Samson was an Israeli leader who was known for his great physical strength. He fought against the Philistines, a people who oppressed Israel, and killed many of his enemies. Samson was also known for his relationship with a woman named Delilah, who destroyed his strength.
Samson lived in the time after the conquest of the promised land, when there was still no king over Israel. His father was a man named Manoah, from the tribe of Dan, and his mother was barren. One day the Angel of the Lord visited the couple and said that they would have a son who would begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. This boy would be a Nazirite – consecrated to God from birth. As a sign of his consecration, he could not cut his hair ( Judges 13: 3-5 ). The boy was born and was called Samson.
Find out here: who were the Philistines?
When he was an adult, Samson fell in love with a woman from the Philistine people and decided to marry her. Her parents were not very happy, because she was from an enemy people, but they organized the wedding for him.
On the way to propose to the woman, Samson was attacked by a lion. The Holy Spirit came upon Samson and he tore the lion with his hands ! Then he went on without telling anyone what had happened ( Judges 14: 5-7 ).
Later, when Samson returned to marry the woman, he found the corpse of the lion and honey inside the corpse. He took the honey and shared it with his parents. But he did not say where he found the honey (food taken from a corpse was unclean for Jews).
At the wedding, Samson proposed an enigma to the young people who were invited. Whoever lost would have to give 30 changes of clothes to the winner. The youth agreed and Samson said:
“From what you eat comes food; from what is strong, sweetness comes out.”
The young Philistines were unable to decipher the riddle, so they blackmailed Samson’s wife. She, in turn, wept throughout the party, until Samson told her the answer to the riddle ( Judges 14: 15-17 ). Then the youth came to Samson and gave him the answer. Samson was very angry and, to pay the bet, killed 30 Philistines and gave his clothes to the guests!
Samson went home without his wife, so she was given to another man. He later returned to make up with her but her father prevented him from approaching her. When Samson discovered that she was the wife of another man, he was furious and destroyed the Philistines’ crops ( Judges 15: 3-5 ).
In revenge, the Philistines killed Samson’s wife and father. Samson, in turn, took his revenge by killing many Philistines. Then he hid. The Israelites delivered Samson, bound, to the Philistines, but Samson broke the ropes and killed 1000 Philistines with the bone of a donkey ( Judges 15: 14-15 ).
See also: what does the Bible say about revenge?
On another occasion, Samson became involved with a prostitute in a Philistine city. When they found out he was there, the Philistines decided to kill him but Samson fled at night, taking the city gates with him! – Judges 16: 3
Samson and Delilah
After all this happened, Samson fell in love again, with a woman named Delilah. When they found out, the Philistines bribed Delilah to discover the secret of Samson’s strength ( Judges 16: 4-5 ). Delilah accepted the challenge and asked Samson where his strength came from.
Samson lied to Delilah three times, inventing false ways to diminish his strength. Delilah did everything but Samson’s strength remained the same. So she irritated him a lot, not letting him rest until he told the secret ( Judges 16: 15-16 ). Samson explained that he was a Nazirite and that he had never cut his hair . If his hair were shaved, he would lose all his strength.
Then, while Samson slept, Delilah called a man to cut his hair and his strength was gone ( Judges 16: 18-19 ). The Philistines came and captured Samson, pierced his eyes and put him in prison. But after a short while, her hair started to grow again.
One day the Philistines threw a big party for their god and brought Samson to entertain them. There were many Philistines in the temple, laughing at Samson. So he prayed to God, asking for strength to take revenge on his enemies. God gave him strength again and Samson pushed the two pillars that supported the temple. The building collapsed and everyone died, along with Samson. In that last act, Samson killed more Philistines than in his entire life ( Judges 16: 28-30 ).
Despite his many defects and sins, Samson was recognized as a hero in the Bible. God used Samson to deliver his people and bring judgment on the Philistines.
10 Questions about Samson and Delilah
After learning about Samson’s story, test your knowledge with this 10 question quiz. Good challenge!