How strong is strong?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the strongest
person that ever lived? Do you ever watch the programmes where
men pull lorries along by themselves or lift heavy weights? Do you
ever think oh! Wouldn’t it be great to be Superman and do all the
things he does?
Well about 3,200 years ago there was a man who was so strong, that
he pushed a large temple down with his bare hands, his name was
Samson and it means distinguished. God meant Samson to be a
very special man but his life turned out very differently.
The story started like this. His mother and father were childless but
one day an Angel spoke to his mother and told her that she would
have a child and then gave some instructions to her. First she wasn’t
to drink any alcohol or eat certain foods then the angel told her that
she must never cut her sons hair, nor must he touch anything dead
or eat or drink anything from the vine because he was to belong to
Samson’s parents carefully followed God’s instructions and God
blessed the young man. God had intended that Samson with the aid
of some of the Israelites would end the occupation of the Philistines
but this never happened.
Although he was one of the Judges in Israel he was also very
stubborn and didn’t like to do what his parents said.
One day he was out walking and he just happened to end up in a
place called Timnah. This was where the Philistines lived and while
he was there he saw a girl that he liked the look of. He went back to
his parents and said.
“I have seen this girl in Timnah that I like and I want you to arrange a
marriage between us”. (in those days parents arranged the
marriages). His parents were very upset about this and said to him
“Can’t you find a girl in Israel?”
“No” he said “I want to marry this girl”.
So he and his parents went to Timnah to arrange the marriage. As
they approached a young lion came roaring towards them and
Samson killed it with his bear hands.
When he went back to Timnah for the wedding he went and looked at
the carcass of the lion and found that it had a swarm of bees in it and
also some honey.
At his wedding feast he was given thirty friends so he told them a
riddle “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong something sweet”.
Because they couldn’t guess it they persuaded his wife to find out from
Samson what the answer was. It took her a
little while but eventually he told her. She then told the answer of the
riddle to her people. Samson was so angry that he left her and went
After a while Samson decided to go and visit his wife but when he
arrived at his father-in-laws home he found that his father-in-law had
given her to his friend as a wife. This made him so angry that he
decided to get even with the Philistines and so he burnt their crops
and went and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
The Philistines went to Judah and set up camp in a place called Lehi.
The men in Judah asked. “Why have you come to fight us?”
The Philistines said. “We want, to do the same to Samson as he has
done to us”.
So the men from Judah went to where Samson was and said.
“Don’t you realise that the Philistines rule over us! What have you
done to them?”
He answered “I only did to them what they did to me”
“Well, we have come to take you to the Philistines”
Samson said. “Promise me you won’t kill me yourselves”.
They promised they wouldn’t, and he let them tie him with two new
ropes and they led him to the Philistines. As he approached Lehi the
Philistines saw them coming and started shouting at him.
Samson broke the ropes that tied him and seeing the jaw-bone of a
donkey he picked it up and used it to kill one thousand of the
Sometime later, he met a women named Delilah and fell in love with
her. So the rulers of the Philistines went to her quietly and said “if
you find out the secret of his strength we will each give you £1,100”.
(This was a lot of money in those days).So Delilah asked Samson
“What is the secret of your strength, how can someone tie you up so
you cannot get away? ”Samson said “If anyone ties me with seven
new thongs that have not been dried, I’ll become weak.”
So the rulers gave her seven new thongs that hadn’t been dried and
hid some men in the room. So she tied him with them and called to
him “Samson there are Philistines in the room.” But he snapped the
Delilah said. “You have made me look stupid telling me these lies,
now tell me how you can be tied up.”
Samson said. “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have
never been used, I’ll become weak.”
So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men
hidden in the room, she called him, “Samson, the Philistines are
here!” But he snapped the ropes as if they were threads.
Delilah then said to Samson, “You are still lying to me and making me
look a fool. Tell me how you can be tied.”
He replied. “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric
on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become weak.” So while he
was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them
into the fabric and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called him. “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He awoke
from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t
confide in me? This is the third time you’ve made look fool and not
told me the secret of your great strength.” Day after day she nagged
him to find out his secret.So he told her everything. “No razor has
ever been used on my head,” he said, “Because I have been a
Nazarite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my
strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other
When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to
the rulers of the Philistines. “Come back once more he has told me
everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in
their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to
shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.
And his strength left him.
Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are here!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake
myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him
down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to
grind in the prison.
But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been
Now the rulers of the Philistine assembled to offer a great sacrifice to
Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying “Our god has delivered
Samson, our enemy into our hands.”
“When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying.
“Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid
waste our land and multiplied our slain.”
While they were in high spirits, they shouted. “Bring out Samson to
entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he
performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant
who held his hand. “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support
the temple, so that I may lean against them.”
Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of
the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three
thousand men and women watching Samson perform.
Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me,
O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one
blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson
reached towards the two central pillars on which the temple stood.
Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left
hand on the other Samson said. “Let me die with the Philistines!”
Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the
rulers and all the people in it. Samson killed many more Philistines
when he died than while he lived.
He had led Israel twenty years.
This story was taken from the New International Version of the Bible.
If you want to read this story for yourself you can find it in Judges
Chapters 13 to 16
Vivienne Evers © 2004