The part of the life of Samson most are familiar with now becomes the focus of discussion in Judges, namely the entrance of Delilah and the downfall of Samson.
The rather crazy life of Samson continued, one that did not reflect his calling as one set apart to God. In Judges 16 we find him once again in the land of the Philistines, this time in Gaza. He cast his eyes on a prostitute and spent the night with her. Word got around that Samson was in town and the people of Gaza plotted to kill him at dawn. Samson got up in the middle of the night, took hold of the city doors, tore them off posts and all and carried them to the top of the hill facing Hebron.
At a later point in time, Samson again was spending too much time with the Philistines and fell in love with a woman named Delilah. Secretly, the rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah to have her try and trick Samson into telling her the source of his great strength. Delilah, using every trick in her seductress handbook, attempted to woo Samson into giving us his secret. After a series of ploys, all of which failed as Samson was not able to be bound by that which he claimed would control him, Delilah really laid on the charm, prodding him day and night to give up the secret. He finally caved, telling her the source of his strength was his hair. After learning of this, she sent word to the rules of the Philistines, telling them to come back one more time as this time they would be able to capture Samson.
After Samson fell asleep on her lap, Delilah shaved his head and then yelled that the Philistines were coming. As before, Samson leapt up to deal with the Philistines, only this time his strength was no more for God had left him. In reality, the strength did not lie in the hair. It was obedience to God’s commands that gave him strength. His disobedience resulted in God leaving him. The Philistines bound him with bronze shackles and forced him to grind grain in prison. While in prison, his hair began to grow.
The rulers of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god. When they were in high spirits (drunk), they brought Samson out of prison to make sport of him. They stood him among the pillars, but Samson asked the servant if he could be placed between two pillars. The temple was full of Philistines. Praying to God for one last feat of strength to which God answered his prayer, Samson pushed against the pillars, collapsing the entire temple. In doing so, he killed more Philistines at that point that in his entire life.
A man named Micah had taken 1100 shekels of silver from his mother. Returning it to her, she consecrated her silver to the Lord so that her son could make an image and cover that image with the silver. Micah made a shrine, an ephod, and some household gods and installed one of his sons to be the priest. A Levite was passing by from Bethlehem, looking for a place to stay. He came upon the house of Micah who offered for the Levite to stay with him. Micah also offered to pay the Levite and installed him as priest. The text declares that since there was no king, everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Clearly they had forgotten God as being their king.
The Danites were looking for a place to say as they had not yet come into their inheritance of land. They sent five of their leading men to spy out the land. They entered the hill country where Micah’s house was located. They met the Levite who was priest and asked him to inquire of God if their journey would be successful. The priest told them to go in priest for God was with them.
The men left and came to Laish and upon seeing the people there were living in peace and safety and that the land was good, they decided to attack them and take their land. 600 armed men of the Danites departed and set up camp near Kiriath Jearim. The five men who had earlier spied out the land, told their fellow Danites about the house of Micah and that it has an ephod and household gods. The 600 Danites armed for battle stood at the entrance of Micah’s house. The five spies went in and took the household idols and the ephod. Seeing what they were doing, the Levite priest confronted them. The spies told him to be quiet and offered for him to join them and to serve as their priest. He agreed.
After the men had gone some distance from the house of Micah, those who lived near Micah overtook the Danites and asked them what they were doing. The Danites called out to Micah and asked him why he had sent his men to fight them. Micah responded by telling them they had stolen his ephod and household gods. The Danites told Micah that if he attacked them, he would lose everything. Seeing they were too strong for him, Micah returned to his home.
The Danites attacked Laish and attacked them, burning down their city. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They also setup for themselves an idol with Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses and his sons serving as the priest of the Danites. They also used the idols taken from Micah. The house of God remained in Shiloh.