilah was making a fool out of him, but Samson would have believed no one.

It’s unlikely that the Philistines who hid in her chamber revealed themselves each time Samson escaped his bonds, because then he would have known that Delilah had set a trap for him. Her cry “The Philistines are upon you!” was the signal for the spies to be alert; but when they saw that Samson was free, they remained in hiding. Each of Samson’s lies involved Delilah using some kind of bonds on him, but the Philistines should have known that he could not be bound (Judg. 15:13).

Delilah had to keep working on Samson or she would have lost the money and perhaps her life. After all, look at what the Philistines did to Samson’s first wife! If Samson had stopped visiting Delilah, he would have kept his hair and his power, but he kept going back, and each time she implored him to reveal his secret. Samson didn’t know his own heart. He thought he possessed enough moral strength to say no to the temptress, but he was wrong.

*Life Application: Four times Delilah took advantage of him. If he didn’t realize what was happening after the first or second experience, surely he should have understood the situation by the fourth time! We think Samson is foolish, but how many times do we allow ourselves to be deceived by flattery and give in to temptation and wrong beliefs? Avoid falling prey to deceit by asking God to help you distinguish between deception and truth.

Being wise in the ways of sin (Luke 16:8; Prov. 7:21), during the fourth visit, Delilah knew that he had finally told her the truth. Since the Philistine “hit squad” had quit coming after the third fiasco, Delilah summoned them quickly, and they once again hid in her chamber.

When Delilah’s shout awakened Samson, he thought it was another one of her tricks and that he could handle the situation as before. But he was wrong. When he lost his long hair, his strength left him; and he was as weak as other men. His power was from the Lord, not from his hair; but the hair was the sign of his Nazirite vow. The Spirit who had come upon him with such power had now departed from him.

*Life Application: Delilah kept asking Samson for the secret of his strength until he finally grew tired of hearing her nagging and gave in. This was the second time that Samson allowed himself to be worn down by persistent nagging (Jdg 14:17). What a pitiful excuse for disobedience. Don’t allow anyone, no matter how attractive or persuasive, to talk you into doing wrong.

Numbers 6:7 reads literally “because the consecration (nezer) of his God is upon his head.” The basic meaning of the word nezer is “separation” or “consecration”; but it is also used of a royal crown (2 Sam. 1:10; Zech. 9:16; Ps. 89:39). Samson’s long hair was his “royal crown” and he lost it because of his sin. “Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11, NKJV). Since Samson didn’t discipline his body, he lost both his crown and his prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

The Philistines easily overpowered Samson and finally had their way with him. They put out his eyes, bound him, and took him to Gaza where he toiled at the grinding mill, doing work usually assigned to slaves or donkeys.  Someone has said that Judges 16:21 reminds us of the blinding, binding, and grinding results of sin.

Samson is one of three men in Scripture who are especially identified with the darkness. The other two are King Saul, who went out in the darkness to get last-minute help from a witch (1 Sam. 28), and Judas, who “went immediately out: and it was night” (John 13:30). Saul lived for the world, Samson yielded to the flesh, and Judas gave himself to the devil (John 13:2, 27); and all three ended up taking their own lives.

But there was one ray of light in the darkness: Samson’s hair began to grow again!  His power was not in his hair but in what his hair symbolized his dedication to God. If Samson renewed that dedication, God could restore his power. I believe Samson talked to the Lord as he turned the millstone, confessing his sins and asking God for one last opportunity to defeat the enemy and glorify His name.

If you find yourself in a bad place, call out to God, he will hear. He can make things you thought were gone, grow again.

We can be strong with God’s help.



Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament

Life Application Bible Notes


About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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