The story of Samson is one of great victory on one hand and tremendous tragedy on the other. Samson accomplished the purposes of God, but also failed as a role model for us today. He is listed in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. Nothing is said of his obvious sins and lust that drew him away from his family and from God.
In Judges 13:2-14 we are told of the events surrounding the birth of Samson. Before Samson’s mom even conceived him she received a visit from an angel. The angel said that Samson would be a Nazarite from the womb. The Nazarite vow, as outlined in Numbers 6:1-21, is an individual and voluntary choice. It is not something that is imposed by others. However, we see that it was not Samson’s personal choice to be a Nazarite. This is true for Samuel and John the Baptist as well.
Another difference in Samson’s vow and the normal vow is that his was a lifetime vow. Usually the vow is taken for a limited period of time.
Other defining points of a Nazarite is that, for the period of the vow, they would not eat or drink anything pertaining to grapes. This included raisins, juice, wine, or even the skin of a grape. They would not cut their hair nor come near a dead body. In Samson’s case, the Bible says that his great physical strength was related to the fact that a razor was never used to cut his hair.
Contrary to what many people believe, Delilah was not Samson’s wife. He was married to a woman from Timnath. She was a Philistine and his mother and father did not approve of the marriage. Judges 14:4 tells us that Samson’s marriage to her was God’s will. It was so that God would rile up the Philistines against Israel. And riled up they were! The result was Samson slew 1,000 Philistines in one battle. Samson then judged Israel 20 years during the time of the Philistine invasion (Judges 15:20). As a judge in Israel it meant that God used him to rule in various ways. This included proclaiming God’s Word and protecting Israel from internal and external corruption.
Samson met Delilah later. She too was a Philistine from Sorek.
Delilah was approached by rulers of the Philistines who each offered her 1,100 pieces of silver if she could find the source of Samson’s strength. She approached Samson and asked him directly for the source of his great strength and how the Philistines could bind him and afflict him. She told him exactly why she was asking! She may not have told the full motive behind her question, but that would be discovered soon enough.
Samson told her that if he was bound with green cords (or strings) then he would have the strength of any other man (Judges 16:7). Samson apparently went to sleep and she was given the new cords by the Philistine rulers. She tied up Samson.
The Philistines came to take Samson and she woke him with the news. Samson rose and easily broke the cords. Delilah was probably frightened that she was caught in the deception; yet, her reaction was accusatory towards Samson. She accused him of not loving her (Judges 16:10).
She asked again how he could be bound. Samson told her this time that it needed to be new ropes that had never been used. Of course, he easily broke those when the Philistines came in to capture him once more.
This took place two more times. The third time he said that she needed to weave seven locks of hair. She braided his hair and secured it with a pin. But Samson still had his great strength. The final time Samson told her the truth.
It could be that Samson believed he didn’t really need God or the promise that was made between his parents and the Lord. Samson got closer to the truth by telling Delilah to braid his hair. Then he told her the truth after several days of her nagging (Judges 16:16).
Samson told her that his strength came from the fact that a razor had never touched his head. She knew from his countenance that this was the truth. She had a man come while Samson slept and cut his hair.
When Samson awoke he did not even know that the strength, nor the presence of the Lord, had left him (Judges 16:20).
Samson was captured by the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and made a public spectacle of him. They took him to Gaza and made him grind grain in the prison house.
Samson’s hair grew. The Philistines held a celebration. They rejoiced in the capture of Samson (Judges 16:22-25). Samson was called to be publicly displayed.
In his final act of judgment against the Philistines, Samson called out to God. He asked for strength one more time to avenge his eyes. He had a servant station him between two pillars of the prison and Samson pushed against the columns which brought the building down. The Bible says that he slew more Philistines in his death that he did in his life (Judges 16:30).
Though he did not always do what was right, God used Samson to bring peace and order to the country of Israel. How much better it would have been if Samson had obeyed the desires of God.
Here is a Sunday School Lesson about Samson and Delilah with Sample Questions
Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version