What was the source of Samson's strength?Question: "What was the source of Samson's strength?"
Answer: In Judges 13:5 an angel gives a promise and command to Manoah’s wife: “You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Her son was Samson. As an adult, Samson’s strength allowed him to tear apart a lion with his bare hands and to defeat many Philistines with supernatural acts of strength.
The Philistines, of course, saw Samson as their mortal enemy. In an attempt to defeat him, some of the Philistine leaders plotted with a woman named Delilah to discover the source of his strength. They said to her, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver” (Judges 16:5).
Delilah tried three times to pry from Samson the secret of his strength. Three times she failed, as Samson misled her with various stories. Then we read, “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. So he told her everything. ‘No razor has ever been used on my head,’ he said, ‘because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man’” (Judges 16:16–17).
Verse 19 records Samson’s defeat: “After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.” The Philistines, who had been waiting to pounce, bound Samson, gouged out his eyes, and put him in prison where he was forced to work at a mill (Judges 16:21).
After a time, the Philistines chose to bring Samson out of prison to make sport of him. He was brought into the arena during a festival where about 3,000 men and women were in attendance (Judges 16:27). Samson rested against the pillars and prayed for God to give him strength one more time to defeat the Philistines.
God answered his prayer. Verse 30 notes, “Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.”
It seems as though Samson’s hair was his human source of power, but it is clear from this final event that God was the true, ultimate source of his strength. Samson’s uncut hair was simply the sign that he was obeying God’s command for him to be a Nazarite. God’s strength was the power behind each of the judges, including Samson.
Recommended Resource: NIV Application Commentary Judges/Ruth by K. Lawson Younger.
Judges & Ruth: Holman Old Testament Commentary by W. Gary Phillips
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Questions about Judges
What was the source of Samson's strength?