1. REAPING WHAT WAS SOWN
a. What bitter fruit immediately became apparent in Samson’s marriage with an unbeliever? Judges 14:7, 10, 20.
“[Samson] did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice, or whether he was placing himself in a position where he could not fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life. To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to those who are bent upon self-pleasing. . . .
“At his marriage feast Samson was brought into familiar association with those who hated the God of Israel. Whoever voluntarily enters into such relations will feel it necessary to conform, to some degree, to the habits and customs of his companions. The time thus spent is worse than wasted. Thoughts are entertained and words are spoken that tend to break down the strongholds of principle and to weaken the citadel of the soul.
“The wife, to obtain whom Samson had transgressed the command of God, proved treacherous to her husband before the close of the marriage feast. Incensed at her perfidy, Samson forsook her for the time, and went alone to his home at Zorah. When, afterward relenting, he returned for his bride, he found her the wife of another.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 563.
2. HUMANITY RESISTING GOD’S GRACE
a. How did Samson’s revenge on the Philistines show a sample of the unique strength God gave him for Israel’s deliverance? Judges 15:4–8, 13–15.
b. How long did Samson rule as a judge in Israel? Judges 15:20. How did the people show how human nature often hinders God’s plans?
“Had the Israelites been ready to unite with Samson and follow up the victory, they might at this time have freed themselves from the power of their oppressors. But they had become dispirited and cowardly. They had neglected the work which God commanded them to perform, in dispossessing the heathen, and had united with them in their degrading practices, tolerating their cruelty, and, so long as it was not directed against themselves, even countenancing their injustice. When themselves brought under the power of the oppressor, they tamely submitted to the degradation which they might have escaped, had they only obeyed God. Even when the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, they would, not infrequently, desert him and unite with their enemies.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 564.
c. Despite Samson’s apostasy, how did God show him mercy? Judges 16:1–3.
“Samson had transgressed the command of God by taking a wife from the Philistines, and again he ventured among them—now his deadly enemies—in the indulgence of unlawful passion. Trusting to his great strength, which had inspired the Philistines with such terror, he went boldly to Gaza, to visit a harlot of that place. The inhabitants of the city learned of his presence, and they were eager for revenge. Their enemy was shut safely within the walls of the most strongly fortified of all their cities; they felt sure of their prey, and only waited till the morning to complete their triumph. At midnight Samson was aroused. The accusing voice of conscience filled him with remorse, as he remembered that he had broken his vow as a Nazarite. But notwithstanding his sin, God’s mercy had not forsaken him. His prodigious strength again served to deliver him.”—Ibid., p. 565.
3. THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
a. In what sin was Samson becoming entangled? Judges 16:4–6; Galatians 6:8. How did this sin work his ruin?
“[Samson] did not again venture among the Philistines, but he continued to seek those sensuous pleasures that were luring him to ruin. . . . The vale of Sorek was celebrated for its vineyards; these also had a temptation for the wavering Nazarite, who had already indulged in the use of wine, thus breaking another tie that bound him to purity and to God. The Philistines kept a vigilant watch over the movements of their enemy, and when he degraded himself by this new attachment, they determined, through Delilah, to accomplish his ruin.
“A deputation consisting of one leading man from each of the Philistine provinces was sent to the vale of Sorek. They dared not attempt to seize him while in possession of his great strength, but it was their purpose to learn, if possible, the secret of his power. They therefore bribed Delilah to discover and reveal it.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 565.
b. What warnings should we heed from the downward spiral into which Samson was falling? Proverbs 5:21, 22; 7:10, 22, 23; Romans 13:14.
“Samson’s infatuation seems almost incredible. At first he was not so wholly enthralled as to reveal the secret; but he had deliberately walked into the net of the betrayer of souls, and its meshes were drawing closer about him at every step.”—The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881.
“In the society of this enchantress, the judge of Israel squandered precious hours that should have been sacredly devoted to the welfare of his people. But the blinding passions which make even the strongest weak, had gained control of reason and of conscience.”—Ibid.
“Samson in his peril had the same source of strength as had Joseph. He could choose the right or wrong as he pleased. But instead of taking hold of the strength of God, he permitted the wild passions of his nature to have full sway. The reasoning powers were perverted, the morals corrupted. God had called Samson to a position of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness; but he must first learn to govern by first learning to obey the laws of God.”—Ibid.
4. THE BOTTOM OF THE PIT
a. What bitter results followed Samson’s spiritual weakness? Judges 16:15–21.
“When he had been shaven, Delilah began to annoy him and cause him pain, thus making a trial of his strength; for the Philistines dared not approach him till fully convinced that his power was gone. Then they seized him and, having put out both his eyes, they took him to Gaza. Here he was bound with fetters in their prison house and confined to hard labor.
“What a change to him who had been the judge and champion of Israel!—now weak, blind, imprisoned, degraded to the most menial service! Little by little he had violated the conditions of his sacred calling. God had borne long with him; but when he had so yielded himself to the power of sin as to betray his secret, the Lord departed from him. There was no virtue in his long hair merely, but it was a token of his loyalty to God; and when the symbol was sacrificed in the indulgence of passion, the blessings of which it was a token were also forfeited.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 566.
b. How can Samson’s response to the most discouraging hour in his life bring hope to each one of us? Luke 5:32.
“In suffering and humiliation, a sport for the Philistines, Samson learned more of his own weakness than he had ever known before; and his afflictions led him to repentance.”—Ibid.
c. What began to happen to Samson physically, showing God’s amazing mercy toward sinners? Judges 16:22. What attitude was beginning to take hold of Samson? Mark 9:24.
“[Samson’s] hair began gradually to grow, indicating the return of his extraordinary powers.”—The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881.
5. THE TRIUMPH OF GOD’S MERCY
a. How and why did Satan mock at the disgraceful condition of God’s broken deliverer? Judges 16:23–25.
“As the Philistines exulted over their great victory, they ascribed the honor to their gods, praising them as superior to the God of Israel. The contest, instead of being between Samson and the Philistines, was now between Jehovah and Dagon.”—The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881.
b. What deliberate request did Samson make to the one leading him by the hand? What prayer did Samson breathe to God? Judges 16:26–28.
“After a time, as if weary, Samson asked permission to rest against the two central pillars which supported the temple roof. Then he silently uttered the prayer, ‘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.’ ”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 567.
c. What did God use to impart saving faith to Samson? In what “hall of fame” is this frail man included? Judges 16:30; Hebrews 11:32, 33.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why should the outcome of Samson’s marriage be no surprise?
2. To what spiritual path did the marriage lead Samson?
3. How is the history of Samson and Delilah repeated in various ways today?
4. What change did Samson make after the loss of his eyes?
5. How and why did God bless Samson’s prayer at the end of his life?