Unless you’ve been living in a cave in outer Mongolia for the vast majority of your life, you’ve probably heard the story of Samson and Delilah. Just in case you are fresh off the boat from Mongolia, let me summarize the story for you. Samson was born in the age of the Judges which was that period in the Israeli history between Joshua leading the Israelites into Canaan and the birth of the Kingdom of Israel under Saul. During this era, there was no king in Israel. Instead there were a succession of men and women empowered by the Spirit that acted as “judges” over the Israelites.
Now it so happened that before he was born, Samson’s mom was barren, which was a big deal in the ancient world since it was assumed that barrenness was a punishment from the Eternal for some terrible sin that the mother must have committed. Then one day, while the mom was working in the field, the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her that she would bear a son that would begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines, and that he was to be a Nazirite for life which meant he would be wholly dedicated to serving the Eternal. A Nazirite was required to follow VERY strict dietary rules and, at least in Samson’s case, was NOT allowed to EVER cut his hair. Sure enough, she delivered a boy and named him Samson.
Samson wasn’t just your run of the mill Nazirite however. The Lord imbued Samson with supernatural strength as long as he did not break his Nazirite vows. Consequently, when Samson grew into a man, he became a mighty warrior. No man could stand against him. Now at that time, the Philistines were the chief enemy of the Israelites and were causing no end of grief for them. Once Samson came along however, the tide was turned. He cut down Philistines like a scythe through wheat. He was a veritable one man army. He was so strong, that at one point when his enemies tried to trap him in a Philistine city by locking the city gates on him, he just tore the gates off the hinges and walked away with them. And we’re not talking little dinky privacy fence gates here. We’re talking huge, massive, meant to withstand a battering ram city gates that would have weighed an enormous amount. This guy was flat out strong.
The problem was that he was also rather arrogant and had a major weakness: foreign babes. You see, a good Israelite boy was never even supposed to LOOK at a foreign girl, never mind marry one. But that didn’t stop Samson. To make things worse, the particular foreign babes he was most interested in were, of all things, Philistines! Good grief, Charlie Brown!
That’s where Delilah came into the picture. She was the hottest of the hot Philistine valley girls. One look at her, and Samson was smitten. Next thing you know, they’re shackin’ up (he was already married to another Philistine gal) and she starts in pestering him about where his strength comes from. At first, Samson thinks this is amusing and proceeds to feed her all sorts of lies about being tied up with fresh thongs (no, not THAT kind of thong), or new ropes, or weaving his braids on a loom. Three times he lies to her and ALL THREE TIMES she believes him and tries to use what he’s told her to strip him of his strength so he can be captured. All three times, Samson breaks free from the bonds she has placed upon him showing that he had not lost his strength. You’d think at this point he would figure out that Delilah is not exactly to be trusted. But she pesters him some more and astoundingly, Samson actually TELLS HER THE TRUTH!!!!!! So, while he’s sleeping she snips off his hair and out jump the nasty Philistines to capture him. Samson wakes up and thinks to himself that it’s time to kick some Philistine butt…uh oh. What’s wrong? I’m as weak as a lamb! DOH!!!
They captured him with ease. They gouged out his eyes (OW! OW! That’s got to hurt.) and bundled him off to prison. Samson is in prison for quite some time being used like an ox to push a mill stone and the whole of that time his hair is growing back. All the lords of the Philistines decide to throw a big shindig to celebrate the capture of Samson and parade him out into a big arena to entertain the crowd, but at one point during the performance, Samson asks his handler to allow him to rest against a couple of huge stone pillars that supported the stadium. While he’s standing there, Samson gets over his arrogance and asks God to restore his strength one last time so that he can, literally, bring down the house. (I’ve always wondered if that is where the phrase came from.) God grants him his request and Samson, the mightiest man who ever lived, broke the pillars of the stadium and the whole lot came tumbling down. His story ends with the poignant phrase, “Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.”
This story makes me cry. This is the story of so many men. But the part of this story that bothered me the most for many years was the question: why would Samson have given away the secret of his strength to a woman that had already demonstrated on three separate occasions her strong desire and willingness to destroy Samson by acquiring and using that very information? Was Samson a half wit? I mean come on. What is the deal?
And then one day while I was pondering this question, the Spirit lightly whispered the answer in my ear…he didn’t believe it was true. There it was. That was the only plausible answer. Samson was no dummy, but he was…arrogant. Samson was just like so many of us. He had been told all his life how much the Lord loved him and how the Lord had blessed him with this great strength…as long as he didn’t cut his hair. And so Samson had never cut his hair. But the more he went through life displaying this amazing blessing of supernatural strength, the more everyone around him must have told him how great and wonderful he was. He answered to no man because no man could stand before him. He could have whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Hmmm. Kinda sounds like our modern day celebrities. How many of our rock/sports/tv/movie heroes end up believing they are indestructible…that they can do whatever they want…that they ARE all that. Just like so many of the modern day Samsons, he started to believe that it was all him…that HE was all that. So WHAT if they cut my hair. Surely you don’t believe that some mythological being is actually responsible for my amazing strength. I mean, come on. Give me a break.
He thought he would arise and kick some Philistine butt…
Where do you put your trust? How often do you fall on your face before Yeshua and thank Him with every ounce of your being for your very existence? Do you believe that he IS your strength? Or will you have to come to a place where you have hit the absolute bottom before you finally realize that it was really Him all along?
…What if Samson HAD believed. What if he lived His entire life thanking the Eternal with a humble heart…seeking to know and do His will. What if…but instead…”Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” It just makes me cry.