And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and he also said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man from Zorah, from the family of Dan, whose name was Manoah; his wife was unable to conceive and had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “It is true that you are unable to conceive and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now please be careful not to drink wine or beer, or to eat anything unclean; for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.”
So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him. Then the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson went down to Timnah and saw a young Philistine woman there. He went back and told his father and his mother: “I have seen a young Philistine woman in Timnah. Now get her for me as a wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Can’t you find a young woman among your relatives or among any of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines for a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” Now his father and mother did not know this was from the Lord, who wanted the Philistines to provide an opportunity for a confrontation. At that time, the Philistines were ruling Israel. Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Suddenly a young lion came roaring at him, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. Then he went and spoke to the woman, because she seemed right to Samson. After some time, when he returned to marry her, he left the road to see the lion’s carcass, and there was a swarm of bees with honey in the carcass. He scooped some honey into his hands and ate it as he went along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it. But he did not tell them that he had scooped the honey from the lion’s carcass. His father went to visit the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, as young men were accustomed to do. When the Philistines saw him, they brought thirty men to accompany him. “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can explain it to me during the seven days of the feast and figure it out, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes. But if you can’t explain it to me, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” “Tell us your riddle,” they replied. “Let’s hear it.” So he said to them: Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet. After three days, they were unable to explain the riddle. On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Persuade your husband to explain the riddle to us, or we will burn you and your father’s family to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?” So Samson’s wife came to him, weeping, and said, “You hate me and don’t love me! You told my people the riddle, but haven’t explained it to me.” “Look,” he said, “I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother, so why should I explain it to you?” She wept the whole seven days of the feast, and at last, on the seventh day, he explained it to her, because she had nagged him so much. Then she explained it to her people. On the seventh day, before sunset, the men of the city said to him: What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? So he said to them: If you hadn’t plowed with my young cow, you wouldn’t know my riddle now! The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men. He stripped them and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. In a rage, Samson returned to his father’s house, and his wife was given to one of the men who had accompanied him. Later on, during the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat as a gift and visited his wife. “I want to go to my wife in her room,” he said. But her father would not let him enter. “I was sure you hated her,” her father said, “so I gave her to one of the men who accompanied you. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful than she is? Why not take her instead?” Samson said to them, “This time I will be blameless when I harm the Philistines.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes. He took torches, turned the foxes tail-to-tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. Then he ignited the torches and released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned the piles of grain and the standing grain as well as the vineyards and olive groves. Then the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” They were told, “It was Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because he took Samson’s wife and gave her to his companion.” So the Philistines went to her and her father and burned them to death. Then Samson told them, “Because you did this, I swear that I won’t rest until I have taken vengeance on you.” He tore them limb from limb and then went down and stayed in the cave at the rock of Etam. The Philistines went up, camped in Judah, and raided Lehi. So the men of Judah said, “Why have you attacked us?” They replied, “We have come to tie Samson up and pay him back for what he did to us.” Then three thousand men of Judah went to the cave at the rock of Etam, and they asked Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines rule us? What have you done to us?” “I have done to them what they did to me,” he answered. They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.” Then Samson told them, “Swear to me that you yourselves won’t kill me.” “No,” they said, “we won’t kill you, but we will tie you up securely and hand you over to them.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and led him away from the rock. When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and the ropes that were on his arms and wrists became like burnt flax and fell off. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand, took it, and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said: With the jawbone of a donkey I have piled them in heaps. With the jawbone of a donkey I have killed a thousand men. When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone and named that place Ramath-lehi. He became very thirsty and called out to the Lord: “You have accomplished this great victory through your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” So God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived. That is why he named it En-hakkore, which is still in Lehi today. And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
Pain and sorrow often follows disobedience.
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. The Philistine leaders went to her and said, “Persuade him to tell you where his great strength comes from, so we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each of us will then give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me, where does your great strength come from? How could someone tie you up and make you helpless?” Samson told her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I will become weak and be like any other man.” The Philistine leaders brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them. While the men in ambush were waiting in her room, she called out to him, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” But he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of yarn snaps when it touches fire. The secret of his strength remained unknown. Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have mocked me and told me lies! Won’t you please tell me how you can be tied up?” He told her, “If they tie me up with new ropes that have never been used, I will become weak and be like any other man.” Delilah took new ropes, tied him up with them, and shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” But while the men in ambush were waiting in her room, he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread. Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have mocked me all along and told me lies! Tell me how you can be tied up.” He told her, “If you weave the seven braids on my head into the fabric on a loom—” She fastened the braids with a pin and called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin, with the loom and the web. “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ ” she told him, “when your heart is not with me? This is the third time you have mocked me and not told me what makes your strength so great!” Because she nagged him day after day and pleaded with him until she wore him out, he told her the whole truth and said to her, “My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man.” When Delilah realized that he had told her the whole truth, she sent this message to the Philistine leaders: “Come one more time, for he has told me the whole truth.” The Philistine leaders came to her and brought the silver with them. Then she let him fall asleep on her lap and called a man to shave off the seven braids on his head. In this way, she made him helpless, and his strength left him. Then she cried, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” When he awoke from his sleep, he said, “I will escape as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles, and he was forced to grind grain in the prison. But his hair began to grow back after it had been shaved. Now the Philistine leaders gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They rejoiced and said: Our god has handed over our enemy Samson to us. When the people saw him, they praised their god and said: Our god has handed over to us our enemy who destroyed our land and who multiplied our dead. When they were in good spirits, they said, “Bring Samson here to entertain us.” So they brought Samson from prison, and he entertained them. They had him stand between the pillars. Samson said to the young man who was leading him by the hand, “Lead me where I can feel the pillars supporting the temple, so I can lean against them.” The temple was full of men and women; all the leaders of the Philistines were there, and about three thousand men and women were on the roof watching Samson entertain them. He called out to the Lord: “Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more. With one act of vengeance, let me pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson took hold of the two middle pillars supporting the temple and leaned against them, one on his right hand and the other on his left. Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the leaders and all the people in it. And those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life.
No matter how far you fall, God can still redeem you.