Take a few minutes to push the “pause” button on whatever is going on around you and be still with God.
Judges 16:1-22 (NRSV)
Once Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went in to her. The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” So they circled around and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night, thinking, “Let us wait until the light of the morning; then we will kill him.” But Samson lay only until midnight. Then at midnight he rose up, took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.
After this he fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, “Coax him, and find out what makes his strength so great, and how we may overpower him, so that we may bind him in order to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes your strength so great, and how you could be bound, so that one could subdue you.” Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that are not dried out, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.” Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried out, and she bound him with them. While men were lying in wait in an inner chamber, she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a strand of fiber snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have mocked me and told me lies; please tell me how you could be bound.” He said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.” So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” (The men lying in wait 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 could be bound.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.” So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web, and made them tight with the pin. Then she 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.
Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times now and have not told me what makes your strength so great.” Finally, after she had nagged him with her words day after day, and pestered him, he was tired to death. So he told her his whole secret, 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 were shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like anyone else.”
When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken, and his strength left him. Then she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They 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.
I always thought Delilah was the villain: she manipulated Samson and then ruthlessly betrayed him, right? Well… Delilah did betray him, which was very wrong, but I see no manipulation; she directly asked how to bind him so that he could be captured. Samson bluffed three times; each time the woman he loved bound him, announced that he was under siege, and Samson broke free. WHY, OH, WHY would he then tell her the truth? He had to have seen the pattern of behavior and known what would come next!
What kind of fool sets up his own undoing for the sake of earthly pleasures? Me. I do. One example: I stay up late, ignoring the obvious health risks and impact on my spiritual life. I could actually sustain a quiet devotion time in the morning if I had enjoyed eight hours of sleep instead of enjoying a snack at 11 p.m. There are many other areas of life in which our pursuit of pleasure blinds us to the red flags on our path. Here’s to making choices that are pleasing to God rather than pleasing to ourselves alone.
Instructive God, thank you for guidance intended to help us find safer, healthier paths in our daily walk with you. Help us to look beyond our immediate desires to be better long-term servants…and thank you for your grace when we fail. Amen.
Go with God.