“With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey, I have slain a thousand men!”
In our text we have a clear picture of God’s power to overcome all enemies, no matter their strength.
Samson was now a criminal and a fugitive in the eyes of the Philistines. They were determined to hunt him down until they captured him. The hunt, capture, and consequences are dramatically portrayed in the Scripture. The Philistines assembled and sent a battalion of soldiers into Judah to arrest Samson. The leaders of Judah promptly investigated the troop movements of the Philistines; for they were very concerned about the disturbance and threat it posed to their lives. They came up with a quick solution to the problem, agreeing to arrest Samson themselves and turn him over to the Philistine enemy. As the story proceeds, notice how this event provided a unique opportunity for the Israelites to rally around Samson and throw off the oppression of the Philistines. But sadly, they meekly submitted to the oppressors and offered to arrest and turn Samson over to them. They were willing to do this, knowing that Samson would probably be executed as a criminal. The leaders of Judah mobilized and sent an army of 3000 men to track down Samson. When they found him, they interrogated him and charged him with being a trouble-maker and threatening the peace. Notice how Samson justified his vengeful behavior; he was merely doing to them what they had done to him. When the officer in charge swore that he would only arrest Samson, not kill him, Samson surrendered. They tied him with two new ropes and led him to the Philistines. Thereafter, a stunning and remarkable victory over the Philistines took place. Samson demonstrated an amazing feat of strength; as he was being led toward the Philistine battalion, the Philistine soldiers began to walk toward him, shouting a triumphant battle cry. As would be the case for anyone experiencing such a scene, energy surged through the body of Samson, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, empowering him with enormous, supernatural strength. Samson snapped the ropes that were binding his hands and grabbed the fresh jawbone of a donkey. He began to swing away at the enemy troops fighting for his life. Finally, when the enemy troops gave up trying to capture him, 1000 enemy soldiers lay dead upon the ground.
Being supernaturally empowered by God Himself, Samson, the Lord’s deliverer, had executed judgment against the cruel, evil Philistines. Samson, who had a gift with words, shouted out a short poem, and named the battlefield to commemorate the great victory God had given over the cruel enemy of God’s people. He named the battle site Ramath Lehi, which means “jawbone hill.” Samson was completely fatigued and felt as though he was dying of thirst, so he did the only thing he could – he cried out to the Lord for help. He acknowledged the Lord, giving credit for the great victory to the Lord. He prayed for help, for God to give him water to drink and to deliver him from being arrested by the unbelieving Philistines. The Lord heard the prayer of Samson, providing water and renewing his strength.