Her name rolls off the tongue on a languid sigh. Delilah. You’ll find her mentioned in poems and stage plays, television shows and movie scripts. Even Neil Sedaka wrote a song that ends with the warning, “There’s a little of Delilah in each and every gal.”
Humph. We may not see the resemblance. But we do understand her dilemma.
Which to chose, the man or the money? When it comes to Samson, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
Chapter 5: The First Cut Is the Deepest
Samson started life as one of the Good Guys of the Bible: “He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him” (Judges 13:24-25). His physical prowess came from his strong faith in God. Centuries later, he was praised as one “who shut the mouths of lions” and “whose weakness was turned to strength” (Hebrews 11:32-34).
But somewhere in the middle of all that goodness, Samson “fell in love with Delilah” (Judges 16:4), a woman whose badness was bone deep.
Was she beautiful? Perhaps, though she’s not described in Scripture.
Was she cunning? Yes, though she didn’t bother to hide her plans to ensnare him.
Was she selfish? Decidedly so. The Bible tells us Samson loved Delilah; it never tells us Delilah loved Samson. Instead, she was willing to mislead him for her own gain.
Is there something good to be learned from her Bad Girl example? Read on.
The rulers of the Philistines urged Delilah to “lure” (Judges 16:5) Samson into revealing the source of his strength. These men didn’t mince words. “Entice him” (ASV), they said. “Seduce him” (MSG), “trick him” (NCV), “deceive him” (DRA).
How much did the men offer her for this deception? Eleven hundred shekels of silver each. Since the Philistines were led by five men of equal authority, that adds up to a boatload of cash. In modern money, about fifteen million dollars.
What would you be willing to do for such a sum? Hand over someone you dearly loved? Not likely. Hand over a man known for dealing in death and destruction, and who slept with a prostitute in Gaza just before he showed up at your door?
For Delilah, it was no contest. The money trumped the man.
She asked Samson straight up, “How can I tie you up so you can’t get away? Come on, you can tell me” (Judges 16:6 CEV). At least she was honest about what she wanted. But she was utterly dishonest about who was behind it.
Have you ever told a half-truth because it suited your needs? Right. Even Good Girls do it. Ask any clerk at a shoe store, and they’ll tell you how it works: very nice women bring back shoes they insist didn’t match their dresses, or no longer fit after they got home, when it’s obvious from the well-scuffed soles that the shoes had been worn, and not just once.
A mild example, compared to Delilah’s shenanigans, but you get the idea. Anytime we stretch the truth, hide the truth, reshape the truth, ignore the truth, we are following Delilah down a dark road.
Samson’s response was to play games with her. When she tied him with seven fresh leather straps, and he snapped them like strings held close to a flame, she huffed, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me” (Judges 16:10).
Interesting, how quickly we see another’s faults when they look so much like our own.
Then Samson tried a second ploy, telling her to use new ropes that had never been used, which he then snapped off as if they were threads. Delilah whined, “You have been making a fool of me and lying to me” (Judges 16:13).
Yup. Second verse, same as the first.
Finally he told her to weave his seven braids into a loom. Of course, when he awoke, he pulled up the whole loom, with his braids still woven through it. (I’ll have whatever hair strengthener he’s using, please.)
At this point, Delilah ran out of patience. We’ll park on the next verse for a moment and see what we might glean from the scene.
Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” Judges 16:15
Really, the woman had some nerve. She was the one who wasn’t confiding in her man. She was the one trying to make a fool of him. She was the one keeping secrets about who was strong-arming her.
Playing these parlor games with Samson must have been like looking in the mirror, and Delilah did not like what she saw.
Then she said to him,… Judges 16:15
This translation really nails it: “Then Delilah pouted” (NLT). You know she did. We can see her bottom lip poking out like a shelf.
“How can you say, ‘I love you,’…” Judges 16:15
Samson no doubt declared his love often, or she wouldn’t have mentioned it. “I love you” is music to our ears when the feeling is mutual. But when we don’t love someone, those words grate like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Clearly Delilah was tired of hearing it, and so pretended not to believe it. “You claim to love me” (CEV), she taunted him, double-daring him to prove it.
“…when you won’t confide in me?” Judges 16:15
She accused him of the very thing of which she was guilty. “Thy mind is not with me” (DRA), she told him. “Your actions prove your heart is somewhere else” (VOICE). Though he said he loved her, she insisted, “You don’t mean it!” (CEV).
Conversations like this one are unfolding in countless living rooms and bedrooms right this very minute. “If you really loved me…” “If you really cared…” Then and now, if we recorded every spoken word, we might realize we’re blaming the other person for the shortcomings we cannot bear to admit we find in ourselves.
Lord, help us see more clearly. Get the log cabin out of our own eyes before we notice the speck of sawdust in the eyes of someone else.
“This is the third time you have made a fool of me…” Judges 16:15
Women love to count. Yes, we do. “Three times you’ve made fun of me” (CJB), Delilah told him. “You have lied to me” (NLV) and “deceived me these three times” (NASB).
Samson did seem to be enjoying himself, tricking her like that, while neatly avoiding any confession of the source of his strength. Did he suspect her? Mistrust her? Or was he simply having a laugh at her expense?
All Delilah cared about was getting what she wanted. Her heart was the last thing on her mind. Her bank account, the first.
“…and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” Judges 16:15
She was still playing the relationship card, tugging on his emotions. “You won’t even share your secret with me” (NIRV), she told him, her pout growing more pronounced. “You still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” (NLT).
Delilah never stopped. She nagged, she prodded, day after day.
We know how this works. We tell ourselves we’re simply reminding, prompting, suggesting. But the Bible tells it like it is. Delilah was “pestering” (CEV), “bothering” (EXB), even “tormenting” (MSG) her man. Truth is, “every day she made his life miserable” (GW), until poor Samson “was tired to death” (Judges 16:16).
Did she finally get what she wanted? She did, if what she wished for was cold, hard silver. But in the process, she lost her relationship with Samson, and any shred of human kindness with it.
When the Philistine rulers returned “with the silver in their hands” (Judges 16:18), Delilah put Samson to sleep on her lap, then “called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair” (Judges 16:1). As Matthew Henry put it, “She pretended the greatest kindness even when she designed the greatest mischief.”
The Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes, reducing his strength even further, then bound him with bronze shackles, and threw him in a Gaza prison to grind grain, the most menial form of labor.
Did Delilah openly gloat? privately mourn? Or did she try to console herself with all that silver? Money buys many things, but peace of mind is not one of them.
The day came when God strengthened Samson once more, so he could destroy his enemies. Samson prayed, then pulled down two pillars supporting a roof with three thousand Philistine men and women standing on it. Buried later in his father’s tomb, Samson was given a hero’s death and a place of honor among the faithful in Hebrews 11.
What of Delilah? Lost to history. Perhaps even lost in the rubble that day. Samson’s love couldn’t save her, nor could her silver. As Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Here’s a Discussion Question
Thought we may not be blinded by greed like Delilah or physically blinded like Samson, we may still find ourselves looking in the wrong direction. 1 Corinthians 3:18 cautions us to be aware of self-deception: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.” Where are the blind spots in your own life where you tend to see only what you want to see?
Honestly, who writes these questions?! My blind spots are so numerous as to render me dangerous behind the wheel. Thank the Lord he is the one driving, or I would truly be doomed.
I’m learning to be more careful about the nagging bit, especially with my dear husband and grown children. But I still put up blinders when I discover things about myself I don’t like. Character issues, mostly. The two-headed monster of perfectionism and procrastination. The pride that insists I can do everything myself, when in fact I can’t possibly manage a tenth of it. The need to please others coupled with the dread of disappointing them.
For all of us who see our weaknesses for what they are—sin—we can take comfort in knowing that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Now it’s your turn
My question for you is the same: Where are the blind spots in your own life where you tend to see only what you want to see? If God has recently shown you some weakness, how has he helped you overcome it by his strength?
Kindly add your response under Post a Comment below.
Why not take a look at Delilah’s silvery Pinterest board? It’s one of my favorites.
Next week, green-eyed Sapphira shows us what not to do, as we study Chapter Six of Bad Girls of the Bible. Even though I’ve taught these stories for years, I have loved coming to them fresh each week and seeing what new truth the Lord has for us. Hope you are enjoying the series too!
Your sister, Liz