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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 16

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

Verse 1

Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

And saw — Going into an house of publick entertainment to refresh himself. He there saw this harlot accidentally; and by giving way to look upon her, was ensnared, Genesis 3:6.

Verse 2

And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

In the morning — This they chose to do, rather than to seize upon him in his bed by night; either, because they knew not certainly in what house he was; or, because they thought that might cause great terror, and confusion, and mischief among their own people; whereas in the day-time they might more fully discover him, and more certainly use their weapons against him. O that all who indulge any unholy desire, might see themselves thus surrounded, and marked for destruction by their spiritual enemies! The more secure they are, the greater is their danger.

Verse 3

And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Arose — Perhaps warned by God in a dream; or rather by the checks of his own conscience.

Went away — The watch-men not expecting him ’till morning, and therefore being now retired into the sides, or upper part of the gate-house, as the manner now is, to get some rest, to fit themselves for their hard service intended in the morning: nor durst they pursue him, whom they now again perceived to have such prodigious strength, and courage; and to be so much above the fear of them, that he did not run away with all speed, but went leisurely.

Hebron — Which was above twenty miles from Gaza. And Samson did this not out of vain ostentation, but as an evidence of his great strength, for the encouragement of its people to join with him vigorously; and for the greater terror and contempt of the Philistines. It may seem strange that Samson immediately after so foul a sin should have courage and strength from God, for so great a work. But first, it is probable, that Samson had in some measure repented of his sin, and begged of God pardon and assistance — 2.This singular strength and courage was not in itself a grace, but a gift, and it was such a gift as did not so much depend on the disposition of his mind, but on the right ordering of his body, by the rule given to him, and others of that order.

Verse 4

And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

Loved — Probably as an harlot: because the dreadful punishment now inflicted upon Samson for this sin, whom God spared for the first offence, is an intimation, that this sin was not inferior to the former.

Verse 5

And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

The lords — The lords of their five principal cities, who were leagued together against him as their common enemy.

Afflict — To chastise him for his injuries done to us. They mean to punish him severely, but they express it in mild words, lest it might move her to pity him.

Pieces of silver — Shekels, as that phrase is commonly used.

Verse 7

And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

Samson said — Samson is guilty both of the sin of lying, and of great folly in encouraging her enquiries, which he should at first have checked: but as he had forsaken God, so God had now forsaken him, otherwise the frequent repetition and vehement urging of this question might easily have raised suspicion in him.

Verse 9

Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.

With her — That is, in a secret chamber within her call. Nor is it strange that they did not fall upon him in his sleep, because they expected an opportunity for doing their work more certainly, and with less danger.

Verse 13

And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.

Web — Or, thread which is woven about a weaver’s loom: or, with a weaver’s beam. If my hair, which is all divided into seven locks, be fastened about a weaver’s beam; or interwoven with weaver’s threads: then I shall be weak as another man.

Verse 15

And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.

Not with me — Not open to me.

Verse 16

And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;

Vexed — Being tormented by two contrary passions, desire to gratify her, and fear of betraying himself. So that he had no pleasure of his life.

Verse 17

That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

If I be shaven — Not that his hair was in itself the cause of his strength, but because it was the chief condition of that covenant, whereby God was pleased to ingage himself to fit him for, and assist him in that great work to which he called him: but upon his violation of the condition, God justly withdraws his help. (EFN Isaiah 40:31)

Verse 18

And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.

And brought money in their hand — See one of the bravest men then in the world bought and sold, as a sheep for the slaughter. How does this instance sully all the glory of man, and forbid the strong man ever to boast of his strength!

Verse 19

And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.

Sleep — By some sleepy potion.

Knees — Resting his head upon her knees. To weaken or hurt, tho’ he felt it not.

Verse 20

And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

Said — Within himself.

Shake myself — That is, put forth my strength.

Knew not — Not distinctly feeling the loss of his hair, or not considering what would follow. Many have lost the favourable presence of God, and are not aware of it. They have provoked God to withdraw from them; but are not sensible of their loss.

Verse 21

But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

His eyes — Which was done both out of revenge and policy, to disable him from doing them harm, in case he should recover his strength; but not without God’s providence, punishing him in that part which had been instrumental to his sinful lusts.

Gaza — Because this was a great and strong city, where he would be kept safely; and upon the sea-coast, at sufficient distance from Samson’s people; and to repair the honour of that place, upon which he had fastened so great a scorn. God also ordering things thus, that where he first sinned, Judges 16:1, there he should receive his punishment.

Grind — As slaves use to do. He made himself a slave to harlots, and now God suffers men to use him like a slave. Poor Samson, how art thou fallen! How is thine honour laid in the dust! Wo unto him, for he hath sinned! Let all take warning by him, carefully to preserve their purity. For all our glory is gone, when the covenant of our separation to God, as spiritual Nazarites, is profaned.

Verse 22

Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.

The hair — This circumstance, though in itself inconsiderable, is noted as a sign of the recovery of God’s favour, and his former strength, in some degree, upon his repentance, and renewing his vow with God, which was allowed for Nazarites to do.

Verse 23

Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

Dagon — An idol, whose upper part was like a man, and whose lower part was like a fish: probably one of the sea-gods of the Heathens.

Verse 25

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Made sport — Either being made by them the matter of their sport and derision, of bitter scoffs, and other indignities: or, by some proofs of more than ordinary strength yet remaining in him, like the ruins of a great and goodly building: whereby he lulled them asleep, until by this complaisance he prepared the way for that which he designed.

Verse 26

And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

Whereon the house standeth-Whether it were a temple, or theatre, or some slight building run up for the purpose.

Verse 27

Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

The roof — Which was flat, and had window’s through which they might see what was done in the lower parts of the house.

Verse 28

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Samson called — This prayer was not an act of malice and revenge, but of faith and zeal for God, who was there publickly dishonoured; and justice, in vindicating the whole common-wealth of Israel, which was his duty, as he was judge. And God, who heareth not sinners, and would never use his omnipotence to gratify any man’s malice, did manifest by the effect, that he accepted and owned his prayer as the dictate of his own Spirit. And that in this prayer he mentions only his personal injury, and not their indignities to God and his people, must be ascribed to that prudent care which he had, upon former occasions, of deriving the rage of the Philistines upon himself alone, and diverting it from the people. For which end I conceive this prayer was made with an audible voice, though he knew they would entertain it only with scorn and laughter.

Verse 30

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Two pillars — Instances are not wanting of more capacious buildings than this, that have been supported only by one pillar. Pliny in the15th chapter of the36th Book of his Natural History, mentions two theatres built by C. Curio, in Julius Caesar’s time; each of which was supported only by one pillar, tho’ many thousands of people sat in it together.

Let me die — That is, I am content to die, so I can but contribute to the vindication of God’s glory, and the deliverance of God’s people. This is no encouragement to those who wickedly murder themselves: for Samson did not desire, or procure his own death voluntarily, but by mere necessity; he was by his office obliged to seek the destruction of these enemies and blasphemers of God, and oppressors of his people; which in these circumstances he could not effect without his own death. Moreover, Samson did this by Divine direction, as God’s answer to his prayer manifests, and that he might be a type of Christ, who by voluntarily undergoing death, destroyed the enemies of God, and of his people. They died, just when they were insulting over an Israelite, persecuting him whom God had smitten. Nothing fills up the measure of the iniquity of any person or people faster, than mocking or misusing the servants of God, yea, tho’ it is by their own folly, that they are brought low. Those know not what they do, nor whom they affront, that make sport with a good man.

Verse 31

Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Buried — While the Philistines were under such grief, and consternation, that they had neither heart nor leisure to hinder them.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Judges 16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/judges-16.html. 1765.
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