Thursday, July 18, 2019

Samson and Delilah: A Lesson in Wasting God's Gift

"He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him" (Judges 16:20b).

For twenty years Samson judged Israel righteously and warred against the Philistines (Judges 15:20). Then, as Judges 16 records, he fell into sin. We read first that he visited a prostitute in the Philistine city of Gaza. On his way out of town, he took away the gates of the city and carried them away—but no Israelite army invaded the open city. Samson was playing games with his gift and failing to give leadership to the nation.

Then he got involved with Delilah. Perhaps she was Philistine or an apostate Israelitess. The Philistines knew her, however, and offered her a tremendous amount of money to betray Samson. Complying she cajoled him into telling her the secret of his strength. At first, Samson played games with her, too. He told her that if he were bound with seven fresh thongs he would be helpless. She bound him and then brought in Philistine warriors, but Samson arose and drove them away.

Samson was playing a deadly game with the gift God had given him. Next, he told her that if she bound him with new ropes he would be helpless. She did so, but Samson again easily broke the bonds. Rather than seeing through Delilah’s scheme, Samson regarded it as a game. He thought he was invincible.

The third time he told her to weave the seven locks of his hair into a loom. This time he drew himself closer to the fire because his dedicated head of hair was indeed connected to his special power as a Nazirite holy warrior. Again she did what he said and it did not work.

Finally, in answer to her fussing, he told her the truth. Sure enough, she had his head shaved. God removed Samson’s strength. The Philistines blinded him and made him labor for them in the humiliating role of a beast of burden. In his darkness, we can be sure Samson repented before God. Slowly his hair grew back and with it came his sense of calling as a holy warrior.

One day the Philistines had a great religious celebration. All their nobility, their priesthood, and the five kings were present as was Samson, whom they planned to ridicule. In a final act of fulfilling his Nazarite vow, Samson pulled down the temple, killing himself and all the heads of the Philistine culture.

Samson drifted into sin one inch at a time, but finally there was a point when God withdrew His favor from Samson and denied him access to the gift of strength. Pride, presumption, and neglecting your spiritual gifts may result in the same end. As Paul encouraged Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6), stir up your gift into a righteous flame.