He had just murdered an entire company of soldiers with a dried jawbone and now he is mighty thirsty. Judges 15:19 tells us that God opened the earth and water came out; and apparently this was very special water because after drinking it his strength renewed and Samson was revived.
Chapter 15 ends by telling us that Samson was a leading judge in Israel for 20 years. His life is so fascinating to me. There is so much fallen-human condition is this story including what happens next.
“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.” But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” Judges 16:1-3 NIV
Throughout history there have been many amazing feats of strength, some have been officially recorded while others are the stuff of legend.
One such record is from American Paul Anderson, in 1957 he was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. The entry stated, “Greatest Lift. The greatest weight ever raised by a human being is 6,270 lbs. in a back lift (weight lifted off trestles) Paul Anderson. The record was ultimately removed from the Guinness Book of World Records due to insufficient witnesses. But Paul Anderson was a strongman legend and at the time, he was a world and Olympic champion and held many records. Source: pledgesports.org
Some commentators put the Gaza gates at 10 feet tall, 10 feet wide and 3 feet thick. It would have been from durable wood such as Cedar. The bars on the gates were constructed of bronze and the estimated weight of one gate was close to 10,000 pounds. That does not include the weight of the bar, the bronze, or the posts. One person calculated the total weight of Gaza’s gate to be around 21,400 pounds.
“…then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” Judges 16:3 NKJV
I cannot wrap my mind around 10 tons of weight, lifted out of the ground and thrown onto the back and shoulders and then, carried up a hill and dropped.
My late husband was a fence builder for many years here in the Rogue Valley. He began working for a local company in 1984 and by retirement he had been self-employed for many years running Boundaries Unlimited Fencing. In the early days of his fence-building, Wendell could squat next to the flatbed work-truck and maneuver a roll of heavy chain link wire on to each shoulder, and then carry it to where it needed to be. He could do one handed pushups with ease. He could push a heavy-duty steel wheelbarrow full of wet cement up a hill and never think twice; I tried just lifting the handles off the ground and was utterly amazed at his strength. He was the strongest man I have ever known, but he was no Samson.
That made a statement! But was he strong in his own strength?
In May 2020 actor and strongman Hafthor Bjornsson set a world deadlifting record by lifting 1,104 pounds. The Icelandic 6’ 9” giant lifted the barbell for two seconds, before dropping the weights and setting a new world record. (Source: pledgesports.org)
You better believe Mr. Bjornsson trained for that event! No doubt that strong man is in the gym every day. But for Samson, this was something more, this was supernatural.
Remember the angel’s instruction? “…And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Judges 13:5 NKJV
The Book of Judges tells us that among Samson’s exploits, he tore a lion apart with his bare hands, struck down 30 Philistine men, he caught 300 foxes and tied their tails together destroying the wheat crops, vineyards and olive orchards of the Philistines. He slaughtered 1,000 men with a donkey’s jawbone, and now he has tore off the city gate of Gaza and carried it to the top of a hill.
This is no ordinary strength. This strength came from God and it came with explicit instructions: DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR.
Well, after his little gate-lifting exploit, Samson finds himself in love with a woman. Her very name means “a seductive and treacherous woman”
We don’t know how many men in power approached her but the deal was, if she could out how Samson was so strong, they would each give her 1,100 pieces of silver. She stood to become quite wealthy.
“So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me, dear, the secret of your great strength, and how you can be tied up and humbled.” Samson told her, “If they were to tie me up with seven bowstrings—the kind made from fresh animal tendons, not dried out—then I would become weak, just like anyone else.” Judges 16:6-7 The Message Bible
How she bound him, I'm not sure. Perhaps he was a deep sleeper, but one thing is for sure, she loves the idea of all that silver more than she loves the idea of Samson.
She tells the men in power what Samson has revealed to her and they brought her “seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.”
Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.” Judges 16:8-9 NKJV
Maybe this is the time you or I would say, “I’m out of here! I see what you did!” But that’s not what happened, and I think to myself, but isn’t that the way of humans? Truly. We see red signs all the time and we ignore them. Samson was no different.
“Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.” So he said to her, “If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread.” Judges 16:10-12 NKJV
Okay. This is definitely the time you or I would say, “I’m out of here! I see what you did, twice!”
But that is not what happened.
“Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom”— So she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from the loom.” Judges 16:13-14 NKJV
Every time I refresh this story in my mind, I think: COME ON! How thick are you Samson??
Is this time he leaves? Does he realize his lover has just tried to have him capture not once, not twice, but three times?
She said, “How can you say ‘I love you’ when you won’t even trust me? Three times now you’ve toyed with me, like a cat with a mouse, refusing to tell me the secret of your great strength.”
She kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up—he couldn’t take another minute of it. He spilled it.
He told her, “A razor has never touched my head. I’ve been God’s Nazirite from conception. If I were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would be as helpless as any other mortal.”
When Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, she sent for the Philistine tyrants, telling them, “Come quickly—this time he’s told me the truth.” They came, bringing the bribe money.
When she got him to sleep, his head on her lap, she motioned to a man to cut off the seven braids of his hair. Immediately he began to grow weak. His strength drained from him.
Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him. Judges 16:15-20 The Message Bible
I still ask myself how? How did he not know? Or did he? Did he see the signs? Why did he stay?
God had a plan.
by Jeanette Stark – Friday, January 20, 2023