I Am

Chapter 49: Judges — Samson




   My lesson today, is on the Book of Judges, from the Old Testament. Judges consists of 21 chapters and describes the 12 Judges during the period when Israel had no kings. Many experts think the prophet Samuel wrote the Book of Judges. Samuel was also the one who anointed David as King.

   The era of the Judges of the children of Israel spans the period from the Exodus, with the death of Joshua to the crowning of Saul as Israel’s first king in about 1050 B.C. This is where the Judges ends Kings Also, says “And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis… .”. This verse defines this period of time, 400 years as Judges to the crowning of King Saul.

   Here, we find Joshua has died (1375 B.C.). But he has left the Israelites with a commission: Finish conquering Canaan and honor the Agreement they made with God; to obey His laws in return for His continued protection and blessing. The Israelites do neither!! Everyone did what was right in his own eyes 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25, “And in those days there was no king in Israel”. says, “You were not to make any covenant… . and ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars.” The Israelites decided it’s easier to live as neighbors with the Canaanites than to fight them. Eventually, tribe after tribe gives up its conquest—in breech of their contract with God.

   As God told the Israelites, failure to finish the job is a punishable offense under Israel’s agreement with God

   Before long they’ve abandoned God’s law. Instead, they start picking up Canaanites culture and religion—just as Moses and Joshua warned would happen if they didn’t clear the land of the Canaanites.

   What follows is a bit like watching a rerun over and over.

   The Israelites get locked into a cycle they can’t seem to break, a “cycle of sin”. Ten verses all start the same way, “The children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord”. (Judges 3:7:11, 3:12:31, 4:1-5:31, 6:1, 10:6, 12:7, 13:1, 16:31) It goes like this:


* They sin, usually by worshipping idols of Canaan, they turn to idolatry

* God punishes them, usually by sending an oppressor such as raiders or a bully nation that forces the Israelites to do as they are told.

* The Israelites repent and ask God to help them.

* God forgives them and sends a hero who stops the oppression.


   This happens over and over—at least a dozen times. It’s as though the Israelite race has lost its genetic code for memory. But God never gives up on His people. Each time the Israelites repented of their sins and asked God for deliverance from their attackers, God sent a leader called a “Judge”.

   Who were these Judges? They were magistrates of local jurisdictions or larger, who governed Israel from the time of Joshua’s death to the reign of Saul.

   Samson was one of the last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Hebrew Bible chapters

   According to Biblical account, Samson was given supernatural strength by God in order to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats. He had “Judged” Israel for 20 years.

   Samson had two vulnerabilities: His attraction to untrustworthy women and his hair.

   The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah and his wife and proclaimed that the couple would soon have a son, and would begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.

   Requirements were set up by the angel that Manoah’s wife (as well as the child) were to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and her promised child was not to shave or cut his hair.

   Samson is an odd hero. He’s not a leader; he’s a maverick—a one man army.

   He marries early, but later abandons his wife and goes back home to his parents. By the time he cools off and returns to his bride, her father has married her to another man and won’t let Samson see her.

   Revenge takes over the rest of Samson’s story. When he was denied the right to visit his wife, Samson turned loose in the Philistine’s grain fields 300 foxes, each with a burning torch tied to its tail

   In revenge, the Philistines burn Samson’s wife and father-in-law to death.

   After slaying over 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, Samson later travels Gaza, where he falls in love with a woman named a Philistine who loves money more than him.

   It’s not long before the Philistines approach Delilah and induce her (with 1,100 silver coins) to try to find the secret of Samson’s strength so they can get rid of it and capture their enemy. Samson at first refuses to reveal the secret, then teases her by telling her that he will lose his strength should he be bound with fresh bowstrings. While he sleeps, he’s bound with bowstrings, but when he wakes up, he snaps the strings. Delilah persists, and he tells her he can be bound with new ropes. She ties him up with new ropes while he sleeps, and he snaps them too. She asks again and he says he can be bound if his locks are woven together. She weaves them together, but he undoes them when he wakes.

   Eventually after much nagging from Delilah, Samson tells Delilah that he will lose his strength with the loss of his hair. Delilah calls for a servant to shave Samson’s seven locks of hair, while he is napping on her lap. Since that breaks the Nazirite oath, leaves and Samson is captured by the Philistines. The arresting soldiers gouge out Samson’s eyes and put him to work grinding grain by turning a large millstone. One day, the Philistines assemble in a temple for a religious sacrifice to Dagon, one of their most important deities, for having delivered Samson into their hands. They summon Samson and parade him as a war trophy in front of thousands crowded into a temple. Once inside the temple, Samson, his hair having grown long again, prays to the Lord, and asks for revenge; “Let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes” Once inside the temple, Samson asks the servant who is leading him to the temple’s supporting pillars if he may lean against them

   Then he called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes”. Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested and braced himself against them, and said, “Let me die with the Philistines!”. And he bent with all his might so the house fell on all who were in it, so the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life

   Israel is no longer in danger of a polite assimilation into Philistine life. Years later, King David will finish the job Samson started. He will break the back of Philistine power. And it will be the Philistines, not the Jews, who become a lost nation—assimilated into middle eastern culture.

   What we can take away from this study is that the cycle of sin is unfortunately evident in many christian lives today. Maybe it is one enemy, or one particular area of weakness that consistently drags you down into bondage. Maybe temptation has far too great an influence in your life, leading to worldliness and the deception of sin. You think you have gotten on top of it until suddenly, the same failure rears its ugly head again and you are back to square one!

   Judges is a book that teaches us, both how we become captive to the enemy, and also, how we got out of bondage. It teaches us then, how to break the “cycle of sin”.

   Judges is a wake-up call of what can happen once we become comfortable and begin to compromise with sin. Instead of Judges, God does still use christians, friends, leaders, and speakers to draw us back to Himself.