Judges 16: 1 - 22
Amazing thing about the story of Samson and Delilah - comes at the height of his career. In the end, Samson was tricked by the same thing that tricked him in the beginning. No surprise - after all these years, the thing he struggled with in the beginning - reached out and bit him and finally brought him down.
Samson’s Mid-Life Crisis 15: 20
Samson, from such a great beginning, went down, then came back and won that great victory and delivered his people. He was about 20 years old when he burst on the scene. He led Israel for 20 years - until the time he was about 40: 20 years of peace, prosperity and relative freedom from the Philistines. Samson, as he approached the mid-life years, began to feel restless. He began to feel uneasy. He began to wonder if there wasn’t more to life. Samson at the age of 40 takes a turn for the worse.
Wasn’t obvious - his old friends - “At last he has conquered his problems.” “When he was growing up, he had quite a temper. Back in those days, you didn’t want to get him mad at you.” “He used to be the biggest skirt-chaser in town.” They would laugh and then say, “I guess he just grew up or something.” It truly looked like Samson had finally put all his problems behind him.
The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Say
The truth of the matter - Samson hasn’t put all his problems behind him - covered them up - ignored them - played them down - pushed them away. He’s managed to live a pretty straight life. Samson, never really dealt with the problems that plagued him at the beginning. Now 20 years later, those same problems are about to trip him again. The same problems he refused to deal with are the same problems that are going to bring him down now.
That’s the way it is - hardest thing that you will ever say in your life - “I have a problem.” Nobody likes to say that. Samson is like you or me. He wanted to forget what had happened - just kind of rock along peacefully - pretend the things of the past were in the past. As long as they were 20 years ago he didn’t have to worry about them anymore. But they’re going to come up again, and this time they are going to destroy him.
One Wild and Crazy Night v. 1
Gaza was the headquarters for the Philistines. It was a crazy thing for Samson to do. It would be like Osama Bin Laden going to New York one Friday night, and hoping he wouldn’t be recognized. The odds weren’t in his favour. Everybody in Gaza knew Samson; he was Public Enemy Number 1. It was a crazy, insane chance to take. Maybe Samson is fed up with the unending pressure of 20 years at the top of the heap - so fed up with the humdrum that he almost doesn’t care if he does get caught. It happens all the time - as successful men approach mid-life..
Samson is the only man in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11 who ever slept with a prostitute. This famous man of God spent the night with a prostitute. The word got out. No surprise. v. 2, 3.
2 things you need to know – 1.This was a thick wooden door anchored by iron posts on either side and held in place with iron hinges. To rip out a door like that would take enormous strength. To pick it up and carry it even 1m would be a tremendous feat. The door would have weighed almost 300kgs. 2. By carrying off the doors of the city gate, Samson was humiliating the Philistines once again. Ancient cities were surrounded by a thick wall, which meant the gate was the main entrance. The gate symbolized the safety and security of the city. For Samson to carry it away like that - not only a feat of incredible strength - also his way of humiliating the Philistines “See, you can’t catch me, I’m going to destroy the symbol of your security. I can do anything I want.”
A He-Man with a She-Weakness
Samson had a problem with women. He hated the Philistines all his life. But he couldn’t stay away from their women. What Samson wanted was sex without commitment - love without any strings attached. But there’s no such thing as sex without commitment or love with no strings attached. He thought he was going to get it by going to a prostitute and getting his physical needs satisfied. Then he would slip out during the night, rip off the gate and go back home, wash his hands and nobody would be the wiser. It looks like Samson has got away with it.
No Free Sex
When Samson went to the prostitute the real price he paid was the price on the inside. Not only did his real needs go unmet, he just inflamed his passions and drove himself into Delilah’s arms. Society tells us, “Go ahead, you can have a 1 night stand, you can have your fun, you can walk away from it, and you can just move on.” Not true - it’s never just for fun - no such thing as sex without commitment or love with no strings attached. Samson is about to find out.
Samson’s done 2 things that are going to get him into trouble. 1. He has enraged the Philistines by ripping off their city gate. 2. He has inflamed his old passion for women and for illicit sex. This little fall sets him up for the big one.
Now the story of Samson and Delilah. 4 principles open this story up and tell you how one thing led to another.
1. Samson got involved in another wrong relationship v. 4
Delilah was a Philistine - name means something like Darling - she lived close to Samson’s hometown. It’s all very convenient. Samson is on familiar territory. Delilah was beautiful and sexually attractive to him. He sees her, he wants her, he falls in love with her, and suddenly he’s beginning to go down, down, down again.
The High Price of an Unequal Yoke
Samson got involved with 3 women in his life - all Philistines. All of them got him into trouble. The first was simply an infatuation based on physical beauty. The second was the prostitute - pure lust. The third was Delilah and that was love. Do you see what’s going on in Samson’s life? First, he’s just fooling around and then he’s playing around and then he’s jumping right in. In every case he gets himself into trouble. Only this time he’s gone too far.
Let me state the point plainly. God’s people are not to get involved romantically with unbelievers. That’s one of the hardest principles for teenagers, young adults and older adults to grasp. It is one of the clearest lessons that comes out of the life of Samson.
Why do the people of God continue to make this mistake? One thing - unbelieving men and women look so attractive - so exciting - so fun-loving - so free. It is the work of Satan which makes Christian guys look boring and nerdy and Christian girls look dull and uninteresting. It shouldn’t surprise us that in this world, it’s the Philistines who have the money, the power, the prestige, the connections, the sex appeal and all the other stuff. Satan set it up that way. The problem comes when you go out and marry one. Then you discover how different their values are - by then, it’s way too late. Samson once again gets himself involved in a wrong kind of relationship. This one is going to get him in nothing but more trouble.
2. As the relationship develops, Samson begins to toy with temptation v. 5
That would be about R500 000 today. It shows how desperate the Philistine leaders were. Her first loyalty is to her own people. So she first tries the straightforward approach – v. 6 - nothing very subtle here - very strange relationship. She’s says, “I want to know the secret of your strength so you can be tied up and subdued.” What kind of woman would say that? What kind of man would be fooled by this? Samson decides to play around with Delilah for a while – v. 7 - some kind of game – v. 8, 9.
Rope Tricks v. 10
Let’s play again - he says, “Use new ropes.” She ties Samson up, the soldiers get ready to pounce, she calls out, “Here come the Philistines.” No problem. He snaps those new ropes like they were threads. He’s grinning and loving this. This is wonderful - v. 13.
Living on the Edge
What’s happened here? Has he told the secret? No. But he’s coming very close. The secret is in the hair. All the stuff about ropes was misleading, but now he’s saying, “Hey, I’ve got this thing under control.” What’s going on in Samson’s life? Here’s a man who likes to play close to the edge - likes to push the edge of the envelope. Samson is feeling so self-confident and so cocky. He thinks he’s invincible. Now he’s letting her touch his hair. She doesn’t know the secret yet, but she’s getting closer.
So it happens the third time. She cries out, “Here come the Philistines,” and he wakes up and pulls his hair free of the loom. He’s laughing his head off. He’s got this girl wrapped around his finger - maybe she’s got him wrapped around hers. Now Delilah plays her trump card: v. 15 - She’s got him now. Her words stuck his ego. Now the secret’s about to come out – v. 16.
Samson could never keep a secret when there was anything important at stake. The 2 women who brought him down used 2 convenient tools. 1. A flood of tears. 2. An avalanche of words.
3. Samson reveals his secret in order to save face v. 17
I first thought Samson had been tricked. He hasn’t been tricked. Samson knew exactly what he was doing. He said, “My hair’s never been cut. I’ve been a Nazirite to God. I’ve always been dedicated to God.” He didn’t just tell her about the hair. He told her what the hair represented. He revealed his dedication to God.
Samson, you fool. You weren’t tricked. Like Adam, you knew exactly what you were doing. He told her in order to save face because she had said, “You don’t really love me.” Samson has to prove that he’s capable of real love, so finally he tells her.
v. 18 - She puts him to sleep on her lap. She talks to him, whispering little sexy things in his ear. She rubs his neck and massages his shoulders. Just getting him to relax. Eventually he drifts off to sleep, and he feels great. He’s feeling wonderful. He doesn’t have a clue of what is about to happen.
“He Did Not Know That the Lord Had Left Him” - v. 19
Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you.” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “No problem. I’ll shake myself free again.” But his strength was already gone. The last phrase of v.20 is one of the saddest statements in the whole OT - “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”
4. He didn’t realise what had happened until it was too late.
Too many Christians drift away from God through stupidity and foolishness, and they don’t realise what they have lost until they’ve lost it. They don’t appreciate what they had until it’s gone. They don’t see where they were until they slide down into the pit. Why is it that Christians don’t appreciate what they have until they lose it and go into sin?
Delilah has done what the army of the Philistines could never do - she brought Samson down and he’s as weak as any man. Samson, unbeatable in combat, brought down like putty in the hands of a cunning woman. What happens now is ugly. The Philistines have been waiting for 20 years to get their revenge – v. 21.
4 things happened to Samson - 1. Mutilation - gouged out his eyes. 2. Deportation - took him down to Gaza. 3. Incarceration - bound him with bronze shackles. 4. Humiliation - grinding in the prison - work of slaves and animals. O, how the mighty are fallen. Samson - How could you end like this? v. 22 - the only note of grace in the whole passage. Hope for better days to come.
Pride Goes Before a Fall
Proverbs 16: 18 “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore if any man thinks that he is standing firm, let him take care lest he fall.” Why did Samson give in to Delilah? Because he was self-confident. Because he had lived for 20 years without ever dealing with his basic problem. So he felt like he didn’t have a problem anymore. Oh, Samson, what a fool you were.
3 applications - 2 for everyone - 1 just for the men.
1. Unless we deal with our problems they will come back to haunt us again and again.
Unless we get down to the level of “this is what I’m really like,” those problems will come back again and again. Many of you have never dealt with the real problems in your life - like anger and bitterness, like an unforgiving spirit, like an undisciplined life and like lust and uncontrolled passion.
You’ve swept it under the carpet, “That hasn’t bothered me for 4, 5 or 6 years, so I’m basically okay now.” I beg you not to say that. Some of us need to take a good look in the mirror and see the way we really are. The hardest thing you’ll ever say is, “I need help, I’ve a problem I can’t handle.” But isn’t that the first step in any recovery program? Step 1: Admit you have a problem. You’ll never get better until you are willing to say, “I really need help in this area of my life.” Unless we learn to deal with our problems now, we are going to deal with them later.
2. Unless we learn the difference between being empowered by the Spirit and controlled by the Spirit we will fall just like Samson did.
It is very possible for a Christian to be empowered by the Spirit of God to do certain things and yet not to have his life yielded to the full control of the Holy Spirit. How else do you explain men and women of God who fall headlong into sin? I do not doubt that they were empowered by the Spirit of God, but at the point of their fall they were not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Samson at certain points was empowered by the Spirit of God. But there was never really a point in his whole life when for a long period of time he was under the control of God’s Spirit. Unless we learn that difference, we’re going to fall just like Samson.
It’s not enough just to be able to accomplish great things - to win stunning victories. Unless your life is under control of the Spirit, you’re going to fall just like Samson did.
3. Men, unless we yield our sexual desires completely to God, we risk falling prey to the Delilahs of this world.
That makes Delilah look pretty bad - she was just a woman who was hungry for a relationship. She was looking for love. She wanted somebody to spend some time with her. Who better than the handsome, powerful, famous Samson? I don’t really blame Delilah. She was ready, but he was willing and they were both able. Samson was the one who went down and found her.
We need men who will be men of God through and through. We need men who will be men of God on Monday just as much as they are on Sunday. We need men who will bend their powers toward righteousness. We need men who will take their intellect and put it into the service of the King of Kings. We need men who will take the fires of worldly passion and turn it into passion for Jesus Christ. We need men who will invest in the Kingdom of God. We need men who will use their time, talent and energies to win others to Jesus Christ. We need men who will believe that their greatest accomplishment in life is to be a faithful husband, a loving father, a godly businessman and a loyal Christian. We need men who will say no to temptation and yes to Jesus Christ. We need men who will be as strong morally as they are physically. We need men who will understand that the bottom line in life is not how much you make but how much you give. Not what you keep but what you give away. In the name of Jesus Christ,
Rise up, O men of God. Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of Kings.
Rise up, O men of God. The church for you doth wait.
Her strength unequal to her task. Rise up and make her great.
“O, Lord, give us a better estimate of our own weakness. Help us to see that what happened to Samson could so easily happen to any of us. Renew within us the spirit of self-discipline. Show us anew the danger of dabbling with temptation. Lead us to the place where we will yield our desires to you. Amen.”.