Judges 16:4-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 2, 2001

:4-21 Samson and Delilah


We usually think of Samson as the “strong man” of the Bible. He was known for having performed great feats of strength. But he was also quite a tragic figure.

Already, in Judges 13-15, we’ve seen a disturbing trend in the life of Samson. He was a man who seemed to enjoy “living on the edge”. He seemed to revel in getting as close to sin as he could. Yet for twenty years, God continued to use Samson.

Warren Wiersbe writes about Samson,

Bold before men, Samson was weak before women and couldn’t resist telling them his secrets. Empowered by the Spirit of God, he yielded his body to the appetites of the flesh. Called to declare war on the Philistines, he fraternized with the enemy and even tried to marry a Philistine woman. He fought the Lord’s battles by day and disobeyed the Lord’s commandments by night. Given the name Samson, which means “sunny,” he ended up in the darkness, blinded by the very enemy he was supposed to conquer.

Context: Samson asked his parents to arrange a marriage for him to a Philistine girl. When a little bet with the people at the wedding feast turned sour, 30 Philistines ended up dead, the grain fields of the Philistines were burnt up, and Samson’s in-laws paid the price by being burned by the Philistines. Later, the Philistines pursued Samson, and he killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. To the Philistines, Samson is public enemy number one.

Judges 16

:1-3 Samson and the harlot

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

Gaza – One of the five main cities of the Philistines, located on the coast of Israel. See Samson Map.

Samson is pushing the edge.

First, he is deep inside Philistine territory, all by himself. I think he has this idea that he’s invincible.

Second, if he is “dedicated to God”, what is he doing with a prostitute?

:2 In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

The people of Gaza decide that they’ll wait until morning to capture Samson.

:3 took the doors of the gate of the city … carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Hebron – the city 37 miles away from Gaza. The phrase here could mean a “hill that overlooks Hebron”. The local tradition says that Samson took the gates to a hill called El Montar, about a forty-five minute walk outside of Gaza. See Samson Map.


Either way, Samson turns what might have been a “close call” into a joke.


Don’t mistake God’s patience with His approval

Samson has gotten away with all kinds of things in his life. And he still continued to be used by God. He still had his amazing strength.
There are times in our lives where we kind of have this idea that we’re doing the wrong thing. In fact, we KNOW we’re doing the wrong thing. But we never seem to get caught or suffer too badly for our sin. And sometimes we can even fall into the trap of thinking that it’s no big deal that we continue in sin.

:4 he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

he loved‘ahab – to love; human love for another, includes family, and sexual; human appetite for objects such as food, drink, sleep, wisdom; human love for or to God

Sorek – a valley near where Samson grew up.

Delilah[email protected] – There is dispute over what her name means. Some say it means “feeble”, appropriate since this is what she made Samson, “feeble”. Others say her name means “devotee” and suggest that she may have been a temple prostitute. This is now the third woman Samson has been involved with.

:5 Entice him

Enticepathah – (Piel) to persuade, seduce; to deceive

There were five lords of the Philistines, one for each of the major Philistine cities. This means that Delilah would receive 5500 pieces of silver.

:6 Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth

She isn’t very subtle, is she?

Why would Samson even give the time of day to someone who seems interested in finding out how to destroy him?

It seems he thinks he’s invincible.

:7 If they bind me with seven green withs

green withsVine tendrils, pliant twigs, or twists made of crude vegetable stalks used in many Eastern countries for ropes. “cords” (NAS), “thongs” (NIV), “bowstrings” (NLT).

:9 there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber

the chambercheder – chamber, room, parlour, innermost or inward part, within

tow[email protected]‘oreth – a strand of flax, tow (as shaken from flax when beaten)

I wonder if Samson was aware that the Philistines were actually in the house with him.

:10 Behold, thou hast mocked me

mockedhathal – (Piel) to mock, deceive

Where has Samson’s senses gone?


Playing with temptation makes me incredibly stupid.

There’s no other way to put it.
There is kind of a high that comes from getting close to temptation. But you run away at the last minute and are okay. Until you want to fill the thrill of that high again.
It’s like a moth and a flame. It flies closer and closer until it’s burned.

:13 If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.

mockedhathal – (Piel) to mock, deceive

seven locks – this gives us an idea of what Samson did with all that hair. He wore his hair in “locks” or “braids”.

(Judg 16:13-14 NLT) Samson replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I will be as weak as anyone else."

Apparently Delilah had a type of loom at her house.  Samson is saying that if she were to weave his hair into a piece of cloth, he would be powerless.

He’s starting to get a little closer to the truth.  He’s talking about his hair.

I think he can see that she’s not going to be satisfied until he gets a little closer to the flame.


Each Temptation gets worse.

They say that this is what happens with drugs. It starts with something small like marijuana, but it never seems to end there. You need a stronger high, and move on to the next step.
I live in a small, rural community.  There are lots of cattle ranches around here and, every once in a while, a cow wanders off and gets lost.  It’s a big deal because if you happen to hit (as in “drive into”) a lost cow, it’s your fault and you have to pay the rancher for his cow.  (That is part of the rural culture—we have to worry about nuclear destruction and runaway cows.)  Ask a rancher how a cow gets lost, and chances are he will reply, “Well, the cow starts nibbling on a tuft of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks ahead to the next tuft of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks ahead to the next tuft of green grass and starts nibbling on that one, and then it nibbles on a tuft of grass right next to a hole in the fence.  It then sees another tuft of green grass on the other side of the fence, so it nibbles on that one and then goes on to the next tuft.  The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost.”

-- From the July 1988 issue of The Wittenberg Door

:14 And he awaked out of his sleep …

 (Judg 16:14 NIV) He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.


Wake up

We don’t know if Samson was asleep before, but we’re told that he’s gone to sleep this time.
I think that one common result of being “backslidden” is that you lose your sense of spiritual clarity. You fall asleep spiritually. God doesn’t seem quite as close as before. You don’t hear from the Lord as much as you used to.
(Rev 3:2 NASB) 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

:15 How canst thou say, I love thee


Mr. or Mrs. Right?

Take a poll – How may people think that Delilah would make a perfect wife for Samson?
The net effect of her presence in his life is to destroy him, not to build him up. She is only out for what she can get from Samson, not what she can give to him. She is continually tempting him to sin, not encouraging him towards God.
Yet Samson is so intoxicated with temptation, that he doesn’t see it.

:16 she pressed him daily with her words

This is exactly what happened earlier with his Philistine fiancé  (Judg. 14:17)


Flee Temptation.

There was another man in the Bible who was “pressed daily” by a woman, but who handled it correctly. Joseph on the other hand was a man who finished well in his life because he learned to flee FROM temptation –
(Gen 39:7-13 KJV) And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. {8} But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; {9} There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? {10} And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. {11} And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. {12} And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. {13} And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
Samson seems to be a good runner when it comes to temptation, but he always seems to be running the wrong way. Samson tends to run TO temptation rather than away from it.
The Bible says,
(1 Cor 6:18 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
(2 Tim 2:22 KJV) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

:17 I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb

Samson was a “Nazarite”. This means a person who has a special dedication to God. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents, even before he was born. A Nazarite demonstrated his dedication to God by abstaining from wine, or anything that was made from grapes. A Nazarite could be picked out from the crowd because of his long hair. As long as a Nazarite kept his special promised of dedication to the Lord, he was not to cut his hair.

He finally tells her his “secret”.


No Secret Christians

I wonder why Samson’s dedication to God had to be a “secret”.
There should be nothing secret about a person’s relationship with God. Some people say, “I don’t want to talk about religion, it’s a personal thing with me.”
Samson may be thinking that he needs to keep the source of his strength a secret so Delilah won’t take advantage of him, but he’s got it backwards. There should be no secret about his strength. And he has no business hanging around a woman who wants to take advantage of him.
Samson’s danger is not in sharing his “secret”. Samson’s danger is in being with Delilah in the first place.
God doesn’t want us keeping our relationship with Him a “secret”.
People ought to see something in us that shows we’re Christians.
Jesus said,

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

People will know we belong to Jesus when they see God’s love in our lives.

People ought to hear something from us, that we belong to Jesus.
Jesus said,

(Mat 10:32-33 KJV) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

People will know we belong to Jesus because we will tell them so.


Strength comes from commitment.

Samson’s strength did not come from his hair. It came from his special commitment to God, which was symbolized by his long hair.
Make a decision to follow Jesus.  Make it publicly.

:18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart

She can tell that he’s told her the truth this time.

:19 And she made him sleep upon her knees … shave off  … she began to afflict him

There he goes again, falling asleep.

shave offgalach – to poll, shave, shave off, be bald. It may be that Samson simply got a hair cut, or it may be that he was hairless as a cue ball.

she began to afflict him‘anah – (Piel) to humble, mishandle, afflict; to humble, be humiliated. Perhaps this is her way of testing him to see if his strength is still there. This is not a woman who loves Samson. She is using him.

:20 And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

wist – knew

It seems that when Samson’s hair was cut, God decided that Samson had gone far enough. God left him. And Samson wasn’t even aware of it. To me, this is one of the most tragic verses in Scripture.


The work of the Spirit isn’t always so obvious.

And that’s why when it left, Samson couldn’t tell.
Sometimes we think that the Holy Spirit is always going to send electrical charges down our spines and make our hair stand up straight. We think that someone speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit has to have some kind of weird, altered voice.
When we think of Samson, we think of huge feats of supernatural strength. But in reality, Samson’s strength apparently came in such a natural, subtle way, that Samson was totally unaware when it had left him.
The truth is that the Spirit likes to work in a quiet, natural way!


Don’t keep pushing the limit.

It seems that there can be a point where you can go too far.
David prayed,
(Psa 51:11 KJV) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Am I saying a person can lose their salvation? Maybe.
Paul writes,
(Gal 5:19-21 NLT) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, {20} idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, {21} envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
It’s those who “practice” these things that are in serious danger.
“Have I lost my salvation?”
Whether or not you have it not really the issue. The issue is to repent from your sin and stay close to Jesus!
We are saved because Jesus died on a cross for us, paying the penalty for our sins. The Bible says that we are saved when we come to trust in Jesus.
But if our trusting in Jesus is real, if we’re serious about Jesus, things will change in the way we live.
(Ezek 33:11 KJV)  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

:21 put out his eyes … bound him with fetters of brass … he did grind

put out his eyes – The punishment was inflicted in various ways, either by scooping out the eyeballs, piercing the eye, or poking the eyes with a red-hot iron.

fetters of brass[email protected] – copper, bronze shackles. The word also has an interesting secondary meaning – lust, harlotry


Sin brings tragic results

We don’t often think about this when we’re in that exciting moment of temptation with Delilah teasing us or letting us sleep on her lap.
I think it wouldn’t hurt to think of the consequences of our actions.
Where is your sin leading you? What is its ultimate result?
Sin blinds us, binds us, and grinds us.
Erwin W. Lutzer (1941– ) writes, No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority.


It could happen to me

I think one of the dangers of Samson’s story for some of us is that we see Samson as some kind of big, bumbling oaf, always doing stupid, dangerous things.
But the truth is, any of us could fall.
(1 Cor 10:11-14 NASB)  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. {12} Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. {13} No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. {14} Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
I am in a dangerous spot when I begin to think it could never happen to me.
Instead, I need to learn to find God’s “escape hatches” and learn to take them.  I need to learn to flee from temptation.


The Work of the Holy Spirit

(Gal 5:16 KJV)  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Instead of being close to temptation, God wants us to be close to Him.
There are two types of waterwheels, the overshot and the undershot.  In one case, the water falls from above, in the other, the water turns the wheel from below.  The overshot is considered the most powerful.
It’s one thing to keep talking about how horrible sin is, but a more powerful help in our fight against temptation is to talk about how wonderful the Lord is.