Judges 16 Commentary
Chapter 16 winds down the story of Samson. What a story! It is a nice Sunday-school story but every grown man knows men don’t have to be this dumb. Samson is an embarrassment to the menfolk. There can be an easy conclusion to the story: with his hair, Samson is strong; and without his hair, Samson is as weak as every man. To unlock this secret is the third woman in Samson’s life named Delilah. But really, was this a secret? With hindsight, we can boldly say no.
Samson was a nazirite from birth. His dedication to the LORD was symbolized by his long and uncut hair. The LORD is making the point that Israel’s victories are a consequence of her dedication to the LORD. Remove that dedication and Israel are like any other nation. That is the saint’s secret. This chapter is a lamentation about a god who dies like any mortal man.
The story of Samson is a physical demonstration of what a combination of strength and idolatry is. Unchecked wickedness and idolatry, fully exemplified by Samson’s life, is what has brought Israel this low. Samson’s love for foreign women is Israel’s love for foreign gods – the idols. The many times that Samson has been bailed out of his foolishness are the many times Israel has experienced deliverance.
The saint is warned against joking about matters of life and death. Samson is in the wrong place and in a wrong relationship. Here Samson leads himself into temptations when his prayer should be, “Lead us not into temptations”. He completely ignores the fact that he and he alone stands to lose the most valuable asset in his possession – life.
As a vanity seeker, Samson has taught us a lot. He has gained nothing from his many sinful engagements. The disappointment here, and a temper there; loss of sight here and eventually a shameful death there; that is all there is for Samson. The message that the wages of sin is death is very loud in this chapter.
Blind and bound, and haired again Samson is led into the idol temple to perform for his captors. Samson’s prayer has a tone of a man who has reflected on his life. Indeed that is the LORD’s desire that man calls out to him from his land of captivity. The story of Samson holds value for many who find themselves in circumstances wrought on self by self. A man who admits his own foolishness has hope because the LORD can hear prayer even at this point.
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