Judges 16

Samson and Delilah

1 Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went to bed with her.
2 When the Gazites [heard] that Samson was there, they surrounded the place and waited in ambush for him all that night at the city gate. While they were waiting quietly,[a] they said, "Let us wait until dawn; then we will kill him."
3 But Samson stayed in bed until midnight when he got up, took hold of the doors of the city gate along with the two gateposts, and pulled them out, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and took them to the top of the mountain overlooking Hebron.
4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley.
5 The Philistine leaders went to her and said, "Persuade him to tell you[b] where his great strength comes from, so we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each of us will then give you 1,100 pieces of silver."
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me, where does your great strength [come from]? How could [someone] tie you up and make you helpless?"
7 Samson told her, "If they tie me up with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I will become weak and be like any other man."
8 The Philistine leaders brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them.
9 While the men in ambush were waiting in her room, she called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here!"[c] But he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of yarn snaps when it touches fire. [The secret of] his strength remained unknown.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have mocked me and told me lies! Won't you please tell me how you can be tied up?"
11 He told her, "If they tie me up with new ropes that have never been used, I will become weak and be like any other man."
12 Delilah took new ropes, tied him up with them, and shouted, "Samson, the Philistines are here!"[d] But while the men in ambush were waiting in her room, he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have mocked me all along and told me lies! Tell me how you can be tied up." He told her, "If you weave the seven braids on my head with the web of a loom-"[e]
14 She fastened the braids with a pin and called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here!"[f] He awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin, with the loom and the web.
15 "How can you say, 'I love you,' " she told him, "when your heart is not with me? This is the third time you have mocked me and not told me what makes your strength so great!"
16 Because she nagged him day after day and pled with him until she wore him out,[g]
17 he told her the whole truth and said to her, "My hair has never been cut,[h] because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man."
18 When Delilah realized that he had told her the whole truth, she sent this message to the Philistine leaders: "Come one more time, for he has told me the whole truth." The Philistine leaders came to her and brought the money with them.
19 Then she let him fall asleep on her lap and called a man to shave off the seven braids on his head. In this way, she rendered him helpless,[i] and his strength left him.
20 Then she cried, "Samson, the Philistines are here!"[j] When he awoke from his sleep, he said, "I will escape as I did before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

Samson's Defeat and Death

21 The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles, and he was forced to grind grain in the prison.
22 But his hair began to grow back after it had been shaved.
23 Now the Philistine leaders gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They rejoiced and said: Our god has handed over our enemy Samson to us.
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god and said: Our god has handed over to us our enemy who destroyed our land and who multiplied our dead.
25 When they were drunk, they said, "Bring Samson here to entertain us." So they brought Samson from prison, and he entertained them. They had him stand between the pillars.
26 Samson said to the young man who was leading him by the hand, "Lead me where I can feel the pillars supporting the temple, so I can lean against them."
27 The temple was full of men and women; all the leaders of the Philistines were there, and about 3,000 men and women were on the roof watching Samson entertain [them].
28 He called out to the Lord: "Lord God , please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more. With one act of vengeance, let me pay back the Philistines for my two eyes."
29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars supporting the temple and leaned against them, one on his right hand and the other on his left.
30 Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." He pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the leaders and all the people in it. And the dead he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life.
31 Then his brothers and his father's family came down, carried him back, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. So he judged Israel 20 years.

Judges 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

Samson's escape from Gaza. (1-3) Samson enticed to declare his strength lay. (4-17) The Philistines take Samson, and put out his eyes. (18-21) Samson's strength is renewed. (22-24) He destroys many of the Philistines. (25-31)

Verses 1-3 Hitherto Samson's character has appeared glorious, though uncommon. In this chapter we find him behaving in so wicked a manner, that many question whether or not he were a godly man. But the apostle has determined this, ( Hebrews 11:32 ) . By adverting to the doctrines and examples of Scripture, the artifices of Satan, the deceitfulness of the human heart, and the methods in which the Lord frequently deals with his people, we may learn useful lessons from this history, at which some needlessly stumble, while others cavil and object. The peculiar time in which Samson lived may account for many things, which, if done in our time, and without the special appointment of Heaven, would be highly criminal. And there might have been in him many exercises of piety, which, if recorded, would have reflected a different light upon his character. Observe Samson's danger. Oh that all who indulge their sensual appetites in drunkenness, or any fleshly lusts, would see themselves thus surrounded, way-laid, and marked for ruin by their spiritual enemies! The faster they sleep, the more secure they feel, the greater their danger. We hope it was with a pious resolution not to return to his sin, that he rose under a fear of the danger he was in. Can I be safe under this guilt? It was bad that he lay down without such checks; but it would have been worse, if he had laid still under them.

Verses 4-17 Samson had been more than once brought into mischief and danger by the love of women, yet he would not take warning, but is again taken in the same snare, and this third time is fatal. Licentiousness is one of the things that take away the heart. This is a deep pit into which many have fallen; but from which few have escaped, and those by a miracle of mercy, with the loss of reputation and usefulness, of almost all, except their souls. The anguish of the suffering is ten thousand times greater than all the pleasures of the sin.

Verses 18-21 See the fatal effects of false security. Satan ruins men by flattering them into a good opinion of their own safety, and so bringing them to mind nothing, and fear nothing; and then he robs them of their strength and honour, and leads them captive at his will. When we sleep our spiritual enemies do not. Samson's eyes were the inlets of his sin, (ver. ( Judges 16:1 ) ,) and now his punishment began there. Now the Philistines blinded him, he had time to remember how his own lust had before blinded him. The best way to preserve the eyes, is, to turn them away from beholding vanity. Take warning by his fall, carefully to watch against all fleshly lusts; for all our glory is gone, and our defence departed from us, when our separation to God, as spiritual Nazarites, is profaned.

Verses 22-24 Samson's afflictions were the means of bringing him to deep repentance. By the loss of his bodily sight the eyes of his understanding were opened; and by depriving him of bodily strength, the Lord was pleased to renew his spiritual strength. The Lord permits some few to wander wide and sink deep, yet he recovers them at last, and marking his displeasure at sin in their severe temporal sufferings, preserves them from sinking into the pit of destruction. Hypocrites may abuse these examples, and infidels mock at them, but true Christians will thereby be rendered more humble, watchful, and circumspect; more simple in their dependence on the Lord, more fervent in prayer to be kept from falling, and in praise for being preserved; and, if they fall, they will be kept from sinking into despair.

Verses 25-31 Nothing fills up the sins of any person or people faster than mocking and misusing the servants of God, even thought it is by their own folly that they are brought low. God put it into Samson's heart, as a public person, thus to avenge on them God's quarrel, Israel's, and his own. That strength which he had lost by sin, he recovers by prayer. That it was not from passion or personal revenge, but from holy zeal for the glory of God and Israel, appears from God's accepting and answering the prayer. The house was pulled down, not by the natural strength of Samson, but by the almighty power of God. In his case it was right he should avenge the cause of God and Israel. Nor is he to be accused of self-murder. He sought not his own death, but Israel's deliverance, and the destruction of their enemies. Thus Samson died in bonds, and among the Philistines, as an awful rebuke for his sins; but he died repentant. The effects of his death typified those of the death of Christ, who, of his own will, laid down his life among transgressors, and thus overturned the foundation of Satan's kingdom, and provided for the deliverance of his people. Great as was the sin of Samson, and justly as he deserved the judgments he brought upon himself, he found mercy of the Lord at last; and every penitent shall obtain mercy, who flees for refuge to that Saviour whose blood cleanses from all sin. But here is nothing to encourage any to indulge sin, from a hope they shall at last repent and be saved.

Footnotes 10

  • [a]. Lit quietly all night
  • [b]. Lit him and see
  • [c]. Lit are on you
  • [d]. Lit are on you
  • [e]. LXX reads loom and fasten [them] with a pin into the wall and I will become weak and be like any other man." 14 And while he was sleeping, Delilah wove the seven braids on his head into the loom.
  • [f]. Lit are on you
  • [g]. Lit him and he became short to death
  • [h]. Lit A razor has not gone up on my head
  • [i]. LXX reads way he began to weaken
  • [j]. Lit are on you

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 16

In this chapter we have an account of Samson's too great familiarity with two harlots; by the one he was brought into great danger, and narrowly escaped, Jud 16:1-3, and by the other he was betrayed into the hands of the Philistines, having got the secret out of him wherein his great strength lay, Jud 16:4-20 who having him in their hands, put out his eyes, imprisoned him, and in their idol temple made sport of him, Jud 16:21-25, where praying for renewed strength from the Lord, he pulled down the temple, and destroyed multitudes with the loss of his own life, Jud 16:26-31.

Judges 16 Commentaries