When I first set out to write about today’s wimp, Samson, I thought it was going to be simple recitation about his relationship with Delilah, the “epic fail” he experienced and what we could learn. Sounds simple enough right? Boy was I wrong.
As I began to research the life of Samson, I realized there is soooo much more to him than his destructive relationship with Delilah. The next few posts will be a little longer than usual so bear with me, I think you’ll find the story intriguing.
Samson’s birth was one of those near-immaculate conceptions. His mother had been unable to have children. An angel appeared to her and told her she was going to have a baby….not just any baby, but a very special baby. “… the boy will be a Nazirite. He will be set apart to God from the day he is born. He will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). Being a Nazirite meant he couldn’t drink wine, eat anything unclean or cut his hair.
When Samson got older he saw a Philistine woman he wanted to marry. This was a little unusual because most marriages in those days were arranged. His parents were opposed to the marriage because the woman was a Philistine; the Israelis were not on good terms with the Philistines. “But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me” (Judges 14:3). This matrimony was doomed from the start. It ends with the woman and her father being burned by the Philistines and Samson exacting his revenge to further exacerbate the failing relationship between the Israelis and the Philistines.
Later in life Samson falls in love again, this time with a woman named Delilah. All we are told about Delilah is she was a woman who lived in the Valley of Sorek (Judges 16:4). There are some who assume that since there is so little information given about her she was probably a high-class prostitute. When the Philistines learned about her relationship with him, they offer to pay her 28 pounds of silver each if she could find out the source of his strength (Judges 16:5).
Three times, Delilah tries to get Samson to reveal the source of his strength. Each time he lies to her; a fact she discovers each time she tests the response he gives her. Finally he can take her begging no more and he reveals the truth. When he falls asleep she cuts his hair. He is attacked by the Philistines and realizes that his strength is gone. The Philistines take him, poke his eyes out and imprison him. It sounds like the end of the story, but Judges 16:21 reveals “but the hair on [his head] began to grow again.”
How does the story end? The Philistines brought Samson out during a banquet so they could show off their defeated enemy. He asked to be leaned against a post and there he prayed his last prayer: “Lord and King, show me that you still have concern for me. God, please make me strong just one more time. Let me pay the Philistines back for what they did to my two eyes. Let me do it with only one blow.” (Judges 16:28). He pushed down the central pillar, killing the Philistine leaders and everyone else in the hall. “So Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than he did while he lived.” (Judges 16:30). That is pretty impressive given that Judges 15:14 reports him killing 1,000 with the jawbone of a donkey.
Hope, promise, lust, revenge, love, betrayal…sounds like a Lifetime TV miniseries. Samson is definitely one of those tragic characters that many of us can relate to.