Yesterday I posted about Samson’s Nazirite vow. Today I’ll share some of Wednesday night’s discussion on Samson’s women: his mom, his wife, his prostitute(s) and, of course, Delilah.
A novel I read recently suggested that all these relationships were tremendous love stories. The book, while very well-written, suffered from more than a little rose-colored interpretation of Scripture. It concluded that poor Sam was a fun-loving guy who simply didn’t know whom to trust; that his exploits were the natural reactions of a broken heart and a hopeless romantic. *deep sigh* Are you swooning yet?
Okay, sarcasm aside, I feel it’s dangerous to read more into the text than what is clearly there. What we know is this: Samson used women and they used him back. Sure, he and his wife may have really loved each other (or at least thought they did) for the eight or so days that they knew one another. But his relationships with prostitutes and Delilah were nothing more than scandalous, hedonistic affairs.
- Judges 14:1—15:6
Exodus 34:11—16 and Deuteronomy 7:1—4 both forbid marriage between the Israelites and the Canaanites. The Philistines were not Canaanites; they were cousins to the Egyptians (Genesis 10:14), but because the law was based on religion and not race, it seems natural that the ban would apply. The Philistines worshipped idols and were given dominion over the Israelites by God as punishment for their unbelief (Judges 13:1).
- How can intermarriage with heathen people be God’s will? (14:4)
All throughout Judges we’ve read the phrase “right in their own eyes.” Read verses 3 and 7 of chapter 14 (preferably ESV). What did Samson see and seek?
Now consider these two passages together: Judges 14:4 and 1 Corinthians 13:12.
What we see as “right” is not always compatible with God’s will. It may be good, but not best. We do ourselves no good by self-righteously clinging to legalism while neglecting the more important heart issues. At the same time, God cannot contradict Himself. As such, His good and perfect will cannot contradict His laws.
Verse 4 of chapter 14 says it was God’s will for Samson to marry this woman. I don’t know if that means He approved of it or that He simply allowed it because of His omniscience. We know that God can use anyone and anything — even those who deny His existence and lordship — to accomplish His will. Perhaps this is one of those instances in which God let someone go according to their own way so that God’s ways may eventually prevail. In this case, that means the beginning of the destruction of the Philistines.
“Sometimes we can be so focused on separation
that we miss out on holiness.” – Glahn, 114
“Instead of fighting with Israel, the Philistines used trade and intermarriage to bring down their enemies.” – Glahn, 112
- How does this fact impact your understanding of Samson’s marriage?
It seems God used Samson to ironically turn the tables on the Philistine’s political strategies.
- Judges 16:4—22
Delilah knew the power of her femininity. She also knew the weaknesses of her prey. All men can easily be worn down by persistent nagging, but what unmarried man endures nagging? Delilah must have beautifully entwined her negative pressure with something addictive enough for this uncommitted man to repeatedly return to her.
Samson clearly had a weakness for beautiful women, but his arrogance also provided an easy target for demise. Read Judges 16:20 again. This guy was so full of himself, so convinced of his invincibility, that he didn’t even notice when God left him.
Samson trusted his strength to outweigh his weaknesses. He knew he was playing with fire but didn’t fear it. He didn’t even ask God to help him. He trusted in himself.
“Often moral compromise comes in
beautifully wrapped packages.” – Glahn, 114
- What weaknesses of yours do you underestimate or brush off as conquerable?