“The Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘It is true that you are unable to conceive and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now please be careful not to drink wine or beer, or to eat anything unclean; for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.’
…So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him.”
Judges 13:3-5, 24
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Have you heard the story of Samson and Delilah from the Bible?
It’s one of those Bible stories many are familiar with, whether or not they have faith in God. It’s a story that was told over and over again in Sunday school – I mean, what child doesn’t want to hear about Super Strength Samson?! I certainly loved a good story. And that’s all it was to me for many years. Until recently, when I decided to study it a little further.
Before I share what I've learned from this story, let me give you the low down on Samson.
The book of Judges covers the events during a time when God appointed a series of judges to act as “agents of deliverance” to address the moral and spiritual descent of Israel. Samson, the final judge, is introduced in chapter 13.
Before birth, Samson was pre-destined for a specific purpose. That purpose was so clear that even his mother was given strict instruction by an Angel of the Lord, in terms of what she couldn’t consume and how to raise her child. Although his mother obediently followed the instruction, Samson disobeyed the vows made on his behalf.
You see, Samson had a supernatural strength matched by no-one. He could tear a lion apart with his bare hands and kill 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey! Nothing was too hard for him, and he knew it.
One day, Samson meets Delilah and falls in love. The Philistines (Israel’s enemy) use Delilah to try and find the secret to Samson’s great strength. Samson lies to Delilah a few times until she nags him to the point of telling the truth – his hair has never been cut since birth and shaving it would mean he becomes as weak as any man. Delilah leaks the truth to the Philistines, they shave Samson’s hair during the night and he loses his strength. They seize him, gouge out his eyes (gross) then bring him out for their entertainment.
In his last moments, Samson calls out to the Lord to give him the strength he used to have, just once more. With that strength, Samson defeats the Philistines (hooray!).
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Reading this story, I walked away with a few key truths:
1. When the enemy recognises the call of God on our lives and sees our obedience, he will persistently try and wear us out
He does so by targeting our weaknesses
The Philistines would stop at nothing to discover Samson’s weakness, in order to undermine his strength: “So Delilah said to Samson, ‘tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued’” | Judges 16:6
Have you ever noticed in life that as soon as you think you’ve dealt with one issue and put it behind you, something else emerges? Or perhaps the pressure you feel is coming at you from all different directions. When the enemy tries one strategy and it doesn’t work, he’ll try another
The great news is, God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses – we simply need to give them to Him!
But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” | 2 Corinthians 12:9
Even when his virgin hair had been completely shaven, we see Samson defeat the Philistines through strength. How? He called upon the name of the Lord
2. What the enemy intends for harm, God uses for good
Although the Philistines had found Samson’s weakness and taken him captive, it is evident that God was still at work: “But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” | Judges 16:22
When you’re called, you’re called. Satan may try and take that calling away from you (or at least distract you from it) but in the end, we have the victory. Through Jesus Christ, we always will.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” | Romans 8:28
Perhaps you’re currently in a difficult season and you feel like there’s a target on your back. You may have lost your job, experienced betrayal, lost a loved one or are suffering from an illness yourself. I want to tell you that this is not how the story ends for you. Life may be a struggle right now but I believe that God will use that struggle for a purpose.
3. We are called to make an impact that outlasts our lifetime
During his life, Samson achieved some incredible things by the power of God. Multiple times we see the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him with power, enabling Samson to defeat thousands of men at a time
I draw two key revelations from this point:
We must die to ourselves (i.e. surrender to God’s will rather than our own) to truly live out the call of God on our lives (Matthew 16:24). It wasn’t until Samson finally surrendered to and recognised his need of God, that he fulfilled his purpose.
What we build in the Kingdom of God is not just for our generation but for the generations to come. God’s intention is for us to produce fruit that will remain long after we have left this earth.
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So you see, this is more than just a story. Though many of the stories featured in God’s Word may seem far from our reality, there are parallels that can be drawn which speak to our current reality. We simply need to look for them.
I hope this post has given you a new perspective on the story of Samson and Delilah and encouraged you to dig deeper into the stories we can tend to take for granted.