The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
SAMSON Part 3
- We have been studying the life of Samson, the most enigmatic of the judges. Speaking of Samson, Spurgeon said, "His whole life is a series of miracles and follies."
- We saw some of his folly last week, when he foolishly allowed himself to be deceived by his Philistine wife. And we will see a marvelous miracle tonight, when God clave a hollow place out of the jawbone of an ass and water came out. Had God not done that Samson probably would have died of thirst.
- We are now in our third message on the life of Samson. He was a judge for twenty years, and his unusual life covers four chapters in the book of Judges (13-16).
- We saw a remarkable demonstration of Samson's great strength last week in chapter 14 when he single-handedly killed thirty Philistines in the city of Ashkelon (14:19).
- Samson compounded a riddle and told it to his wedding companions (14:11-14). The "thirty companions" (14:11) were Philistine men and they were not to be trusted.
- These Philistines were unable to figure out the riddle, and on the last day of the wedding feast they pressured Samson's wife into telling them the answer (14:15-18).
- Samson's bride betrayed Samson and told the riddle to the Philistines (14:16-18).
- Samson got his revenge by going to the Philistine city of Ashkelon and killing thirty Philistines. Angered by what happened, Samson left his new bride and went up to his parents' house. His wife's father, then gave her to Samson's "companion," probably referring to the best man at the wedding (14:19,20; 15:1,2).
- This bring us up to tonight's message. Samson was determined to "do them a displeasure" (15:3), and so he went and caught 300 foxes and tied their tails together with a firebrand (torch) in the midst between each pair of tails (15:4).
- Here we see a pattern of quarrels and reprisals leading up to Samson's final victory of the Philistines, when he brought down the Philistine temple, killing more Philistines in his death than he slew in his life.
- We will look at that story next week, Lord willing.
- Chapter 15 is a series of quarrels and reprisals, and is easy to outline.
- THE FOXES & THE FIREBRANDS
- THE PHILISTINES GET THEIR REVENGE
- SAMSON SMOTE THE PHILISTINES "WITH A GREAT SLAUGHTER" (15:7,8)
- SAMSON IS BETRAYED BY THE MEN OF JUDAH
- SAMSON SLAYS A THOUSAND PHILISTINES
THE FOXES & THE FIREBRANDS (15:1-5)
- When Samson was told by his father-in-law that he had given his daughter to Samson's "companion" (15:2; probably his best man at the wedding), Samson decided to retaliate (15:3). As I said, the events that follow are a series of quarrels and reprisals.
- Normally, vindictiveness is not pleasing to God. " Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
- However, in Samson's case vengeance seems to be part of God's program. God was using Samson's exploits to harass the Philistines, who had been oppressing the Israelites for forty years (Judges 13:1).
- We took note of God's purpose last week (cf. 14:4). By smiting the Philistines, and defeating them over and over, Samson was showing them that the God of Israel was the true God.
- Samson single-handedly caught 300 foxes, tied firebrands to their tails, and then released them to burn down the Philistines' grainfields, vineyards, and olive yards (15:4,5).
- Tying the foxes in pairs, with the flaming torches between them, insured that they would run frantically and wildly, setting fire and causing great damage to almost everything in that area.
THE PHILISTINES GET THEIR REVENGE (15:6).
- The Philistines were greatly alarmed and upset. They were dependent upon on their agricultural produce, and now all their crops were ruined.
- After inquiries were made, they discovered that Samson was responsible for the damage (15:6). Unable to lay hold of Samson, they went to his wife's house and burned her and her father with fire (15:6).
- Samson's wife, who had earlier avoided a similar fate at the hands of Samson's Philistine wedding companions (14:15), was now burned alive. In order to preserve herself, she had betrayed her husband, but now her sin had caught up with her.
- "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:9).
SAMSON SMOTE THE PHILISTINES "WITH A GREAT SLAUGHTER" (15:7,8).
- Hearing what the Philistines did, Samson decided to retaliate again. His words in verse 7 suggest that he would not cease in retaliatory action until their crime had been avenged.
- We do not know how many Philistines were killed by Samson in this "great slaughter" (15:8), but the words employed - "And he smote them hip and high with a great slaughter" - indicate there must have been a great number of Philistines killed.
SAMSON BETRAYED BY THE MEN OF JUDAH (15:9-13).
- After slaughtering the Philistines, Samson retreated from the scene of conflict and went to "the top of the rock Etam" (15:8b).
- He probably chose this spot for its strategic location. Likely from there he could view any Philistine movement against him.
- Judges 15:7 suggests that Samson got his revenge and wanted to cease the hostilities. However, he probably suspected that the Philistines would not give up. So Samson decided to sit and watch.
- The Philistines pursued Samson to a place called Lehi (15:9), probably close to Zorah, Samson's home town. It was in the territory of Judah, and the men of Judah approached the Philistines to ask them what they wanted (15:10).
- Rather than defend Samson, the cowardly Judeans chose to deliver him into the hands of the Philistines (15:11-13).
- This cowardly betrayal must have been very disheartening for Samson. They actually rebuked Samson for fighting the Philistines, their enemies.
- They should have rejoiced that Samson had the courage to single-handedly fight the wicked Philistines, but instead they preferred to be dominated by their enemies (15:11).
- Many Christians are like these cowardly Judeans. They have accepted the philiosophy of, "If you can't beat them, join them."
- They know their members would rather watch the Super bowl than listen to preaching, so they have Super Soul Sunday at church.
- They know people love wicked rock music, so they bring it into the church.
- And if any Christian, whether he be a preacher or not, dare to speak up and say this compromise with the world is wrong, then he is treated in the same scornful way that The Judeans treated Samson.
- Samson may have had his shortcomings, and we have noted them, but he handled this crisis in a very commendable manner. He did not want to retaliate against his own countrymen so he let them bind him (15:12, 13).
- did not want to hurt his own people, so he did not resist. There is a great lesson here for us. Samson knew his countrymen were wrong but he was patient with them. He save his strength and energy for fighting the real enemy - the Philistines.
SAMSON SLAYS A THOUSAND PHILISTINES (15:14-20).
- When they saw Samson being brought to them bound and tied up with heavy ropes, "the Philistines shouted against him" (15:14). But soon their shouts of joy were turned into cries of despair (15:14-17).
- "Heaps upon heaps" of dead Philistines were piled up, and when Samson was finished there were one thousand dead.
- After killing so many men, Samson was thirsty. Therefore, he asked the Lord for water and God graciously answered his prayer (15:18-20).
- Samson knew that if he would have died of thirst, the Philistines would have grabbed his dead body and made a spectacle of it (15:18).
- God's testimony was at stake. Therefore, God miraculously gave Samson water.
Hebrews 11:32 tells us that Samson was a man of faith. And despite his notable shortcomings, he demonstrated that faith in asking God for water. By granting Samson's request, God was demonstrating that He was pleased with Samson's actions.