Read Judges 15 -- 17
The early life of Samson is recorded in chapters 13, 14, and 15 of the Bookof Judges. Then, it appears that many years passed for which we have no record until we read of the tragic events in chapter 16. Here we see Samson heading toward the powerful city of Gaza, one of the few remaining cities of the giants in the Philistine territory (Joshua 11:22). Our "hero" had no fear of venturing into this stronghold of the enemy, even though there is no evidence that the Spirit "stirred him" for this mission as in the past. There is also no record that Samson ever expressed a desire to be used by the Lord to deliver the Israelites from their Philistine oppression. So it is not a surprise that he neither prayed for guidance nor protection.
Early in his life, Samson had disregarded the spiritual significance of his Nazarite dedication when he married a Philistine woman. He became even more deeply involved in sin as he made friends with Delilah, another Philistine woman. And, as always, with each person who presumptuously believes that God's mercy and long-suffering will continue indefinitely, we see Samson yielding to Delilah's treachery, and then saying: I will go out as at other times . . . And he did not know that the Lord had departed from him (Judges 16:20).
When Samson saw Delilah, he should have thought of his sacred Nazarite vow and his high calling as a judge. But sin had blinded him, both to his high calling and to the reason he had been gifted with great strength. As a consequence of his sin, the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters (chains) of brass (16:21). Not only did he suffer the gruesome torture of having his eyes gouged out, but he was forced to take the place of an animal and spend his time turning the mill to grind corn into meal (16:21).
But Samson knew why he had lost his sacred position as a judge, his strength, and his sight, and why he was a slave to the Philistines. Then Samson called to the Lord, and prayed, O Lord God, remember me, I pray, and strengthen me, I pray . . . that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes (16:28). Though he had sinned grievously, Samson's faith in God was evident as he cried out: O Lord God. This was Samson's first recorded prayer to overcome the Philistines, and God, in His mercy, answered his prayer. Samson's final victory was great as his Philistine tormentors fell dead at his feet, but it also ended his life. His victory was small compared to what he could have accomplished for the Lord. The story of Samson should send a strong message to every Christian who has fallen into the treacherous web of sinful pleasures. Samson is not the only servant of God who ever lost his power through worldliness and self-indulgence (16:19). We must never forget that our talents and spiritual gifts are not for our own benefit. They are given that, through them, the Lord will be glorified (Matthew 5:16).
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).
Christ Revealed: Through the strength God gave to Samson for his last victory over the Philistines (Judges 16:28-30). I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
Word Studies: 15:4 firebrands means torches of flax on fire; 16:7 green withs means small new ropes; 16:11 fast means securely; never . . . occupied means never used; 16:25 make us sport means entertain us; 16:26 Suffer me means Allow me; 17:4 founder means metal worker.
Government Officials: Sen. Frank Murkowski (AK) and Rep. Nydia Velzquez (NY) · Pray for Valarie Harper, Statewide Coordinator, Ohio Bible Reading Marathons · Country: Bulgaria (9 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Bulgarian and ethnic languages · Newly opened to evangelism · 62% Eastern Orthodox; 10% Muslim; 1% Roman Catholic; less than 1% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your decisions will always be to please the Lord (Psalms 73:24).
Optional Reading: John 19
Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:11