STUDY Hebrews 11:32-34
C (click here for notes)
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (NIV)
Barak's defeat of Sisera and his army of iron chariots marked the end of Israel's problems with the Canaanites in the north. The Philistines, however, were in the south of the Promised Land. They first settled along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Gaza. Gradually but persistently they moved inland and caused more and more problems for the Israelites. God finally allowed Israel to be oppressed by the Philistines because, again, they apostatized. Samson delivered Israel after 40 years of oppression. His story is found in Judges 13 through 16.
Samson was born to Manoah and his wife from the tribe of Dan.
1. What other mothers of significant offspring had the same condition as Samson's mother, and what was that condition? (see Judges 13:2; Genesis 11:30; 16:1; 25:21; 1 Samuel 1:2; Luke 1:7)
2. How did Manoah's wife learn her condition would change? (see Judges 13:3)
3. Compare and contrast this event with other similar events. (see Genesis 16:11-12; 18:10-14; Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:3; Luke 1:13; 26-37)
4. What special instruction did the angel of the Lord give Manoah's wife? (Judges 13:7, 13-14)
5. What were the requirements of a Nazirite vow? (Numbers 6:1-21)
6. What other people were Nazirites from birth until death? (see 1 Samuel 1:11; Luke 1:15)
7. What was the significance of Samson being a Nazirite involuntarily and for his entire life?
Angel of the Lord
8. Who was the angel of the Lord who appeared to Manoah and his wife, and how did they realize his identity? (Judges 13:19-23)
9. The Hebrew word translated "beyond understanding" in Judges 13:18 is translated "wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6. How does this connection help identify the angel of the Lord?
10. When Samson grew up, he spied a Philistine woman in Timnah whom he decided he wanted to marry. What other apparently indiscreet but divinely redeemed liaison occurred near Timnah? (see Genesis 38)
11. Samson's parents remonstrated with him, but he insisted on marrying a Philistine-a decision blatantly against Israelite law. "(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines.)" (Judges 14:4) How do you explain Samson's deliberate violation of the law (and he was a Nazirite on top of that) being "from the Lord"?
12. What are some other times God used people's sins or unlawful acts to accomplish his will? (see Genesis 27:1-40; 38; 29:16-35; Deuteronomy 2:26-30; 2 Samuel 11 and 12; Hosea 1:1-11, 3:1-5)
13. How did Samson's wife betray him? (see Judges 14:12-18)
14. How did God display his power among the Philistines as a result of this betrayal? (Judges 14:1915:19)
15. In the cases of Gideon and Barak, God asked them to muster forces from their own and neighboring tribes. How is Samson's case different?
16. Samson is the only judge connected to a force of men from Judah. What was different about the force from Judah from the forces rallied by the other judges? (see Judges 15:11-15)
17. What does this information about Judah tell us about the attitude of Israel during this time of Philistine oppression?
18. Samson spent the night with a prostitute in Gaza. The men in town lay in wait to kill him, but left during the night, pulled up the doors and posts of the city gate with its bronze or iron bar, and carried them to a hill outside the city. He placed them on the hill facing Hebron, the main city in Judah. How might this be seen as a response to what the men of Judah did to him?
19. How long did Samson lead, or judge, Israel? (Judges 15:20)
20. Samson eventually fell in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah. What did the Philistine rulers ask of her? (Judges 16:5)
21. The five rulers offered Delilah 1,100 shekels of silver each in return for the information they asked of her. This amount would have been the price of 275 slaves using the rate offered for Joseph when his brothers sold him. Desiring the money, Delilah agreed to help the rulers. What were the successive messages Samson gave Delilah regarding the source of his strength? (see Judges 16:6-21)
22. If shaving his hair was the act that removed Samson's strength, why do you think he told Delilah to do it? (see Judges 16:17, 20)
23. "He did not know that the Lord had left him," says Judges 16:20. What do we learn about Samson and his calling from this tragic statement?
24. What was the source of Samson's strength?
25. What did the Philistines do to Samson after the Lord left him? (Judges 16:20)
26. What were the circumstances of Samson's last act of power? (Judges 16:22-30)
27. What was Samson's last act of faith, and what was his motive for requesting it? (Judges 16:28-30)
28. What qualifies Samson to be listed in the faith chapter in Hebrews 11?
A Deeper Look
29. How was God's commission to Samson different from his commission to Gideon and Barak?
30. Why do you think God gifted Samson to be a single-handed hero as opposed to a general over men?
31. How did Samson's response to God's commission compare and contrast with the responses of Gideon and Barak?
32. In looking at the stories of Gideon, Barak, and Samson, what do you think God's overarching message to his people is?
33. How exactly did Samson demonstrate saving faith?
34. How was God's will accomplished?
35. To which of the three judges we've studied, Gideon, Barak, or Samson, do you most relate and why?
36. What gift(s) has God given you for which you wish you did not have to be responsible?
37. What is God calling you to do for him that you wish you didn't have to do?
38. How has God demonstrated his power through you in a way that was clearly not your own doing?
39. In what area of your life are you refusing to be responsible for your commitments or responsibilities?
40. What demands of commitment has God placed in your life from which you wish you could be free?
41. What self-indulgence or personal freedom is God asking you to relinquish to Jesus?
42. How is God asking you to submit to him in faith, allowing him to change your heart to make you willing to be open to his power?
43. Ask God to take your self-centered motives out of your heart and to replace them with his Spirit. Allow him to awaken your heart to truth and reality, and open yourself to experience the love of Jesus deeply in your life. Let the Holy Spirit soften your heart, and allow yourself to love Jesus and to embrace his grace. Praise Him for choosing you and loving you and changing you!
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised August 11, 2001.