Read Judges 16, Ezekiel 5, and Acts 24.
This devotional is about Judges 16.
After the events of Judges 15, Samson found himself unexpectedly single and still feeling lonely. So, he turned to a prostitute here in Judges 16:1 to find the satisfaction he did not find with his now late ex-wife. The Philistines thought they would gang up on him and defeat him when he left the next morning (v. 2), but Samson decided to leave in the middle of the night (v. 3).
The gates to the city were undoubtedly locked, both because it was nighttime and to keep Samson from escaping so they could take him in the morning. But Samson, never one to miss a chance to mess with the Philistines, let himself out of the city by ripping off the gates and carrying them to a hill (v. 3). where everyone would know that something unusual and terrifying had happened overnight.
Then he met Delilah (v. 4) and even “fell in love with her.” These words suggests that Samson’s infatuation with her was more than physical and his intentions toward her were more than temporary. Because his first marriage had gone so poorly and the Philistines had loose morals anyway, Samson apparently had a “sleep-over” arrangement with Delilah that allowed him to spend personal time with her without the costly entanglements of marriage.
Delilah, however, remained loyal to her nation, especially given the promise of her rulers to pay her well if she betrayed Samson (v. 5). She agreed, then, to obtain “the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him” (v. 5). Despite what we tend to think and may have heard, Samson may not have been an unusually muscular man. The great feats of strength that Samson accomplished were done by God’s power, not because he was a workout warrior. If the Philistines could discover his secret, they could eliminate him as a problem in their lives.
Delilah dedicated herself to the task, asking him to tell her his secret in order to deepen their relational intimacy (v. 15), then keeping Samson around her house until he was good and sleepy. Each time she asked, he lied to her, but each time he lied, she did exactly what he told her would sap his great strength. I suppose her excuse was that she wanted to test him to see if she was telling the truth, but you’d think that he would have gotten suspicious after she repeatedly tried to weaken him using the information he gave her.
Foolishly, after all the times she had tried to use his words against him, Samson trusted her and told her the truth. They say “love is blind” but it can also be really stupid, too.
I said that Samson “trusted her and told her the truth” in the paragraph above, but that’s not exactly correct. He told her what he thought the truth was. The real truth was that his strength had nothing to do with his hair. It was God’s Spirit coming on him in power that gave him such super-human strength.
But Samson had been disobedient to God repeatedly—marrying a Philistine woman, consorting with a prostitute, and essentially living with a woman he had not married. When he revealed his Nazarite vow, that was when the Lord “left him” (v. 20). It was not the length of his hair or anything else about him as a man that made him so strong. It was the power of God in his life, but his repeated selfishness and sin caused God to withdraw that power from Samson.
This is what happens to us when we stop relying on the Lord and start to trust ourselves instead. Although God used Samson for one mighty final act, his story is mostly about how one man presumed on the grace of God and lived his own sinful way, without regard to the consequences in his life.
Instead of cultivating a strong relationship with God, Samson cultivated his sin nature. Instead of becoming the godly leader he could have been, Samson became a tragic figure who was used by God despite his lack of faith, not because of it.
Don’t ever let success in any area of your life be the barometer of your walk with God. Walk with God and let him handle the rest.