the five powerful rulers of the Philistines. They offered her enough money
to make her wealthy for the rest of her life. All she had to do was find
a way to weaken their enemy Samson so they could capture him. She
knew Samson loved her, but to her, he was just another man among many who
admired her beauty. She admired his strength and the way he made fools
of these pompous rulers. But she wasn’t about to give up a chance for power
and wealth just for an entertaining dalliance.
Samson was so infatuated with her, it ought to be easy to discover the secret to his incredible strength. “Samson, why are you so strong?” she whispered in his ear. “Is it possible to tie you up so you can’t get loose?” *
“Delilah, anyone who ties me up with seven fresh-cut leather strips will make me as weak as any other man,” Samson grinned.
The next time Samson came to visit, she playfully tied him up with seven fresh-cut leather strips. She yelled, “Samson, the Philistines are here.” He easily broke them and laughed, thinking it a game.
She whined, “You lied to me. Tell me your secret.”
Samson said, “Tie me up with new ropes.”
Delilah tied him with new ropes. “Samson, the Philistines are here.” He broke them as easily as he had the leather strips.
“Samson, You’ve made a fool of me besides lying to me. What is your secret?”
“Delilah, darlin’, weave my hair into the fabric of your loom and I’ll be as weak as any man.”
After Samson fell asleep, she wove his seven long braids into the fabric on her loom, tightened and fastened it. “Samson, the Philistines are here.”
Samson jumped up with the loom hanging from his head by his braids. Delilah peevishly said, “You don’t really love me. If you loved me, you would trust me and tell me your secret.”
Every day she would whine and beg. She wouldn’t let up. She wore out his resistance until he finally gave her what she wanted. “I was set apart to God from my birth. My hair has never been cut. Shave off my hair, and I will be as weak as any man.”
When he left, she got a message to the Philistine rulers to come back and to be ready to capture Samson. She had his secret.
When the Philistines were hidden in the room again, she enticed Samson to fall asleep on her lap. She motioned for the man she had hired to cut off his seven braids. With his braids gone, God removed his strength from him and Samson became as weak as any man. He was overpowered, blinded, and made a prisoner for the rest of his life. (For the full story of Samson, read Judges chapters 13 through 16.)
Samson was made a Nazarite from birth. A Nazarite was forbidden to have contact with dead bodies or to eat or drink fruit from the grapevine in any form, or to cut his hair. These were visible signs that he was to be separate from society even though he lived in it.
Samson didn’t value his place in God’s plan. He ate honey from a dead carcass and participated in drinking parties. He pursued women instead of God’s purpose for his life. Finally Delilah enticed Samson to give up his last remaining symbol of his calling to serve God; and God left him. Samson loved Delilah the way some people love the ways of this world. Delilah represents the love of this world which will rob a servant of God of the ability to defeat evil.
The Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:15-17)
Jesus prayed for his disciples, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”( John 17:15-18)
Samson was sent into his society to begin the process of loosening the stranglehold that the Philistines had on Israel. God wanted him to be seen as his servant, but Samson just wanted to blend into the world around him. He thought the strength was his own and was completely surprised that he had become as weak as any other man. God had left him and took away the strength that Samson had relied on to torment his enemies.
Samson had a change of heart at the end of his life which gave him a place in the Hebrews Hall of Faith. (Hebrews 11:32) His love for Delilah had cost him his sight and many years of servitude to Israel’s enemies. We can only wonder how much more Samson could have done if he had conscientiously followed God’s instructions. These rules had set him apart for the purpose of freeing his people from Philistine oppression. How much more could we as Christians do to free others from the oppression of this world’s values, if we would conscientiously follow the instructions of our God?
paraphrase of Judges 16
For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Set Apart For God