Samson and Delilah
In the book of Judges we read the epic true story of the strongest man in the world, Samson, and his lone struggle against the Philistines.
The Philistines were a sea people from Greece on the Aegean Sea.
They invaded and subverted the people of Israel not so much because of their monopoly on iron weapons, but by trade and intermarriage. They gained a stranglehold over Israel through spiritual and cultural seduction and assimilation. They eroded the moral standards of the Israelites.
At this time (in the 11th Century BC), God answered the prayers of a devoted couple for a child. This child had a unique birth and was to have a unique lifestyle - he was to be God’s freedom fighter to break the power of the Philistines. Samson was one of 3 life long permanent Nazarites - Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist. All had unique births and were set apart to maintain unbroken fellowship with God - shown by the Nazarite vow and lifestyle to maintain a simple lifestyle (abstain from luxury - “wine”, to be different - visibly set apart “hair” - and to not touch dead bodies “which would make one ritually unclean and symbolise a break in fellowship with God” - in other words he was to walk in constant fellowship with God.
The Story of Samson (whose name means “sunshine”) is one of great potential wasted through lack of discipline. Like King Saul, Samson had great potential, but squandered it. His enormous potential was wasted. Samson had: God fearing parents; a unique birth; unique lifestyle; great personal strength, and he was anointed by the Holy Spirit as a deliverer. But Samson became a weak man because he never learned to control himself.
“He who rules his spirit is better than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16:32
“Do not love the world nor the things of the world.” John 2:15
“Friendship with the world is enmity toward God.” James 4:4
Samson went down to Timnah. His downward journey begins. Consorting with the enemy. Samson refused to submit to parental authority. It was lust at first sight - ending in marriage to an unbeliever. Samson slipped into compromise and lawlessness, spiritual anarchy. Too late Samson realised that he had lost his bet, his honour and his wife ( Judges 14:1-17). Too late Samson learned that if you marry an unbeliever you have the devil for a father in law (2 Cor 6:14-17)!
As the Philistines had obtained the answer to his riddle elsewhere (by illegitimate means) so Samson obtained the clothes to pay the bet elsewhere (striking down Philistines to obtain their clothes). They were at war!
Despite his many serious flaws, Samson’s great virtue lay in his passion for freedom. He understood what a great threat the Philistines were to freedom. Therefore when his wife was given to another man he resisted the temptation to seek personal revenge and instead struck a major blow against the economic power of the Philistines. He destroyed their crops. His resistance hurt the Philistines so badly that they sent a large army to deal with him.
At this point we see the spiritual degeneracy of the Hebrews. They were so backsliden and neutralised that they were ignored by the Philistines. The enemy was only interested in Samson. They contemptuously dismissed the Hebrews and bypassed them. The Hebrews then mobilised 3 000 men to apprehend Samson. They not only missed the opportunity to join with Samson - as the God ordained deliverer to free them from the Philistines. They co-operated with their oppressors to betray Samson into their hands! These Hebrews preferred slavery to freedom. Compromise was more comfortable than commitment and confrontation. They were doing the enemy’s dirty work for them (Judges 15:9 -10).
At this point we see Samson acting as God intended him to - with courage and faith. He was gracious to those Hebrew traitors who were betraying him. He allowed himself to be tied up and walked - unarmed and helpless - into the vast army of screaming Philistines. This event earned him honourable mention in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. (Praise God. He remembers our faith and not just our failures!) As the Philistines shouted in triumph and rushed toward him, the Spirit of God came upon Samson in power and he burst the bonds that tied him. He picked up the only weapon he could lay his hands on - a jawbone of a donkey - and struck down a thousand Philistines. He then gave all the glory to God (Judges 15:14-18).
This was followed by 20 years of peace and stability for Israel under Samson. Peace comes through strength. Stability comes through victory. Compromise and cowardice led to captivity, but the courage of Samson led to conquest.
Toying with Temptation
However: “Pride goes before a fall” - Proverbs 16:18.
“Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” 1 Corinthians 10:12.
Samson became so self-confident and careless that he deliberately exposed himself to the enemy with a reckless overconfidence. Samson dishonoured his parents, he distorted his purpose, he defiled his purity, he diluted his power, he disgraced his profession and he dissipated his potential. ( Judges 16:1)
“Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good character.” 1 Corinthians15:33
Temptation comes when we choose the wrong company. Yet Samson toyed with temptation and sought out a Philistine prostitute in the very stronghold of his enemies - Gaza. Sins may start small, but they don’t end that way.
“But a man who commits adultery lacks judgement; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot and his shame will never be wiped away.”
The Scriptures warn us to: “Flee sexual immorality” 1 Cor. 6:18, but Samson chose not to flee and he lost his character. Sin will take you further than you want to go. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.
8 Moral compromise makes us vulnerable.
8 Temptation comes in attractive packages.
Samson’s self-confidence blinded him to reality. He fell asleep in the lap of his enemy!
Here we see: the stubborn self confidence of Samson, the seduction of Delilah and the stupidity of sin. The result was disgrace, defeat and disaster.
• Samson was bold before men - but weak before women.
• Samson was called to wage war on God’s enemies - but he fraternised with the enemy.
• Samson was endued with power by the Spirit of God - but gave in to the appetites of the flesh.
• Samson fought God’s battles by day - but he broke God’s commandments by night.
• Samson was named “sunshine” - but he ended his day in darkness.
Samson had power - without purity; strength - without self control and because he did not keep himself holy - he would be defeated. When he woke up not only had his strength gone - but God had left him too.
The Path to Slavery
Samson strangled a lion, but he could not strangle his own lusts.
He burst the bonds of his enemies, but he could not break his self destructive tendencies. He burnt the crops of the Philistines, but he could not extinguish the flames of his own lust for Delilah.
• Samson had done what was right in his own eyes - and had his eyes gouged out.
• He had followed the lusts of his eyes - and now he had lost them.
• He had refused to discipline himself - now he was a slave and prisoner of war.
• He had visited a prostitute in Gaza - now he was a prisoner in Gaza.
• He had pursued Philistine women - and now he was doing their work, grinding corn.
Sin blinds. Sin binds. Sin grinds.
Whoring leads to blindness, powerlessness, slavery and death. An object lesson for Israel and for us. Samson went from victor to vanquished, from hero to zero! There is a high cost to low living.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8
Repentance and Restoration
But God didn’t give up on Samson. His discipline is linked to restoration. God’s discipline is designed to produce repentance, maturity and usefulness.
Blinded, in chains, slaving in prison Samson returned to God in repentance. God heard his heartfelt prayer and accomplished a great victory over evil through Samson. Sin doesn’t have to have the last word in our life. And so Samson is honourably mentioned in Hebrews 11 - the Hall of Faith (The Hall of Restored Failures).
What about you? Are you wasting your potential or are you being all that God meant you to be?
Sin cannot win. Faith cannot fail.