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Strong Outside, Weak Inside

Judges 16; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 560–568


The Message

God loves me and can work with me even though I make mistakes.

Memory Verse

“Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

Have you ever done something that you knew was wrong? How did you feel? That is probably how Samson felt. Again and again he ignored God’s plan. But God did not give up on Samson.


Samson grew up hearing his mother telling him about God’s special plan for his life. She often spoke of the angel who had spoken to her and Samson’s father before he was born. The angel told them that Samson’s hair should not be cut. He was to be a Nazirite—set apart to serve God. God had promised, “As long as you do not cut Samson’s hair, I will give him strength.” God wanted Samson to use his strength to lead Israel against the Philistines. But Samson did not follow all of God’s instructions.

Samson wanted his own way. He wanted to follow his own wishes, not God’s. Even though Samson continued to disobey God and do what he wanted, God still worked with him to bring down the Philistines. One day Samson went to the Philistine city of Gaza to see a woman there. Then he was trapped in her house.

It was midnight. Some men were whispering outside the house. “The house is surrounded,” they said. “We’ll kill him at dawn.”

Even though Samson had abandoned God, God was still with him. Samson ran to the city gates, but they were locked. Then Samson grabbed the huge wooden doors, lifted them right out of the ground, and walked away. The Philistines were amazed.

Not long after his escape from Gaza, Samson went to see a Philistine woman named Delilah. When the Philistine leaders found out about this, they went to see Delilah. “We will give you lots of money if you find out the secret of Samson’s strength,” they promised.

Three times Delilah begged Samson to tell her his secret. Three times he told her a lie.

Three times she tied Samson, then called to him, “The Philistines are attacking you!” Three times Samson escaped easily.

“You don’t love me,” Delilah finally told Samson. “If you really loved me, you would tell me the secret of your strength. You would tell me everything!” Every day Delilah begged Samson to tell her the secret to his strength. Over and over she begged him until Samson got tired of hearing her ask.

Samson finally told her the secret of his strength. “If my head were shaved, I would be weak,” he said.

That night Delilah had Samson’s hair cut. Then she screamed, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking you!” This time Samson’s strength had left him. More important, God had left him too.

The Philistines captured Samson and put out his eyes. They took him back to Gaza, through the very gates he had once carried. Thousands of people came to see Samson, who was now weak and blind and helpless.

The Philistines put Samson to work in the prison. Gradually his hair began to grow back. Samson knew he had done wrong. He told God that he was sorry, and asked God to forgive him.

After some time the Philistines threw a party in a temple to their idol Dagon. They were celebrating Samson’s capture. During the celebration Samson was led from his prison cell. There, in their temple, men teased Samson and humiliated him. Finally Samson asked to rest. A servant led him to the pillars in the middle of the temple. There Samson prayed: “O God, please strengthen me one more time.”

Samson pushed against two main pillars in the center of the temple. God gave him strength again. The pillars collapsed, and the temple fell. Samson was killed along with thousands of Philistines.

God had given Samson enormous physical strength, but Samson disobeyed God. He was strong, but on the inside, Samson was weak. Let’s ask God to strengthen us inside and outside, so we can resist temptation and always do what is right.