Suicide By Lover

Three times Samson told Delilah a fib about how to take away his strength, and three times she has tried it. Samson knows what she’s doing, and who for. Delilah knows he knows. Basically, she’s trying to get him killed. And finally, Samson goes along with it.

And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.”  And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.  And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:15 — 17 ESV)

She wore Samson down. After three times failing her benefactors, three times failing to get the silver, she plays the “you don’t love me” card. And she kept at until “his soul was shortened to death”. Samson would rather die than hear her say that again. As far as he knew he did love her. Clearly, that love was not returned.
What does a woman do when a man who loves her reveals whole heart? She betrays him, of course. If the question had been, “what does a woman do when the man she loves reveals his whole heart”, that would have received a different answer. But that’s not what happened. 

Delilah didn’t love Samson. Although, there is the story-element that the Philistines don’t kill Samson. We’re not told that this part of the deal Delilah makes, but what if it were? The thing is, Samson is safer being strong, so it’s doubtful Delilah was interested in his safety. It’s more likely the Philistines wanted him alive to torture, than dead as some sort of inspiring hero of Israel.

Either way, having now seen his whole heart, she promptly betrays him.

When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.  She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.  And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.  And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.  But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. (Judges 16:18 — 22 ESV)

This time the princes of the Philistines brought payment. This was sure to succeed. The ambush set, Delilah has Samson sleep in her lap. How tender and sweet, she does love him…and then calls for a man to shave the seven braids of his hair. Okay, maybe she doesn’t. In fact, she “torments” him after his hair is shaved. That statement doesn’t fit here. Literally, she “profanes him to humiliate him”, but that word, “profane” can also mean “begin”, hence the common translation. Since what she does causes him to lose the Nazarite status, I think “profane” actually makes more sense.  Samson sleeps, how does she “torment” a sleeping man? She probably put his hand in warm water.

Whatever it is she does, Samson’s strength leaves him. It’s not blatant, but the writer has personified Samson’s strength. Once Samson wakes, the writer notes, “But he did not know Yahweh had left Him.” In a rather literal sense, Yahweh was Samson’s strength. Samson was now separated from his true Master. Instead he is bound to new masters, they put out his eyes, and force him to grind grain in the mill, like an ox. Samson may not have enjoyed being the weapon of Yahweh, but it had to be better than this.

Have you ever wondered if serving God was worth it? Your friends seem to be having so much fun…without you. They do what you can’t, go where you shouldn’t, and talk about things unholy, with smiles and laughter. Does your Master seem a heavy burden? Let’s be honest, in many tangible ways, He is. Our enemy makes sin stuff easy, popular, and sensible. The lie is that “it’s all about us”, and we like that. 

Don’t deny it, you know it’s true. We’re not referring to bars, singles scenes or “clubbing”. We’re referring to other things to do on Sunday, no time to read Scripture, pray, no time for our Master. I did it in my late teens, in the Army. It became “inconvenient” to go to chapel. So, I didn’t do church at all. Eventually, I didn’t recognize the place I was in my life, not at all. It happens, once we choose “easy”, which is to not to follow our Master. And that choice is death, it’s suicide-by-<enter your personal desire here>. You know its true. So, lets chose life instead.

That’s my view through this knothole this morning. What do you see through yours?


The Dangerous Game of Love

Delilah seeks to betray Samson, and he plays a game with her around it. It’s a similar game he played with his first wife regarding his riddle. Once again, someone is “plowing with Samson’s heifer.” Clearly, Samson needs to give up cattle altogether.  

Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”  Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them.  Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.”  And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”  So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread. 

Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”  So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web. And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web. (Judges 16:7 — 14 ESV)

Back and forth, query, lie, frustration, query, lie, on and on. Use cords; no, use ropes; no, weave my hair in a loom. From silly to ridiculous, the game proceeds through attempts that must have been embarrassing for Delilah. Each time, the silver seems farther and farther away. Her benefactors are losing their interest in her information. In fact, by the third attempt. There are no more “ambushes” hiding in her bedroom.

Why play the game at all? Why trust a woman who attempts everything you claim saps your strength? Clearly that’s her goal: to sap your strength. It doesn’t actually say the ambushes actually sprung out from her bedroom, but whether they did or didn’t, Delilah is obviously persistently seeking to sap Samson’s strength. 

Now, look closely at Samson’s responses. “If they bind me…”, “If they bind me…”, then, “If you weave my hair…”. Samson knows! This guy’s knows she’s working for his enemies, his answers plainly reveal that, and, therefore Delilah knows he knows, and the game progresses. What is he doing? His whole security lies in his great strength, of which his enemies are terrified (and, rightly so). Yet he dances around that line, that cliff edge, foolishly.

But, don’t we do that? Don’t we flirt with sin so often because we’ve gotten away with it? Haven’t you danced around a secret sin because you’ve escaped the consequences so long, they have stopped scaring you? Consequences are one of the ways our Master sets boundaries. We can’t escape them for long. And that inescapable quality is part of our Master’s grace to us. It’s a painful blessing.

The game for silver, played alongside the game for love, ends without winners. No one is loved, the riches become meaningless. Yet, there are no shortage of players. We continue to choose the fruit of the wrong tree. Fortunately, the love of our Master succeeds where our foolish selfishness fails. All we have to do is agree that loving Him is more important than the love of anything else.

That’s my view through my knothole this morning. What do you see through yours?

Woman Trouble…Again

The character quality of Samson, to this point, hasn’t been awesome. The writer has been directed to this part of Samson’s story, setting Samson up along the way, helping explain why he seems to be so easily duped by Delilah. Notice the detail.

After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.  And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”  So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” (Judges 16:4 — 6 ESV)

Notice that Delilah is the first woman given a name so far. Not even Samson’s mother was named. Think about how deeply ingrained in our culture she’s become, nearly as famous as Samson himself. We may, but probably won’t, remember the lion, sometimes the jawbone, doubtful the Gaza gates, but always Delilah. We don’t forget her.

This also the first time Samson is said to love a woman. Before you simply dismiss that as just another common romance, remember that such a reference is actually rare in Scripture. Isaac loves Rebecah, Jacob loves Rachel, Shechem loves Dinah (after raping her), Elkanah loves Hannah, Michal loves David, and Amnon,loves Tamar (until he rapes her).  That’s about it. All of 66 books, those are the only ones we have, and obviously not all were “healthy”.

The author is making a point that Samson loves Delilah. He was invested enough that he loves her, but doesn’t marry her. There’s no explanation given, it’s simply left out completely. That could be a cultural assumption, that they were married, no need to mention it. But, the author mentions it before, seems an odd assumption to make, not that this saga has made sense so far.

Notice how easily she’s enticed to betray Samson. That’s a lot of silver, but even so, that’s all it took. Samson’s love does not seem to be returned. She doesn’t even hesitate, but begins to wear him down seeking his secret. What we seem to find here is that love, the emotional bond anyway, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’ll see later, it seems to blind him, much like the cliche.

Think how different Samson’s life would have been had he loved Yahweh as strongly as Delilah. Yahweh can be a difficult Master, driving Samson to do terrifying things, but He’s faithful to His people. Among the other options of worship, He is the only option of the Sons of Israel. And, while Samson doesn’t choose other deities, he does seem to worship Delilah.

For what have you or I sold, or traded, our devotion to our Master, Jesus? Its not difficult to do, we have plenty of excuses why it makes sense, or why it isn’t necessarily a trade. But, we still find things more important than our Savior. We still discover we love something that consumes us more than our Creator, our Savior, our Master. We still find ourselves standing on unholy ground. 

Don’t panic, just step back, look around for Jesus’ light, and make for it. He’ll find you, He’ll bring us back to Himself. What He wants is our repentance, our continued desire for His attention, giving Him our attention in the process. Never doubt, just go home. He’ll meet us on the way, and we’ll walk with Him, and talk with Him in the garden, in the cool of the day; just like it was supposed to be.

That’s my view through the knothole this morning. What do you see of our Master through yours?