At some point in the process of marrying the Philistine woman from Timnah, Samson had stormed out of the wedding to take down 30 Philistine men. Taking their clothing with him back to the wedding feast, he turned them over to his groomsmen and left in a rage. With Samson gone, the father of the bride gave his daughter’s hand to Samson’s best man. (Why waste a perfectly good wedding, right?)
When Samson returned later to claim his bride, his almost-father-in-law informed him of the situation and offered another daughter in her place. Samson was furious. In a feat of supernatural strength and agility, he caught 300 foxes, paired them up, and tied a torch between the tails of each pair. Lighting the torches, he set the 150 pairs of foxes loose to set fire to the Philistines’ crops and vineyards. Based on the reaction of the Philistines (burning Samson’s almost-bride and her father!), the fire must have done major damage. Samson found the men responsible and “struck them hip and thigh” (v.8; this is a cryptic phrase in the original language, probably a wrestling term with the basic meaning of “putting a beat-down on someone”!).
This is where the back-and-forth gets interesting: the Philistines retaliated by raiding an Israelite city, Lehi (v.9). The men of that city made a deal with the Philistines, promising to deliver Samson to them. Three thousand Israelite men went to find him (they knew what he was capable of), and soon returned with him as their prisoner, bound with fresh ropes. When the Philistines rushed Samson, the Spirit of the Lord “rushed upon him” (v.14), empowering him to break the ropes and fight for his life. The only “weapon” handy was the jawbone of a freshly slaughtered donkey (probably with the teeth still in it). It was not much, but in the hands of Spirit-filled Samson it was a lethal weapon. He did not stop swinging that jawbone until he had killed 1,000 Philistines.
After such intense hand-to-hand fighting, Samson was thirsty. He cried out to the Lord for something to drink, and God answered by splitting a rock and making water flow from it to quench Samson’s thirst. It was appropriate for the man with supernatural strength to have a supernatural drink!
Whatever you face today, remember that the God Samson served is the same God you serve. He is no less powerful and no less committed to His people today than He was back then. The God who strengthened Samson for his battles can strengthen you for yours. The God who defeated Samson’s enemies can defeat yours. The God who took care of Samson when he was tired and thirsty can take care of you. And the God who loved Samson so much that He used him in spite of all his issues and failures — he can use you, too!