Chapter 72
Delilah’s First Attempt [Judges 16.4-16.9]

Scripture (KJV): Judges 16.4-9

Delilah, bribed by the Philistines entices Samson
4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.


Two words describe this chapter, Defilement and Deception.

 Defilement. God had rescued Samson from so many tight places that he was sure he was invulnerable, so he continued to play with sin and defile himself. A Spirit-filled God-called leader has no right doing what Samson did. His body belonged to God (1 Cor. 6:12–20).
Deception. The harlot in Gaza deceived him and so did Delilah. You would think that by then Samson would have been alert to danger, but his conscience was defiled and his moral senses were destroyed. Samson even deceived himself by thinking he had everything under control, but he was wrong.



4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.—Judges 16.4 (KJV)
4 Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. —Judges 16.1 (NKJV)

And it came to pass afterwards, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek…Which, according to Adrichomius was just half a mile from the brook Eshcol, from where the spies brought a bunch of grapes, as a specimen of the fruit of the land of Canaan; and this valley of Sorek (See Article #16.8) seems to have been famous for the best wine, and here Samson stopped off for refreshment and pleasure; but, according to Jerom, it was on the north of Eleutheropolis, where, he says, he was shown a village in his time called Capharsorech, near the village Zorah, where Samson was from; and Bunting estimates it to be twelve miles from Hebron, and twelve from Jerusalem; where he met with a woman he loved; whether she was an Israelite, or one of the daughters of the Philistines, who at this time were the rulers of Israel, is not said; most likely the latter, which is how Ben Gersom and Abarbinel take it.

We are given the impression that the lords of the Philistines were intimate with her, and were entertained in her house, and she showed more respect for them than for Samson. The Jews say she became a proselyte, but if she did, there is very little evidence of her being a sincere one. Some have thought, that Samson’s courtship of her was a lawful matrimonial love affair; that falling in love with her, he courted and married her(Intermarriage was a common occurrence between the Philistines and those whom they conquered); but, with Samson and Delilah, this is not very likely, since no mention is made of his marriage to her, and he did not take her to his home, but dwelt in her house. And however strong his love was for her, she seems to have had none for him. It seems to be an impure and unlawful love he had for her, and that she was a harlot, as Josephus maintains; and all her conduct and behavior confirm the same thing. He always matched up improperly with his female interests, and he was cursed in all his matches.

One of the greatest sins that destroy men today is the matter of illicit sex. That was Samson’s sin; he loved a woman, whose name was Delilah.

whose name was Delilah;… Delilah is a woman of some mystery in the Old Testament, for no one can be certain who she was. The simple statement of the text says she was a woman in the valley of Sorek. Most commentators have assumed she was a Philistine, though she is not definitely specified as such. Living in the Valley of Sorek, where both peoples freely mingled, indicates she could have been either Philistine or Hebrew. However, Samson definitely had a passion for Philistine women. The Jews say she was given this name because she weakened the heart and spirit of Samson, and weakened his strength, and weakened his works; and therefore, if it was not her name, they say it was one very proper for her. Her residence, her mercenary character, and her heartless enticements give too much reason to believe she was an immoral woman.

The burnt child dreads the fire; yet Samson, who has more strength than any man, comes short of the wisdom of a child, when it comes to women. Although he had been brought into the highest degree of monkey business and peril, more than once, by his love for women and for lusting after them, nevertheless he would not take the warning, and once again he is caught in the same snare, and this third time proves to be a tragedy for him.

Solomon seems to refer especially to this story of Samson in his warning against uncleanness, when he gives this account of a whorish woman; that she hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her, (Prov. 7:26 ); and that the adulteress will hunt for the precious life (Prov. 6:26 ). This woman has an infamous name, and one that is used today to convey the type of person, or thing, that by flattery or lies brings trouble and destruction on those to whom they pretend to show affection and admiration. The affection that Samson had for Delilah is obvious: he loved her. Some think she was his wife; others that he courted her to make her his wife; but there is too much reason to suspect that he had an immoral attraction for her, and that he lived in sin with her. Whether she was an Israelite or a Philistine is not certain. But if she was an Israelite, which is highly improbable, she had the heart of a Philistine—most likely Delilah was a Philistine. (See Delilah; Article #16.7).

Article #16.7: Delilah
The name Delilah has been identified as meaning both “flirtatious” and “devotee”; the latter suggesting that she was involved in religious prostitution.

Samson and Delilah are among the most well-known couples in the Bible. Samson is known for his strength; Delilah is known for her seductive manipulation.

Delilah lived in a small village near Samson’s hometown. She was possibly a Philistine, although her name is Semitic. She may have been a temple prostitute. Apparently Samson had been visiting her frequently, and their relationship became known to the Philistine leaders. They went to Delilah with an offer she could not refuse.

Samson’s background, his upbringing, and his own experience should have taught him to stay away from foreign entanglements, but the record is clear that Samson felt an emotional attachment to Delilah. No evidence exists that she felt personal admiration or affection for him. To the contrary, clearly she was motivated by greed; she was perfectly willing to use all her charming seductiveness (which apparently was considerable) to earn a large cash bonus.

The ingredients for disaster were in place: a morally weak man with uncontrollable sexual passions; a seductive temptress motivated by greed; a group of foreign leaders with unlimited funds and the strong conviction that their national security, perhaps even their national survival, was at stake.

Her methods were simple, and though it took time, they eventually worked. She was playful and teasing. She was coquettish and provocative. She was alluring and enticing. She coaxed and cajoled. She pouted and demanded. There was a fortune waiting for her if she could discover the secret of his strength. She was determined, and she ultimately succeeded in prying Samson’s secret from him.

Convinced that he had finally told her the truth, she sent for the Philistine leaders. She lulled her lover to sleep and had his hair cut off. With utter heartlessness she watched as he struggled out of a deep sleep, thinking he would fend off his attackers as easily as before, only to discover to his horror that his strength was gone. No doubt she was counting her money as they led him out.
Delilah personifies the immoral woman of Proverbs 5.4-6.
4     But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
5     Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell.
6     Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.


Article No. 16.8: Valley of Sorek
Where the valley or brook of Sorek was, is not easy to ascertain. Eusebius and Jerome say it was situated southward of Eleutheropolis; but where was Eleutheropolis? Ancient writers take all their measurements from this city; but since its ancient name is not mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, it is impossible to fix its location. However, it is probable that it was quite near Samson's home.

The Valley of Sorek was named after a favorite variety of grape and has the meaning of "Grape Valley." Today, it is said to begin about thirteen miles southwest of Jerusalem. "The Jaffa-Jerusalem railway now runs through this valley."

The term valley (nachal) describes a wady, i.e. a narrow valley with a stream. It was possibly nearer Gaza than any other of the chief Philistine cities, since Samson was taken there after his capture at Delilah’s house. Delilah lived in the Valley of Sorek.

5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.—Judges 16.5 (KJV)
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."—Judges 16.5 (NKJV)

And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her…Having heard that Samson kept company with her, and that she was a noted harlot—today we would say she is a prostitute or whore.

The lords of the Philistines were five rulers [1](Judges 3.3) that had under them five principalities, into which Palestine was divided. If they were not united by a common government, which might be the case at this time, they were united against their common enemy, Samson. These were important persons (rulers), and some think they were too important to go to this harlot's house, but instead, sent a deputation of five persons in their place; however, the text is very explicit here, and for that reason we must accept it at face-value: the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, since they supposed no means were beneath their dignity that could overcome this national enemy.

Their country was situated on the shore of the sea, and lower than Judea.

and said unto her, entice him;…that is, persuade him with soothing and flattering words; take an opportunity when he is in an amorous mood to show increased interest in his affections. These lords of the Philistines came with one purpose in mind; to bribe Delilah into discovering the secret of Samson’s strength through Seduction (See Article 16.9). They evidently recognized Samson to be no giant or “superman,” and because of this they rightly assumed his abnormal strength came from another source. However, they were wrong for thinking it came from some external magical charm or amulet. Such superstitious gimmicks were frequently worn by the Philistines themselves when they went into battle [2](II Sam 5:21); they carried their idols with them on their battle campaigns in hopes that these portable images would serve as good luck charms. However, Samson’s strength was the result of the moving of the spirit of the Lord upon him; and this was related to the provisions of his Nazirite vow.

Now, we can say with more confidence that Delilah was a Philistine, since it seems unlikely that the five lords of the Philistines would venture into Hebrew territory to bribe an Israelite girl. Though her name is Hebrew in form, the Philistines often borrowed names from the Jewish peoples living about them. Whoever this girl was, she was the instrument of Samson’s great downfall.

and see wherein his great strength lieth;… They saw that his stature was not remarkable: and that his natural attributes and common actions of life were not beyond that which most men possessed; nevertheless, he had the most extraordinary strength at certain times, and it seemed like he had it when he pleased.  They might have heard that he said it was a secret he kept to himself, and no man knew it; or they might suspect that he carried some amulet on his person, that if they could take it from him, he would lose his strength; or that he was in possession of some important secret by which he had acquired such herculean strength; and according to the last line they bribed Delilah, with a large reward, to find out where his strength came from. She agrees to do them this service and made several attempts at it, applying all her feminine arts of persuasion when he was in his pliable and talkative moods.

and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him:…to humble him, bring him down, and reduce him to the same condition as common men. They did not propose to kill him, which they might think she would not agree to, and as a result, reject their proposal at once; therefore, they announce their intention was to distress him, and to reprimand him with sarcasm and beatings, shackles and imprisonment, for the injury he had done to them, and prevent him from doing more harm. Being able to capture and control the great champion of Israel would give the Philistines both security and stature among the nations and would certainly satisfy their egos as they humiliated the Jews. But the Philistines should have known that they could not bind him, since they had already tried that: “13 And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. 14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands” (Judges 15: 13, 14).

and we will give thee, everyone of us, eleven hundred [pieces] of silver... The five lords of the Philistines ruled the five principalities into which Palestine was divided: Gaza, Gath, Askelon, Ekron, and Ashdod. All these considered Samson a public enemy; and they promised this bad woman a large sum of money if she would obtain from him the important secret; what was the source of his strength? Then, by depriving him of this supernatural power, they might be able to reduce him to a prisoner. Her relationship with Samson must have been a lengthy and important one for the Philistine leaders to have noticed it. Regardless of the depth of their relationship, she was heartless when given the choice between her lover Samson and a large sum of money.

They told her we will give thee, everyone of us, eleven hundred [pieces] of silver…or shekels; it may seem strange that they would each promise to contribute 1100 pieces of silver: some think each  principality offered 1000 shekels, and the princes added one hundred; but Abarbinel thinks that this was an usual sum for these times, since the same amount is mentioned in the following chapter; though it may be observed that these five individual sums, when put together make a large sum, 5500 pieces of silver; which, taking them to be shekels, according to Waserus: they amounted to 1375 rix dollars, and of Helvetian money 3666 pounds, and in American dollars was about $3,750.00, which was a major fortune in ancient times. This was a considerable bribe, and very tempting to a person of such a character, and which she readily embraced, as it seems from what follows. For an idea of the size of this bribe, you need to know that the payment to a Levite for an entire year of service was about ten shekels [3](Judg. 17:10).

I have heard it said, “Everyone has their price.” Delilah certainly had hers; she agreed to do it for 5500 pieces of silver; with this she was hired to betray one she pretended to love. See what ghastly wickedness the love of money is the root of. Our blessed Savior was also betrayed for filthy lucre by one whom he called friend and with a kiss too. We should not be surprised, if those who are as defiled as Delilah can be easily persuaded to be unfair; those that lose their honesty in one instance will in another.

The money smothered all thoughts of love or friendship, and she went to work on Samson at once with the purpose of betraying him. One may only pity the foolish willingness of Samson in allowing himself to be deceived and betrayed by Delilah.

Seduction extends far beyond sexual misconduct, although that is certainly included among its manifestations (see Rev. 2:20). Seducers, “imposters” who present evil as good, include those who have “spoken nonsense” and those who have presented falsehood as truth (Ezek. 13:10; 2 Tim. 3:13).

The seducer acts consciously and willfully to put another person into a position of vulnerability or weakness with the ultimate intent to dominate completely or destroy. Delilah purposefully set herself to bring about Samson’s destruction (Judg. 16:15–17). Her seduction was unrelenting as she “pestered” and “pressed” Samson daily (v. 16). She aimed ultimately at Samson’s spirit so that his soul was “vexed to death” (v. 16). Her seduction was rooted in a lie that everything would be all right, even to the point of believing that the Lord is unconcerned about and approves of wrong behavior (v. 20).

The ultimate seduction—whether in Samson’s life, in the life of Israel, or in your life today—is to be led astray from God’s presence and power and not even realize what is happening.

For more scripture on this subject see: (Hos. 3); Fornication (1 Cor. 6); Manipulation (Gen. 27); Sexual Immorality (Prov. 6); Temptation (Heb. 2); portraits of the Adulteress of Proverbs (Prov. 5); Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11); Delilah (Judg. 16); Herodias and Salome (Matt. 14); Tamar (Gen. 38)

___________verse 5 notes____________
[1](Judges 3.3; NKJV)  namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. The five lords of the Philistines refers to the leaders (Heb seren) of the five-city pentapolis of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza, which formed the centralized Philistine government. The Philistines were descendants of the Greek and Aegean “Sea Peoples” who had migrated into Israel as early as the time of Abraham (Gen 20; 26), but did not move into the area en masse until about 1200 B.C. (see E. Hindson, The Philistines and the Old Testament).
[2](II Sam 5:21; KJV) And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.
[3](Judg. 17:10) And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. Thus, he accepted Micah’s offer of ten shekels of silver by the year.


6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.—Judges 16.6 (KJV)
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you." —Judges 16.6 (NKJV)

And Delilah said to Samson…Delilah immediately set out with ruthless efficiency to obtain the “secret” from Samson. Moved by the desire to satisfy his own lustful passion, Samson became blinded to the motives behind her continuous questions. It should be noted that her repeated attempts to find the answer indicate that he was in the habit of visiting her regularly; so she could continually pursue the matter. One should not overlook the brutal cleverness of Delilah. With the heartlessness of a professional prostitute, she used her trade to lull Samson into budding compliance. She introduced the question at the proper time; when she was in his hands and receiving his caresses, as Josephus relates it, and she did it in an artful manner, admiring his extraordinary exploits, and in awe of how he could perform them.

There are now certain things that are becoming evident:
a. Here we see Samson falling in love again, and falling in love with a person completely wrong for him. Much pain and ruin came into Samson's life because he would not guard his heart
b. We also see that Delilah was deeply in love; but with money, not Samson. 1,100 shekels was more than 140 pounds of silver
c. Samson replies with lies to Delilah about the source of his strength

tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth;…which she proposed seemingly out of mere curiosity, and insisting that if he would tell her the secret it would prove his love for her.

Where do you find the secret strength of faith? It is in the food it feeds on; for faith considers what the promise is—an expulsion of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, “My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain his Word will be fulfilled.” Then faith contemplates the question, “Who gave this promise?” It does not consider its greatness, as much as, “Who is the author of it?” He remembers that it is God who cannot lie—God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludes that the promise must be fulfilled; and his faith advances in this firm conviction. He remembers, why the promise was given,—namely, for God’s glory and he feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that he will never stain his own coat of arms, or mar the luster of his own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand. Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as a definite proof of the Father’s intention to fulfill his word. “He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Moreover faith looks back upon the past, for his battles have strengthened him, and his victories have given him courage. He remembers that God never has failed him; and, that he never did fail any of his children. He recollects times of great danger, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when he found his strength, and he shouts, “No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave his servant. Up till now the Lord has helped me, and he will still help me.” Therefore faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and, because he does, he can say with assurance, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”

and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee;…not that she suggested to him that she wanted to see him afflicted, or that she would test his secret in order to afflict him, but she only wanted to know by what means, if he was bound, it would be afflicting to him so that he could not free himself. She knew he might be bound with ropes or chains, if he would submit to it, but she wanted to know how he might be bound, so he could be held, and could not escape without help. She pretended that she only desired for him to satisfy her curiosity in that one thing, and that she thought it was impossible for him to be bound by anything other than her charms.

God will not permit His own children to continue indulging in sin without soon receiving its stinging results. Twice before, Samson’s passion had led him into the place of danger. This was to be the last. The escape at Gaza had taught the mighty warrior nothing about God’s patience to deliver his erring soul. That Delilah was a professional prostitute seems obvious from the context, and her residence in the Valley of Sorek placed her near the hometown of Samson at Zorah.


7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind {to tie, imprison} me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.—Judges 16.7 (KJV)
7 And Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."—Judges 16.7 (NKJV)

And Samson said unto her…In answer to her insistent inquiry: "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."

if they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried;… Delilah’s pleading to know the source of his strength brought equally jesting remarks from Samson in their deadly lovers’ game. The first suggestion he gave her was to bind him with seven green withes. That raises the question: What are “withs”?
The word “withs” is sometimes used for nerves, and cords or ropes; but none of these can be what is meant here, since these, if moistened or made wet, are not fitting to bind with; as far as these are concerned it’s the drier the better. But rods or branches of trees that were freshly cut off, and are easily bent and twisted and are frequently used to bind sticks that are used for firewood could be called “withs.”; Josephus calls them vine branches. In fact, any kind of pliant, tough wood, twisted in the form of a cord or rope can be used. In many countries, long and strong ropes are made from the fibers of bog-wood, or the larger roots of the fir, which is often dug up in the bogs of that country. But the Septuagint, understands these bonds to be cords made of the nerves of cattle, or perhaps they’re made out of raw hides; these also make a remarkably strong cord. In some countries they remove the skin of the horse, cut it lengthwise from the hide into thongs about two inches wide, and after having laid them in salt for some time, take them out for use. This practice is frequent followed in the rural areas of Ireland; and both customs, the wooden cord, and that made of the raw or green hide, are among the most ancient in the world. Among the Irish peasants this latter species of cord is called the tug and is chiefly used for agricultural purposes, particularly for drawing the plough and the harrow, instead of the iron chains used in other countries. Moore understood seven green withs to be a reference to "fresh bowstrings that are yet to be dried."

Cat-gut doesn’t fit with the word withs, but it was strong enough to be used for bow-strings, but the word rendered green means fresh or new, and might be equally applied to catgut strings or withs.

In light of all the possibilities, we can’t be certain what is meant by green withs. I suppose that if I had to give an opinion that I would say that because of their fear of Samson they would have used the strongest cords available to them; most likely, they used cords made from some strong pliable wood.

then shall I be weak, and be as another man;…which is a lie; because Samson knew full well that being bound with seven green withs or anything else for that matter, would not weaken his strength; but since he had fallen into one sin, it is no wonder he was drawn into another; unless this can be understood, as it is by some, that he is joking with her; however, it shows that he was "[4]compos mentis”, as Josephus observes, and was aware of what was going on between Delilah and her countrymen, thus he was upon his guard with respect to the secret of his strength.

___________verse 7 notes____________
[4]compos mentis, of sound mind (of sound mind, memory, and understanding; in law, competent to go to trial)


8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.—Judges 16.8 (KJV)
8 So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.—Judges 16.8 (NKJV)

Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her…Delilah related to her Philistine countrymen what Samson had told her. They responded by bringing green withs to her residence. The cooperation of the lords of Philistia shows how closely they were working with Delilah.

seven green withs, which had not been dried… the lords of the Philistines brought her the bowstrings to try on Samson, just as he had described and directed her to do.

and she bound him with them;… Delilah very likely, waited until he was drunk and had fallen asleep, according to Josephus. The Philistines did not attempt to tie him up, because they were afraid that he would not permit them to do it; and they might fear he would wake up before they could do it, and attack them and wipe them out. Therefore, the task fell to Delilah, because if he woke up and caught her in the act, she could use the excuse that she was curious and wanted to know whether he was joking or sincere.

She did it! She tied him up ([5] Ecclesiastes 7:26) with seven fresh bowstrings; but in what follows we see that it did not turn out as she hoped it would.

___________verse 8 notes____________
[5]Eccl 7:26 (NKJV) And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets, Whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, But the sinner shall be trapped by her. "I find" that, of all my sinful follies, none has been so ruinous a snare in seducing me from God as idolatrous women (1Ki 11:3, 4 Pr 5:3, 4 Pr 22:14). As "God's favor is better than life," she who seduces from God is "more bitter than death."
who pleases God —The man who walks with God, and he alone, shall escape this sore evil: and even he that fears God, if he get with an artful woman, may be soon robbed of his strength, and become like other men. A bad or artful woman is represented as a company of hunters, with nets, guns, etc., to catch their prey.


9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.—Judges 16.9 (KJV)
9 Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.—Judges 16.6 (NKJV)

Now there were men lying in wait…It is very likely that the lords of the Philistines placed some of their servants in her room, and ordered them to hide from Samson, and when Delilah had him restrained with bowstrings, they were to rush out, and make Samson their prisoner; Josephus calls them soldiers.

abiding with her in the chamber;…in some part of it, giving the impression that it was a large room with lots of furnishings or otherwise they could not be said to lie in wait (conceal themselves, prepare an ambush). Some say they hid in the apartment next to hers, but I would challenge that idea, because I believe the message is clear: Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber; they were in her chamber, not next-door.

At her first opportunity, Delilah bound the sleeping Samson. She had hid some three or four men in the chamber unknown to Samson, so that they would be ready to assault him, when they knew for sure that his strength really had departed from him.

and she said unto him, the Philistines be upon thee, Samson;… Delilah was only pretending when she shouted these words; she did it, in order to find out if Samson had really told her the truth. The hidden soldiers were not to be called until she knew that she had Samson in her power and whether or not he could break the withs. Samson was only playing games with her, but it was a deadly game that eventually cost him his eyesight and his life.

Those who hid, waiting for some prearranged signal from Delilah never appeared, since the next line says Samson immediately broke his bonds when this bad woman said, The Philistines be upon thee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

and he brake the withs as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire;…He woke up and stretched; the simple movement of his arms easily broke the bowstrings that Delilah had used to tie-him-up. Here the comparison of the bowstring to a thread of tow is made; tow being a strand of flax that falls out when the flax is beaten. As soon as it comes near fire; a thread of tow catches on fire and becomes ash, immediately losing all its strength. Samson was free so quickly that this comparison was made, because the people living at that time were familiar with flax and how quickly it burns.

so his strength was not known;…by Delilah, or by the Philistines; that is, they learned nothing about the source of his strength and how it might be weakened. For all their scheming, all they learned was how easily he broke the withs.

The text does not say that the liers-in-wait actually came after him, but only that she screamed The Philistines be upon thee. Had these men rushed into the room three times after Samson’s disclosure of the secret, he would surely have been suspicious of Delilah’s treachery. This writer believes they never actually engaged him the first three times.

There were three times that Samson pretended to confide in Delilah, without, in any sense, revealing the real secret of his strength.