Daily Devotional

September 12, 2017

Daybreak: Judges 16:1-31

“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.” (Judges 16:20)

In some ways, our son’s life reminds me of the life of Samson. Like Samson, our son started off with many advantages. We had a Christian home, and he was a cheerful, well-behaved boy of above average scholastic ability. In Sunday school, he knew all the answers. One reason for this was that one of his favorite pastimes was listening to recorded Bible stories, of which we had a large set. Realizing that even this good upbringing was not enough, during the summer before he started high school, he prayed through to salvation.

However, upon entering high school, he faced the allurement of the world. It was not a temptress like Delilah, but rather a group of students who were into tobacco and drugs. The desire to be accepted by these peers became more important to him than anything else. Turning his back on his family, his church, and his God, I am sure our son had no idea how far down the road of sin those early decisions would take him. Like Samson, he probably thought — at least initially — that he could dabble with sin while still remaining in control of his life. That was not the case.

As addictions got hold of him, he eventually left his family, his home, and his schooling. For a number of years, life was hard for him. From time to time, he would do a little better — getting a job and trying to make something of himself — only to slip back into his old ways. Although not literally in jail, this life of bondage to Satan was comparable to Samson’s life in the Philistine prison. 

Thankfully our son’s story does not end on that somber note. Recently, we got the phone call from him that all Christian parents with a lost son or daughter are hoping for — the prodigal had come back to God. From the moment our son was saved, he was happy to inform us, he had been drug free. Later, when we were able to visit him in person, we saw that the old sparkle was back in his eyes — something we had not seen for years. Just as Samson turned back to God and saw victory in his final act on earth, our son is now experiencing the victory that comes from life in Christ.

There is extreme risk in tampering with sin. If this devotional finds you in a spiritually lost condition, you, too, can come to God and experience His love. If you are a Christian who is praying for a lost loved one, don’t give up hope! Maybe soon you, too, will hear the wonderful news that he or she has become a child of God.

Background

Gaza was a southern city of the Philistines. Perhaps Samson went to this enemy city because he was proud of his past accomplishments and therefore trusting his personal strength. In spite of this, God did help him. Bible commentators are unsure whether Samson carried the doors of the city gate clear to Hebron. If he did, the distance from Gaza to Hebron was almost thirty-eight miles and it would have been uphill, since Gaza was on the coast near sea level, and Hebron was in the mountains. 

God had a special plan for Samson. However, to be usable in God’s service, there were requirements for Samson’s life, and he only partly met them. He fulfilled the vow of the Nazarite in not drinking alcohol or in having his hair cut, but in his relationship with women, Samson would not abide by God’s guidelines. Although the Bible does not directly say so, the implication is that Delilah was a Philistine and a prostitute. As a judge of Israel for twenty years, Samson knew well that he should marry a God-fearing woman of Israel, and have nothing to do with the ungodly Delilah. However, Samson had to have his own way in this matter, even to his own destruction. 

Five leaders, or “lords,” ruled the Philistines from five different cities, and each of these men offered Delilah a handsome reward if she could trap Samson. Delilah made it her business to find out Samson’s secret. “Green withs” were fresh bowstrings. The “beam” refers to the loom, where she must have woven his hair something like a piece of fabric. It is quite possible that the first three times Delilah said, “The Philistines be upon thee,” the men who were hiding did not reveal themselves. 

The Bible is clear that the source of Samson’s strength was the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him. His hair was an outward symbol of his Nazarite vow. When his hair was cut, it was a visible indication that he had broken his vow. With the Spirit of God departed and his strength gone, the Philistines made Samson a slave, put out his eyes, and took him to Gaza — the city from which he had taken the doors of the gate.

Dagon was the Philistines’ god of grain, and they gave him the credit for their victory over Samson. The site of Samson’s final act, accomplished with God’s strength, may have been a temple for Dagon. 

Samson wanted what he wanted, and he ended up paying the ultimate sacrifice for it. It is true that God was able to use Samson a little — first in the early part of his life, and finally at his death. However, his life story would clearly have been different if he had lived consistently for God.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   Conditions during the period of the judges
      C.   Parenthesis: the tyranny of Abimelech
            9.   Samson 
                  b.   Israel’s deliverance
                        (2)   The conflict with thePhilistines
                               (b)   Because of the harlot in Gaza (16:1-3)
                                      [1]   Samson’s lust (16:1)
                                      [2]   Philistine’s plot (16:2)
                                      [3]   Samson’s escape (16:3)
                               (c)   Because of Delilah (16:4-31)
                                      [1]   Samson’s entanglement with Delilah (16:4)
                                      [2]   Delilah’s trickery to secure his source of strength (16:5-20)
                                             [a]   The secret alluded to (16:5-14)
                                                    i.   The seven fresh cords (16:5-9)
                                                    ii.   The new cords (16:10-12)
                                                    iii.   The seven locks (16:13-14)
                                             [b]   The secret divulged (16:15-20)
                                      [3]   Samson’s imprisonment (16:21-22)
                                      [4]   Samson’s death (16:23-31)
                                             [a]   The gathering for a Philistine feast (16:23-27)
                                             [b]   The death of Samson with the Philistines (16:28-31)

A Closer Look

  1. How did Delilah finally discover the secret of Samson’s great strength?
     
  2. What are some things Samson could have done to avoid the downward path he chose?
     
  3. How might we as Christians unnecessarily expose ourselves to temptations?

Conclusion

Each of us is developing a “life story,” one day at a time. Does yours show consistency in serving God? By God’s grace, it can.

Reference Materials