Judges 16:4-22 [NLT]
4 Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces[b] of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
7 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
8 So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. 9 She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Afterward Delilah said to him, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
11 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before, and again Delilah cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread.
13 Then Delilah said, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
Samson replied, “If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. 14 Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle.[c] Again she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric.
15 Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” 16 She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down,[d] and his strength left him.
20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.
Dear God, before I start talking about this story, I just have to comment on verse 22. It’s a little cliffhanger like at the end of the old Batman television show from the 60s with Adam West: “But before long, his hair began to grow back.” Love it. I suppose I should also mention that the image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard, and the picture itself was actually created by Ned Bustard.
It the midst of our #metoo wave that is currently happening and changing our perspectives on how men treat women, I can’t help but read this story this morning through a different lens–the lens of her perspective. Why did she do what she did?
It wasn’t for the money. Samson had no qualms about taking and/or killing anything he wanted. If she had said, “Samson, I could really use 1,100 pieces of silver,” he would have gone and killed those same Philistines and taken it from them. No, the money wasn’t the deal-maker–unless…
She wanted freedom. That money gave her freedom from a boorish man who probably did not treat her very well. And we aren’t told what she did after this story, but I would imagine she had to move into the center of Philistine territory where she would have been treated like a hero. If she had stayed in Israel, the people would probably have killed her for her role in Samson’s demise.
So how does this apply to my life? Well, beyond the obvious questions of whether or not I am ever a Samson (driving people to betray me) or a Delilah (betraying others for my own gain), I think one thing that is important to do is to look at betrayals that I see and try to look beyond the surface and find a deeper reason.
For example, very few people are actually evil. Even when they have done something that I find reprehensible, they usually see it as morally justified from their own perspective. And then there are addictions to things like alcohol, drugs, and even pornography that can make a person do things they wouldn’t normally do. Where I work, we see that with domestic violence all of the time. And of course, there are always two sides to every story.
Father, make me more thoughtful in my assessment of others. Make me more aware when I am doing something that others perceive as evil. Help me to give people the benefit of the doubt and understand how to be an instrument of your peace.
In Jesus’ name I pray,