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Bible Commentaries
Judges 14

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-20

Samson’s exploits (14:1-16:31)

So dominant were the Philistines in Israel, that the Israelites had decided to live with them peacefully rather than try to rise up in armed rebellion. Samson had other ideas. He thought that his marriage to a Philistine woman would give him the opportunity to do some harm to the enemy (14:1-4).

In spite of Samson’s desire to help Israel, he had little respect for either his Nazirite vow or the Israelite law. He handled a dead lion, married a Philistine woman and joined in the customary wine-drinking feasts of the Philistines (5-10; cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-3). His opportunity to harm the Philistines came quickly and unexpectedly during his wedding feast. Through the deceit of his wife, he lost a bet with thirty of her Philistine friends (11-18); but he took revenge by killing thirty other Philistines, whose valuables he used to pay off his lost bet. Then, with no more desire to go on with the marriage, he returned home (19-20).

On calming down, Samson decided he would return and take the woman as his wife after all. When he found that she had been given to another, he took revenge on the Philistines by burning their harvest (15:1-5). The Philistines replied by killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, since they were the cause of the trouble. Samson, in return, killed more Philistines (6-8).
Not wishing to extend the conflict at this stage, Samson moved to a hideout near one of the towns of Judah. But the Philistines attacked the town and demanded that the Israelites hand Samson over to them. The Israelites were willing to cooperate, because Samson had brought them enough trouble (9-13). Again, however, Samson slaughtered the Philistines (14-17). The victory left him weak and thirsty, but God refreshed him, thereby providing a fitting reminder that God alone was the source of his strength (18-19).
The spectacular exploits of Samson went on for twenty years (20). Although he is called a judge, he was neither a civil administrator nor an army commander. His ‘deliverances’ consisted of one-man adventures against the Philistines in the areas where they had overrun Judah and Dan, the latter being Samson’s tribe (see 13:2; 15:9). Samson’s attacks unsettled the enemy and stirred the people of Israel from their lazy acceptance of foreign rule. He began the deliverance that eventually saw the Philistines overthrown (see 13:5b).
Samson had a moral weakness in matters concerning women, and on one occasion this almost led to his capture (16:1-3). The Philistine leaders, on learning of this weakness, worked out a plan to use the woman Delilah to trap him (4-5). Delilah’s early efforts were unsuccessful, but she did not give up (6-14). Samson had paid little attention to the self-discipline demanded by his Nazirite vow, except that he allowed his hair to remain uncut. But when he removed this the last symbol of his separation unto God, he was in fact separated from God. The Lord who had given him his strength now left him. His abnormal power was gone, and his enemies soon captured him (15-22).

In the celebration feast that followed, the Philistines praised their god Dagon and humiliated Samson (23-25). But when Samson turned to God at last, God graciously responded. He allowed Samson a return of his former strength, so that he had a greater victory in his death than he ever had in his life. The sudden death of all the leading Philistine rulers was the turning point that gave Israel its first hope for victory (26-31).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Judges 14". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/judges-14.html. 2005.
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