Daily Family Worship

Judges 15: Samson’s Dealings with the Philistines

by | Aug 1, 2022

judges 15

Over the winter, the anger which had prompted Samson to leave his new wife and go home began to subside. By the springtime, his former affections revived; and he resolved to go to Timnath and claim her. But upon arriving at her father’s house, he was not allowed to see her. He was told that his wife had been given to his “friend,” and her father offered her sister to him instead. But the Danite was not to be thus trifled with, and he revenged himself on the Philistines by a speedy reprisal. Having captured 300 foxes, Samson tied them in pairs, tail to tail. Then, attaching a lighted torch to each pair, he started the terrified animals down into the rich plains all around, where they speedily set the crops on fire – along with the valuable olive trees and vineyards. In savage exasperation at this loss of their property, the Philistines came to Timnath and exacted a retribution which made Samson’s deed look innocent. They revenged themselves upon the bride and her father as the cause of this disaster, and cruelly burned them both to death. Samson’s retaliation to this was immediate. He went out and slaughtered his foes with irresistible strength and courage, and then withdrew to a cleft or cavern in the rock of Etam.

In such strange and wild confusion, the deliverance of God’s people from the Philistine yoke commenced. Those who were faithful in Israel would have seen that their salvation had begun! This truth may have appeared to them dimly and sporadically – like broken glimpses of the mountains, seen through the shifting mists of the early morning – yet it was the truth nevertheless. A ray of hope now began to brighten the dismal prospects of Israel!

The Philistines sent an army to search the land and capture the Nazarite who had single-handedly inflicted such terrible chastisement upon their countrymen. The men of the tribe of Judah remonstrated against this invasion; but the Philistines replied, “To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.” And the reply was sufficient to awe the Israelites into submission, and to induce them to betray their national hero and defender into the hands of the enemy! So 3,000 men of Judah went to his hiding-place and blamed him for being a troubler of their nation. This reminds us of how our Lord Jesus did many good works; and yet for those works, the Jews were ready to stone Him. See how sin deceives and blinds people? It hides from their eyes the things which belong to their true peace.

After extracting a promise from the men of Judah that they themselves would not kill him, Samson allowed himself to be bound with two new cords and brought down from the rock, where he had been communing with his God and recovering his spiritual strength. The echoing valleys rang with acclamations of Philistine triumph as the mighty captive was now (as they thought) securely within their power. But in their shouts of derision, Samson felt the signal for action! The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and his cords were loosed! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Are we not thus reminded again of our Lord Jesus, Who is mightier than Samson – Who also submitted to be bound and delivered up to death; but Who also burst the cords of death itself?

No sword was in Samson’s hand; but with the Lord, the most humble and unlikely of weapons will become effective! Casting his eyes rapidly around, he spotted a jawbone of a donkey. Catching it up, he began to use it to slaughter the Philistines, who were filled with awe and fear at seeing him tear apart the cords which had bound him. He struck down heap after heap of the enemy soldiers, until 1,000 men had fallen at his feet.  

The incident which followed confirms the fact that Samson’s time in the solitude of the cave of Etam had been employed in reviving his relationship with the Lord. God showed favor upon His servant Samson by not allowing his enemies to triumph over him (Ps. 41:11). But now, exhausted by his efforts, “he was sore athirst” – but he began to pray! He “called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant; and now shall I die for thirst?” Past experiences of God’s power and goodness are excellent pleas in prayer for further mercy. In the mercy that Samson had just experienced, he found encouragement to pray that Divine mercy would interpose again for his relief – although he was ready to sink through exhaustion and thirst. Surely this is one of the incidents which enabled the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews to put the name of Samson among the heroes of the faith! This incident shows that in his heart, he was indeed a man of faith in Jehovah – although, sadly, he did not entirely escape being tainted by the moral corruption of the degenerate times in which he lived.

The light of the Lord’s reconciled countenance was shining upon Samson, and a wonderful token confirmed his faith. Having cried out to God in his fainting extremity, He caused water to flow out of the jawbone that Samson had just used to slaughter the enemy; and after drinking thereof, he revived. The man of faith called the name of this spot En-hakkore – meaning “the spring of him that called.” And at the time that the author of Judges wrote this narrative, the well of En-hakkore was still in the locality of Lehi. It was a fountain which did not dry up, but remained as a witness for the God of Israel and His chosen servant.

Lord Jesus, we ascribe everlasting blessing (Ps. 41:13) to Your name for voluntarily surrendering Yourself up for our sakes, in order to effect our redemption by bursting the bands of sin and death! Amen.

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