Strengthen Me

Bible Book: Judges  16 : 28
Subject: Prayer
Series: Simple, Urgent Prayers

Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible? Samson – he brought the house down!

The following statements about the Bible were written by children and have not been retouched or corrected (i.e., bad spelling has been left in.)

In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off.
Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.
Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark because Noah built the ark, which the animals came to in pears.
Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients.
The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert.
Afterwards, Moses went up to Mount Cyanide to find the ten commendments.
The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.
Moses died before he ever reached Canada.
Samson was a strong man who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah.
Samson slew the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.

In our Sunday morning services, I have been dealing with some prayers that were simple prayers. But these prayers were also substantial prayers. These are personal prayers in the Bible that have a tone of urgency to them.

We have looked at Exodus 33:18 where Moses said, “Shew me thy glory.”

We have looked at Psalm 139:23 where David said, “Search me.”

We have looked at Isaiah 6 where Isaiah said in verse 8, “Here am I; send me.”

This morning, we’re looking at the prayer of Samson who said in Judges 16:28, “Strengthen me.”

Samson was the last of the thirteen judges included in this book, and the account of his life is given in Judges chapter 13 thru chapter 16. The record of Samson is unique in the book of Judges in that we have a fairly inclusive account of his life from birth to death.

When we think about Samson, we cannot help but think of his superhuman strength. It’s true that there was not a stronger man, nor a mightier warrior in all of Israel – yea, in the entire world, than Samson. And Samson seemed to revel in his strength, and he exhibited great confidence in his physical ability.

Franklin Allen tells the story of Josiah Perkins who was celebrating his one-hundredth birthday when a reporter called and interviewed him. The reporter asked Mr. Perkins, “Do you think you’ll live another hundred years?” And Josiah Perkins said, “I don’t see why I shouldn’t. I’m a heap stronger now than I was a hundred years ago.” (From Paul Lee Tan’s book)

Well, it is possible to have too much confidence in the strength of the flesh, isn’t it? Samson seemed to be able to handle anything that came his way, and even in this chapter we see great exhibitions of ability and feats of strength. Had Samson been a boxer we could have called him the Danite Demolisher. But John Butler entitled his book on Samson, The Weak Strong Man, saying, “Samson was physically the strongest man who ever lived. Yet, he was also a very weak man, and his weakness overcame his strength.” In his final hour, Samson finally realized how weak he was, and he finally remembered that the source of his strength was God. “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” (Judges 16:28).

I. Let’s Consider The Dramatic Record – Samson’s Life

There is perhaps no more dramatic character and story in the Bible than that of Samson. In fact, Alexander Whyte who dealt so well with Biblical character studies wrote, “Some commentators on the book of Judges have treated the story of Samson as an excellent piece of Hebrew folklore. They have produced remarkable parallels to Samson’s exploits out of ...many... mythological characters. His is certainly a story for guys who like stories. It has all the fight scenes, all the love scenes, and all the elements of intrigue; yet this is a real life person. As we think about his dramatic record we must consider...

A. Notice The Record Of His Birth Judges 13

1. This Section Deals With The Parents Of Samson

a. We Find The Bondage In Their Land

(Judges 13:1) 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.

b. We Find The Barrenness In Their Live

(Judges 13:2) 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.

2. This Section Deals With The Prophecy Of Samson

a. There Is A Prophecy Of His Conception

(Judges 13:3) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

b. There Is A Prophecy Of His Calling

(Judges 13:4-5) Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: {5} For, lo, thou shalt 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.

He would be a Nazarite (a separated one), the details of which are given in Numbers 6.

B. Notice The Record Of His Behavior

Samson. [Hebrew Shimshon, meaning uncertain. Some have interpreted the name to be derived from shemesh, “sun,” with a diminutive ending, thus meaning “little sun”; others have connected it with shamam, “to destroy,” explaining the name Samson as meaning “destroyer.” Josephus (Ant. v. 8. 4) explains the name to mean “the strong one,” deriving it from shamem, “fat,” “robust.”] (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary)

The name Samson means “sunshine” or “sunny,” and at first he did bring a little sunshine into the home of his parents.

(Judges 13:24-25) And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. {25} And the spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

1. We See The Exploits Of His Power

(Each of which are tagged by this statement, “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.”)

a. He Killed A Beast (A Lion) Judges 14:5-6

b. He Killed A Band Of Men (Thirty Men) Judges 14:19

c. He Killed A Great Battalion Of Men (1,000) Judges 15:14

But the sunshine of the Lord’s Spirit was obscured by the clouds of lustful sensuality.

2. We See The Examples Of His Passion

a. He Loved A Foreigner (A Woman In Timnath) Judges 14:1-2

b. He Had A Fling With A Harlot In Gaza Judges 16:1

c. He Loved A Flirt Named Delilah Judges 16:4

C.I. Scofield wrote, “The character and work of Samson are alike enigmatical (meaning incomprehensible),” which means that he’s a hard fellow to figure out. Instead of seeing how closely he could walk to God and stand it, he tried to see how far he could walk away from God and get by with it. He exemplifies that which is within each of us as God’s children: the regenerated part and the rebellious part – the divine nature and the depraved nature. Samson seemed to walk on the borderline his entire life. 

II. Let’s Consider The Desperate Request – Samson’s Longing

(Judges 16:28) 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.

In Nehemiah 6:9, Nehemiah prayed “strengthen my hands.” Here, Samson, who had always been such a strong individual, cries out to God for strength.

called – Hebrew 7121. qara', kaw-raw'; a prim. root [rather ident. with H7122 through the idea of accosting a person met]; to call out to (i.e. prop. address by name, but used in a wide variety of applications)

A. Consider The Prompting Of His Prayer

1. Samson Prayed This Way Because Of His Bondage

Samson didn’t start out in bondage, but he did end up in bondage; and it didn’t happen overnight. There was an enslaving process.

Samuel Ridout said…

Samson goes down unto Gaza for the gratification of his own appetites; little caring what blot there might be left upon the name of God, and upon the name of his people, in so doing. He goes down there a victim to the flesh, and, beloved brethren, if one is a victim to the flesh within, it is only a matter of time (until) he will be a victim externally, visibly, too.

Let’s consider for a few moments, in a parenthetical way, what led to his bondage.

a. A Dangerous Association Led To His Bondage

(Judges 16:4) And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

Sorek means “a vine,” and it reminds us of how this temptation wrapped itself around Samson like a vine around a tree.

(Judges 16:19) And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.

What kind of companions are these for a man who is to be the bitter enemy of these people?

The lessons are so plain that we cannot fail, I am sure, to see them. You are only going to compromise on one point. You are only going to adopt one principle that is not quite scriptural. You adopt that one principle, you take it into your bosom, for you know the woman stands for the principles of conduct. You take a single Philistine principle into your bosom and say, “This pleases me well.” It is some piece of religious machinery, some short cut to spiritual success that is going to work wonders, and you say, Ah, this is a good thing, I will make use of it. To be sure it is a Philistine thing, but then it will draw the crowd. (Samuel Ridout)

b. A Dangerous Admission Led To His Bondage

(Judges 16:16-17) And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; {17} That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Poor Samson is always telling his secrets. He is always anxious to talk about things that nobody ought to know but himself. Things that surely Philistines ought not to know about, he wants to tell them. (Samuel Ridout)

He is investing his truth, and energy, and life into that which could not truly satisfy and which ultimately enslaved him.

c. A Dangerous Assumption Led To His Bondage

(Judges 16:20) And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

Are you in a place of bondage? If so, ask God for strength!

An incident is told of a certain college that was without any supply of water one morning. The plumber was called and he examined the plumbing, but could find nothing wrong. Yet, there was no water. Next the water department of the city was called and they sent men to investigate the trouble. After much searching they finally found the cause. A mile away from the college – where the small pipe line supplying the college was connected with the large line going into the city – they found a huge toad sucked partly into the small line. The effect was to literally shut off all the water. City officials speculated that it had most likely got in there first as a little tadpole, but it had fed upon the water until grew and shut off the water. Many a Christian has allowed some little sin to sneak into his life, and allowed it to remain there, until he woke up one day, and like Samson long ago, found that the power was gone. (From Paul Lee Tan’s Illustrations - # 11656)

2. Samson Prayed This Way Because Of His Blindness

(Judges 16:28) 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.

Verse 21 describes the blinding, binding, and grinding effects of sin upon a life.

(Judges 16:21) But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

B. Consider The Particulars Of His Prayer

(Judges 16:28) 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.

1. He Asked The Lord To Remember Him

remember – Hebrew 2142. zakar, zaw-kar'; a primary root word; properly it means to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication it means to mention

2. He Asked The Lord To Restore Him And Repair Him

strengthen – Hebrew 2388. chazaq, khaw-zak'; a primary root word meaning to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong (figuratively – courageous / causatively – strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer. The word is translated elsewhere in the Old Testament as “aid, amend, encourage, be established, fortify, harden, help, be stout, take (hold), be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand.”

Cf. (Psalm 51:12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

III. Let’s Consider The Distinctive Reflections – Samson’s Legacy

A. In The Lone New Testament Mention Of Samson, The Bible Commends His Faith

Even with all the mixed signals that we get from Samson, we cannot deny...

1. Notice The Documented Trust Of Samson

(Hebrews 11:32-34) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: {33} Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, {34} Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

In spite of Samson’s grave failures the New Testament lists him among the great heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32), possibly because he finally realized his total dependence upon God and called upon Him in his last act of valor. (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary)

2. Notice The Definite Triumph Of Samson

(Judges 16:30) 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. (3,000 according to verse 27)

The verb used in verse 30 (bowed) suggests a twisting motion, from which we can infer that Samson turned the pillars off their stone bases, thus removing the support of the roof and causing its collapse.

(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament)

Cf. (2 Corinthians 12:9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

His triumph was a strength made perfect in weakness.

B. In The Last Old Testament Mention Of Samson, The Bible Contemplates His Fate

1. Scripture Gives Us A Clue About The Verdict Of His Life

Warren Wiersbe said, “Samson may have died in victory, but he lived in moral and spiritual defeat. He destroyed God’s enemies, but he did not live like God’s friend. What a tragedy!”

(Judges 16:31) Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Zorah – Hebrew 6881. Tsor'ah; apparently another form for H6880; Tsorah, a place in Palestine.

6880. tsir'ah, tsir-aw'; from H6879; a wasp (as stinging):--hornet.

Eshtaol – Hebrew 847. 'Eshta'ol; probably from H7592 (to inquire, request, demand); intreaty; a place in Palestine.

He was buried where he had lived – between the sting and the supplication, between the hornets and the holy.

2. Samson Gives Us A Clue About The Value Of His Life

(Judges 16:30) 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.

Maybe he could say with Paul, “My life means nothing unless it can glorify God.”

Cf. (Acts 20:22-24) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: {23} Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. {24} But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.


I’ve thought recently about Muhammad Ali. There were two images in my mind of that man who has been heralded as one of the great athletes of modern times. There was the image of the young, vibrant, self-assured man dancing around athletically and confidently claiming, “I am the greatest!” We can vividly remember the famous phrases of the Louisville Lip as he said things like, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and “I’m young, I’m beautiful and can’t possibly be beat.” But even with his impressive boxing record, the truth is that he could be beat. For you see there is a second image of Muhammad Ali. There is the image of an older man who can no longer speak clearly, who can hardly walk because of the ravages of Parkinson’s disease and age. Now we can play back those old film clips of the young, vibrant, confident man, but the present reality is that older, weaker, stricken man. Similarly, we can have this image of ourselves as being strong and capable and self-sufficient, and unbeatable, but that is not the real picture. The reality is that we need God. As Vance Havner said, “Without His unction, we cannot function.”