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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 18–20
Verses 18–20

Here is, I. The distress which Samson was in after this great performance (Jdg. 15:18): He was sore athirst. It was a natural effect of the great heat he had been in, and the great pains he had taken; his zeal consumed him, ate him up, and made him forget himself, till, when he had time to pause a little, he found himself reduced to the last extremity for want of water and ready to faint. Perhaps there was a special hand of God in it, as there was in the whole transaction; and God would hereby keep him from being proud of his great strength and great achievements, and let him know that he was but a man, and liable to the calamities that are common to men. And Josephus says, It was designed to chastise him for not making mention of God and his hand in his memorial of the victory he had obtained, but taking all the praise to himself: I have slain a thousand men; now that he is ready to die for thirst he is under a sensible conviction that his own arm could not have saved him, without God’s right hand and arm. Samson had drunk largely of the blood of the Philistines, but blood will never quench any man’s thirst. Providence so ordered it that there was no water near him, and he was so fatigued that he could not go far to seek it; the men of Judah, one would think, should have met him, now that he had come off a conqueror, with bread and wine, as Melchizedek did Abram, to atone for the injury they had done him; but so little notice did they take of their deliverer that he was ready to perish for want of a draught of water. Thus are the greatest slights often put upon those that do the greatest services. Christ on the cross, said, I thirst.

II. His prayer to God in this distress. Those that forget to attend God with their praises may perhaps be compelled to attend him with their prayers. Afflictions are often sent to bring unthankful people to God. Two things he pleads with God in this prayer, 1. His having experienced the power and goodness of God in his late success: Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant. He owns himself God’s servant in what he had been doing: “Lord, wilt thou not own a poor servant of thine, that has spent himself in thy service? I am thine, save me.” He calls his victory a deliverance, a great deliverance; for, if God had not helped him, he had not only not conquered the Philistines, but had been swallowed up by them. He owns it to come from God, and now corrects his former error in assuming it too much to himself; and this he pleads in his present strait. Note, Past experiences of God’s power and goodness are excellent pleas in prayer for further mercy. “Lord, thou hast delivered often, wilt thou not deliver still? 2 Cor. 1:10. Thou hast begun, wilt thou not finish? Thou hast done the greater, wilt thou not do the less?” Ps. 56:13. 2. His being now exposed to his enemies: “Lest I fall into the hands of the uncircumcised, and then they will triumph, will tell it in Gath, and in the streets of Ashkelon; and will it not redound to God’s dishonour of his champion become so easy a prey to the uncircumcised?” The best pleas are those taken from God’s glory.

III. The seasonable relief God sent him. God heard his prayer, and sent him water, either out of the bone or out of the earth through the bone, Jdg. 15:19. That bone which he had made an instrument of God’s service God, to recompense him, made an instrument of his supply. But I rather incline to our marginal reading: God clave a hollow place that was in Lehi: the place of this action was, from the jaw-bone, called Lehi; even before the action we find it so called, Jdg. 15:9, 14. And there, in that field, or hill, or plain, or whatever it was, that was so called, God caused a fountain suddenly and seasonably to open just by him, and water to spring up out of it in abundance, which continued a well ever after. Of this fair water he drank, and his spirits revived. We should be more thankful for the mercy of water did we consider how ill we can spare it. And this instance of Samson’s relief should encourage us to trust in God, and seek to him, for, when he pleases, he can open rivers in high places. See Isa. 41:17, 18.

IV. The memorial of this, in the name Samson gave to this upstart fountain, En-hakkore, the well of him that cried, thereby keeping in remembrance both his own distress, which occasioned him to cry, and God’s favour to him, in answer to his cry. Many a spring of comfort God opens to his people, which may fitly be called by this name; it is the well of him that cried. Samson had given a name to the place which denoted him great and triumphant—Ramath-lehi, the lifting up of the jaw-bone; but here he gives it another name, which denotes him needy and dependent.

V. The continuance of Samson’s government after these achievements, Jdg. 15:20. At length Israel submitted to him whom they had betrayed. Now it was past dispute that God was with him, so that henceforward they all owned him and were directed by him as their judge. The stone which the builders refused became the head-stone. It intimates the low condition of Israel that the government was dated by the days of the Philistines; yet it was a mercy to Israel that, though they were oppressed by a foreign enemy, yet they had a judge that preserved order and kept them from ruining one another. Twenty years his government continued, according to the usages of the judges’ administration; but of the particulars we have no account, save of the beginning of his government in this chapter and the end of it in the next.