Understanding the Old Testament

Samson and Delilah

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

I don’t know if Samson was simply stupid, or (like many men) he was simply stupid when he was around women. In any event, he was a poor judge of the female of the species. His first wife betrayed him, which lost him a bet, but his next misjudgment about a woman would be fatal.

He fell in love with a woman named Delilah, whom the Philistines bribed to help them capture Samson. (Judges 16:4-5) To do so, she had to discover the secret of his incredible strength—and thus, how he could be overcome.

The first time she asked, Samson wisely lied, telling her that binding him “with seven fresh cords that have not been dried” would render him helpless. (Judges 16:7) But when she tried tying him up in that manner and then called out to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!,” he broke free easily. (Judges 16:8-9)

This scenario was repeated two more times, and each time when she bound him according to his directions he quickly broke free. (Judges 16:10-14)

After being lied to these three times, Delilah played rough: she accused Samson of not loving her, then nagged him constantly to tell her his secret. (Judges 16:15-16)

At this point I’m reminded of the famous saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Delilah had tried to bind Samson three times without success, yet he didn't seem to suspect a thing. He must have been one love-sick puppy to not realize that she could not be trusted.

She finally wore him down and he told her the truth—that he was a Nazirite, and that cutting his hair would cost him his strength. (Judges 16:17)

As Samson slept, a Philistine shaved his head, enabling his enemies to capture him, blind him, and imprison him in the Philistine city of Gaza. Judges 16:19 explains that breaking the Nazirite vow by cutting his hair caused the Lord to depart from him.

Sometime later, the Philistine noblemen and noblewomen held a celebration for their god Dagon, to whom they credited their victory over Samson. In the midst of this party, they brought Samson up from prison to “amuse” them. (Judges 16:25) While they celebrated, Samson asked God to give him his strength one last time—and then broke the pillars that supported the structure, killing himself and 3,000 Philistines. (Judges 16:25-30)

Questions to ponder or discuss: Does it trouble you that Samson prayed for strength in order to kill? Does it trouble you that God apparently granted his prayer (although Judges does not explicitly say so)? Why or why not?

Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.