Judges – Lesson 20


Judges Chapter 16


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Last week we studied about many of the adult years of Samson’s life, from his return to Timnath  where he set the corn fields on fire, and killed over 1,000 of the Philistines.  Samson reigned as judge over Israel for the next 20 years.  We continue with his story this week at the town of Gaza, in the 19th year of his reign.  We find that Samson did not always follow the Will of the Lord in his life.


I.                   Samson at Gaza


Judg 16:1  Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Judg 16:2  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.

Judg 16:3  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.


In the middle of chapter 15, it mentioned that Samson judged Israel for 20 years, and it also states this again at the end of the chapter    Why it is mentioned in the middle of his story is unclear, but it certainly was not a matter of little importance.  It appears that the Philistines ceased trying to capture Samson after his victory over the 1,000 Philistines.  The location where Samson judged the nation is not clear, but we are give a clue in verse 3 that point to Hebron.  It says that he carried the doors of the city to the top of a hill outside of Hebron.  We do not have a lot of information about Samson’s life after his first year of reign until the last two years.  Undoubtedly, during this time, Samson continued subduing the Philistines due to his purpose in life being to deliver the nation of Israel from their bondage.   Perhaps his early demonstration of strength prevented the Philistines from attacking him during those middle years.   In verse 1, Samson goes down to Gaza which was one of the five leading cities of the Philistines.   This was the southern most city of the five, and perhaps Samson went down to find an occasion against the Philistines as he had done earlier when he came to Timnath and took a wife from among them.  Whatever the reason for his visit, Samson must have been at a weak spiritual condition during this time since he finds a harlot and has sex with her.   Any sin is a reproach to God, but the sins that involve another not only are an reproach to God, but a sin against our own bodies. 


1 Cor 6:18  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

1 Cor 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1 Cor 6:20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.


When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells inside of us.  When we commit fornication or adultery, we are in effect involving God in our sin.  God help us to control our passions and lusts, and not make the same mistake of Samson.  We will either control the body and the lusts thereof, or it will control us.   We are commanded to crucify the flesh every day and to take up our cross and follow Christ.   We need to realize that others are watching our life, and our testimony if on the line.  Someone saw the act that Samson did, and they told the Gazites about it.  They make plans to lie in wait for him at night and kill him when he leaves town.   As in the past, the Lord protects Samson, even during a period of weak faith, and he goes out of the city and takes the doors and the side posts with him.   But if he felt bad about his sin or not, carrying away the gate or feeling sad about the sin would not remove the fact that he had done this wrong.


II.    The Sin with Delilah


Judg 16:4  And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.


Matthew Henry said this about Delilah.


This bad woman, that brought Samson to ruin, is here named Delilah, an infamous name, and fitly used to express the person, or thing, that by flattery or falsehood brings mischief and destruction on those to whom kindness is pretended. See here,

I. The affection Samson had for Delilah: he loved her, v. 4. Some think she was his wife, but then he would have had her home to his own house; others that he courted her to make her his wife; but there is too much reason to suspect that it was a sinful affection he had for her, and that he lived in uncleanness with her. Whether she was an Israelite or a Philistine is not certain. If an Israelite, which is scarcely probable, yet she had the heart of a Philistine.

II. The interest which the lords of the Philistines made with her to betray Samson, v. 5. 1. That which they told her they designed was to humble him, or afflict him; they would promise not to do him any hurt, only they would disable him not to do them any. And so much conscience it should seem they made of this promise that even then, when he lay ever so much at their mercy, they would not kill him, no, not when the razor that cut his hair might sooner and more easily have cut his throat. 2. That which they desired, in order hereunto, was to know where his great strength lay, and by what means he might be bound. Perhaps they imagined he had some spell or charm which he carried about with him, by the force of which he did these great things, and doubted not but that, if they could get this from him, he would be manageable; and therefore, having had reason enough formerly to know which was his blind side, hoped to find out his riddle a second time by ploughing with his heifer. They engaged Delilah to get it out of him, telling her what a kindness it would be to them, and perhaps assuring her it should not be improved to any real mischief, either to him or her. 3. For this they bid high, promised to give her each of them 1100 pieces of silver, 5500 in all. So many shekels amounted to above 1000 sterling; with this she was hired to betray one she pretended to love. See what horrid wickedness the love of money is the root of. Our blessed Saviour was thus betrayed by one whom he called friend, and with a kiss too, for filthy lucre. No marvel if those who are unchaste, as Delilah, be unjust; such as lose their honesty in one instance will in another.   [1]



Judg 16:5  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.


We know that if we are not careful, we will be led by Satan in our lives to some type of bondage.  Apparently, Samson had a weakness to the flesh in regards to women.   We read a few weeks ago about how a man can be brought to a very low position by a woman if we fall to our passions and commit sin.


Prov 6:23  For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Prov 6:24  To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Prov 6:25  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Prov 6:26  For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

Prov 6:27  Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

Prov 6:28  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Prov 6:29  So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Prov 6:30  Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

Prov 6:31  But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Prov 6:32  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Prov 6:33  A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

Prov 6:34  For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Prov 6:35  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.


Samson becomes acquainted with another woman that brings him to an all time spiritual low.  We all need to realize that we are weak creatures, and anyone can be led astray if we let Satan have the first foothold.


James 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

James 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:16  Do not err, my beloved brethren.


In James, it says we are drawn away of our own lusts.  Satan takes a lot of blame for failure, and be sure he knows how to tempt us.  But it is our decision to sin.  God help us to stay pure and clean in a wicked and perverse nation.  It does not take a very big man or woman to follow after the desires of the flesh, but it takes a real man or woman to stand up and say no, I am going to honor God with my life.  Help us all to be people of integrity.


The woman that Samson falls for is from the city of Sorek.  No marriage is mentioned or even contemplated, though Samson spent much of his time with her.  The Philistines don’t fail to notice where he is spending his time, and they seek to find a way to capture him.  The Philistines offer Delilah huge sums of money to tell them the secret of Samson’s strength. 


Judg 16:6  And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.

Judg 16:7  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.


I have heard the old saying “Love is blind.”  I promise you, if ever there was a man blind to love, it had to be Samson in this next series of events.   It is unlikely that Delilah cared for Samson anywhere near as much as he loved her.  She sets out to find his secret to the his great strength.  He tells her first that it could be eliminated if he was bound by seven green withs that were never dried.

Judg 16:8  Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

Judg 16:9  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.


It seems to me that Samson might have had a clue that something was up when he is encircled with these green withs.  But rather, Delilah continues to ask him about how he has strength.   How could Samson not realize that she meant him no good to him?

But he lies to her three times.   We have mentioned before, that God is not honored when we lie, even if we do it for good reasons.  People led by the Holy Spirit of God will obey the commands in the dear Word of God.


Judg 16:10  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.

Judg 16:11  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.

Judg 16:12  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.


Samson tells her that if entwined by new ropes never before used, he would become weak.   How is it that when he awakes from sleep and breaks these bonds, how can Samson not realize that she means him no good.  But love makes us do some things that make no sense.  A third time, Samson makes up another story.


Judg 16:13  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.

Judg 16:14  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.

Judg 16:15  And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.


Again he tells her a story about weaving 7 locks of hair together, and once again she does this, and it fails to weaken Samson.   She gets really serious with him now, and says that he has mocked her 3 times, and not told her the truth.  So day after day, she asks him about this.   Money will drive people to do very wicked things.   


Judg 16:16  And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;

Judg 16:17  That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Judg 16:18  And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.

Judg 16:19  And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.


So in her lap, the one who he loves, she does wickedly and cuts off all of his hair.  She seems to be sure that he has spoken the truth, because it says “for he hath showed me all his heart.”  I think it is great to be totally honest with one another, but it is not a good situation when it is only a one-way street.  Both partners need to care and love one another, not just one partner as in the case with Samson and Delilah.  Samson’s vow is now broken, and God ceases to empower him.  We might note that being strong physically does not make us strong morally or spiritually.   The bible warns that we need not just physical bread to feed the physical man, but we need spiritual bread to feed the spiritual man everyday also.  That comes from the Bible.  God speaks to us through His Word.   Christ rebuked Satan when he was tempted with this next verse.


Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.


By failing to stay true to God and honoring his vow, Samson can not fulfill the assigned work God had given him.  This great strength for which Samson was known is now gone, all due to him telling Delilah what kept him strong.  With Samson out of the way, the Philistines could return to their attention back on Israel and making them serve under bondage as they had in the past.  Sin is always serious, but it is very serious when it hinders the work of God.  So many times our sins do affect the work in more ways than we realize.  It may be a disappointment to our pastor, or another of our church family, or it may affect our testimony in the community.  Sin does have a price, and we need to live a Godly life that honors our Savior.


III.              The Imprisonment and Ultimate Triumph


Judg 16:20  And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

Judg 16:21  But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.


Samson lost more than his strength.  He loses his ability to serve the Lord, his freedom, and also his eyesight.  One small sin led to many, and the ends of it were

negative things in Samson’s life.    In verse 20, it says that we did not realize that the Lord was departed from him.  In our personal lives, if we don’t stay morally pure, we can slowly slide away from the Lord and not realize that we are not in synch with Him as we used to be.   Be sure you realize that if the Lord is not as strong in your life today as He once was, it is due to your movement away from Him.  God does not move away from His children.  Samson did not have to fall away like this, but his weakness towards women caused him to fall.  We can sometimes lose our sight for the work of the Lord, and we effectively are blind to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.   Samson is bound and put into prison where he has to grind day after day.  If we are not careful, Satan will put us in his prison, and we will be grinding away at hard, hard labor in the prison of sin.


J. Vernon McGee pointed out that Samson tried to do everything on his own, and never once rallied the Israelites to fight against the Philistines.


When Samson went to sleep, Delilah had one of the Philistines come in and shave off his hair. Then for the fourth time Delilah cried out, “The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!” This is the tragic time in the life of Samson. He awoke out of his sleep, thinking he would do as he had done before, but “he knew not that the Lord was departed from him.” Friend, the strength was not in his hair; the strength was in the Spirit of the Lord who was upon him.

Friend, our spiritual strength today is not in ceremonies or in rituals. The strength of the believer is always in the Spirit of God—always.

Samson, called to be a judge for his people, called to deliver his people from the oppression of the Philistines, is a carnal man. Now Ichabod (meaning “the glory is departed”) is written over his life. He never raised an army. He never won a battle. He never rallied the men of Israel to him. Sex was the ruin of this man—how sad, this man who was chosen by God!   [2] 


Judg 16:22  Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.

Judg 16:23  Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

Judg 16:24  And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.


The hair on Samson’s head returns after many days, and Samson’s strength begins to come back.  No doubt, while all of this grinding in the prison went on, Samson had many hours to think on his deeds, and had repented and sought the will of the Lord for his life again.  The Philistines decide to have a great party and worship their false god, Dagon.  They think this false god has delivered Samson into their hands. 


Judg 16:25  And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.


They have this big party for the false god, Dagon, and send for Samson to come up so they can make fun of him and make sport of him.   They set him between the pillars of this great house or palace.  They wanted to make a spectacle of Samson and make him do acts of humiliation at the bidding of the false god, Dagon.


Judg 16:26  And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

Judg 16:27  Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.


Samson asks that he be let go to feel of the pillars that held up the house.


Judg 16:28  And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Judg 16:29  And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

Judg 16:30  And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Judg 16:31  Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.


Samson asks for strength from the Lord, to be able to bring this house down upon these Philistines.  And God grants it, but Samson lost his life in doing it.  Samson asked that God remember him, to strengthen him, and to avenge the Philistines for putting out his eyes.  God heard and granted those requests.


When his family heard of his death, they came and buried his body in the tomb of his father, which was between Zorah and Eshtaol.   



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[1]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.