One of the most tragic stories of the Bible is that of Samson. He had so much going for him. He was blessed with great strength. He was to be a Nazarite from the day he was conceived to the day he died. This means he was set apart for service to God. As a Nazarite he was prohibited from taking wine, anything made from grapes, cut his hair or touch the dead. He was chosen to “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” He judged Israel for twenty years (Judges 15:20).
Samson grew and God blessed him. His Spirit began to move upon him (Judges 13:25).
Samson wanted to marry a Philistine woman, much to his parents’ dismay but they didn’t know that it was the Lord’s doing. The Lord was using this as an opportunity to move against the Philistines because the Philistines ruled over Israel. So far Samson was doing what the Lord expected until the day he encountered a lion. “And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand” (Judges 14:6). He didn’t tell his parents what happened.
Samson came across the lion he had killed and saw that there was a swarm of bees and honey in its carcass. He took some of the honey and ate it. He took some for his parents but didn’t tell them where he had gotten it from. And no wonder. He knew that as a Nazarite, he was not supposed to go near a dead body, much less touch it. Touching it made him unclean.
We see that Samson is easily manipulated. He told the Philistines a clever riddle which they just could not get so they threatened his wife and she nagged him, playing on his feelings for her until he told her. She told them the answer to the riddle and when they repeated it to Samson, he was bitter, realizing that his wife had betrayed him. In a fit of anger he went out and killed thirty Philistine men. And then he went back to his father’s house. As for his wife. She was given to his best friend.
History repeats itself when Samson falls in love with the wrong woman again. Her name is Delilah and like his first wife, she too is approached by the Philistines. This time they want her to find out where Samson gets his great strength. Now you would think that Samson would see a red flag when Delilah says to him, “Please tell me where your great strength lies,and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” Clearly she does not love him. She wants to find out what will take away his strength and leave his weak and helpless so that he will an easy target for his enemies. She was doing this for money. The Philistines promised to give her eleven hundred pieces of silver for her trouble. All she could see were dollar signs.
I don’t know what was going through Samson’s mind or if why he didn’t take the situation seriously. Three times Delilah pressed him about the source of his strength, three times the Philistines showed up and he managed to get out of the trap she had set for him. Then, like his wife, she nagged and nagged until he got so fed up that he told her the truth. “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” When Delilah realized that he had finally told her the truth, she didn’t waste any time. She sent for them, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” The men showed up, bringing her money this time.
Delilah lulled Samson to sleep and then called a man to come in shave his head. She didn’t have any qualms about what she was about to do to this man who loved her. Like the other times, she cried out, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” Samson woke up, thinking that he would be able to get out of this predicament like the other times but he didn’t know that the Lord had departed from him. Too late, he realized that he was as weak as any other man and the Philistines took him, gouged out his eyes and carried him away to Gaza where he was thrown into prison. Samson, the strong man who was set apart to serve God and judge the people of Israel was reduced to a blind, broken man in chains and a grinder in the prison all because of a woman named Delilah. She had gotten rich at his expense. I wonder what became of her.
I don’t know how long Samson was in prison but his hair began to grow back. On the day the Philistines gathered together to have a feast to their god, Dagon, they called for him to go and perform for them. Three thousand men and women watched as poor, blind Samson, their enemy, performed. Then, Samson prayed to God, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” He hugged the two middle pillars which supported the temple, braced himself against and said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed against them with all of his strength and the temple fell on everyone who was in it. Samson died that day killing more people than when he was alive.
His family came and took his body and buried him in his father’s tomb. What a tragic end to Samson’s life. He had made the fatal mistake of falling in love with a woman who was treacherous.
What can we learn from Samson’s story? When we are set apart to serve God, we are to serve Him faithfully and completely. We can’t allow our feelings for others to cloud our judgment. Don’t allow ourselves to be pressured into revealing information we should not. Be careful whom we fall in love with or marry. For a man who was supposed to judge Israel, when it came to his personal life, specifically, his love life, Samson showed poor judgment. It cost him his relationship with God, his sight and ultimately, his life.