For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Judges chapter 16, which gives the detailed account of Samson’s death, should be read here.

16:16.  “And it came to pass, when she (Delilah) pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;”

The words “his soul was vexed unto death” become invested with a special significance, when we remember that on the night when the type was fulfilled, and the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered into the hand of His enemies, and the time of His death drew near, He used almost the same words, “He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” Mt 26:37-38.

16:17.  “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.”

It is difficult to believe that at this point Samson could have been ignorant of the treacherous nature of Delilah, so that his disclosing his secret was tantamount to placing his life in her hands, knowing, or at least having good reason to suspect, that she wouldn’t hesitate to use that knowledge to destroy him.  It seems clear therefore that he told her simply because he loved her, and in this we have a foreshadowing of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, out of His great love for treacherous Israel, placed His life in her hands, knowing full well, what Samson may have only suspected relative to Delilah, i.e., that it would cost Him His life.

16:18.  “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 showed me all his heart.  Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.”

Next to Judas’ betrayal of Christ, this must surely stand in the chronicles of treachery as one of the vilest examples.  That it is exceeded by that of Judas, simply emphasizes the vileness of the man who would sell the Lord for a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a gored slave, for since there were five lords of the Philistines, Delilah’s blood money was fifty-five hundred pieces of silver.  She at least might plead the greatness of the inducement to betray the man who loved her.

16:19.  “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.”

The cutting off of Samson’s hair was the outward sign that his Nazariteship was gone: he was defiled.  It corresponds to the Lord Jesus Christ’s being made sin for us; and as the loss of Samson’s hair resulted in his death, so did the Lord’s being made sin (figuratively losing His Nazariteship) result in His death.  (It is to be remembered, however, that even when He was made sin for us, He never ceased to be in Himself inherently holy).

While this is clearly a typological picture of the Lord’s betrayal, we should not miss the contrasts.  Samson may have suspected that Delilah would betray him.  The Lord knew that His love for Israel would cost Him His life.  Samson lay asleep as the trap closed upon him.  The Lord watched and prayed while the disciples slept.

The meanings of the word afflict are so many and obscure as to make it virtually impossible to determine just what is meant in the present context, though one translator gives it as her resolve “to cast off and spurn his love” (Knox).

16:20.  “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.”

There doesn’t appear to have been any counterpart of this in the Lord’s experience, though it seems in general to portray the hours in Gethsemane and in the judgment hall.  The one part that appears to have no application to Christ at this point is God’s departure from Samson, for the only thing that could correspond to it would be when the Lord was forsaken, and cried “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” but clearly that moment, and the other events of Calvary are portrayed later when Samson pulled down the house, and died himself.

16:21.  “But the Philistines took him, and put (bored) 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 only thing that would seem to correspond to Samson’s being blinded would be the three hours of darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour, but again we do not appear to have reached that point in this typological picture.  It may be therefore that the literal darkness into which Samson entered as a result of his having been blinded, is symbolic of the spiritual darkness that began to envelop the Lord from the time He entered Gethsemane until His death.

His being brought down to Gaza, being bound with fetters of brass, and being made to grind corn in the prison house, would all seem to speak of Calvary, except that, as noted already, we don’t seem to have yet reached that point in the symbolic picture.

Since Gaza she was strong represents the power of the enemy, his being brought there speaks of Christ’s being brought of His own volition under the power of the enemy; and since brass is the Biblical emblem of judgment, his being bound with fetters of brass points to the Lord’s submitting to the judgment that ought to have fallen upon us.  His grinding grain while in the Philistine prison, declares the truth that the Lord fulfilled the type by becoming the bread of life through the experiences that culminated in His death on the cross.

16:22.  “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.”

Since this held out hope of the return of his great strength, it may be that it is mentioned here so that the typological picture would also include the promise of the Lord’s resurrection.

16:23.  “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.”

This clearly corresponds to the gathering of the Jews in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, for it must be remembered that the mass of the nation was apostate, and as noted already, the Philistines represent apostasy.  In spite of all their outward appearances, the majority of those who celebrated that Passover were spiritual Philistines.  Those unbelieving Jewish leaders were also on that occasion rejoicing in the fact that they had finally succeeded in securing the death of the One they also counted their enemy.  As for that Passover, it too might as well have been a feast to a heathen god, for it was an abomination to Jehovah, being simply an empty ritual performed by those who knew Him not, and who were responsible for the death of His Son. 

16:24.  “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.”

The Jews who combined the celebration of Passover with their celebration of the death of the One they counted their enemy, were as spiritually blind as were the Philistines who gathered to worship Dagon, and celebrate their victory over Samson.

16:25.  “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.”

It isn’t difficult to see in this the foreshadowing of the conduct of the multitude assembled around the cross to mock the Lord; and in their setting him between the pillars there may be a faint preview of the Lord’s being impaled on a cross set also between two others.

16:26.  “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.”

As has been noted by others, the nameless servant who sought the bride for Isaac, and the nameless man who guided the disciples to the upper room, are types of the Holy Spirit; and it seems that this nameless lad who guided Samson is also a type of that same Holy Spirit Who guided the Lord at Calvary no less than at any other time of His life, for in He 9:14 we are reminded that it was through the Holy Spirit that the Lord offered Himself without spot to God.

16:27.  “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.”

The distinction made here between those in the house, and those on the roof, may be to remind us that the multitude around the cross included also two groups: there were the unbelieving people, and there were also the demons, the pleasure of both in their seeming victory over Christ, as great as that of the Philistine lords over Samson.  As Samson “made sport” for the Philistines, so did the Lord also “make sport” for those who mocked and rejoiced in His death.

16:28.  “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.”

This is reminiscent of the Lord’s cries from the cross beginning with the plea, “My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” Mt 27:46, and ending with, “It is finished,” Lk 19:30.

16:29.  “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.”

There is undoubtedly spiritual significance attached to these two pillars supporting that Philistine building, but I am unable to discern what that lesson is.

16:30.  “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.”

This depicts the destruction of Satan’s “house” when the Lord completed His great work at Calvary with the words, “It is finished.”   Samson’s victory didn’t bring an immediate end to Philistine activity, nor has the death of Christ brought an immediate end to the activity of Satan, but as the Philistines were potentially destroyed that day, so was Satan at Calvary.  His present activity is that of a foe in his death throes.

The emphasis upon the greatness of the victory achieved by Samson in his death, is the symbolic anticipation of the mighty victory that has been accomplished through the Lord’s death.

16:31.  “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 buryingplace of Manoah his father.  And he judged Israel twenty years.”

No spiritual mind will fail to see in Samson’s honorable burial by his brethren, a figure of the Lord’s entombment by those who loved Him.

Zorah means she was smitten with leprosy; and Eshtaol, I will be entreated.  Samson’s being buried between them therefore, points to the spiritual significance of the Lord’s death.  He also rests between a world smitten with “leprosy” (sin), and a God Who “will be entreated” - Christ being Himself the “One Mediator between God and men,” 1 Tim 2:5, available to every sinner willing to trust Him as Savior.  Nor should we miss the message being conveyed in the fact that his buryingplace was that of Manoah his father, for Manoah means rest.  Christ now also “rests” with His Father.

Its being repeated here that he judged Israel twenty years is to remind us that He of Whom Samson is a type, will yet come forth as the mighty Lion of Judah to rule the world for God’s glory, not just for twenty years, but for ever.  Through faith in His finished work, all who trust Him as Savior will also reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12).

For a detailed discussion of Samson as a type of Christ, please consult Judges chapters 13-16, also available on this Web site.


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough