Most people have heard the story of David and Goliath, but have you ever heard the story of Samson and Goliath? Before the story begins, we need some background information regarding the newly formed nation of Israel. In about 1446 BC, Moses—the man of God—led his people out of Egypt by God’s power and guidance.
The people had been slaves of the Egyptians for nearly 400 years. Before his death, Moses entrusted his authority to Joshua and appointed him to be his replacement to rule over the “children of Jacob.”
Joshua, the servant of God, was a great warrior and leader of ancient Israel…clearly he learned from Moses. In 1406 BC, Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and began the conquest of the Promised Land. After the death of Joshua, in approximately 1375 B.C, Israel began to be ruled by judges.
These men (and one woman) were usually exceptional warriors and would lead the people of Israel in war against the neighboring pagan enemy nations.
“Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.
And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:16-19).
The Israelites began a series of cycles: sinning, worshiping idols, being punished, crying out for help, being rescued by a judge sent from God, obeying God for a while, and then falling back into idolatry again.
“And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years” (Judges 3:5-8).
God raised up a deliverer for Israel in about 1367 BC. His name was Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
“And the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel , and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died” (Judges 3:10-11).
Othniel was Israel’s first “judge” (not including Moses and Joshua). He served for forty years. This is the first time the phrase “spirit of the Lord” is mentioned in the Bible. The recipient of the “spirit of the Lord” was given a temporary and spontaneous increase of physical, spiritual, and/or mental strength. This was a supernatural occurrence which prepared a person for the special task at hand…usually delivering Israel from a life of slavery.
Ehud was Israel’s next judge and delivered his people from the king of Moab . Shamgar was the third judge of Israel and was a forerunner of Samson.
“And after him (Ehud) was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel” (Judges 3:41).
The next judge was Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth. With the aid of her mighty commander-in-chief, Barak, they defeated the army of Canaan in about 1209 BC. She judged Israel for 40 years. In about 1162 BC, God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. God communicated with Gideon by way of an Angel of the Lord.
The spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew a trumpet to gather the tribes of Israel together to fight. This is the second mention in the Bible of the term “Spirit of the Lord.” With God’s help, Gideon defeated the Midianite army. He was offered a kingship by the men of Israel but he refused them.
After Gideon’s death, the judges that delivered Israel were: Abimelech, Tola, Jair, and Jephthah. The third occurrence of ‘the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah as he defeated several pagan armies. After Jephthah’s death, the judges that lead Israel were: Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. After the death of Abdon, the Israelites again turned to idol worship.
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but you shall conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore, beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13: 1-5).
The angel also appeared to Manoah later, and repeated the message he had left with Manoah’s wife. Maoah did not know that he was an angel, until they offered a burnt offering to the Lord:
“And the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to them. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord” (Judges 13:19-21).
“And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol” (Judges 13:24-25).
This is the fourth mention of the phrase “Spirit of the Lord.”
The fifth mention of the phrase happens in Judges 14: 5-6:
“Then Samson came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
“And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon , and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle” (Judges 14:19). This verse is the sixth mention of the phrase.
The seventh time the “Spirit of the Lord” phrase is used occurs in Judges 16:14-16:
“And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.”
Of course you know the story of Samson and Delilah; and how she used her charms on Samson so he would reveal the source of his strength. After his hair was cut, he was easily captured; for the Lord was departed from him. His vow and covenant as a Nazarite was broken. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with fetters of brass; and he was made to grind grain in the prison house. Samson, the mighty warrior, became a slave. However, his hair was slowly growing back.
The lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice that their god was able to deliver their great enemy, Samson, into their hands. Samson was brought before them so they could torture and humiliate him in public.
As you can well imagine, they had a packed “house” filled with men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there. Even the “nose bleed sections” (roofs) were full of about three thousand men and women, that were watching the spectacle.
They placed Samson between two main pillars. He asked the young lad who was holding his hand to place his hands on the pillars so he could lean upon them.
“And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee; and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, on the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines.
And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life” (Judges 16:28-30).
Samson judged Israel for 20 years. His heroic death occurred in about 1055 BC.
Israel had two more judges after Samson…Eli and Samuel. After Eli’s death, Samuel became judge of Israel . He was also a prophet of God. As slaves under the Philistines, the Israelites cried to God for a king who would be able to deliver them. They wanted to be like the pagan nations around them, with their own king to rule them. God granted the people their wish in about 1050 BC and instructed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel ’s first king.
He was impressive on the outside…a good head taller than anybody else in Israel. He started out being a very good military leader and man of God. 1 Samuel mentions the spirit of the Lord coming upon Saul two times; with Saul even prophesying once. These are the eighth and ninth mention of the “Spirit of the Lord” coming upon an individual. Eventually Saul disobeyed God several times and didn’t follow God’s commands and rules. Samuel prophesied God’s rejection of Saul as king.
God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint the son of Jesse (the son of Obed, who was the son of Ruth and Boaz) that God had chosen to be the next king of Israel . Jesse brought seven of his sons before Samuel, but Samuel told him that none of them was the one God had chosen. Samuel asked Jesse if he had any more sons and Jesse replied that his youngest son was out tending the sheep.
When David was brought before the prophet, God told Samuel that the young shepherd boy was his choice as Israel ’s new king. Samuel anointed David with oil and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. This is the tenth mention in the Bible of the phrase “Spirit of the Lord.”