SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
13:1 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years.
2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “You are infertile and childless, but you will conceive and have a son. 4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. You must never cut his hair, for the child will be dedicated to God from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines.”
6 The woman went and said to her husband, “A man sent from God came to me! He looked like God’s angel—he was very awesome. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7 He said to me, ‘Look, you will conceive and have a son. So now, do not drink wine or beer and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. For the child will be dedicated to God from birth till the day he dies.’”
8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God to visit us again, so he can teach us how we should raise the child who will be born.” 9 God answered Manoah’s prayer. God’s angel visited the woman again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman ran at once and told her husband, “Come quickly, the man who visited me the other day has appeared to me!” 11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he met the man, he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?” He said, “Yes.” 12 Manoah said, “Now, when your announcement comes true, how should the child be raised and what should he do?” 13 The angel of the Lord told Manoah, “Your wife should pay attention to everything I told her. 14 She should not drink anything that the grapevine produces. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any food that will make her ritually unclean. She should obey everything I commanded her to do.” 15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please stay here awhile, so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” 16 The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If I stay, I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Tell us your name, so we can honor you when your announcement comes true.” 18 The angel of the Lord said to him, “You should not ask me my name because you cannot comprehend it.” 19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord. The Lord’s messenger did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 20 As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the angel of the Lord went up in it while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown to the ground.
21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. After all this happened Manoah realized that the visitor had been the angel of the Lord. 22 Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die because we have seen a supernatural being!” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. He would not have shown us all these things or have spoken to us like this just now.”
24 Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The child grew and the Lord empowered him. 25 The Lord’s Spirit began to control him in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 2 When he got home, he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. Now get her for my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Certainly you can find a wife among your relatives or among all our people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me because she is the right one for me.” 4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).
5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 6 The Lord’s Spirit empowered him, and he tore the lion in two with his bare hands as easily as one would tear a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 Samson continued on down to Timnah and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 8 Sometime later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw a swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, as well as some honey. 9 He scooped it up with his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he returned to his father and mother, he offered them some and they ate it. But he did not tell them he had scooped the honey out of the lion’s carcass.
10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. Samson hosted a party there, for this was customary for bridegrooms to do. 11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him 30 groomsmen who kept him company. 12 Samson said to them, “I will give you a riddle. If you really can solve it during the seven days the party lasts, I will give you 30 linen robes and 30 sets of clothes. 13 But if you cannot solve it, you will give me 30 linen robes and 30 sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 14 He said to them,
“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;
out of the strong one came something sweet.”
They could not solve the riddle for three days.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. If you refuse, we will burn up you and your father’s family. Did you invite us here to make us poor?” 16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder and said, “You must hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men a riddle, but you have not told me the solution.” He said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father or mother. Do you really expect me to tell you?” 17 She cried on his shoulder until the party was almost over. Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 18 On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
He said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle!”
19 The Lord’s Spirit empowered him. He went down to Ashkelon and killed 30 men. He took their clothes and gave them to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man.
15:1 Sometime later, during the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat as a gift and went to visit his bride. He said to her father, “I want to sleep with my bride in her bedroom!” But her father would not let him enter. 2 Her father said, “I really thought you absolutely despised her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more attractive than she is. Take her instead!” 3 Samson said to them, “This time I am justified in doing the Philistines harm!” 4 Samson went and captured 300 jackals and got some torches. He tied the jackals in pairs by their tails and then tied a torch to each pair. 5 He lit the torches and set the jackals loose in the Philistines’ standing grain. He burned up the grain heaps and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves. 6 The Philistines asked, “Who did this?” They were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because the Timnite took Samson’s bride and gave her to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father. 7 Samson said to them, “Because you did this, I will get revenge against you before I quit fighting.” 8 He struck them down and defeated them. Then he went down and lived for a time in the cave in the cliff of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and invaded Judah. They arrayed themselves for battle in Lehi. 10 The men of Judah said, “Why are you attacking us?” The Philistines said, “We have come up to take Samson prisoner so we can do to him what he has done to us.” 11 So 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cave in the cliff of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? Why have you done this to us?” He said to them, “I have only done to them what they have done to me.” 12 They said to him, “We have come down to take you prisoner so we can hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said to them, “Promise me you will not kill me.” 13 They said to him, “We promise! We will only take you prisoner and hand you over to them. We promise not to kill you.” They tied him up with two brand new ropes and led him up from the cliff. 14 When he arrived in Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they approached him. But the Lord’s Spirit empowered him. The ropes around his arms were like flax dissolving in fire, and they melted away from his hands. 15 He happened to see a solid jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed it and struck down 1,000 men. 16 Samson then said,
“With the jawbone of a donkey
I have left them in heaps;
with the jawbone of a donkey
I have struck down a thousand men!”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down and named that place Ramath Lehi.
18 He was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given your servant this great victory. But now must I die of thirst and fall into the hands of these uncircumcised Philistines?” 19 So God split open the basin at Lehi, and water flowed out from it. When he took a drink, his strength was restored and he revived. For this reason he named the spring En Hakkore. It remains in Lehi to this very day. 20 Samson led Israel for 20 years during the days of Philistine prominence.
16:1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and slept with her. 2 The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave. They relaxed all night, thinking, “He will not leave until morning comes; then we will kill him!” 3 Samson spent half the night with the prostitute; then he got up in the middle of the night and left. He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron.
4 After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her and said to her, “Trick him! Find out what makes him so strong and how we can subdue him and humiliate him. Each one of us will give you 1,100 silver pieces.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me what makes you so strong and how you can be subdued and humiliated.” 7 Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 8 So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them. 9 They hid in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here, Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire. The secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived me and told me lies! Now tell me how you can be subdued.” 11 He said to her, “If they tie me tightly with brand new ropes that have never been used, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are here, Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.) But he tore the ropes from his arms as if they were a piece of thread.
13 Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies. Tell me how you can be subdued.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on the loom and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom, fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are here, Samson!” He woke up and tore away the pin of the loom and the fabric.
15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you will not share your secret with me? Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16 She nagged him every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. 17 Finally he told her his secret. He said to her, “My hair has never been cut, for I have been dedicated to God from the time I was conceived. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak and be just like all other men.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret, she sent for the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me his secret.” So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 19 She made him go to sleep on her lap and then called a man in to shave off the seven braids of his hair. She made him vulnerable and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are here, Samson!” He woke up and thought, “I will do as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not realize that the Lord had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. 22 His hair began to grow back after it had been shaved off.
23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed Samson, our enemy, over to us.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us, the one who ruined our land and killed so many of us!”
25 When they really started celebrating, they said, “Call for Samson so he can entertain us!” So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them. They made him stand between two pillars. 26 Samson said to the young man who held his hand, “Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple. Then I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple was filled with men and women, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. There were 3,000 men and women on the roof watching Samson entertain. 28 Samson called to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge against the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed hard, and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. 31 His brothers and all his family went down and brought him back. They buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel for 20 years.