August 21, 2022 – Judges 13 – 16

Lesson Date: August 21, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Judges 13:1-5, 24-25; 14:1-4, 19-20; 15:14-20; 16:1-30

AIM: To lead students to discover some of the disastrous results of Samson’s self-centered and irresponsible lifestyle, and to confess their sins and commit themselves to right living in the future.

Before class: Read the notes on Judges 13 – 16 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Draw the Judges Cycle on the marker board or chalkboard.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “What does the word self-centered mean?  What does it mean to be self-centered?” (to be focused on self and what pleases self, to the exclusion of the needs of others; to be selfish).  Tell the class the opposite of self-centered is to be concerned for the welfare of others.  Ask: “Have you ever known anyone you would describe as a self-centered person?” (they probably have).  Ask: “Are you ever self-centered?”  Tell the students that because of our fallen, sinful nature, all of us can be self-centered at times.

Ask: “What does the word irresponsible mean?  What does it mean to be irresponsible?” (to not take responsibility for one’s actions, to behave without any concern for the consequences of one’s actions).  Tell the class the opposite of irresponsible is to meet one’s obligations and take “ownership” for the results of one’s actions.  Ask: “Have you ever known anyone you would describe as an irresponsible person?” (they probably have).  Ask: “Are you ever irresponsible?”  Tell the students that because of our fallen, sinful nature, all of us can be irresponsible at times.

Ask: “Do you think that self-centered and irresponsible behaviors are common in our modern world?” (yes).  Ask the students to give some examples of self-centered or irresponsible behaviors.  They might name some of the following: lying, cheating, stealing, laying out of church, alcohol and drug use, premarital sex and cohabitation, dishonesty in the personal and public realm, reckless driving, abortion, etc.  All these things are done for selfish pleasure or benefit without concern for the price to be paid later or the harm they cause families and society as a whole.

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is Self-Centered, Irresponsible Living.  As we study the life of Samson described in Judges 13 – 16, we will discover some of the disastrous results of his self-centered and irresponsible behavior.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that the book of Judges describes the 300-year period of Israel’s history between the death of Joshua and the appearance of the prophet Samuel.
    • Direct their attention to the illustration on the board and remind them of the repeated cycle found throughout the book of Judges, which was:
      • Sin,
      • Oppression by foreign powers,
      • Crying out to God for help,
      • God raising up a judge to deliver them from oppression, followed by
      • Rest and peace.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jephthah, who was influenced by his ungodly culture, and made a foolish bargain with God).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (Prov. 3:5-6).
  2. Israel’s Last Judge – Samson.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 13:1.
    • Ask: “What did the Israelites do?” (evil in the sight of the Lord).
    • Ask: “What did God do?” (delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years; use the Map of the Promised Land to explain that the Philistines lived along the Mediterranean seacoast, including the cities of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and tell them that once again, Israel SINNED, and God again allowed enemies to OPPRESS them).
    • Read Judges 13:2-5.
    • Tell the class that in response to Israel’s need (we don’t know if they CRIED out to the Lord), God graciously promised to give a son to a childless couple.
    • Explain the following:
      • God decreed that the boy would be a Nazarite.
      • Numbers 6:1-8 reveals that Nazarites were especially dedicated to the Lord.
      • They were forbidden from eating or drinking any fruit of the grapevine, cutting their hair, or touching a dead body.
    • Ask: “According to verse 5, what would this child begin to do for Israel?” (he would begin to deliver them from the Philistines; King Saul and King David would later finish the job).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and tell them that God raised up Samson to be a JUDGE to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines).
    • Read Judges 13:24-25.
    • Tell the students the promised son was born, and God blessed him.
    • Ask: “What moved Samson in those early years?” (the Spirit of the Lord).
    • Summarize: God raised up Samson to deliver Israel from oppression. He was to be completely dedicated to the Lord, never cut his hair, drink alcohol, or touch a dead body.
  3. Samson Fought the Philistines.
    • Read Judges 14:1-4.
    • Tell the class that Samson went to the Philistine city of Timnah (locate on the Map of the Promised Land).
    • Ask: “What did Samson want?” (to marry a Philistine woman).
    • Ask: “Were the Israelites supposed to intermarry with pagan people such as the Philistines?” (no).
    • Ask: “Was Samson more concerned with obeying God or pleasing himself?” (pleasing himself; this was a self-centered and irresponsible choice).
    • Ask: “What does verse 4 say about how God planned to work in spite of Samson’s disobedience?” (He would use Samson’s marriage to a Philistine woman to carry out His sovereign purpose for Samson to fight the Philistines).
    • Tell the class that Samson married the Philistine woman, but he lost a silly bet with the Philistine guests at the wedding.
    • Read Judges 14:19-20.
    • Explain that Samson went to the Philistine city of Ashkelon (locate on the Map of the Promised Land).
    • Ask: “What gave Samson the power to kill thirty Philistines?” (the “Spirit of the Lord”).
    • Explain the following:
      • Samson’s Philistine father-in-law gave Samson’s wife to another man.
      • This enraged Samson, so he burned the crops of the Philistines.
      • In retaliation, the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and father-in-law to death.
      • The men of Judah were fearful of Samson’s reckless actions, so they tied him up and turned him over to the Philistines.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 15:14-15.
    • Ask: “How did Samson have the strength to kill 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey?” (the “Spirit of the Lord came upon him”).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 15:20.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and tell them that God raised up Samson as a JUDGE to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines.
    • Summarize: Samson was a selfish and irresponsible man, but God used him as an instrument to strike serious blows against the Philistines.
  4. Samson’s Irresponsible Behavior.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 16:1.
    • Locate the Philistine city of Gaza on the Map of the Promised Land.
    • Ask: “What selfish and irresponsible choice did he make there?” (he had immoral relations with a harlot).
    • Tell the class the Philistines surrounded the house, hoping to kill Samson, but he escaped.
    • Read Judges 16:4-5.
    • Explain the following:
      • Samson’s immoral lusts drew him to another Philistine woman, named Delilah.
      • The leaders of the Philistines wanted to capture and kill Samson.
    • Ask: “What did they offer Delilah if she discovered the source of Samson’s great strength?” (1100 pieces of silver).
    • Tell the class that three times Delilah tried to get Samson to reveal the source of his strength, and each time he lied to her.
    • Ask: “Do you think Samson and Delilah truly loved one another?” (no, they were merely using one another to satisfy their fleshly lusts: his for sex and hers for money).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 16:16-17.
    • Explain the following:
      • Rather than recognizing Delilah as an enemy who had sold him out, Samson was ruled by his selfish lust and remained with her “daily.”
      • She finally nagged and pestered him enough that he “told her all his heart.”
      • Samson’s strength came from God: his long hair was merely the outward sign of his special calling as a Nazarite.
      • In the words of John MacArthur, “When Delilah became more important to him than God, his strength was removed.”[1]
    • Read Judges 16:18-20.
    • Ask: “According to verse 20, what did Samson not realize?” (that “the Lord was departed from him”).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Judges 16:21.
    • Ask: “What happened to Samson as a result of his selfish and irresponsible behavior?” (he was captured by the Philistines, blinded, bound in fetters, and forced to work for them like a beast of burden).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and tell them that for Samson as an individual, SIN resulted in captivity and OPPRESSION by the enemy.
    • Summarize: Samson’s selfish and irresponsible behavior led to his capture by the enemy. Selfish and irresponsible behavior can enslave us, too.
  5. Samson’s Disgrace and Death.
    • Explain the following:
      • The leaders of the Philistines gathered at their pagan temple to celebrate their victory over Samson.
      • They brought him out so they could gloat over him and make fun of him.
      • Samson was tied between the pillars that supported the building.
      • More than 3,000 Philistines were present, watching and laughing at Samson.
    • Read Judges 16:28-30.
    • Ask: “What did Samson ask God in verse 28?” (to restore his strength one more time).
    • Ask: “Why did he ask for his strength back?” (so he could avenge the loss of his eyes by killing the Philistines; even in this he was thinking more about himself than about glorifying God).
    • Tell the students that God strengthened Samson enough to knock down the pagan temple, causing the deaths of more than 3,000 Philistines.
    • Summarize: Samson’s irresponsible and self-centered behavior led to his utter disgrace and death, but God enabled him to kill more Philistines in his death than he had in his life.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that we began today’s lesson talking about the words self-centered and irresponsible.  Samson was a self-centered and irresponsible man.  Ask: “What are some self-centered and irresponsible things that Samson did?” (he was ruled by his fleshly lusts, he was immoral, he was hot-tempered, he disobeyed God’s rules, he violated the Nazarite standards God expected him to uphold, he acted impulsively without consulting God, he seldom prayed, etc.).

Tell the class that Samson was a man called by God but polluted by the wicked culture in which he lived.  Despite his sinfulness, God used him to strike several strong blows against the Philistines, to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines.  Samson was a man of great promise, who threw away his birthright because of his unbridled lust.  He killed a lot of Philistines, but he provided no moral leadership or example to his people.  Direct the students’ attention to the cycle on the board and tell them Samson JUDGED Israel twenty years, but the Bible does not say Israel had REST.

Tell the students that anytime we choose to do what we want instead of what God has told us, we are being self-centered and irresponsible.  Stress the following two truths:

  • It is ALWAYS self-centered and irresponsible to disobey God.
  • Self-centered and irresponsible living ALWAYS leads to hurt, disgrace, discouragement, depression, and ultimately, to death.

Ask: “Are you living according to God’s rules and standards, or your own?  Do you think about the consequences of your actions, or do you just do what you want with no thought of the future?”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask: “Has God shown you this morning that you are behaving in a self-centered or irresponsible manner in some area of your life?”  Urge the students to silently confess their sins to God and make a commitment to Him to live right in the future.  Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Tell the students to notice the many examples of self-centered and irresponsible behavior as they read the news or follow social media this week.  Encourage them to spend time in prayer and Bible reading each day.

[1] John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

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