Judges 15


“Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in. “I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.” Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them. He went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death.” Judges 15:1-6

Samson’s Vengeance On The Philistines

In this chapter, we see that Samson continues to wreak havoc on the enemy, to the point that his own countrymen become fearful. When Samson returns to claim his bride, he discovers that she has been given in marriage to his ‘best man’.

The father of Samson’s wife assumed that he had rejected his Philistine bride because she had betrayed him in telling the secret of his riddle, Judges 14:19-20. Because of this, Samson felt justified to bring calamity upon the Philistines by destroying their source of food.

We can only begin to imagine how Samson must have felt at this point, deceived, betrayed by his wife to be and her father-in-law, he was raging mad. Can you imagine this event? Catching one fox would be hard enough but catching 300 and fastening a torch to their tails is something else.

And I’m sure the animal rights campaigners would have had a field day with this event but he destroys the Philistine vineyards and olive groves with ‘fox-fire’.

But if we think that Samson was raging mad, the text tells us that the Philistines were so mad they retaliated by killing his almost bride and father-in-law.

‘Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?” “We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.” Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?” He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.” Judges 15:7-11

After Samson had killed many other Philistines, the text tells us that Israel, fearing further retaliation, retaliated against themselves. Wanting peace at any cost, Samson’s countrymen handed him over to the Philistines, which tells us a lot about their spiritual depravity.

But the Philistines didn’t have any quarrels with the Israelites as a whole, it was just with Samson. The Israelites resented Samson’s exploits, and regarded him as a troublemaker, why?

Simply because they couldn’t see that it was the Spirit of the Lord working in Samson. And they couldn’t or wouldn’t see that God was working in and through Samson until they witnessed his supernatural massacre of the enemy.

Notice what God’s very own people said to him next.

“We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.” “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.” Judges 15:12-13

The text says they came to tie him up and after assuring Samson that his own people won’t kill him, he allows them to do so. Samson allows himself to be taken captive, why? Because he has a plan.

“As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.” When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.” Judges 15:14-17

Arriving before the gloating enemy, the ropes tightly binding Samson burst into pieces. And grabbing an improvised weapon, a donkey’s jawbone, Samson slays a thousand Philistines. And that place was called Ramath Lehi which means ‘Jawbone Hill’.

But once again in his anger because of his motives for revenge, he violated God’s law. The jawbone which he used to kill the Philistines was from a dead donkey and so it was classed as an unclean object. He was supposed to stay clear of anything dead according to the Nazarite vow he had taken, Numbers 6:6-7.

“Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” Judges 15:18-20

Some commentators claim that Samson took the credit for the victory but the text clearly tells us otherwise. And seeing the undeniable work of God in this massacre, Israel finally accepts Samson as their judge.

Samson’s struggle with passion and lust was much like his battle with the lion. He achieved God’s purpose, but his life could have been so much more victorious if he had exercised some self-control. His acts of deliverance were by-products of his fury and infatuation, Ephesians 4:26.
We cannot excuse Samson’s behaviour, but we can draw some comfort in knowing that if God’s grace can extend to a person like Samson, it can extend to us, Ephesians 6:10.

And yes, we may feel as flawed as Samson and we may even think we’re beyond hope, but there is hope, 1 Corinthians 10:13. God loves us and He desperately wants us to walk with Him in His ways.

He loves us so much that He sent the perfect Champion, far greater than Samson, to save us from sin, death, and hell and His Name is Jesus.

Samson defeated a lion but Jesus has defeated Satan, who’s described as ‘a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ in 1 Peter 5:8.

Go To Judges 16


"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."