Scripture Reference: Judges 16:21-31
Suggested Emphasis: Humility
Many of the Philistines gathered in a temple to celebrate and worship their God. They brought Samson out of prison and put him in front of everyone and made fun of him. He asked a servant to lead him to a place between two pillars. By this time Samson’s hair had grown long again. Samson used to be proud and think that he was strong all by himself. Now he knew that he had only ever had strength because God gave it to him. So Samson asked God for strength to do one more thing. Samson pushed the pillars apart and the whole temple collapsed and killed the Philistines and Samson.
Refer to information on the time of the judges. The Philistines made Samson a slave in their town of Gaza. Remember that Gaza was the town where Samson pulled down the city gates and carried them up to the top of a hill. Now he became a humiliated spectacle in the city. He was forced to turn a heavy millstone to grind wheat. Grain was ground by putting it between two large, round stones. Someone rotated the top stone, grinding the grain into flour. Grinding grain was considered a woman’s job, and therefore, it was a way to humiliate Samson.
Blinded, he would never again be a great fighter. But Samson’s captors grew careless. They let his hair grow. Samson regained his strength and put it to one final use.
The Philistines gathered at a temple for a religious event honouring Dagon, a widely worshipped grain or vegetation god. Dagon was a crude idol, half man and half fish. Such an event often involved drinking and debauchery. It was more like a wild party than a church service. Samson was brought from the prison to amuse the crowd. Perhaps they made him dance while they tormented him with sticks and stones.
The Philistines’ temple had two levels from which people watched Samson’s torment. Finally, he was taken to the lower level. He asked to be allowed to lean against a pillar.
We do not know Samson’s heart. He asks God to help him “get revenge on the Philistines for [his] two eyes. It would be nice to think that Samson was asking for revenge for mistreatment of all of Israel but this might be simple selfish revenge. Samson’s whole life has been complex and full of inconsistencies. He has been far from perfect. Whatever the motive for this last request, we see that Samson finally realizes that his strength has never really been in his hair or even the Nazarite Vow. He realizes that only God can give him strength. He does not try to collapse the temple using only the strength that had returned as his hair grew. He asks for the strength that could only come from the Lord.
He pushed the two pillars out of place. The whole upper level collapsed upon the lower, bringing death to thousands, including Samson himself.
Samson’s life had been dedicated to causing mischief among the Philistines, and so was his death. So ended twenty years of Samson’s heroic battling against his country’s enemies.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
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Way to Introduce the Story:
Make an “obstacle course” in the classroom by moving chairs or books around the room. Let the children take turns being blindfolded and led through the course by a partner. Discuss how it would feel to be blind. “Do you remember what happened to Samson in our last story? (He was captured and made blind.) After Samson was blind he began to think about the things that had happened in his life. He began to realize that he had not been strong because he was so good. He knew that he had only been strong because the Lord made him strong. When Samson listened to the Philistines make fun of him and of God, he wished he could show them God’s power again. If he could only be strong again!”
Samson broke his promises to God! He told his girlfriend, Delilah, the secret of his strength. Delilah and the Philistines tricked Samson and cut off his hair. After his hair was cut off, Samson was not strong. The Philistines captured him and made him blind.
The Philistines took Samson to the city of Gaza and made him work very hard in a mill grinding grain. Samson probably remembered how things were the last time he was in Gaza. Back then he had been strong. He had pulled down the heavy city gates of Gaza and carried them to the top of a hill. Now the people of Gaza only laughed at him. They watched him work and made fun of him. Now Samson could not brag about his strength.
Samson worked hard. As time passed, his hair grew longer and longer.
The Philistines did not believe in the Lord. They worshipped a false god named Dagon. The people had a big temple where they worshipped Dagon. One day the Philistines decided to have a big party to give praise to their god. They wanted to celebrate and show everyone how Dagon was stronger than Samson.
The Philistines put Samson in front of all the people at the temple. Three thousand Philistines were there that day. They all laughed and made fun of Samson. They laughed because Samson used to be strong. Now he was blind and had to be led everywhere by someone.
Finally, when the people had stopped watching Samson for a while, Samson asked a servant to lead him to a place where two strong pillars were. These pillars held up the roof of the temple. Samson asked the servant to help him put his hands on the pillars.
Samson’s hair had grown long again. Samson knew that he was stronger than he used to be. A long time ago Samson would have probably just gone ahead and pushed the pillars down. That’s because he used to think that he was strong and better than anyone else. But now it was different. Now Samson knew that he could only be strong if God helped him. He knew he needed to pray to God for strength.
After Samson prayed to God, he pushed on the pillars and knocked them down. When the pillars began to fall, the roof fell down and killed everyone in the building – even Samson. Samson killed many more Philistines that day than he had ever killed before. Now everyone knew that Samson was strong because of the Lord.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
- What did Samson do in prison? He had to grind grain in a mill
- What happened to Samson’s hair when he was in prison? It grew long again
- Why did the Philistines bring Samson to the temple of Dagon, their false god? To make fun of him
- How did Samson destroy the temple? He pushed down the two main pillars that held up the roof.
- Was Samson’s strength in his hair? No, it was in God
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Scriptures about humility for further discussion: Psalm 73:26; Matthew 18:1-4; Luke 14:11; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3-5; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Hebrews 11:32-34.
- Make paper chains and talk about Samson’s imprisonment.
- Lift weights to test strength. Discuss how Samson could have self-pride because of his strength. Talk about things that in which we can have the wrong kind of pride.
- Younger children could build pillars out of boxes. They can take turns being blindfolded and led to stand between the pillars to knock them down.
- Make a shoebox diorama. Samson Box (ideas for all Samson lessons)- Hair, scissors, toy fox, old wine or beer bottle with a big red X on it, Barbie doll, sunglasses (blindness), white cane, paper “temple” crumpled up . . .
- Visual Aid: Guide the children in drawing their pictures as you tell the story. Instructions for Draw and Tell here.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
- Find other ideas on the Pinterest Board “Time of the Judges“
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets at http://calvarycurriculum.org/
- Colouring page of Samson pushing pillars at http://moodypublishing.com/
- Activity on pride versus humility at http://ministry-to-children.com/
- Online slideshow or printable flip chart of Samson’s life at http://bibleforchildren.org/
- Craft: Make handcuffs and chains from paper towel roll and string. Instructional video (1 minute and 2 seconds) at http://youtu.be/5V_LECAViSM
- Worksheets: There are a number of Old Testament worksheets on the following link. Just scroll down to “Judges Worksheets-Samson”. The link is http://www.squidoo.com/
- A good selection of both online and printable puzzles, activities and story words covering the Judges: Gideon and Samson at http://gardenofpraise.com/