STEPS TO HUMILIATION
Lord, open my eyes when I am headed toward destruction.
Read JUDGES 16:1–22
Samson and Delilah
16 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”
3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels[a] of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
7 Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and[b] tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.[c] And his strength left him.
20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus ‘humbled himself … Therefore God exalted him to the highest place.’ (Phil 2:8,9)
There is a startling contrast between Samson’s two visits to Gaza, the first (1–3) in apparent invincibility, the second (21) in ignominy. The journey from one to the other is via his relationship with Delilah. It is hard to fathom why Samson reveals to Delilah the secret of his strength (17), when he has already experienced her duplicity three times (6–14). In John Milton’s poem, Samson attributes his foolishness here to ‘blindness’, (Samson Agonistes, line 418) ironic in view of his fate in verse 21. In his spiritual blindness, Samson seems to have an almost superstitious view of his strength and his hair. He completely misses the essence of his Nazarite vow and that the reality of the Lord’s presence is vital. Note the pathos of the final sentence of verse 20. Do you feel compassion for Samson or do you think he received his just deserts?
Delilah is assumed to be a Philistine, and verse 5 suggests that her motives are mercenary but, as with Judas, there may be other motives too. In paintings showing Samson being torn from Delilah’s arms by the Philistines, some artists depict Delilah as a scheming spy, delighted at Samson’s downfall, but others as torn between her love for Samson and her patriotic duty. Milton takes the latter view, her purpose being ‘to save her country from a fierce destroyer’ (lines 984–986). At least Delilah is named, unlike the other women in Samson’s life, including his mother; perhaps their lack of a name reflects Samson’s treatment of them – they were simply used for self-centered gratification.
John Goldingay says of Samson that ‘excess is his middle name’ (John Goldingay, Joshua, Judges and Ruth for Everyone, SPCK, 2011, p136) – and here Samson adds promiscuity to his sins. However, we should be slow to condemn. Milton describes Samson as a ‘mirror of our fickle state’ (line 164), so perhaps Samson represents the potential in each one of us.
What are your weaknesses and blind spots which the enemy could exploit?
Lord, give me the wisdom to know when I am courting disaster by getting too close to the devil’s trap for ruining my life.