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Bible Commentaries
Judges 16

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3


The secret of power can never be communicated to people who do not possess this power themselves. No one has ever understood the source of power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Mary of Bettany is the only example of a heart that has understood Him. His heart was full of compassion for every sorrow, but there is no one who has ever felt, let alone understood His sorrow.

Samson is totally different from the Lord. He has only been out on his own pleasures and has revealed the secret of his strength and with it lost the power to be a Nazirite any longer. There are more contrasts between the Lord Jesus and Samson than similarities, as this last chapter on Samson in particular shows us. The latest events in Samson’s life confirm his great physical strength and his great weakness for women.

Samson in Gaza

It is not clear from the story why Samson is going to Gaza. Gaza is a stronghold of the Philistines. Everyone should recognize him there when he with his long hair walks through the streets. Awe for his great strength ensures that no one dares to do anything to him, the feared enemy. His visit to this city was not commissioned by God. Nothing shows that he is in Gaza to eradicate this hotbed of Philistine activity.

It seems that he has an outing and is ‘going out’. That may be the reason for his visit to a harlot. David also came to adultery because he spent his time in idleness, while he should have been at the head of the army to lead it into war (2 Samuel 11:1-Deuteronomy :). Samson has still not learned to control his passion; he gives her free rein. In Judges 14 he still works ‘neatly’ by observing normal manners, here he follows purely his lusts, of which he himself becomes a victim.

The harlot is a Philistine harlot and thus a picture of the great Babylon or the roman-catholic church, which is called “the great harlot” (Revelation 17:1). The fact that the confessing church is presented as a harlot shows how far she has deviated from her original state. Paul points to the beginning of that deviation when he compares the church to a pure virgin who is connected to Christ, but who by the devil’s temptation has become unfaithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11:2-Leviticus :). The final result of this unfaithfulness is seen in Revelation 17-18.

Any believer who forgets that he is a Nazirite and thinks that he can enter unpunished, without a command from God, the system God is going to judge, is in danger to perish with this system. That is what happened to Samson in the end. He comes to terms with the system he had to fight against by making himself one with that system. Although he still has the strength to free himself here, he has, by uniting himself with this Philistine harlot, laid the germ of his ruin.

It seems to be possible that someone can still have any strength if he has sacrificed his conscience in this way. He has not yet lost his strength because he has not yet revealed the secret of it. Only God and Samson know about it. Indeed, it is possible that a person living in sin may have some time of success in his service to God. Unfortunately, these successes are used as a cover for sin and not to come to a thorough and total confession of sin.

Samson uses his power here only to free himself and forgets the purpose for which God has given him that power. No enemy is defeated, nor has his people benefitted from it. Samson behaves here as a mere powerhouse. He uses his strength because he is forced to flee himself and not to force the Philistines to flee.

He will return to Gaza later, not to show his strength, but as a blind prisoner (Judges 16:21). That is because he does not reach Hebron. He walks with the doors on his shoulders in the direction of Hebron, but he doesn’t get there. Hebron means ‘fellowship’. Samson fails, so to speak, in his return to fellowship with God. He does not come to a complete confession of guilt, because he does not give up his wrong connections. His outer liberation is not a consequence of an inner self-judgment before God. His fellowship with God has not been restored and there is no self-judgement because of the sins committed.

Returning to God means condemning that which led him to sin, the root of it. In his heart he did not judge the sin committed, but continued to cherish it. This can only be at the expense of communion with God. To all who are part of the great Babylon, the nominal Christian church, comes the call: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). Separation from evil must be both external and internal. With Samson in this case it is only external. He remains internally connected to it.

Verse 4

Samson’s New Love

Because he has not been restored to fellowship with God, the next and deeper fall is obvious. The weak arms of a woman appear to be stronger for Samson than the gates of Gaza. Sorek means ‘exquisite vine’. The name Delilah means ‘the longingly yearning’. Together they represent the religious world, which unites itself with the wicked world and its pleasures. It is the people who are typified by Paul in this way: “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Timothy 3:4-Deuteronomy :). They are people of whom the Philistines are an example.

Samson falls in love with someone who proposes this principle. Here the real danger becomes visible that love can arise for an enemy that we have to fight according to the Bible, which is in God’s command. Something like this happens when we do not keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21). What Samson does here goes beyond his connection with the harlot in Judges 16:1-Leviticus :. That was a short-lived connection.

Samson has gone down the sloping path, becoming increasingly confused in the snares of the enemy. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon warns his son over and over again against the strange woman and shows the consequences for everyone who gets involved with her. It is invariably a descent “to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:25-Daniel :; Proverbs 2:16-Psalms :Proverbs 5:5).

Verse 5

The Enemy Sees His Chance

The Philistines are determined to find out where Samson’s great strength lies in. They want to find out the origin of the secret and are prepared to pay a high price for it. The devil is always willing to pay a high price to deprive a Nazirite of his dedication, and thus of his strength. He makes every effort to rid anyone who really wants to be a Nazirite, of his separation to God, the true strength of Christian life.

Delilah is only guided by money. With this she shows herself in heart and soul a Philistine, although she is not mentioned anywhere like that. In her character is nothing attractive. And yet Samson loves her. When it comes to physical strength, Samson has won every battle with the Philistines. But Samson has lost all confrontation with the Philistines when an appeal is made to his passion. The three Philistine women provide the proof (Judges 14:1-Exodus :; Judges 16:1Judges 16:4). Every time he succumbs to the means of seduction. The devil is more to be feared by us when he presents himself as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), than when he rages as “a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8).

Verses 6-9

First Phase in Revealing the Secret

It can hardly be otherwise, or Samson feels what Delilah seeks. He has already had an experience with a Philistine woman who has managed to trick him into solving his riddle. If he has forgotten that, he must be clear, through Delila’s actions, what her ultimate goal is. He must have known that she is out to destroy him.

Again and again she deceives him. Each time he reveals a little more of his secret. He gets closer and closer to the core, until he loses everything. It’s like a lock that has a hatch under water that can be opened. Invisible the water enters the lock, until the level is equal to the sea. The lock can then be opened with ease. We can secretly allow things into our hearts without condemning them. If that happens, we will eventually become completely equal to the world.

Instead of feeling safe and protected by Samson’s great strength, Delilah asks what it takes to bind him in such a way that he can’t compete with his strength. Before revealing his secret, he first turns around the truth and tells lies. He tells her that seven fresh cords, which have not been dried, will make him strengthless. Perhaps Samson thought about the cords with which the men of Judah had bound him. He then relies on an earlier victory and not on God.

When he is so bound and Delilah calls the Philistines to capture him, he breaks the cords and frees himself. But a snare is laid around his soul, which is slowly being tightened. He has revealed a first piece of his secret by calling the number seven, after the number of locks of his hair (Judges 16:13; Judges 16:19).

Verses 10-12

Second Phase in Revealing the Secret

Delilah accuses him of lies and deceit, and not entirely wrongly. Samson is in a position where he cannot speak freely about the secret of his strength. He realizes that it will be abused. But instead of fleeing from a place where he doesn’t belong, he resorts to excuses to stay there anyway.

How many times has it been like this with us? We were in a place we knew we should not be there. Then we were asked a question about faith. We turned around and gave an evasive answer. By giving the real answer we would have been discovered to ourselves and it would have shown us that we did not belong there.

In such a situation, there may also be a moment when we no longer beat around the bush on the truth and openly tell what we believe. But unfortunately, because we haven’t ‘fled’ before, this is being used by others to ridicule us. Our testimony is no longer of any value and becomes a mockery and entertainment. That’s how it went with Samson.

Delila’s second attempt can take place because Samson stayed there hanging around. The snare that is strained around his soul is tightened more firmly. In his answer to Delilah he reveals another piece of his secret. He talks about “new ropes, which have not been used”.

In Judges 15 an attempt was also made to tie him with new ropes (Judges 15:13). That failed. Here Samson adds that these ropes must never have been used before, i.e. they are specially made to be used only for this purpose. Here we can see a reference to his own ordination as a Nazirite from the very beginning of his life.

This is the second step towards revealing his secret, but again not the full reality about the secret of his strength. Yet he has already touched on two things in connection with it:
1. that he is wholly for the Lord;
2. that from birth he is only for the Lord (not for anything or anyone else).

Verses 13-14

Third Phase in Revealing the Secret

Delilah is tireless in her attempts to find out the secret of his strength. She does not give up. That’s not necessary because Samson doesn’t mind. He is entangled in the net that she has stretched before his feet, because he does not do what David did: “My eyes are continually toward the LORD, For He will pluck my feet out of the net” (Psalms 25:15). Because his eyes are on Delilah, she can go on.

And she does, because the money laughs at her. Again she accuses him of lies and deceit and asks again how he could be bound. The answer he is giving now comes close to revealing his secret. He points to the locks of his hair. It is so long that it can be woven. He allows her to work his hair with her loom, so that his hair is woven into a whole with her work.

The spiritual lesson that lies in this is telling. What Samson does is to apply to the Christian who, in his vocation as a Nazirites, shows an interest in the attractiveness of an embellished and dressed up religious world. He gets involved in this and takes over its methods. In this way the Nazirite is then ennobled with the work of the religious world. He stands together with people who are guided by Philistine principles on the same platform; he is committed to the same goal. These people possess the life of Christ in name, but not in reality.

Many Philistine ‘looms’ are used, so that the saints will participate in this weaving and finally be deprived of their strength. Take politics. Someone can participate with the best motives, but he binds himself to people of the world. They want to commit themselves to an excellent job. They want to cleanse the world of all kinds of injustice and create a just society. Again and again such believers ‘wake up’ when proposals are made that go against the Bible. It always appears that they have to deal with the enemies of the cross. They hear the crying of their conscience: “The Philistines over you!

But no matter how Samson tries to free himself, this time the loom sticks to him as proof that he is connected to her work. He is no longer really released.

Verses 15-17

Fourth Phase: The Secret Revealed

Three times he was able to free himself, the third time only half. Because he doesn’t break the connection, now the final fall comes. Last time Delilah always asked how she should tie him. This time she uses all the persuasive power she has as a woman. She no longer talks, like other times, about a method of binding him, but strikes him in his heart by questioning his love for her. After all, he still hasn't told her the secret of his strength. This way she pressed him for many days.

Samson has little joy anymore in his dealings with Delilah. This has already happened to the woman from Timna. He did not learn from that either. What emerges from Delilah is not open enmity, but something that looks attractive and can talk seductively. Eventually he succumbs to the psychological pressure. He reveals the secret that otherwise she would never have found out. For who could think that his strength lies in his long hair, a clear proof of weakness, the weakness of a woman?

That is still the case. Strong young people who served God in great dedication have been deluded by the world and found themselves on the path of disobedience. As a result, they have lost their strength, their freedom to serve and their spiritual discernment. The light that was in them has become darkness.

Samson reveals his secret because he has lost his fellowship with God. This is how he comes to this great folly, even though he has been awakened so many times by Delilah. Surely it should be clear to him what her intentions are, isn’t it?

But whoever allows himself to be carried away by the world loses all understanding of normal and also common sense. His strength lies in his long hair, behind which his personality, as it were, hides. The only strength lies in being ‘hidden’. Dependence on and dedication to Christ are the hidden strength of the believer to live as a Nazirite. This applies to both personal and communal life.

Verses 18-21

Samson Overpowered

Delilah feels flawlessly that this time he is speaking the truth. Samson’s previous suggestion had already been different from the first two. The first two times he has let himself be bound. The third time he didn’t talk about binding, but about weaving his hair. After that, it is not difficult for her to realize that he has now exposed his whole heart.

She warns the Philistine lords again, this time apparently with the announcement that they can now take the money with them, because for her the result is fixed. Then she ties him up, not with ropes, not with the loom, but with the warmth of her lap, on which he falls asleep. There he feels her warmth and that will be his final downfall. With all his strength he is not equal to the tricks of a woman, under whose temptation and enchantment he has come.

When Samson sleeps, Delilah calls for a man and has him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Now she has him in her power. Her caresses turn into blows and torments. For the fourth time, her says: “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” This is followed by the deeply tragic drama of a now powerless Samson, who, after waking up, is under the impression that he is still as strong as ever. It seems that he has reconciled himself with the idea that he would be attacked every time, but also that, given the previous times, he has come to count on an everlasting supremacy of strength.

Just as Samson’s dealings with the Philistine Delilah become disastrous, so flirting with the unholy principles of the world becomes disastrous for every child of God. The same goes for the church. Deprived of her strength, she pretends that all strength is still present. A powerless church tries to let itself be spoken of and she doesn’t know that there is no strength at all because the Spirit was first saddened and then quenched.

This is reflected in the sad situation of the church in Laodicea of which it is said “and you do not know” (Revelation 3:17), as it says of Samson “and he did not know” (Judges 16:20). The church of Laodicea is blind to their own situation. They moderate themselves to be spiritually high, but the Lord disgusts with her.

From Ephraim, meaning the ten tribes, it says: “Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned. Strangers devour his strength,

Yet he does not know [it]; Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, Yet he does not know [it]” (Hosea 7:8-1 Samuel :). Do we see the parallel between Ephraim and Samson? The strength of both of them has disappeared due to bad company and both did not notice it.

In addition to a warning for the local church, this history also contains a warning for faithful, dedicated brethren who are useful in the service. This warning is that they should not forget that they are dependent on God. They run the risk of thinking that their knowledge of Scripture would make them unassailable to the influence of the flattery of the Christian world if they were to enter this field without God’s command. They think that their knowledge of the Scriptures will save them for that flattery and will free them from possible wrong connections.

Maybe they have said ‘no’ to proposals to take part in something that they saw could not be done. But if they don’t leave the environment where they have to say ‘no’ each time, the moment comes when they say ‘yes’. Then the separation to God and the obedience to His Word are given up and the strength also disappears. Perhaps they still think that the Lord is with them, but the result is that they are captured, just like Samson, and that they lose their understanding of Scripture, just as Samson lost his sight.

He who has carried away the doors of the city gate of Gaza, is brought in as a prisoner through the same gate. In the Bible for the first time there is talk of a prison with Joseph, who ended up in it himself. But he was brought into it because of his faithfulness. Samson is forced to use what is left of his strength in prison in the service of the Philistines to feed them and thereby provide them with strength. What a sad end of a person who had been set and trained by God to the exact opposite task.

In addition this this, a few words about Revelation 3. There we read: “I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). The expression ‘so that no one will take your crown’ is not only about the future, but also about today. We can connect the crown with our dedication to the Lord, as it can also become visible in a church.

The church as a whole has long since lost that crown. Her secret is no longer hidden with her; she did not remain separated from the world. She has admitted the world into her midst, which is reflected in having rules, means and conditions that all originate in the thinking of the natural human being. As a result, religion, the serving of God, is adapted to the norms and values of the human without God.

Any local church that opens up to this process, as Samson opened up to it, will slip into a church that has the characteristics of Laodicea. It looks like Samson when he lost his strength and fell into the hands of the Philistines: a shaved Nazirite (naked), who is poor and blind (Revelation 3:17).

Verses 22-24

Beginning of the Restoration

Undoubtedly sorrow, remorse and repentance have brought about a change in Samson’s heart, not so much in his external characteristics as in his heart. Now that his eyes, which have brought him to his deep fall, are removed, he is freed from that which brought him on the wrong path.

In the midst of the sad prison experiences, bound and blind, the characteristics of being a Nazirite slowly reappear. His hair starts to grow again. The message that lies within is the great encouragement that after all human failures God always gives the possibility of restoration.

So, thank God, Samson’s history does not end with the endless turning of the millstone in the prison. God can use His so deeply sunken servant yet again. He does so at the time when the victory over Samson is attributed to the Philistine idol, although they acknowledge that Samson caused great devastation.

It is now becoming a matter between God and the idols. For Samson fell into their hands not because of their god Dagon, but because the God of Israel had handed him over to them. God will use Samson for the maintenance of His honor, to make it clear that there is only one God and that is He, the God of Samson – the God of Israel!

Verse 25

Samson, a Spectacle

Before he does his last heroic deed, the lords let Samson be picked up to have fun with him and mock him. He must make sure that they have fun. God uses this opportunity to inflict the greatest blow of all time on the Philistines. However, this does not alter the fact that the position of Samson as a result of his unfaithfulness is once again made very clear.

Paul says of himself and the other apostles: “We have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). However, the reason for this is completely different from Samson’s. In the following verse he says that he and the others are fools “for Christ’s sake”. He does not care about being laughed at when he speaks of Christ.

Every Christian is a spectacle. The faithful Christian is mocked and laughed at by people because of his faithfulness to Christ; the faithless Christian is also mocked and laughed at by people, but then because of his unfaithfulness to Christ. Peter speaks of the same: “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:14-Nehemiah :). Unfortunately, Samson is not in a position to glorify God, and his suffering is due to his own unfaithfulness, while he serves as a spectacle and comedy for the enemy.

Verses 26-30

Strengthened Once More

That God can use our failures for His glory is a great miracle. It goes without saying that this does not take away anything from our responsibility. It also shows how much God is exalted above our failures and how His glory is even greater because of them.

Although blind, Samson begins to ‘see’ more than he has ever seen. The Philistines think they are dealing with a defeated enemy and think they have nothing left to fear from Samson. As an example of his powerlessness, he is led in by a boy holding his hand. But with his dependence on God, of which his growing hair is an external characteristic, his strength returns and the enemy does not see it. In his humiliation, the thoughts of God have more influence on Samson’s heart than before, in the days of his strength.

The plan arises for him to be taken by the boy to the pillars on which the building rests. The building is full of people celebrating in honor of their god Dagon who has defused their invincible enemy for them.

When Samson stands by the pillars, he prays his second prayer mentioned of him in the Bible. It is not a prayer with which he has God’s honor in mind. He asks God to think of him in his search for revenge for his two eyes. This shows that, despite the restoration of his strength, his spiritual life has not yet been restored. This indicates that we may have recovered after a deviation, but that we will not recover everything that we lost as a result of that deviation. Yet God hears him.

In a way that appeals to our imagination, is described how Samson parts the pillars on which the roof rests and transforms the entire building into a dead man’s ruin. Samson, blind and bound, is killed in the judgment he passes on his enemies. He has connected himself to the world by listening to it and must now share in the judgment that affects the world. Something similar happens to Jonathan, holding Saul with one hand and David with the other (1 Samuel 18:1; 1 Samuel 20:421 Samuel 31:2).

Samson has successively lost his strength, his freedom, his sight and his life. If someone’s death is more important than his life, it says a lot, both of the one and the other. Not much of his life resulted in glory of God. In his death, he made up for some of what he failed to do in his life. He had to learn that his own death was the secret of his strength.

As said, Samson called to God twice, and both times his prayer is linked to the secret of his strength. Judges 15 is about the strength of life (Judges 15:18-Psalms :), here it is about the strength of death. This is what Paul learned: “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:11). We must also learn that. The moment I accept my death, God’s secret strength starts working in me and I become a useful instrument that God can use.

Verse 31

Samson’s Burial and Final Announcement

His history started with parents looking upward; after that it soon went downhill. Now his whole family comes and takes him up to the tomb of his father Manoah. This will also be the end of our lives: despite much unfaithfulness on our part, we will enter into the Father’s house through the faithfulness of God.

The history of Samson ends with the announcement that he has judged Israel as a judge for twenty years. We say goodbye to him with a reminder of the service he did for God in the midst of His people. For he has served God. He defeated the Philistines and for twenty years ensured order and peace in Israel. Israel’s history continues, but God does not forget what Samson did.

We meet him again in the Bible: in Hebrews 11. Perhaps that surprises us. God does not think like us. Samson is allowed to shine between other heroes of faith in the midst of whom God has given him a place. There he, together with those others who have gone before us on the path of faith and have already reached the final goal, calls by his example to us that the path of faith is the path of blessing leading to the final blessing.

Soon we will really see Samson when we are with the Lord Jesus. Together with him we will magnify and glorify the Lord Jesus. He did not do Samson (and also us) according to his (and our) unfaithfulness, but carried out right through it His own plans of grace and blessing.

Together with him we will sing it: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Judges 16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/judges-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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