Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 15

Verses 1-63

DESTROYING CROPS AND PHILISTINES

(vv. 1-8)

Samson eventually decided to visit his wife and took a young goat as a gift. She was evidently still in her father's house and her father refused him permission to go into her room (v. 1). He told him he thought that Samson hated the girl, so that he had given her to his friend. Then he offered her younger sister as a substitute (v. 2).

But this awakened Samson's anger and he considered now that he would be blameless in harming the Philistines. He did not understand the New Testament injunction to believers, "Do not avenge yourselves......for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). Then, amazingly, he caught 300 foxes (or jackals), turned them tail to tail with a torch between each pair of tails, lit the torches and turned the animals loose in the standing grain of the Philistines (vv. 4-5). This burned up the grain and the shocks of grain that had already been cut, but spread also into vineyards and olive yards.This of course was only personal revenge on Samson's part. No Philistines were killed, but their goods destroyed.Samson in this case did not at all consider the glory of God.

The Philistines wanted to know who was responsible for this destruction, and when told that Samson had done it because his father in law had given his wife to another man, they came and burned both the girl and her father to death (v. 6).People generally do not stop to think what might be of help in a bad situation, but only want revenge in some way.

Samson however was not happy that his wife and her father had been murdered, and it was his turn again to take revenge (v. 7). He attacked the Philistines with a great slaughter (v. 8). If we take judgment into our own hands we will very likely be unfair, going much farther in paying back in a wrong way than the wrong deserved. The Philistines had killed two people. Samson killed a great many! The Lord used this because the Philistines were oppressing Israel, but Samson's motives were not for God's glory, but rather for his own advantage. He was what we call a "loner." He had no ability to marshal Israel in going against the Philistines to free themselves from the oppression of the enemy. At this time Samson went to dwell in the cleft of a rock, certainly a better place than among the Philistines, for this speaks of dwelling in Christ.

But Samson's actions moved the Philistine army to come up against Levi (v. 9).The Israelites ask them why they had come, and are told that they came to arrest Samson to pay him back for his actions toward them(v.10).The men of Judah knew something of Samson's strength, and 3000 of them went to speak with Samson.They reproached him for his antagonizing the Philistines who were ruling over Israel (v. 11), and he defended himself by saying that he had simply taken revenge for what they had done to him. They told him then that they had come to apprehend him and give him up to the Philistines. Securing a promise from the Israelites that they would themselves not kill him, Samson allowed them to tie him up with two new ropes, for they wanted to be sure he could not free himself(v. 12).

When the Philistines saw him tied up they shouted in triumph against Samson.But their triumph was short-lived, for by the the power of the Spirit of God he broke the ropes as though they had been burned flax.Finding a jawbone of a donkey, he used this as a weapon by which he killed a thousand men (v.15). It seems astounding that one man could thus kill a thousand soldiers who would be outfitted with battle weapons. After killing a few of them, he did not even replace the jawbone with one of their swords, for in his hand the jawbone was fully effective. If there were more than 1000 there present, the rest must have retreated as quickly as possible. The enemy no doubt thought that Samson was simply a man of tremendous strength, but this strength was communicated by the Spirit of God.

Yet, Samson, in using the jawbone of a donkey, again broke the rules of his Naziriteship by touching the bone of a dead animal (Numbers 6:6).He pictures a believer using a wrong weapon to fight God's battles. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4). Thus, we too may use fleshly means of contending for the truth, and God may still give grace for a victory, but with no credit given to the vessel. We read in 2 Timothy 2:5 : "If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." It is not enough to be on the right side; we must also act rightly if we are to have a reward for our work.

With Samson's excessive exertion he evidently lost a great deal of fluid through perspiration, and is made to realize that even after a great victory, death could easily overtake him. Water is a symbol of the Word of God, and God would have Samson to recognize his thorough dependence on His Word. We too need to get back to the refreshment of God's Word whenever we may have gained any spiritual victory. But God in grace provided Samson with water from a split in the rock in Lehi. Certainly God did not approve of Samson's many inconsistencies, but yet in grace He bore with him and sought means to encourage him, though Samson was a slow learner. We are told in verse 20 that he judged Israel 20 years. What form his authority took it may be a little difficult to understand, but he was able to withstand the Philistines that long, though never throwing off their yoke of oppression over Israel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 15". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/joshua-15.html. 1897-1910.