KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)
By this time, the nation of Israel had been living in the Promised Land for a number of years. During those years, they had spiritual highs and lows. The spiritual low point in today’s lesson was brought on by disobedience. As a consequence God allowed the people to fall under the rule of the Philistines in the longest oppression Israel experienced during the time of the judges.
The Children of Israel cried out to God because of the oppression of the Philistines, and once again God raised up a deliverer. Samson was chosen before his birth to do a great work for God, and it was pronounced by the angel of the Lord that he would be a “Nazarite unto God” from his birth. To help him accomplish God’s plan, Samson was given enormous physical strength. He became the thirteenth Judge of Israel.
In spite of his godly heritage, Samson’s record was anything but exemplary. He grieved his godly parents, made friends with the Philistines, married a heathen woman, and alienated himself from those of his own nation.
Samson paid a great price for not following God’s perfect plan. He shared the secret of his great strength: his Nazarite vow to not cut his hair. Due to more of his poor choices, he found himself in the arms of his enemy (Delilah) who cut his hair. Immediately his strength was gone. Captured and blinded by the Philistines, he was forced to work turning a human-powered gristmill in a Philistine prison.
The Philistines credited their victory over Samson to their god Dagon, and they gathered at Gaza for a great feast to praise their god. (Dagon was a god of fertility whom the Philistines had borrowed from the Canaanites.) Samson’s hair had grown long again. In a final dramatic act, and through the help of God, Samson pulled down a building destroying many of the main people in the Philistine government and military.
These chapters also record instances of idolatry, a disturbing account of a rape, murder, and the civil war between Israel’s tribes. It is hard to believe that these were God’s chosen people, but this passage serves as a warning to us that sometimes what is right in a person’s own eyes can be far from God’s will, and even outright sin.
A key point that can be drawn from this lesson is the need to constantly seek God’s will rather than to do what seems right at the moment. These three accounts are extreme examples that show it is much better when a person is acting within God’s perfect will.