They came at will—pillaging and terrorizing as they went. Young men were taken captive to a life of hopeless servitude. Girls became sex-slaves, subjected to every filthy whim of their masters. For forty years, the people of Israel suffered under the barbaric cruelty of the Philistines. In utter desperation and despair, they pleaded with Jehovah to deliver them. God’s merciful ear was attentive to their cries.
The Angel of the Lord appeared to a childless Jewish couple, announcing that they were to have a son. Samson would be his name and he was to be a Nazarite, “one separated unto God.” Two of the components of his special vow of consecration required him to abstain from drinking wine and cutting his hair. However, these were mere outward signs of the sanctified inward life he was to maintain with God. This special child, if he were to fulfill his calling as Jehovah’s champion, must keep himself pure before the Lord.
When We Deride God’s Call to Purity
Unfortunately, Samson treated his special call with disdain. While faithfully maintaining the outward requirements of the Nazarite vow, his inside world was wildly out of control. Though especially called of God, Samson’s life bore little resemblance to the lives of other O.T. “heroes of the faith,” such as Moses, Joshua, Joseph or Daniel. Rather than displaying a zeal for the house of God, he allowed his sensual passions to run riot. Instead of leading Israel to mighty victories against the Lord’s enemies, he continually acted in his own self-interests. Lacking the holy fervor that inflamed the righteous indignation of all true men of God, his exploits were always motivated by vengeance and pride. In short, Samson’s life was one long story of epic self-indulgence.
It wasn’t that Samson didn’t have a sincere affection for Jehovah; I’m sure he did. He undoubtedly loved his country and wanted to help. He didn’t voice an outright disdain for God’s call on his life; nevertheless he was unwilling to embrace the responsibility that accompanied it. With only a superficial devotion to the Lord and a merely outward consecration, Samson eventually became easy prey for the enemy.
When We Pursue the Forbidden
Samson’s life ended tragically, as a slave in a Gazan prison. However, the final chapter of this saga began when, driven by curiosity and lust, he sought out the forbidden—a Philistine woman. For the sexual sinner, one of the strongest motivations to sin is lust for the forbidden. I wrote about this in my book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry:
“One of the most captivating features of illicit sex is its forbidden nature. Seemingly, the more forbidden it is, the more alluring it tends to be. This is one reason why a married Christian man addicted to sex feels the need to be with other women. He is not supposed to. It is “off-limits.” Thus, for the Christian who feels pressured to live a righteous life and is constantly struggling to resist the demands of his flesh, it can be overwhelmingly irresistible because of this. Desiring that which is forbidden is part of man’s fallen nature. Just try leaving a four-year old alone in a room with a box that he has been told not to open!”
Samson craved the forbidden fruit of heathen women. In a bizarre way, his hatred and fear of the Philistines only served to fuel his lust for their women. Driven by his insatiable sexual cravings, he indulged himself more and more. Eventually, through a series of poor choices, he found himself inexorably enslaved to his passions. As is always the case with sexual addicts, he would do well for a period of time, but eventually, the delicious enticements of Gaza would overwhelm his best intentions. Before he knew it, he would find himself back on the road to Philistia. It was inevitable that he would one day end up “in the lap of Delilah”.
Given the tremendous power on Samson’s body that could spoil the enemy at will, the Philistine commanders were obviously desperate to find a way to destroy him. It’s very likely that Delilah was the most beautiful seductress in their country. They made sure the mighty man from Israel met her.
Delilah, masterful in the art of seduction, knew the secret of keeping a man in a constant state of desire for her. Coolly and deliberately, she toyed with Samson’s emotions and passions, never allowing him to feel as though he was in control—yet always leaving him yearning for more. Once irreversibly under her licentious spell, he was powerless to resist. In a matter of days, he became like putty in her hands. The Black Widow’s prey was helplessly dangling in her enticing web.
When We Ignore Warning Signs
With a soothing voice, Delilah began to ask Samson about the mysterious source of his great strength. On three different occasions, he lied to her about how to dry up the source of his power. Each time she did what he said only to discover that she had been deceived. Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me?” Every day, she “pressed him” and “urged him” to disclose his secret. She played on his emotions, pleaded with him, threatened him; all the while keeping him in a heightened state of sexual desire.
Three times her treachery had been exposed: there was no mistaking her intentions. But the lap of Delilah is very intoxicating. “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27) He finally relented and “told her all that was in his heart.”
“A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb,” he gushed. “If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17)
The power that had been on the body of Samson came from the keeping of his vow to God, his long hair merely being an outward sign of his separation unto Jehovah. As he lay in a semi-conscious trance of bliss—with his head in her lap—the crude scissors snipped away all that remained of his weak devotion to God.
When We Suffer the Consequences
Like a pack of wild jackals, the Philistines swarmed into her bedroom. Samson’s bald head betrayed his enfeebled condition. They quickly seized him, dragging him into the city square. There, in front of a jeering mob, his eyes were mercilessly gouged out of their sockets. He must have screamed in pain before passing out. The great champion of Israel was thrown bleeding and whimpering into a foul prison cell.
In the months that followed, the blinded judge was forced to push a huge grinding stone. One can only imagine how the thoughts of his foolishness must have plagued him day after day during his endless trips around the same tedious circles. Over and over again he replayed the events leading up to his capture. “How could I have been so stupid?” he would demand of himself.
Samson discovered that once “the pleasures of sin” have had their season, they must give way to “the wages of sin.” Not only did he suffer physically, but it seems that the Philistines also routinely brought him out of the prison to play the part of a fool during their frequent parties. He was probably forced to dance and act like a buffoon before the jeering mob.
When We turn back to the Lord
But in his sufferings, something stirred within his heart. Samson’s heart began to awaken unto the God whose loving call he had treated with such disdain. One old-time writer stated:
“Pitiable as the loss was, Samson was better blind than seeing. The lust of the eye had led him astray, and the loss of his sight showed him his sin. His hair grew together with his repentance, and his strength with his hair. The cruelties of the Philistines were better for him than their kindness. It is penitence which pleads, ‘Remember me, O Lord God!’ He knows that his sin has broken the flow of loving divine thought to him, but he asks that the broken current may be renewed. Many a silent tear had fallen from Samson’s blind eyes, before that prayer could have come to his lips, as he leaned on the great pillars.” (1)
For years, he had lived in a selfish lack of concern toward the plight of his own people, squandering the sacred duty that had been entrusted to him. His indulgence eventually brought him to a Gazan prison. But where there is true repentance, there is always hope. Samson’s greatest victory was yet to come.
A great celebration in honor of the Philistine god, Dagon, quickly deteriorated into a drunken orgy. It wasn’t long before the inevitable calls began for the Israelite champion to be brought forth. Mercilessly, the jailers came for the blind man. Standing there in their midst, listening to the blasphemous praises to their demon-god, power once again flowed through Samson’s arms as he braced himself against the building’s supporting pillars. In one moment, enlivened by a forgiven soul and a regenerated heart, the disgraced Nazarite did his greatest work for the people of Israel.
Beloved of God, do not let your soul be turned away from Jehovah to lust after the forbidden manna of this world. You may have already spent years in servitude to the inexhaustible cravings of your own flesh. You may even have experienced a Samson-esque fall from grace, your faith shipwrecked on the shores of unfulfilling pleasures and enslaving passions. However, it is not too late! The call of God is always before you, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.” (Ezekiel 18:30) Flee the soothing, treacherous voice of the enemy and run into the arms of God, for He alone can satisfy your every need.
(1) Alexander MacLaren, Strength Profaned and Lost, Ages Software.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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