THE FALL AND RISE OF A MIGHTY MAN OF GOD
PART 4: DISCERN THE DELILAH’S IN OUR LIVES
“DISOBEDIENCE AND DELILAH’S DOUBLY DEVASTATE DISCIPLES”
SAMSON HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING DRIVEN BY TWO THINGS – LUST AND ANGER. TODAY WE START BY SEEING THAT THE PASSING OF TIME CAN MAKE US LOSE OUR “EDGE” – OUR DEDICATION TO GOD. THIS LEADS – AS IT DID TO SAMSON – TO SUCCUMBING TO THE VERY TEMPTATIONS THAT CAN LEAD US INTO DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD. SO, WE SEE SAMSON VISITING A PROSTITUTE AND THEN “FALLING FOR” THE DELIGHTS OF DELILAH. HE “GIVES IN” TO HER CONSTANT NAGGING AND BETRAYS THE SOUCE OF HIS STRENGTH – HIS UNCUT HAIR…OR IS THIS THE REASON FOR HIS MIGHTY POWER??? HIS HAIR IS CUT OFF AND HE IS AS WEAK AS ANY OTHER MAN. HOWEVER, IN PRISON HIS HAIR GROWS AGAIN AND HIS DEDICATION TO THE LORD GROWS AGAIN. RESTORED IN HIS COMMITMENT TO GOD HE IS USED BY GOD ONE LAST TIME TO DESTROY THE ENEMY – THE PHILISTINES. THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN FROM SAMSON HERE. BUT TODAY WE SHALL BE FOCUSING ON THE FIRST PART OF THE STORY – HIS DISOBEDIANCE AND HIS INFATUATION WITH DELILAH.
[VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv5nwN9dQVU
Let’s use this clip to come to a greater understanding of the lessons to be learned}
THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT – JUDGES 16: 1-21
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 that 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 bow-strings 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 bow-strings 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 bow-strings 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 corn in the prison.
“TIME QUICKLY PASSES BY”
Judges 16 begins with the words “One day”.
Judges 16: 4 then says: “Some time later”.
I think that there is a significant time gap between Judges 15: 20 and 16: 1. Samson has been made “judge” or “leader” of Israel and fulfils this role for 20 years.
I believe that he is now older and still unmarried. And I fear that our “story” now shows a man who is no longer as dedicated to the LORD as he was at first.
Time blunts his (and our) initial passion and enthusiasm. The young man or woman who passionately adores her beloved during the time of courting sees only the other’s faults after 20 years of marriage – and needs to work hard to ensure that love is kept burning – this is why “Marriage Masala” (a marriage “MOT”) is so very important. In the same way a new disciple of Jesus is full of passion and ready to “change the world for Jesus”, but the “hard-knocks” of life dull his spiritual edge.
Samson was not so dedicated to the LORD any more: he is now visiting a prostitute in the Philistine heartland of Gaza (16: 1). Samson is also falling in love with the Philistine, Delilah (16: 4). It is not that he has deserted “the faith”. Rather, he has lost his spiritual edge and his spiritual way. There is no evidence in Scripture that God has led him to do these things. He has become vulnerable to compromise with “the world” – more and more the attractions and temptations of the world entice him – and he is flirting with the enemy.
The conclusion that we must draw and the challenges that are there for us? We must remain alert! We must constantly be reviewing, and renewing, our dedication, commitment and passion for and to the LORD. As time passes for us so we can easily lose our edge, become lackadaisical in our passion for God, and succumb to the temptations of compromise with worldly ways. And make no mistake – compromise with the “world” means falling into the hands of our enemy, the devil. God is warning us to keep out of the arms of the world – He wants to keep us safe in His loving arms.
[NB: Just a little “aside” here which you might like to consider – You know, Samson was a great man of God and was now in a position, as Judge, of great responsibility. But, he was also a human with human needs and frailties and he made mistakes and he did wrong. And our expectation is so often that when we do wrong God will simply punish us. But, this is not what happened: when Samson wrongly visited the prostitute in Gaza God saved him and Samson was endowed again with immense (spiritual) strength to rip up the gates of Gaza and escape. God doesn’t want to punish us; He wants to save us. He wants to give us every opportunity to put things right and so be of use to Him. In His love for us punishment comes as a discipline when we fail to put things right.]
“GET YOUR HAIR CUT YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE MAN!” (SERGEANT-MAJOR TO NEW RECRUIT)
As I entered 6th form at school I had long hair – VERY long hair! (well…it was the early ‘70’s) – and I was truly devastated when, having been nominated for becoming a Prefect, I was called into the Headmaster’s office (a very traditionally-minded, strict man) and told that I would not be considered unless I got my hair cut. Well, I didn’t get my hair shorn… and so I didn’t become a Prefect.
Delilah nagged Samson to tell her the “secret of your great strength” (16: 6). And eventually, after several attempts to “fob her off” he told her:
‘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.’ (v. 17)
So, enticed by the bribery of the Philistine leaders, this temptress had Samson’s head shorn and called in the Philistine soldiers. Samson, finding his strength gone, was seized, subdued, blinded and taken away into slavery.
Was Samson’s strength in his hair? No! His strength lay in his obedience – his dedication – to God – his commitment to the calling of a Nazirite.
The cutting of his hair was symbolic of disobedience – he had “gone” with a prostitute, “fallen” for the Philistine, Delilah, succumbed to her nagging, and finally had told her what he should not have uttered
His strength, I say again, lay in his obedience to the LORD. The power of the Holy Spirit was no longer with him.
Our strength, too, lies in our obedience to God. We are strong in this life – strong against the enemy, the devil; strong in adversity; strong in sickness, poverty and troubles – when we walk with God, full of His Spirit, serving Him faithfully and trusting Him fully. Then the Holy Spirit rests upon us and within us in mighty power.
Let us be clear on this. God did not walk away from Samson and leave him powerless – Samson walked away from God. And God does not walk away from us and leave us powerless – the “Priestly Blessing” of Numbers 6 reminds us that God is always looking up to us like a loving Father with His arms outstretched towards us ready to embrace us in His loving arms. If we choose to walk away from God, not obeying Him, no longer fully committed to Him, no longer living by His Word of instruction for us, then we must (like Samson) take the consequences that arise from our actions. We let the enemy in – God does not send him to us.
The conclusion that we must draw and the challenges that are there for us? Don’t spiritually cut your hair! Remain dedicated, committed, obedient and true to Him. Walk with Him daily as His disciple. Are you feeling powerless today? It may be that you have allowed your spiritual hair to be cut. Come back to Him now. God is warning us to keep out of the arms of the world – He wants to keep us safe in His loving arms.
[NB: just a little “aside” here – verse 21 should be looked at more carefully – When Samson was in obedience to God he had the strength of God and God was with him. Now that he had disobeyed, God left him, his strength left him and now his eyes were gouged out – when we walk with God we can “see”, when we live in disobedience we are “blind”. When we are in disobedience we find ourselves in “prison”.]
“WHY, WHY, WHY, DELILAH?” (TOM JONES)
Have you noticed something in the story of Samson – we hear very little of the rest of the Israelites – all is focused on this one man. The enemy – the Philistines – showed little interest in the vast numbers of Hebrews that they oppressed. But, they showed vast interest in the one man, Samson – constantly seeking a way to subdue and destroy him.
We should not be surprised at this. The Israelites had lain down and turned over like a dog which is showing submission to a stronger animal. Samson, on the other hand, was an ever-present danger to them.
Our enemy, the devil, is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent, and so his focus is invariably on the ones who are fully dedicated to God. Cut off the head and the body will collapse. Just as an enemy focuses on the leaders, just as the Philistines focused on Samson, so our enemy (the devil) will seek to subdue those who are fully committed to God.
And the weapons that the Philistines used against Samson? Not swords and spears – Samson was too strong for these. No – they used subterfuge – they sought (and ultimately found) his weak spot – his human frailties. They used…Delilah.
- She was beautiful
- She was just what he felt he needed – he was just a man, with man’s needs – and she provided what he was looking for
- She was seductive – she offered a soft body and soft words – both of which were pleasing to him
- But, she was an enemy – she was committed to the Philistines and not to him
- And, she was a betrayer – she was willing to give him to the Philistines for the personal gain of money
- She was also a liar – deceiving him daily with her protestations that he did not love her unless he told her the secret of his great strength
So too with us. Our enemy, the devil, is not coming at us with demons and poltergeists and all such weapons seen in horror movies. This is all too obvious for us. He comes at us with the worldly things that might lead us spiritually astray. With Samson it was the lusts for a woman and her persistent nagging (no..he wasn’t lusting after her nagging!). With us it will be the very human things of “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”, money, possessions, busy-ness etc, etc, etc, etc.
Samson wanted the love of a woman. He wanted it so badly that he was willing to sacrifice his dedication to God for this love. So, Samson was at risk from persistent nagging – in order to get (and not lose) the love that he so desired. What about us? Are we aware of the things in our lives that could lead us so badly astray from our dedication to God? Are we aware of the Delilah’s in our lives?
- She was beautiful – on the outside – but cunning and dangerous within. Such are the temptations of our enemy.
- She was just what he felt he needed: the “Delilah’s” in our lives will feel so good to us, so right, so…everything that we were looking for.
- She was seductive – our “Delilah’s” will make us feel that it must be right.
- She was an enemy – we are not unaware of his devises – we know through the Word and the Spirit that our “Delilah” is from our enemy even though she feels so good
- She was a betrayer – our “Delilah’s” are against us and seek to sell us to our enemy, the devil.
- She was a liar – be aware that everything that our “Delilah” will say to us will be a lie from our enemy who is the “father of lies”.
The conclusion that we must draw and the challenges that are there for us? We must beware the “Delilahs” in our lives. We must be alert to the danger of “Delilahs” in our lives. We must deny the “Delilahs” in our lives. Samson spent his days in the arms of Delilah – we must ensure that we spend our days with the people of God who can stand by our side against the Delilahs of this world. God is warning us to keep out of the arms of the world – He wants to keep us safe in His loving arms.
SUMMARY OF THE CHALLENGES IN TODAY’S STORY OF SAMSON
- Time does blunt our passion for God and our dedication to Him – be aware of this and constantly be renewing your commitment to Him – remain safely in His arms of love
- Our spiritual strength is in our obedience to God and our trust in His love towards us. Compromise with the world leads to our walking away from our LORD – the consequence of this is losing our spiritual strength and becoming vulnerable to the enemy. Let us constantly review and renew our obedience to Him and so remain safely in His arms of love.
- Deny the Delilahs in our lives. Be aware of them, be alert to them and deny them – however enticing they are. Do not sleep in the arms of the world but remain safely in His arms of love.