Samson’s Deadly Folly: The Gates of Gaza
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we study to understand how the Bible gives us lessons on where dangerous alliances take us. And thank you for your support for our work. We are forever grateful for your confidence in Keep the Faith.
Today’s message will complete the tragic story of Samson. How could a man who was gifted by God to deal with the oppressive Philistines have gone so far from God that he spilled the secret of his strength to a woman with whom he was immorally involved?
The sorry secret, my friends, is that he cherished sin, particularly sexual sin. And it led to his ruin. Yet, God still used him to do what he could, even though he was terribly compromised by his evil addiction. Samson’s life is a serious warning to us who have been given the spiritual privilege that Samson was given in his physical strength.
We are getting near to the time of the latter rain, and God’s people, above all else, need purity. There are those that are boldly attempting to discredit the biblical concept of the last generation that has been tasked with a special and important mission. This, along with other serious compromises with the ecumenical movement will lead God’s people away from their powerful message and into captivity to the forces of false worship and strip them of their strength and power, just at the time God needs them to proclaim it.
As we begin, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we are astonished at the brazen attempts to undermine Your true message for these last days. Many people are blind to the way in which the enemy is working both from within and from without. We need Your Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, and teach us how to understand with wisdom and make application to ourselves and to our times. As we open the scriptures today, please impress us with what we must know. In Jesus name, amen.
Let us turn to Judges 16 as we begin the sad story of Samson’s further departure from God. Samson had a sin problem that separated him from God. It was a sexual addiction. Many in God’s church today have this same problem. It’s making them unfit to give the mighty and powerful three angels messages under the latter rain, just like it made mighty Samson unfit to deliver Israel from the Philistines. You can’t proclaim a call to purity, when you are impure yourself.
Remember, Samson is a type of the last powerful message of deliverance, wherever they are and wherever they worship, from all sins and addictions. If ever there was a key characteristic of our times, it would be that of sexual sin. It is everywhere. And unless you steel yourself against it, you will fall into it.
Samson first departed from God by taking a wife among the Philistines against the counsel of his parents and in direct disobedience of God’s command that His people were not to intermarry with unbelievers. Now he goes even further into sin.
Let us read verse 1. “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.”
It was a bad thing for Samson to marry a Philistine woman. But it was even worse to join himself to a harlot whom he accidentally saw among the Philistines. Samson was a Nazarite which meant that he was to be pure and holy unto the Lord all of his life. Samson had taken one step away from God’s plan. It had laid the foundation to take the second. It is never a good thing to wander even one step from God.
Samson was a type of those who were born after the disappointment when Jesus did not return in 1844. This is the time of the investigative judgment. God’s people are to purify themselves and live holy lives. For Samson to do this thing with the harlot was such a banality that it profaned his honor as an Israelite and as a Nazarite that it should even make us blush. This vile impurity sent the message to the Philistines that Samson did not respect his calling, his church or his God. It also told them he was easy to compromise.
We don’t know whether Samson went to Gaza to spy on the Philistines, or to do some business, but the Bible says that he “saw there an harlot.” Samson’s sin began in his eye, and conceived lust, and this brought forth this wicked sin. He went in unto her.
I’ll continue with verse 2. “And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.”
These were not ordinary Gazites. They were the magistrates. They had the gates shut and guards set. They kept quiet so that Samson would not suspect any danger. They thought they had him in a kind of prison. And they did not doubt that they would kill him the next day.
Oh, my friends, wouldn’t it be good for all those who indulge their sensual appetites in drunkenness, uncleanness, or any fleshly lusts, to see themselves surrounded, waylaid, and marked for ruin by our inveterate enemy. The deeper they sleep, and the more secure they are, the more danger they are in.
Is this a bed fit for a Nazarite to sleep in? Should a temple of the living God be polluted like this? Can Samson be safe under this sin and guilt? What was he thinking? And what is it that God’s people are thinking today by going to the fallen churches of Babylon to find friendship and help with them and copy their methods, fellowship with their ministers and follow their standards? They cannot gain anything but the loss of their spiritual manhood and strength. How can they hold on to their understanding of distinctive and peculiar biblical truth while at the same time arrive at some compromise so as to join in union with these fallen churches.
Do you remember what it says in Revelation 14? One of the three angel’s messages declares that Babylon is the mother of harlots. So, she has harlot daughters. How can Samson compromise himself so thoroughly?
It is also important to note that God’s people often sin in cover of darkness or in private, where few if any know of their behavior. They know it is wrong, but they do it anyway, privately, where no one but God can see. Then they often justify it, if they are caught, or minimize it, so that it is virtually justified.
We don’t know what caused Samson to rise up at midnight. It could have been the voice of conscience, for it was not wholly cut off from the Holy Spirit. Maybe God warned him in a dream of his danger. Samson knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was displeased with him. He knew he was among his enemies. So, he probably suffered from considerable guilt and self-reproach for his moral failure.
Verse 3. “And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.”
Just think about this for a minute. Samson didn’t just break down the gates of the city. He ripped their posts out of their footings and put them and the doors and the bars that locked them on his shoulders. These were, no doubt, very heavy massive doors. They were designed to keep strong enemies out. But they could not keep Samson in. The guards, no doubt, fled when they realized who was coming toward them in the dim light.
Samson, with the gates and their equipment on his back, carried them several miles and then up to the top of a hill where he laid them down. Can you imagine? He didn’t just take them off, but carried them some considerable distance and then up a hill somewhere near Hebron. This was no small feat. Perhaps it was in distain of the Philistines, to show them that they had no defense against him and to make himself appear all the more formidable to them.
No enemy can keep God’s powerful three angels’ messages from their work. In spite of the spiritual weakness of the messengers, God’s message is still strong. It stands like a rock amid the moral darkness of the world and of the church. The church in those days was so compromised that God sent them into servitude to wake them up. Now He was preparing to deliver them from their enemies, and Samson’s Gaza gates event was to show them that their deliverance was near.
Yet they did not see or understand it. They had become complacent. They were insensible to God’s ways. They were comfortable in their oppression because it wasn’t so bad. They paid their tribute faithfully, and did not want to upset things, or disturb the status quo.
Isn’t that the way God’s people often are today? They are comfortable with their lives. They don’t realize that the enemy has a lot of influence on them and they indulge themselves in pride and sin and live in selfishness. They pay their tribute to the enemy by their sins of self-indulgence. They acknowledge his power, and don’t realize that among them is a powerful message of deliverance in Christ that can rip the gates of Gaza off their foundation, and give them victory over his devices and set them free from his power.
Their complacency in servitude to the enemy led the Israelites to distance themselves from Samson, like many today distance themselves from the three angels messages. They didn’t want to upset their comfortable circumstances or disrupt their contentment. They did not want to pick a fight with the enemy. Yet that is exactly what God was doing with Samson in an effort to begin the deliverance of Israel. Samson’s very existence was a test for the church.
Today, the very existence of the three angels messages is a standing reproof to God’s people. They do not want to understand them because they sense they would reprove them and disturb their comfort. They don’t really want to experience the message themselves because it would require obedience, which they aren’t ready to give. It would prevent them from justifying indulgence and they would have to admit they are under judgment. If they embraced them it would be like poking the enemy in the eye. They fear he would come after them.
The mighty three angels messages are designed to disrupt the enemy. It is the deliverance message to God’s people and is able to move them from complacency to victory over the enemy’s devices. This event with the gates of Gaza also reveals what Christ will do with Satan and his agencies. They will fall under His power and will flee when He approaches.
Let me ask you. Do you really want to live under tribute to Satan? Are you comfortable in a sinful religiosity? Are you complacent? God wants to deliver you. And He will do it through His appointed means. He will deliver you from sin by offering you His power through His message appointed for these last days.
The gates of Gaza represent the stronghold of Satan. It is designed to keep God’s people and the three angels messages incarcerated and under Satan’s control. And while ever God’s people are in alliance with the great prostitute, the great apostate church or her daughters, they are inside the gates of Gaza with a prostitute. The enemy wants to keep them from proclaiming God’s last warning message to the world, so he hedges them in with opposition so that they are unable to go out to the world. He also entices God’s people into sin, which restricts how much the Holy Spirit can use them to spread the message.
Samson’s personal problem with sexual sin led him to his own end. It shows us that at the end of time, the enemy will plague God’s people with temptations to fall into ecumenical sin.
Samson has strength, but he does not have wisdom. And it is because of his lust that wisdom has left him. Solomon was perhaps alluding to Samson when he said of the strange profligate woman in Proverbs 7:26, “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” He also said in Proverbs 6:26, that “the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.” What does “precious life” mean? This is the life of God’s messengers. Satan is aiming for them.
Let us read Judges 16:4. “And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.”
This is the woman that would bring Samson down, the woman that would destroy the strong man who had been given a position of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness. This is the woman that would prevent him from doing his important work, except for one last effort at the end of his life. How much more could Samson have done for the Lord had he been faithful in his calling as a Nazarite? His purity would have empowered his wisdom as well as his physical strength.
The same is true of God’s people today. They do not have the Holy Spirit in latter rain power, at least not yet. Many, if not most, are compromised by their lifestyle and behavior. They are enticed by the “strange women” of the ecumenical movement. Their power is limited by their sin and their compromises. God would love to have them fully live up to their calling to purity. A calling however, isn’t the actual product. Just because we are called, doesn’t mean that we chose to follow all of God’s instructions. We usually justify our compromises.
Delilah is a symbol of the fallen churches, or the daughters of Babylon. Behind her is another power, a pagan power, a power that bribes her to entice Samson to do what he would not otherwise do. But because of his lust, she controlled his mind by her voluptuous enticements.
The same is true of spiritual Israel today. Rome is working through the ecumenical movement to draw all churches into her bosom. The fallen churches of Babylon put pressure on God’s last church to form ecumenical alliances to prevent them from giving the full message.
Delilah is an infamous name. She was like the lion that roared against Samson in the vineyard, but so much more subtle. He destroyed the physical lion, but the passions of his heart were what got him. He could not overcome this lioness.
Delilah’s name means “consumer,” or in some renderings “faithless one.” She was not interested in the principles of faith God had given His people. She was intrigued by the secret of Samson’s strength. She became determined to find it out no matter what it required of her. And the Lord’s of the Philistines incentivized her. Do you think that the fallen churches of Babylon are incentivized to pressure everyone to join their quest to unite with Rome? Of course they are. Rome gives them political opportunities and guides them in getting more power. Right now, they are fully engaged in uniting church and state in the United States government. Rome guides them from behind the scenes. But they are all working toward Sunday laws and false worship whether they realize it or not. A hidden hand, a stealth power that is bent on the destruction of God’s true Sabbath-keeping people, is manipulating them.
Samson’s affection for Delilah was wrong. He lived with her in sin and uncleanness. Some suggest she was his wife, but there is too much evidence that he was in a sinful relationship with her.
Sorek was on the border with the Philistines near Samson’s birthplace. While the Bible doesn’t actually say whether Delilah was an Israelite or a Philistine, it suggests that she was an Israelite because it says the lords of the Philistines “came up to her.” It may also be reasonable to believe that she was an Israelite because the Philistines needed to bribe her rather than threaten her, like they did the woman of Timnath, to accomplish their goal. But if she was an Israelite, she had the heart of a Philistine. She was a profligate woman no matter where she came from, and could easily be bought and sold.
So, the story of Samson and Delilah is a warning to those who have been given the three angels messages in the last days. We are warned to keep ourselves pure in our doctrine and practices and lifestyle. We are called to exemplify the life of Christ and live in the light of His law. We are to call sin by its right name. But if we are compromised by an attraction to sin, how can we speak against it? When the latter rain is poured out and the three angel’s messages are given with power, many of God’s people will miss out because of their compromises and faithlessness, but mostly because of their ungodliness and ecumenical alliances.
Notice what the Lord’s of the Philistines said to her in verse 5. “And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
Perhaps they imagined that Samson was under a spell or a charm that he carried around with him, which accounted for such amazing strength. They offered her money to get him to confess the source of his power. This was a bribe. They knew and understood the law of God, and they had watched him to see whether he would obey it. Obviously he had not and now they saw their opportunity. Whereas they had plowed with his heifer to find out his marriage riddle, now they plowed with his new heifer to find out the source of his strength. And for this they bid high, 1100 pieces of silver each. There were five lords, so that would be 5500 pieces of silver in total. That was a lot of money! Probably it was too much to resist, at least for Delilah. And she betrayed the one she pretended to love.
Do you see how money will be used against God’s message and his people in the last days? Don’t expect that everything that happens is as natural as the sunrise. Oh no, the deeds of darkness are very active. The hidden things are the things we should be paying attention to. While we cannot often say exactly how they happen, we can be certain that they do because the Bible is accurate in describing the principles used against God’s true people. What we do not see before Jesus comes again will be seen during the judgment of the millennium which will bring all things to light in their proper setting.
Verse 6, “And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.”
It was clear to Samson what was happening. Delilah told him exactly what she wanted. But he was so bewitched that he decided to play the game with her. Friends, this is always dangerous. You can never expect to come out ahead in any game with the enemy. You can never win. He will always take advantage of you. You can be sure that he is working to bind you so that you cannot do God’s appointed work. You must never play a game with evil. It will always turn out badly. Delilah may have pretended to be curious and wanted to merely satisfy her own mind. But she stated plainly what she wanted.
Verse 7, “And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.”
This was, of course, a lie. But the experiment was tried, and it failed.
Verse 8, “Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.”
Samson was probably fully cognizant of what she was doing and maybe even cooperated with her. He did not fear green withs because he knew that he had enough strength to snap them.
Verse 9, “Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.”
Did you catch that? The Philistines were lying in wait in the chamber. In other words, they were hiding in the closet, or behind some pillar, or in some other place. When she bound him as he had directed, the Philistines suddenly appeared and tried to control Samson. But he freed himself, and they fled.
What lesson do you see in this for God’s people that have been entrusted with God’s last mighty message? Friends, all attempts to tie you and your church up in ecumenical bonds is sponsored by some hidden agency, some men “lying in wait.” Delilah pretended to be a friend and lover, but the real agenda, hidden behind the wall, or in the closet, or wherever, is the real enemy, pulling the strings and bringing all things under their control. Delilah was not amused. Nor was she very happy with Samson.
Verse 10, “And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.”
It is amazing that Delilah, the one who was pretending to love him, accused Samson of telling her lies. Those who leave their calling and get into ecumenical alliances must do the same. They pretend to love, but are trying to prevent the voice of truth from being heard. And those who unite with them pretend that they will not give up their distinctive message. In the 1950s it was that way with those who engaged with evangelicals in an effort to convince their members that they were merely clarifying doctrines, when in reality they were attempting to change them.
Still pretending curiosity, but with more power and a dash of angst, Delilah laid the charge of mockery against Samson. Still quite cognizant of what he was doing, he gave her another course to take, thinking perhaps, that eventually she would give up. But Delilah was not pursuing something casual, as she pretended. She was pursuing something deadly. And she was determined. Nothing would stop her.
Verses 11 and 12, “And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.”
This bantering got up her hackles. She accused him of being unkind to her and playing with her friendship like it was a toy.
Verse 13, “And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.”
By now, Samson was fully aware that this was more serious than mere play and curiosity. But Samson was becoming a bit cocky, thinking that he was in no danger with her, even though it was evident that she was in league with the Philistines. Every time he broke his bonds, the Philistines would flee the room. So, why not one more time?
Notice that his new method has now come much nearer to the truth than Delilah imagined, or that even Samson thought would be dangerous. His strength was in his hair, so he thought. By suggesting that she weave his hair with a web in a loom and pin, he would become weak. He led her down another “rabbit hole.” This time she did it while he was asleep.
Verse 14, “And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.”
Now she was really frustrated. “And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.” That’s verse 15.
It is hard to say which has more influence, Samson’s spiritual and moral weakness, or Delilah’s wickedness. Put them together and it was a deadly combination. In our times, the weakness of the churches, because of their inattention to the true message for this time, has sometimes been combined with the wickedness of an ecumenical alliance, which will lead to the destruction of the church.
Could anything be more wicked than Delilah’s pretended love and her unreasonable importunity with Samson to learn a secret which she knew would endanger his life if ever it were revealed to anyone other than himself? What could be more base and disingenuous, more false and treacherous than for Delilah to lay Samson’s head on her lap as if she really loved him, while at the same time designing to betray him to those who mortally hated him? This is the way Rome works; by pretended friendship she brings the churches under her control.
Isn’t this the way the enemy works in our personal lives as well? Satan is our mortal enemy. We cannot expect that he is keeping faith with us. He is out to betray as often as he can. If we parley with his temptations, we will lose our hope of success in proclaiming God’s last, strong message, and at the same time, our hope of eternal life.
And could anything be weaker than for Samson to parley with the one whom he so plainly saw was aiming to do him mischief, and that he should lend an ear for so long to such an impudent request, that she might know how to do him mischief.
Samson should have, like Joseph, fled the chamber as soon as he saw that there were Philistines hiding there waiting for him to do him mischief. He should have fled to higher ground. One can hardly imagine a man so perfectly besotted and void of all discernment as Samson now was. But lust and whoredom is one of those things that “takes away the heart,” Hosea 4:11. It takes away the sturdiness of God’s servants. It removes their conviction of duty and responsibility. It turns a man with a message into a man with a death wish.
Delilah resolved to try again. She teased him with the idea that she would not believe that he loved her unless he told her the riddle of his strength. Delilah had this fond fool under her control. A passionate lover will to anything to keep his love unquestioned, and prevent any suspicion that it is not as deep and strong as he professes.
Verses 16 and 17, “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”
Notice that she pressed him daily, perhaps for many days so that he had no pleasure in being with her. This begs the question. Why did he not leave her? He was captivated by her false love.
Notice that he revealed the spiritual reason for his strength, not just the cutting of his hair. Samson, perhaps, vainly hoped that Delilah might respect his spiritual commitments, his Nazarite covenant of purity. By what reason he thought this is unclear, because he had already lived in uncleanness with her, so she would have been insensible to his underlying spiritual upbringing.
Proverbs 1:17 says, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.” But in Samson’s case, the net was spread openly in his own sight, and he was still taken in. Observe that a small bird has more common sense than a man besotted with lust. Delilah, the “consumer” was surly to consume him. If Samson had not been blinded before the Philistines put out his eyes, he might have escaped the snare, but his sensual desire blinded him to the dangers of his course.
The same is true today, my friends. If we dabble with ecumenical alliances we will be blinded to their destination. We will not see that the real target is the very strong message that we have been given. We are to show the whole world that the Bible can be relied upon to reveal what is really going on behind the scenes. But God sees it all, every detail, every motive. And because He does, the Bible can say things that are true that seem utterly impossible from all appearances.
God left Samson to himself to do this foolish thing in revealing to Delilah the secret of his strength. He had left God long before, and now he was going to make the mistake of his life. God could do no more for him, and consequently he could do no more for God unless he repented. There are always consequences for disobedience. Often they are withheld for a time, but they will eventually come into play.
Christ did not mention Samson’s great physical strength to his mother. But He did mention that he should be a Nazarite and that no razor should come upon his head. In other words, his great strength lied in his consecration to God, his purity. He was to be strengthened according to the glorious power of the Holy Spirit, which wrought in him mightily. The badge of his consecration, his unshaven hair, was only a sign. If he should lose his consecration, he would certainly lose his strength. His strength was by promise, not by nature. Likewise, our strength is by practicing consecration too, and it comes by believing and living by the conditions of the promise, and not by nature.
By making his physical strength dependent on consecration, not the length of his hair that had no influence on his strength either one way or the other, teaches us to magnify God, not flesh; to expect God’s continual grace, and live as if we have it, not look for some outward sign. We are earthen vessels, which God will use mightily through the Holy Spirit to proclaim his strong and clear message in these last days, if we are consecrated. By allowing the enemy to entice him into impurity and licentiousness, which separated him from Christ, Samson lost the greatest gift of all – the power of the Holy Spirit. We will do the same if we let go of our consecration and pursue unholy alliances.
Here is a very important statement from the book Patriarchs and Prophets, page 567. “Physically, Samson was the strongest man upon the earth; but in self-control, integrity, and firmness, he was one of the weakest of men. Many mistake strong passions for a strong character, but the truth is that he who is mastered by his passions is a weak man. The real greatness of the man is measured by the power of the feelings that he controls, not by those that control him.”
What an insightful statement! We must learn to control our passions and keep them under control otherwise we will fall into impurity and sin. You know, it is easy to pursue the wrong path if you don’t stay close to Christ. Eventually, it will lead to your temporal and eternal destruction. To separate from Christ, when you have been given such a powerful message, is deadly. Of course, sin is always deadly, but when greater light is given, the greater the destruction that comes from disobedience. Samson was now to pay dearly for his folly.
Verses 18 and 19, “And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.”
Delilah was so interested in the money that the lords of the Philistines offered her, that she sent for them and told them that now she knew what the secret was. She knew that now Samson would be a sheep for the slaughter. Can you see how all the glory of man must be laid in the dust? It will happen one way or the other. The humble man will lay down his glory in the dust and the Lord shall lift him up. But the Lord will cut down the proud man even when he is strong.
Delilah delivered Samson up according to the bargain. Many in this world would sell those that they pretend to respect greatly, for one-hundredth part of what was given to Delilah. Micah 7:5 says, “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.”
Notice that Delilah made him sleep upon her knees. How do you think she did that? She probably gave him some intoxicating liquor, which he was forbidden to touch as a Nazarite. But he had so compromised himself that he could not resist her. We do not know if she also secretly added some opiates, but that was also possible, I suppose.
It is also interesting that Satan ruins men by rocking them to sleep. He flatters them into a good opinion of themselves and their own safety. They fear nothing. This is true on a personal level as well as on the church body. Are we asleep today? Are we lulled into an intoxicatingly good opinion of ourselves? Are we inebriated by worldliness? I speak boldly now. While we sleep our spiritual enemies do not. Samson was an accessory to his own demise. Are we doing the same? Are we who are entrusted with the most powerful message ever given to mankind, in danger of forfeiting our strength under the mighty power of the latter rain, for some strange fascination with the world? It was his own Laodicean wickedness that led him here? And we must watch, lest we do the same today.
Verse 20, “And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.”
When he awoke, he certainly missed his hair, for he tried to shake himself as at other times when he awoke from sleep and found the Philistines upon him. But this was not to be. He had become so arrogant and proud that he did not even realize that the Lord had departed from him.
Can you imagine the shock and the horrible realization that he no longer could shake himself from the Philistines? As the realization sunk in, he must have despaired of any salvation. He was now under the power of his mortal enemies. He could not shake them or get rid of them. Now they were determined to make his life miserable. As he left the chamber, perhaps he looked back over his shoulder and saw Delilah holding the moneybags she had been given by the very men who were now escorting him away.
Verse 21, “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.”
The Philistines took Samson when God had departed from him. Those who have taken themselves out of God’s protection become an easy prey to their enemies. If we sleep in the lap of our lusts, we will wake in the hands of the Philistines. Think about what this means, my friends. If we let ourselves become like those Laodiceans who were lukewarm in their consecration, we will fall asleep spiritually and become unfit for the latter rain and to give the last message.
The first thing the Philistines did to Samson, when they had him in their power was to put out his eyes, or blind him. Apparently, the Arabic version says they applied fire to them. His eyes were the inlet of sin. He “saw” the harlot in Gaza and went in unto her, the Bible says. His punishment began there. Now that he was blinded, he could think about how his own lust had blinded him. Lust is very deceptive. The best way to preserve the eyes is to turn them away from anything that leads to sin or evil.
Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” Jesus said, “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:23. Samson was full of darkness because of his uncleanness. His blindness was a fitting symbol of his spiritual condition. Could that be true also of us “upon whom the ends of the world are come?”
Notice also where they took him. They brought him down to Gaza. I think it is extremely ironic that they brought him to the very place where his sin manifested itself to his enemies. It was where he openly committed evil in the sight of the Lord. It was in Gaza where he first went in to a profligate woman. It was also here where he had performed such signal evidence of his strength by lifting the gates of the city and taking them to the top of a hill several miles away. The Philistines wanted revenge. They wanted to mock him and make fun of him who had so recently been a great terror to them.
“They bound him with fetters of brass” who had previously been bound by the cords of his own iniquity. They made him “grind in the prison.” They made him work for their profit. He was probably grinding grain, which he had previously destroyed by those 300 foxes in a prior year. They punished him for the pain he had caused them.
Poor Samson. How hast thou fallen? How is thy honor laid in the dust? How has the glory and defense of Israel become the triumph of God’s enemies? This is the way Satan works. First he blinds the members of God’s church so that they become lukewarm and insensible to the power of the Holy Spirit and their true message. Then he enslaves them to their enemies so that they are incapable of doing the very work that God has given them to do. Do you think we are near the time when Babylon, which the Philistines typify, will overcome God’s people? Listen to the prophecy in Revelation 13:7.
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
Notice that Satan makes war with and overcomes the saints. This suggests that God’s last day people will be persecuted and enslaved by the evil powers of earth. It will be nasty, as nasty as it was for Samson. Friends, some people think that persecution is good for God’s people, and in some ways that may be true. But at the same time, think of the loss! How many so-called “saints” will buckle under the pressure that is characteristic of the time of trouble “such as never was since there was a nation,” Daniel 12:1.
Does that war on the saints have “cold war” characteristics? Does that include the subtle temptation to join the ecumenical movement? Rome is preparing for the subjugation of God’s people. Samson’s lust is a type of our worldliness and pride. It laid him low, and so it will do to us.
Samson’s time of trouble is a type of the future time of trouble for those who have been given the message, but have failed to live in purity, and who have compromised with the enemy. They will have similar consequences.
Friends, let us all take warning by Samson’s fall. Preserve your purity. Preserve the Holy Spirit in your life. Protect His influence. Listen to the still small voice. We are to watch and pray against all fleshly lusts; for all our glory has gone, and our defense departed from us when the covenant of our separation to God, as spiritual Nazarites, is profaned. The time of trouble is coming. We need God’s protection and shield.
Listen to this short statement about what will happen to the faithful during the time of persecution before the close of probation. It’s found in Selected Messages, Vol. 3, and page 397. “Many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ’s sake in standing in defense of the truth.”
What a statement! The Bible says that the saints – that’s God’s true Sabbath-keeping and law-abiding saints – will be persecuted and overcome. Many of them will be killed for the testimony of Jesus.
Is it possible that our own tendency to justify sin, and to compromise with evil, along with our fraternizing with ecumenical alliances lead to Babylon having greater power over the saints? Think about it.
The last stage of Samson’s life was inglorious and we could wish that it were veiled from our eyes. But the Bible is not the kind of book to gloss over sin or its consequences. It faithfully records the things that are meant for our admonition and warning.
Samson repented of his sin while in the prison dungeon, blind and grinding out the corn. He had a lot of time to think about his sin and the dishonor of God by it, and to repent of it. He had time to think of the forfeiture of the honor God had placed upon him. No doubt the agony of his guilt was every day before him as he trudged around and around grinding grain for the enemies of God’s people.
From Patriarchs and Prophets, page 566, we read the following, “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.”
Verse 22, “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.”
Again from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 566, “As his hair grew, his power gradually returned; but his enemies, regarding him as a fettered and helpless prisoner, felt no apprehensions.” After all, he was blind and helpless. How could he hurt them now?
As God’s favor came upon him again, signified by the growing of his hair, perhaps the grinding of the grain became easier and easier. After all his sin, God mercifully restored him to His favor. Can you imagine how Samson must have felt when God gave him back his strength? Perhaps he wept many tears as he ground the corn in the prison, first, tears of repentance and sorrow for sin, and a reconsecration of his life to God, but then tears of joy as he felt the presence of God come back into his soul. Could God still use him in some way? Could he still vindicate the honor of God before his enemies?
Verses 23 and 24, “Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.”
Dagon was a god of their own making. It was all pretended. Yet many of them believed that Dagon, an amalgamation of part man and part fish, a pure fantasy, was somehow responsible for the capture of Samson. They knew it was by intrigue and betrayal because of Samson’s weakness. Yet, they dreamed that it was Dagon, their dunghill deity, their rival to the living God that had done this.
Will not the same thing happen in the last days? Will Babylon triumph as if their Sunday laws are more powerful than God’s Ten Commandments? Will they force God’s Sabbath-keeping people into servitude? Will they praise their false Gods (whom they pretend is Christ and Mary and a host of dunghill saints)?
Verse 25, “And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.”
These Philistines reflected negatively on the God of heaven because of Samson’s sin and imprisonment, and by making sport of him. When they were merry with wine, they made Samson their fool. They made themselves laugh at him and at God as they watched him stumble along in his blindness. Perhaps they smote him on the cheek to tease him and laughed at his bewilderment. They now put him into the depths of misery, when a short time before they would have trembled in his presence.” Where is now thy God, Samson?” they must have mocked. “How will He protect you now?” And remember this was all within the gates of Gaza where Samson had seen his harlot.
Imagine how Samson must have felt? They mocked and laughed at his God because of his own sin. But the misery for Samson was greater because of his past than because of their cruelty and barbarity. Yet this is how God’s people will be treated. Their past will come up before them and haunt them if they haven’t repented of it. Though Samson is mocked and humiliated by his enemies, he a humble penitent before heaven. His past was forgiven and he could return to his work. He now views his sufferings as God’s way of purifying his dross and making him a man God can use again. But these Philistines did not realize that their doom was stealing upon them.
Verses 26-30, “And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. 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. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”
Notice the sudden destruction that was brought upon the Philistines for their impudence. Their pride went before their fall. They thought they had peace and safety from Samson’s strength and the judgments of God. But now they were deceived and blind. God had punished Samson, now he punishes the Philistines, killing all their lords and their wives, no doubt, as well as many of their nobles and underlings and many of their people. Perhaps the destruction even took that harlot of Gaza who had caused Samson to sin in the first place.
All of it was just. They were in complete defiance of God, which was no less than treason. Their blood was justly mingled with their sacrifices. And so will it be in the last days when Rome is punished for her iniquities, especially her defiance of God, and her persecution of His true followers.
God had smitten His man and punished him for his uncleanness and sin. These Philistines were now mocking him, laughing at him and making sport with him. Nothing fills the measure of iniquity of any person or people faster than mocking and misusing the servants of God, even if they have sinned and in their own folly have come far short of the glory of God. And now God takes matters into His own hands, and places Samson where he could do them a lot of damage. The Philistine leadership was utterly destroyed, and justly. It would take them many years to recover. It was as if God had cut off the head of the beast in one devastating blow.
Notice that Samson gained strength for his final act by prayer. That which he had lost by his sin, he recovered by prayer and humbling himself before God. And it is worth noting that God heard his prayer amid the clambering, noisy festival to the pagan god. His prayer was graciously answered. Samson previously had attributed his strength to his hair. Now in his prayer he attributes his strength to God. What a change in heart. He begged God to give him holy zeal for the glory of God and of His church. Samson pulls down the building while praying. This was not done by Samson’s natural strength. It was done by the power of God. Not only were the lords and the great men of the Philistines killed along with many of their people, but also the god Dagon was buried amid the rubble.
How do we know what happened to Samson when he was the only Israelite present at the feast? This is the power of inspiration, my friends. God revealed it to the inspired pen, so that we may know for a certainty what happened in that fateful gathering of the Philistines.
Samson was part of the Jews deliverance from the control of their enemies. Centuries later, like the Philistines in their own history, the Jews suffered destruction by the Roman armies because of their arrogance and unwillingness to follow the counsel of heaven. They too, were traitors to the government of God. Yet, Christ’s true followers obeyed His counsel and were saved. Read it in the first chapter of the book The Great Controversy.
Also, it is important to point out that Christ tore down the kingdom of Satan just as Samson tore down the temple of Dagon. And like Samson, who stretched his arms around those pillars, Christ stretched out his arms upon the cross and destroyed him that had the power of death and got the most glorious victory over the powers of darkness.
If Israel had the spiritual sense to understand what had happened, they could have seen their opportunity to improve their advantage and throw off the yoke of the Philistines. But sadly, they had distanced themselves from Samson, and did not finish the work he had started.
Verse 31, “Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burying place of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.”
Samson was given an honorable burial. Notice that the whole house of his father, his whole family came down to collect his body and bring it back to Israel and bury him with his father who was now dead as well.
Friends, what a story of sin and redemption! What a prophetic prototype of God’s people in the last days! Our spiritual principles must be pure before God as a church as well as individuals, or we will face the same kind of experience that Samson had. May God help us to be faithful to Christ.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, the story of Samson, shameful as it was, is our own story. We need to grasp the concept that an ecumenical alliance with fallen churches, the daughters of Babylon is a serious sin in the eyes of God. We need to know what to expect in the last days. Samson’s life reveals this to us in amazing detail. Please forgive us, Lord for our iniquity, for our compromise and for our collective rebellion. May we turn in repentance before it is too late. And thank you for your gracious offer of forgiveness and restoration. In Jesus’ name, amen.