Bible Readings for August 2nd
Samson’s end in Judges 16 comes as a tragedy but not as a surprise. As in Judges 14, we find Samson’s weakness for women getting the best of him here in Judges 16, first in a Philistine prostitute in Judges 16:1–3 and then in Delilah, a Philistine woman who loved her people more than she ever loved Samson. Also, just as the Philistines had used Samson’s wife in Judges 14 to learn the secret of Samson’s riddle, the Philistines here use Delilah to learn the secret of Samson’s strength in exchange for 1,100 pieces of silver (Judg. 16:5).
Samson seems to perceive exactly what is happening, so he tells Delilah all kinds of lies about the source of his strength. Eventually, Delilah’s unceasing demand for information presses hard on Samson, so that “his soul was vexed to death” (Judg. 16:16), and Samson finally reveals the source of his strength as the length of his hair. Treacherously, Delilah shaves Samson’s head that very evening, and the Philistines capture Samson, gouge out his eyes, and bind him as a slave in Gaza.
All hope is not lost, however. Instead, the story turns on the line in Judges 16:22: “But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” At a great feast to the Philistine god Dagon, when 3,000 men and women are gathered under a single roof, Samson has one final opportunity to fulfill his calling as judge of Israel. Sacrificing himself, he prays, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judg. 16:28). With that, he breaks the two center pillars supporting the Philistine house, killing more Philistines in that one act than he had done in his entire life (Judg. 16:30).
This, then, is where we see the story of Jesus shining forth most clearly in the life of Samson. Jesus also was sold for pieces of silver as he pursued a treacherous bride, and Jesus also gave up his own life in order to save his people. But as with the rest of Samson’s story, Jesus looks far better. When Jesus went to the cross, he did not ask God to take vengeance on the people who committed violence against him—rather, he prayed that his Father would forgive them (Luke 23:34).
And while Samson only judged Israel for twenty years, Jesus will reign for all eternity. Today, Jesus calls his bride—that is, he calls us, who, like Delilah, sold him out through our sins and transgressions to be crucified at the hands of wicked men—to repentance and faith as we wait for him to return to destroy all the false gods in this world once and for all.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.