Samson Carries Off
1One day while Samson was in Gaza, he saw a prostitute and went to her house to spend the night. 2The people who lived in Gaza found out he was there, and they decided to kill him at sunrise. So they went to the city gate and waited all night in the guardrooms on each side of the gate.
3But Samson got up in the middle of the night and went to the town gate. He pulled the gate doors and doorposts out of the wall and put them on his shoulders. Then he carried them all the way to the top of the hill that overlooks Hebron, where he set the doors down, still closed and locked.
Delilah Tricks Samson
4Some time later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in Sorek Valley. 5The Philistine rulers went to Delilah and said, “Trick Samson into telling you what makes him so strong and what can make him weak. Then we can tie him up so he can't get away. If you find out his secret, we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
6The next time Samson was at Delilah's house, she asked, “Samson, what makes you so strong? How can I tie you up so you can't get away? Come on, you can tell me.”
7Samson answered, “If someone ties me up with seven new bowstrings that have never been dried, it will make me just as weak as anyone else.”
8-9The Philistine rulers gave seven new bowstrings to Delilah. They also told some of their soldiers to go to Delilah's house and hide in the room where Samson and Delilah were. If the bowstrings made Samson weak, they would be able to capture him.
Delilah tied up Samson with the bowstrings and shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!”
Samson snapped the bowstrings, as though they were pieces of scorched string. The Philistines had not found out why Samson was so strong.
10“You lied and made me look like a fool,” Delilah said. “Now tell me. How can I really tie you up?”
11Samson answered, “Use some new ropes. If I'm tied up with ropes that have never been used, I'll be just as weak as anyone else.”
12Delilah got new ropes, and again some Philistines hid in the room. Then she tied up Samson's arms and shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!”
Samson snapped the ropes as if they were threads.
13“You're still lying and making a fool of me,” Delilah said. “Tell me how I can tie you up!”
“My hair is in seven braids,” Samson replied. “If you weave my braids into the threads on a loom and nail the loom to a wall, then I will be as weak as anyone else.”
14While Samson was asleep, Delilah wove his braids into the threads on a loom and nailed the loom to a wall. Then she shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!”
Samson woke up and pulled the loom free from its posts in the ground and from the nails in the wall. Then he pulled his hair free from the woven cloth.
15“Samson,” Delilah said, “you claim to love me, but you don't mean it! You've made me look like a fool three times now, and you still haven't told me why you are so strong.” 16Delilah started nagging and pestering him day after day, until he couldn't stand it any longer.
17Finally, Samson told her the truth. “I have belonged to God ever since I was born, so my hair has never been cut. If it were ever cut off, my strength would leave me, and I would be as weak as anyone else.”
18Delilah realized that he was telling the truth. So she sent someone to tell the Philistine rulers, “Come to my house one more time. Samson has finally told me the truth.”
The Philistine rulers went to Delilah's house, and they brought along the silver they had promised her. 19Delilah had lulled Samson to sleep with his head resting in her lap. She signaled to one of the Philistine men as she began cutting off Samson's seven braids. And by the time she was finished, Samson's strength was gone. Delilah tied him up 20and shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!”
Samson woke up and thought, “I'll break loose and escape, just as I always do.” He did not realize that the Lord had stopped helping him.
21The Philistines grabbed Samson and poked out his eyes. They took him to the prison in Gaza and chained him up. Then they put him to work, turning a millstone to grind grain. 22But they didn't cut his hair any more, so it started growing back.
It’s been said the root of all sin is pride. Pride could be defined as living independently of God, like our accomplishments are our own.
It would be easy to criticize the prideful Samson, but I’ve been there. Many of us have. It’s surprisingly easy to believe in our own success. Ever notice when things are going well, you don’t feel like you need God? I have.
Samson was increasingly strong and successful, despite his sinfulness. He had violated God’s rules for Israelites, and Nazirites specifically. He had married a foreigner (Exodus 34:16, Deuteronomy 7:3), and celebrated the wedding with a feast (Judges 14:10; the Hebrew word for “feast” indicates a drinking banquet). He also touched an unclean animal (Leviticus 11:27) and actually ate from it.
Even the night he was sleeping with the enemy (v 1), he had the strength to rip the enormous city gates off the wall, posts and all, and carry them 40 miles away (v 3)! Samson must have thought he was invincible.
But Samson’s sin was eating away at his faith, and, inevitably, pride took over and separated him from God, the source of his strength.
Samson knew his mistress would cut his hair, but he thought (v 20) “I’ll break loose and escape, just as I always do.” He would learn a tough lesson. Throughout Scripture, God takes a dim view of pride (Proverbs 16:18, Mark 7:22) but Samson was so self-absorbed “he did not realize that the Lord had stopped helping him” (v 20).
I’ve been there too. Fortunately, the consequences weren’t quite so permanent. We all need to listen for God’s call to repentance. He is faithful to forgive even the most prideful.
Dear Heavenly Father, You are faithful and just to forgive our sins. We have such a tendency to wander, to live with a spirit of independence. Help us remember you are the source of all good things, so you will be glorified in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.