Samson and the Men of Judah


After another conflict between the Philistines and Samson in Judges 15:8 the Philistines decided that it was time to take off the kid gloves and bring the whole army into action. They came into Lehi and set up camp ready for a full battle against the one man of God and of course the mighty God of Israel. It is interesting to see the power of God displayed through one man who was willing to stand for God.


When the Philistines arrived in the territory of Judah the people asked them why they were there? The Philistines told them that they had come to bind Samson and to do to him what he had done to the Philistines. Apparently the Israelites negotiated a temporary peace and promised to get Samson and deliver him into the hands of the Philistines because they did not perceive that Samson, and they combined, could deliver Israel from the Philistines or perhaps Israel was simply not yet ready to be delivered (Exodus 6:1-9; Patriarchs and Prophets page 260)


The men of Judah went up to the top of the Rock Etam and discussed surrender with Samson. They reminded Samson that the Philistines were rulers over them and basically concluded that they were content to be controlled by the Philistines. They then chastised Samson for causing all of these problems. Then the men told Samson what their plans were and they had come up with the plan to bind him with ropes and deliver him to the Philistines to do with as they saw fit, according to the Investigative Judgment of the Philistines.


Samson extracted a pledge from the men of Judah that they would not attempt to kill him and they agreed to this if Samson would allow them to bind him with two ropes and deliver him to the Philistines. Samson promised to allow them to bind him and to deliver him to the Philistines. This is an amazing section of Scripture for it is a testimony of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:16-26 that the members of the church itself will turn us over to the Gentiles for peace and safety, but even if these things happen to you to rest in the care of Jesus.


When the men of Judah brought Samson to the Philistines they “shouted against him” and then the Holy Spirit came upon Samson and he was empowered to break the cords around him and then he found a simple blunt instrument – the jawbone of an ass – and with that simple device he killed a thousand men in one day and brought deliverance in front of the 3000 men of Judah. Yet still the men of Judah did not recognize the power of God nor see that God had raised up a deliverer for them. They remained lukewarm and content to stay under the control of the Philistines. Such is the power of faith focused on the things of this earth rather than the power of God.


When Samson had finished the battle for that day he named the place according to the significance that he placed on events and named the place Ramath-lehi or the lifting up of the jawbone of the ass. Samson did not see reason to praise God in this victory. God responded by allowing Samson to experience the power of thirst until Samson was ready to re-evaluate the situation. Samson then recognized his need and he prayed to God and asked for help with his thirst. Then in a still small voice God answered Samson’s prayer by sending a little water to Samson to remind Samson that in both big and small events God remains in control. Samson had an experience similar to that of Elijah after his great deliverance in I Kings 19:1-18.


In all of these things God reveals His power to convince Samson, to convince the Israelites, and to convince the Philistines. Jesus sends His gospel out to touch the hearts of all who are willing to be found and this starts the process that brings in Ittai the Gittite – of Gath, and brought them into the church with David (II Samuel 15:18-22). Nothing happens with God but presents the gospel.