Was Samson really a mighty man when his hair was long?
Samson appears in the book of Judges. Judges 13:24 records his birth and Judges 16:30 describes his death. The book of Judges was written about 1043 B. C. and Samson was born about 1105 B.C. We are told in Judges 13:24-25 that when Samson was an adult, the Spirit of God “began to stir him.”
Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Judges 13:24-25 (NASB)
He became a judge in the nation of Israel (Judges 15:20).
First Marriage and Thirty Philistines Killed
Chapter fourteen of Judges tells us that Samson married a Philistine woman whose name we do not know (Judges 14:5-11). She manipulated him into giving her the answer to a riddle about honey and a lion (Judges 14:12-16). Then she told the answer to the riddle to “the sons of her people” (Judges 14:17). Samson discovered her treachery, killed thirty of the Philistines and his wife was given to his friend by her father (Judges 14:19-20).
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. 20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend. Judges 14:19-20 (NASB)
First Wife Murdered and Many Killed
In chapter fifteen we are told that the Philistines murdered the woman and her father because Samson had burned the grain fields of the Philistines in his anger (Judges 15:6). Samson slaughtered them for the injustice (Judges 15:8). In retaliation they tried to murder Samson but Samson killed one thousand of the Philistines (Judges 15:16).
But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines. Judges 15:19-20 (NASB)
Second Woman and Final Acts of Justice
Chapter sixteen is the final chapter that describes the days of Samson’s life. The chapter opens with him having sex with a harlot and then marrying another women called Delilah (Judges 16:1, 4). This woman four times asked Samson what the secret was to his power (Judges 16:5-17). The first three times Samson lied to her, but the fourth time he told her the truth (Judges 16:15-22). The secret to his ability to kill a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-7), to kill thirty men in Ashkelon (Judges 14:19), to catch three hundred foxes (Judges 15:4-5), to kill an unknown number of Philistines (Judges 15:6-8), to slaughter one thousand Philistines in Lehi (Judges 15:15) and to rip up the door of the Gazites’ gate (Judges 16:3) was that the hair of his head had never been shaved. He had taken a Nazirite vow.
Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” Judges 16:15-17 (NASB)
Then in Judges 16:18-19, Delilah cut off the hair of his head and he became weak. Then the Philistines were able to abuse and punish Samson. Samson asked a boy to let him feel the pillars of the temple. He asked God to give him great strength one last time. God granted his request and he caused the temple to collapse and killed about 3,000 men and women (Judges 16:27-31).
What was the source of Samson’s strength? While Samson said it was because he had taken a Nazirite vow and, therefore, he had this power because the hair on his head had never been cut (Judges 16:17), the actual answer was that God the Holy Spirit had empowered him when Samson obeyed God by not cutting his hair or shaving it.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him . . . Judges 13:25 (NASB)
The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand . . . Judges 14:6 (NASB)
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them . . . Judges 14:19 (NASB)
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it. Judges 15:14-15 (NASB)
God the Holy Spirit was the source of his power. God had chosen to empower him. There are other examples of God the Holy Spirit empowering men to perform extraordinary feats. A list of these can be found in the study “The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy.” Samson had great strength because he obeyed and kept a Nazirite vow. When he violated that vow by allowing his hair to be shaved, God withdrew the power. Otherwise, Samson was just an ordinary man.
Suggested Links:The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy
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