Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
2. Read verses 1-5. So far – that we know of (see lesson 12, link above) – Samson has gone against the wishes of his parents, married a pagan wife, broken his Nazirite vow, exhibited “hot anger” and personal vengeance, abandoned his wife, fornicated with a prostitute, fornicated with Delilah, and is about to lie multiple times (10, 13, 15). Why did God elevate someone so sinful to the position of judge over His people? Why did God use someone like that in His righteous purpose of delivering His people from the enemy, and to point ahead to Christ? Why would God commend someone like that by naming him in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11?
Why does God use you or me? Why does He continue to show us mercy when we continue to sin? Does the fact that God uses someone to accomplish His purposes mean He condones or overlooks that person’s sin? Can you think of any other instances in Scripture in which God used an unrepentant sinner or a pagan nation to accomplish His purposes? Examples of this from history? In your own life or the life of someone you know?
Compare the picture Judges paints of Samson and his sin to the picture Scripture paints of David and his sin. What similarities do you see? What differences?
What was God’s purpose (5) in Samson pulling up the gate and posts and carrying them to the top of the hill (3)?
3. Read 4-22. If Samson had not chosen to sin by shacking up with Delilah, would he have found himself in the position of feeling he had to lie to her, being betrayed by her, and having his life endangered by the Philistines? It has been said (and sung) that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, and sin will cost you more than you want to pay.” Explain this “snowball effect” of sin. How was this true in Samson’s life? Has this ever been true in your life? Have you repented?
How does this passage demonstrate this biblical truth: Trusting in the pleasures of this world and giving your heart away to this world (17-18) brings death, but trusting in the Lord and giving your heart away to the Lord brings life. Which Scriptures argue for this idea?
How could 2 Timothy 2:21-22 have been helpful instruction to Samson? How can this passage apply to your own life?
What does verse 20 mean when it says “the Lord had left him”? Why did the Lord leave him? Is this, as well as what the Philistines did to Samson (21, 24, 25), the logical, natural, and biblical consequence for his sin?
4. Read 23-31. Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to bring reproach upon the name of God in the eyes of pagans by sinning. Explain how Samson’s sin ruined his witness to the Philistines of the one true God and gave them opportunity to mock both Samson and God. Take a moment to imagine what Samson’s life and witness might have been like if he had spent his life pursuing holiness, loving God, and desiring to please Him.
Have you ever ruined your gospel witness to someone by sinning? Have you repented? What could you have done differently in that situation to glorify God with your words or actions in the eyes of the other person(s)?
What was Samson’s stated motive for wanting to kill the Philistines? (28) Was this a selfish or godly motive? What should his motive have been? Have we ever seen Samson pray or call out to God before verse 28 (see lesson 12, link above), or did Samson tend to act on his own volition in the flesh? How does 28-30 demonstrate that Samson’s humbling himself and acknowledging God led to his greatest victory: dying to self, and destroying the enemy?
5. Imagine you’re one of Samson’s brothers (31), and you’ve been given the task of giving his eulogy at the funeral. What would you say about Samson and his life? How could you use his life to point unbelieving funeral attendees to Christ?
6. Compare and contrast Gideon’s (lesson 6, link above) weakness and fear to Samson’s strength and arrogance. Which man’s condition led him to depend more greatly on the Lord? What were the results of Gideon’s dependence on the Lord versus Samson’s self-reliance? How do these two men help demonstrate the spiritual paradox of strength in weakness?
7. How did Samson’s miraculous physical strength point upward to God’s infinite and omnipotent strength?
8. Is the story of Samson a story about how great Samson was, how great a sinner Samson was, or how a great God showed great mercy to a great sinner? Think about this in terms of your own life story.
- Certainly, all have sinned, sin is lawlessness, failing in even one point of the law makes us guilty of it all, and we have no righteousness of our own to boast in. Understanding all of that, is it right, biblical, and fair to view someone who loves Christ and lives her life to please Him, yet occasionally falls into sin, demonstrates godly grief over it, repents, and flees from it, as being in the same category, spiritually, as someone who lives to please himself and doesn’t really care whether or not he sins? Why or why not? Support your answer from Scripture.
Which category do you think Samson was in? Which category are you in? If you think it might be the second category, I would urge you to examine yourself and consider whether or not you’ve truly been born again. Scripture is clear that those who unrepentantly persist in sin are not saved. You may wish to review the gospel and work through my study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check-Up.
- In question 3 above, I said Samson “felt he had to” lie to Delilah. For Christians, would God ever put us in a position in which we have to lie? Back up your answer from Scripture, not circumstances. How could Samson have answered Delilah without lying? Have you ever been in a situation in which you “felt you had to” lie? How could you have answered instead? Were you in that situation due to the “snowball effect” of sin? Listen to this episode of the Truth Be Known podcast: Is Lying Always Sinful?