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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Judges 15

 

 

Verse 18

SAMSON AND THE PHILISTINES

‘He … called on the Lord.’

Judges 15:18

It was a great indignity and affront that the father of Samson’s wife offered him, and it was natural enough that he should be greatly annoyed. It was not taught in those days that we should treat with mercy those who despitefully use us, or conquer them by love.

It was about the end of April, when the shocks of corn were lying on the fields, waiting to be carried to the threshing floors; and therefore the devastation caused by these jackals, mad with fright and pain, as he sent them in couples into the plain of Philistia, must have been considerable. That the Philistines retaliated on his wife, whose treachery had brought this calamity about, was not to be wondered at, nor that Samson again repaid them in their own coin.

I. Samson’s faith and courage.—His retirement to the cleft of the rock, the treachery of the men of Judah, and their cowardly subservience to the Philistines, the sudden breaking of the strong ropes that bound him, the slaughter of the thousand men with so inadequate a weapon, the subsequent miracle to supply his maddening thirst—all these incidents were evidently part of a Divine programme, gleams of light from the Spirit of God, who must needs speak to the men of those days in the only language which they could understand. God spoke to the fathers in the prophets ‘by divers portions and in divers manners.’ But to us too He speaks. Are there any readers of these words who are bound by evil habits, as by new cords? Let such be of good cheer! Let them look up from this page to God, and receive, by a deep spiritual inbreathing, the Holy Spirit; and as they live in Him, He will deliver them from the strong bonds of evil habit. Their bands shall drop off their hands, as flax touched by fire.

II. Samson’s unbelief and weakness: ‘Now I shall die of thirst!.—That is the language of unbelief. Only a little while before, the Spirit of the Lord had come mightily upon Samson, and the ropes of the Philistines had become as flax on his arms. A thousand men had fallen beneath the jawbone of an ass, as he wielded it in the power of God. It had been predicted to his mother, before his birth, that he would work a mighty work of salvation for his people, which so far he had clearly not effected. How incredible it was that he should now die of thirst, when he was so evidently raised up for special work which only he could perform, and when God had so constantly preserved and helped him! The question of getting his thirst assuaged was comparatively a small thing in the face of his deliverance from a thousand Philistines. If God had saved in the one case, surely He could in the other. To say, ‘Now I shall die of thirst!’ was unworthy of him to whom God had given such manifest deliverances. Yet it is not unusual for God’s people to repeat Samson’s mistake. Their previous experiences of God should be enough to banish all fear for the future; and yet in the presence of some small privation they give way to discouragement and despair. If God has wrought some great deliverance in the past, this present difficulty is only like Samson’s thirst, which is as much God’s care as the victory over hundreds of Philistines. He perfects that which concerns His children. He has been with you in seven troubles, and will not desert you in the eighth. He has brought you across the ocean, and will not allow you to perish in a ditch. Let His love in time past forbid you to think that He will leave you at last in trouble to sink. The water-springs will gush from a very unlikely place. Perhaps you have twenty years of useful service still in front of you.

Illustrations

(1) ‘In the moment of his triumph there came to him to teach him his weakness without his God, the sore thirst under which his mighty strength fainted. He cried unto the Lord in a prayer which witnesses in its every word to his deep sense of his being in these acts no mere pursuer of personal vengeance, but in very deed an instrument in the hand of Jehovah for the rescuing of His people. “Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of Thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” He did not cry in vain, for in the rock at Lehi He who bringeth water out of the great deeps opened its fresh springs, and when the thirst-found hero had drunk his spirit came again and he revived.’

(2) ‘Great at this time was the glory of Manoah’s son. Terrified by the utter failure of their last attempt, the Philistines withdrew themselves into their own borders. Samson judged his people, and though the heathen yoke yet dishonoured Judah, it was little more than an empty token of subjection, while Samson was at hand to avenge upon their trembling hosts any act of aggression or of wrong. For twenty years it seems that this long pause lasted; and then the last and greatest of the judges falls before the temptations of the flesh, and ends in shame and ruin his life of bright but fitful splendour. It is a dark and miserable history, to be told in a few mournful words, to be stored up by all for closest self-application in their heart of hearts.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Judges 15:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/judges-15.html. 1876.

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