Seemingly, Philistine women were irresistible to Samson. Once Samson went to Gaza, saw a prostitute, and went into spend the night with her. When the men of Gaza learned Samson was in the house of the prostitute, they planned to wait until the first morning light, then attack and kill Samson.
At about midnight Samson got up and left the prostitute’s home, avoiding the Philistine ambush. But, perhaps the potential ambush irked Samson. He picked up the doors of the city gate, bars and all, and dislodged the two door posts. He put the doors, bars, and posts on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill outside of town; thus, Samson thumbed his nose at Philistines.
Generally, Christians churches don’t view their behavior as thumbing noses at society; but, from time to time, society may view churches/Christians as doing so. Paul wrote to the Philippians that they should do nothing out of selfish ambition but humbly value others above themselves (Philippians 2:3). Possibly, one way a church/congregation thumbs its nose at society is think and perhaps more importantly thinking that they are right. From time to time this thinking they are right turns into intolerance for others.
My church believes in the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb. At times we are intolerant of individuals who believe in abortion and/or medically assisted suicide. Sometimes my own thoughts about those who believe differently aren’t kind. In fact, they are down-right critical. It is okay for my church and me not to value another’s opinion. It is apostasy when we don’t value the person over ourselves.
By this time in Samson’s life, he no longer met the requirements for a Nazarite. He touched the dead carcass of an animal and he drank wine, fermented grape juice. The only requirement that Samson kept that designated him a Nazarite was that he never cut his hair.
After these events, Samson fell in love with Delilah. Although Delilah is a Semitic name, her actions put her firmly in the Philistine camp. Not once do we read that Delilah loved Samson; her behavior revealed just the opposite, i.e., that she was willing to use him for personal gain. She was Samson’s downfall. Josephus noted that Delilah was a harlot; however, the Bible doesn’t label her as such (Whiston, 1987). When Philistine leaders learned that Samson was spending time with Delilah, five of them offered Delilah money to cajole Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength so they could capture him. Delilah agreed.
As we read the Bible account of Samson and Delilah, it appears that the two of them are playing a game. She asks him the source of his amazing strength and he answers with a lie. At the same time that Samson lies, his answer is logical perhaps because it is a challenge to implement.
Eventually, Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say, ‘I love you’ when you won’t confide in me” (Judges 16:15, NIV). When Delilah uttered these words, most of us think back to Samson’s wife who used the same ploy, i.e., if you loved me you will tell me the solution to the riddle. Seemingly, Samson didn’t learn from the result of giving the riddle’s answer to his wife.
Finally, Samson told Delilah that he was a Nazarite, set apart to God from his birth. He never cut his hair; but, if his head was shaved, his strength would leave him. He would be no stronger than other men. Samson’s answer showed that he was 1) aware that he was set apart by God, 2) to be a Nazarite and keep the Nazarite vows, and 3) the importance of not cutting his hair.
As in Chapter 1 with the men of Judah following God’s instructions only partially, Samson did the same. Clearly, Samson knew he was to be set apart as a Nazarite before God and just as clearly he opted to obey some of the Nazarite requirements for his life and ignore other. Samson disobeyed God. Equally, true churches in the twenty-first century disobey God when they follow part but not all of what God commands.
Delilah sent word to the Philistines that she had the secret to Samson’s strength and they came to her home. Gently, Delilah put Samson to sleep on her lap. Perhaps, Samson was drunk otherwise he would have felt his hair being shaved off. After his hair was removed, Delilah called out, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” (Judges 16:20 ESV). Samson woke from his sleep. He thought that he would once again go out of the house and decimate the Philistines. At that moment in time, Samson didn’t know that God had left him.
The Philistines captured Samson. They gouged out Samson’s eyes, bound him in bronze shackles, took him to Gaza, and set him to grinding grain in prison. Grinding rain was a job normally reserved for oxen or donkeys.
Copyright 12/17/19: Carolyn Roth
visit my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry for more content on Samson.