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Read Judges 16

Samson and Delilah

16 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”

But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”

Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”

Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”

11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”

12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.

13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”

He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and tightened it with the pin.

Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.

17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”

He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

The Death of Samson

23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,

“Our god has delivered our enemy
    into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
    and multiplied our slain.”

25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.

When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

Go Deeper

As we finish out the story of Samson in Judges 16, his actions seem almost unbelievable. Yes, of course pulling up city gates and carrying them up a hill seems outlandish, but even more hard to believe is how he willingly allows Delilah to betray him. There are four separate times that he is asked for the power behind his strength and gives her an answer. That might seem innocent enough a game for Samson to play as he lies the first three times. But then, each time she tries to remove his power, he still stays in the situation. You would think that since she acted on his false statements in each instance, he would be wise enough to realize she would do the same when he told her the truth. What was he thinking? How come he didn’t get out of the situation when he knew she was actively seeking to destroy him?

Maybe it was because he was entitled. Everything had come easy to him in his life. Insurmountable odds were nothing to him. Three thousand warriors were inconsequential if he had the jawbone of a donkey. Everything he touched succeeded. He had gotten used to playing with fire and not getting burned. He had acclimated himself to being in danger and coming out unscathed. Perhaps he was even addicted to it. So the moment he was faced with his own demise, he had so convinced himself of his infallibility that he didn’t recognize it for what it was. 

We can sit in judgment of such a foolish waste for such a gifted man, but are we not similar in our own way? Are we not blinded by our own entitlement to the very real enemy who is actively seeking to destroy us. We play with fire and we don’t get burned, so we acclimate ourselves to an ever increasingly deadly level of sin tolerance until we are destroyed by it whole. Affairs don’t happen overnight. Major sin issues that destroy our lives don’t come by surprise to us. There are little choices that we make that don’t seem to burn us, so we step deeper into the jaws of the beast we know wants to kill us because we convince ourselves that the outcome is worth the danger. We’ve gotten away before, we will get away with it again… until we don’t.


  1. What ways have you given yourself to little choices that are feeding an increasingly dangerous or hidden lifestyle?
  2. What ways have you minimized the dedication that the enemy has of destroying you and your family?
  3. If you followed the trail of your little compromises to their final conclusion, what would that end be – a life fulfilled or a life destroyed?

By the Way

Hebrews 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith”. Even with all of Samson’s flaws, he still makes it alongside David and Gideon. What insight does that give you about God’s nature and his ability to work with the faith of fallen people?

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3 thoughts on “Judges 16”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    It’s hard to read of one dedicated to God from birth come to such a tragic end. His great physical strength did not make up for his many weaknesses. He chose to violate his Nazirite vow on many occasions, using his gifts and abilities unwisely. His lust for Delilah ended up being his demise. What wasted potential! However, in the plot twist at the end of his life, he did rescue Israel from the Philistines. God answered his final prayer by destroying the pagan temple and all who gathered to worship there. (28-30) There’s always the turning—away from sin and back to God. His redemptive plan is for any and all who will turn to Him. What special God-given gifts/abilities have I squandered? How I been blinded by pride and the lust of the eye?

  2. Even though Samson was dedicated to God from birth doesn’t mean anything. We are all “chosen” due to God wanting children, that is why Adam and Eve. But God from the beginning did not want a dictatorship He wants a loving relationship so He gave us freedom of choice. Samson chose wrong, worldly not of Godl. I have chosen wrong also way too many times even though with every atom of my body I LOVE GOD!!!!!! Thank you God for not giving up on us flawed people. Thank you God for wanting us!!!!! Titus 3:3-7 (NKJ) 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
    Thank you God for giving me opportunities even when it is over and over. Thank you for helping me to not mess up and minute by minute staying on that straight and narrow just simply because I do love you!!!! In Jesus name amen!! Woohoo!!!

  3. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s take of Samson’s story and what lesson(s) it portrayed to us individually. I love how these stories of the Old Covenant prophesized of Jesus–the coming of the Messiah–the Savior. How sad for the Jews though that they had the written Hebrew text in their hands of the Messiah and could not read and believe. Very similar to Samson’s story. He had God right there with him the entire time–the true power–the Spirit of the Lord, but blinded from seeing/acting on truth. It’s sad to be blinded by our own sin and pride and turn from biblical foundations. Yet, we see how God uses our blindness, pride, and sin for good to fulfill His purpose in the end to those who love God thanks to the story of Samson. God is full of forgiveness! God is always victorious! God is hope! God is truth!

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