Monday, October 29, 2012

LXXX - Chapter 15 - Delilah Lives Down to Her Reputation

In our last post we saw that Samson made a foolish bet with some Philistine men that they could not solve his riddle, but Samson lost the bet because he was betrayed by his Philistine wife (his wife was NOT Delilah).  He was embarassed and angry to the point that he just left his wife and returned to his parents.  One might think Samson learned his lesson about controlling himself around women, obstaining from wine, and controlling his temper.  Let's see how he does.

Chapter 15  -  As this chapter begins, it does not tell exactly how much time has elapsed since Samson left his wife and returned to his parents' home.  But in verse 2 it says "later on", he went to visit his wife with a gift of a young goat.  But her father would not allow Samson in to see her and explained that he had given her to one of Samson's Philistine friends.  He offered Samson her younger sister, but Samson burned with anger, having been dealt with so deceptively.  In vss 3-5, it tells how Samson catches three hundred foxes, tied them together in pairs, set their tails on fire, and sent the foxes through the vineyards and olive groves, burning them all up.  Out of revenge, the Philistines killed and burned his wife and her family.  This, in turn, angered Samson to exact even more revenge.  This act almost started a war between Judah and the Philistines.  {A judge is supposed to bring peace to Israel, not war.}  Vs 8 - Samson hid in a cave in Judah after he slaughtered many more Philistines.  The Philistines, in return, gathered a small army and went to find him.  The people of Judah approached the Philistines and wanted to know why they were putting on such a show of aggression, but the Philistines said they wanted only Samson, and advised the Judeans to give him up to them.

Vss 11-20  -  Judah took three thousand men and found Samson with the intentions of giving him over to the Philistines.  Samson talked the Judeans out of killing him, but rather to bind him and hand him over to his enemies.  The Judeans agreed and bound him securely with two new ropes, strong enough to hold a horse.  So as the Philistines approached Samson to take him into captivity, he broke the ropes as though they were made of straw.  He then found a carcass of a donkey (there he goes again touching a dead carcass, which Nazarites are forbidden to do).  He grabbed the jaw bone and killed a thousand Philistines with it.  He named that place Ramath Lehi, which means "jawbone hill".

Chapter 16 - Notice in the last verse of chapter 15 that it says Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.  But this does not mark the end of Samson's reign.  It seems chapter 16 picks up at a time during these twenty years.  The first verse references a time sometime after the events ending chapter 15.  Samson ventures into Gaza (south of Dan, into Judah) and hires a prostitute.  The Philistines hears about him being in the area so they surround the city and wait for him at the gate, in hopes to capture and kill him.  But Samson got up in the middle of the night, tore the doors and posts from the gate, and carried them off.  His strength seemed to grow with each passing test.  His strength had become famous and something to be feared by the Philistines.
Verse 4  -  This verse says that "some time later", Samson fell in love with the notorious Delilah.  Having become desparate to kill Samson, the Philistine rulers went to Delilah and offered her about 28 pounds of silver each if she would lure from Samson the secret of his tremendous strength.  So, beginning in verse 6 Delilah begins trying to get Samson to tell her the secret to his strength.  In verse 7, Samson begins to toy with her by giving her false infomation.  It's almost silly, but he tells her that if someone would tie him with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then he would not have the strength to break them, rendering him as weak as any other man.  This continues through verse 16:  1) Delilah would plead with him.  2) He would tell her something false.  3) She would do as he said.  4) Then the Philistines would attack him.  5) He would defeat them because his strength would still be with him.  Check out vss 13 and 14.  This would go on and on as Delilah would wear him down with her persistance.  {The thing that puzzles me is that Samson is so foolish to remain with Delilah, knowing that every time he tells her how to remove his strength, she does it and betrays him to the Philistines.  As I've mentioned before, Samson has no self control, and it has caused him grief all his life.}

Finaly, look at verse 16.  She finaly wore him out with her persistance and he told her everything.  Verse 17 - "No razor has ever been used on my head because I have been a Nazarite dedicated to God from my mother's womb."  Then Delilah, being Delilah, had his hair cut off while he was sleeping on her lap.  She then called for the Philistines, who came and took him (he had no more strength), gouged out his eyes, and took him to Gaza, bound with bronze shackles.  How sad it is to picture this in one's mind.  {Samson did not get what he deserved, but he got what he asked for.  There is often a difference.}

Vss 23-->  Capturing Samson called for a celebration.  The Philistines decided to combine a worship service to their god Dagon with being entertained by Samson being helpless, so they brought out Samson and stood him between two pillars in their arena of assembly.  It says in vs 25 that he performed for them.  I'm not exactly sure what he did that would be called performing.  Perhaps his helplessness was amusing enough for them or maybe they had him do stunts, but either way they were clearly entertained.  But the Philistines, in their drunken stupor, disregarded the obvious:  Samson's hair had been growing back the whole time he had been imprisoned.  In verse 26, Samson, under the guise of needing rest, asked the servant to lean him against two pillars so he could rest, which the servant agreed to do.  Look at verse 30:  One of the few times in Samson's recorded life that he prayed.  He asked God to give him his strength back one more time.  Poor Samson.  He was still operating on the motive of personal revenge.  He prayed to die with the Philistines.  I can't help but feel sorry for Samson.  This suicide wish grew out of the frighful mess he had made of his life.  He was blind and broken and alone and humiliated in front of his hated enemies.  He wanted to die.  But God heard his prayers.  With a mighty push Samson brought down the entire temple, killing himself and all the Philistine rulers with him.  He actually killed more Philistines in his death than he did in his life.  The last verse of this chapter tells of Samson's family coming to Gaza to recover his body to give him a proper burial.
{In conclusion to this study of Samson:  Although the angel of the Lord announces (therefore appoints) Samson to be a Nazarite, and gives the specific purpose, Samson never fully realized his noble mission.  This is sad, given the gifts that God gave to Samson.  He never became a national or even a regional leader.  His exploits against the Philistines were mostly out of personal revenge, rather than for the purpose of freeing Israel.  His entire work, except for his trip to Gaza, was confined to an area near his home not more that seven miles long and three miles wide.  Samson had it all.  Everything with which to become one of, if not, THE greatest judge in Israel's History.  Everything except one:  Self Control.  The abandonment of self control almost always leads to regret.}

Next post - Micah, the Levite, and the Benjamites

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