Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Judges. Day 55, Samson And Delilah, Part One

In yesterday's study Samson met Delilah and fell in love with her. Realizing they could use this weakness against him, the rulers of the Philistines offered Delilah what amounted to over $10,000 in silver at today's prices if she would entice Samson to reveal the secret to his strength. Today we begin to study the portion of Scripture involving Samson and Delilah's unhealthy---and ultimately doomed---relationship.

We closed yesterday with this: "So Delilah said to Samson, 'Tell me the secret of your great strength so you can be tied up and subdued.'" (Judges 16:6) Now he replies to her with a falsehood: "Samson answered her, 'If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man.'" (Judges 16:7) 

Not long after this conversation, Delilah obtains these materials from the Philistines and tries them out on Samson. "Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them." (Judges 16:8) He is a willing participant, not suspecting she's trying to betray him. I'm going to try to phrase this as delicately as I can, but I believe Samson thinks the two of them are incorporating something new into their sexual encounters. He has no idea the Philistines are lying in wait to capture him. He eagerly submits to being tied up by the seductive Delilah because he finds it exciting. 

Some of the Philistines came to Delilah's house and concealed themselves before Samson arrived. Now that she has him securely tied with seven bowstrings, she speaks the words that were probably agreed upon beforehand as the signal for the men to get ready to jump out and seize Samson. "With men hidden in the room, she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered." (Judges 16:9) Samson still thinks this is a game between the two of them. He doesn't know men are hiding in the house. When Delilah shouts, "The Philistines are upon you!" and the hidden men hear the bowstrings snapping, they remain where they are. These men were prepared for the possibility that Samson might lie to Delilah and they devised this test to make sure he was securely bound before they revealed their presence.

I don't know whether she was prepared for this possibility or not but she pouts and pretends to have hurt feelings. "Then Delilah said to Samson, 'You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.'" (Judges 16:10)

Samson tells her a second falsehood, no doubt still thinking this is an entertaining game of romance. "He said, 'If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man.'" (Judges 16:11) Delilah and the Philistine rulers either don't know or have forgotten that Samson easily snapped the new ropes that the men of Judah bound him with in Chapter 15. The Judahites intended to hand him over to the Philistine soldiers who were camped at Lehi but the Bible told us that the new ropes became "like charred flax" and dropped from his hands. Delilah gets new ropes and, on a separate occasion, invites Samson over to her house again while men are concealed there.

"So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads." (Judges 16:12) He still thinks this is a game. Whenever she shouts, "The Philistines are upon you," he jumps up and demonstrates his strength to her. He believes she enjoys these demonstrations of his manly strength. He has no idea his life is in the hands of the woman to whom he has unwisely given his heart.

Again she appeals to his emotions by pretending to be hurt and confused by his refusal to reveal how he can be overpowered. "Delilah then said to Samson, 'All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.' He replied, 'If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man.' So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin. Again she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric." (Judges 16:13-14) Why is Samson so deeply asleep that Delilah can weave the braids of his hair into the loom? Some scholars suggest he's fallen prey to a post-coital slumber. Others believe he drank to excess and sank into sleep, while others think Delilah may have drugged him. It could be any or all of these explanations or none of them, but in my opinion he was so blinded by his love/lust for this woman that he was lulled into a false sense of security. He believes he is safe with her because he wants to believe he is safe with her. He wants to believe she is a good woman who genuinely loves him and would never betray him. I'm reminded of the song "When A Man Loves A Woman" where the lyrics go, "If she is bad, he can't see it; she can do no wrong." 

Samson still doesn't suspect that all these encounters with Delilah are a plot to turn him over to the Philistines. She's like a drug to him; he can't get enough of her. When we study the second half of this portion of Scripture tomorrow, we'll find him returning to her house again and again where she'll pester him about the secret of his strength so many times that at last he capitulates and tells her everything she wants to know. 

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