Samson may well have been the strongest man who ever lived, but he had one great weakness—women. He had married a Philistine woman, not for love, but for an excuse to pick a quarrel with the enemy of his people. In retribution for the havoc he wreaked on them, the Philistines killed his wife and her father, and he moved on without a blink of remorse. Later he visited a harlot, but he did not find love there either.
Then along came Delilah.
Samson loved Delilah. Commentators are divided as to whether she was his wife or another harlot, but most likely she was a harlot. Why do I say that? There are several clues to suggest she was not his wife.
- He remained in her house rather than taking her to his house.
- The confidence with which the Philistines dealt with her give her the air of a mercenary, not of an affectionate wife.
- God judged him for his relationship with Delilah. God had spared him for the first offense with a harlot, but this second offense would not go unpunished.
The name Delilah means “languishing.”
Her name is very appropriate, for the woman truly weakened the heart and spirit of Samson, weakened his strength, and weakened his works. Do you remember what happened between them? First of all, do you remember that Samson was a Nazarite from the womb? That means he was set apart, preserved for a special purpose. Normally a man would take the Nazarite vows for a certain period of time (i.e. weeks or months), but in Samson’s case, this vow was placed upon him by God from the womb, and he was to keep it all the days of his life. There were three rules for the Nazarite:
- Do not touch any unclean thing.
- Do not drink any wine or strong drink.
- Do not cut your hair.
God can use anyone.
Samson kept these vows throughout his youth. But on his way to his wedding, a lion attacked him in the wilderness, and he killed it with his bare hands. No problem. This was actually the first test of his strength, and it gave him the confidence he would need to go up against the thirty Philistines shortly thereafter. But passing by the same way later on, he discovered a hive of bees in the lion’s carcass, and lots of honey. He took enough of that honey to eat and to share with his parents. There was nothing wrong with his eating honey, but the problem lay in where he found it—in the carcass of the lion. When he took that honey, he broke the first of the three Nazarite vows.
The seven-day marriage feast was a drinking feast. While the Bible does not specifically say that Samson took part in the drinking, it is likely that he did, and in so doing broke the second of the Nazarite vows.
Now enter Delilah and her constant nagging to find out the secret of Samson’s strength. I promised one of my readers that I will find a redeeming quality in each woman, even the “bad” ones, if at all possible. Delilah’s redeeming quality was persistence. She did not quit until she knew the secret of Samson’s strength. After teasing her a few times, Samson finally broke down and told her that if she cut his hair, he would lose his super-human strength. The truth is, there was no magical power in his hair (think Tangled), but his strength lay in the keeping of that last Nazarite vow. God had been merciful up to that point and had continued to use Samson in spite of his sinful behavior, and in spite of his failure to keep the Nazarite vows in full. But he knew that when he broke the third and final vow, God’s power would cease to rest upon him.
Or did he? When Samson awoke from his nap after telling Delilah the truth, he expected to defeat the Philistines once again. Only this time, the Holy Spirit did not come upon him as before. Samson had run out of “second” chances. Now God needed to bring Samson to the end of himself.
He was taken prisoner, his eyes gouged out, and sentenced to hard labor in the prison in Gaza. Delilah had done her duty, and she is never heard from again. But time passed, and Samson later got his revenge. He asked the Holy Spirit to come upon him one more time, and He did. The Bible says Samson killed more Philistines in his death than he had in his life.
If Samson had lived today, he would have been voted as “Least Likely to Succeed in Ministry,” and yet he was the man God chose to use to deliver the Israelites out from under the rule of the Philistines. This shows us that God can use anyone. But we also see that although God is merciful, gracious, and long-suffering in regard to our sin, we cannot outrun the consequences of sin. We may think God is not watching, but the truth is that He is only showing us great patience and mercy.
God is merciful, gracious, and long-suffering in regard to our sin.
At this point I would like to think of Delilah figuratively rather than literally. Let Delilah represent anything that would weaken our effectiveness for Christ. That is what she did to Samson; she weakened him. She wore him down until he at last took that final step into disobedience.
Yielding to temptation increases its power.
Ladies, we all have our own areas of vulnerability, and Satan thrives on finding those weaknesses and tempting us to fall. It may not even be a sin, but only a hindrance to our effectiveness for Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Let us lay aside every weight… Every distraction. Whatever you would not be willing to do, or do without, or a place you would not be willing to go—in order to follow Christ.
And the sin which does so easily beset us… The idea here is a competitor who blocks the path. Have you ever run a distance race and, coming up on a fellow runner, tried in vain to get past him? It’s terribly aggravating when people do that in a race, but we do that to ourselves in life, and we don’t think twice about it. We have these “little” sins that have defeated us for so long that we don’t even fight them anymore. “I’m always going to be overweight, so why should I control my appetite?” “No one knows about these books I read on Kindle. Besides, they’re only fiction.” “I take pride in how I look. That’s a good thing, right? After all, God wants me to look my best.” “I used to pray, but God didn’t answer me, so what’s the use?” “Sleep? Who needs sleep? I’ve got coffee!” These are not the “ugly” sins of adultery, murder, and stealing; but they still keep us from being all that we can and should be as followers of Christ.
We cannot outrun the consequences of sin.
My challenge to you today is to be aware of the wiles of the devil, and do not let him tempt you to sin. Do not let him soften you until you expose your point of vulnerability; for if you do, you can rest assured that he will exploit it to his fullest advantage.
And don’t blame the devil for every temptation that comes into your life. Sometimes I am my biggest enemy. My flesh is strong when I feed it, but the Spirit living inside me is stronger.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
1 John 4:4b Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
The longer we remain exposed to temptation, the harder it becomes to resist.
If Samson had left Delilah the first time she tried to overpower him, just imagine the life he could have lived for God. He judged Israel twenty years, but he could have judged them longer, had he not stayed in the way of danger until it was too late. Ladies, when we find ourselves in the way of temptation, let’s not stay. I’m talking to myself here, because I need to hear this.
Temptation has no power except the power we give to it.
Are you serving God? If so, wonderful! Praise God that He would choose to use you. But every day seek His strength to keep the Delilahs—those things that would weaken and defeat you—out of your life.
Ephesians 3:16 That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.
Samson’s strength was not in his hair, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, which came upon him to perform mighty acts of deliverance. We too can experience the power of the Holy Spirit. He will not necessarily give us super-human strength to lift the gates of the city off its hinges or tear a lion in pieces with our bare hands, but He will empower us to walk purely, resist temptation, and live a life that honors and glorifies Him.
You can read Delilah’s story for yourself in Judges 16:4-21.
❧ ❧ ❧
Next week: Herodias & Salome
Photo courtesy of estall of Pixabay