What can be said of Delilah? I’ll be honest, as I learn alongside you all, her story has been a real head-scratcher for me.
The Bible tells us Delilah was loved by Samson, a judge of the nation of Israel and a man with an enormously impressive and depressive backstory:
On the upside, Samson was one of only a few biblical leaders born to a barren mother and the only judge to be called from the womb to judgeship. He was born under a Nazirite vow that would not allow him to drink strong drink, touch anything dead, or ever cut his hair. (Read more about the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:1-21.) Samson’s birth was surrounded with fanfare. Like Samuel and Jesus Himself, an angel of the Lord announced Samson’s coming! His calling was sure before he took his first breath.
The downside? Delilah wasn’t the first woman in Samson’s story. His (only) wife was the daughter of a Philistine, who wickedly pressed guarded secrets out of Samson long before he met Delilah. After this wife was burned to death with her father for their own pile of problems, Samson chose a prostitute for a companion. (Not in the way Joshua collaborated with Rahab to deliver Jericho to Israel, either.)
When Samson finally met Delilah, he’d already broken two-thirds of the Nazirite vow, and he had made evident he had no interest in delivering Israel. The Philistines saw Delilah as their opportunity to overcome Samson at last.
Four times Delilah nags and whines and pouts and deceives the man that loves her, and three times Samson doesn’t trust her, so he tells her a lie. Every time, Delilah delivers the word to the Philistines, and every time, Samson effortlessly breaks free. No worse for wear, yet no wiser still.
On Delilah’s fourth attempt, Samson finally trusts her (what?!) or just cannot stand another moment of her nagging—either way, he tells Delilah the truth behind his superhuman strength. And that night, as she lulls him to sleep on her lap and a man shaves Samson’s head entirely, the 3rd portion of Nazirite vow is broken, and the Spirit of the Lord leaves him. The Philistines gouge out his eyes and make him their slave.
We know Samson’s story continues from here, but for now, we’re left banging our heads against the wall. We’re infuriated with the only woman Samson ever loved for betraying his trust and turning him over to his enemies. And, at the same time, we’re wildly disappointed in Samson for squandering his position and calling.
Do you see yourself in Samson? Called to something great, maybe even given a position of influence, but using your privilege for your own gain, or forsaking the reason you were sent to serve?
Maybe you see yourself in Delilah—like the nagging wife Proverbs warns against? Are you going about your own business, doing what it takes to get your way?
Maybe we see a bit of ourselves in both of them. But, what I really want to know as we look at Judges chapter 16, is where do we see Jesus?
We sure do see a lot of similarities between Samson and Jesus—in the announcements of their births by angels, the callings on their lives to be deliverers, the being betrayed by someone they loved. I can see a shadow of Jesus, but I’m not sure those similarities are the point.
Then, as I was reading this passage for the twentieth time today, I got a pit in my stomach. I had missed it all the times before, but this time I noticed—look how much Delilah was paid to betray Samson: 1,100 pieces of silver per person from the lords of the Philistines who approached her. (Maybe there were three of them, maybe there were 20; the Bible doesn’t say. Either way, that’s a lot of silver!)
Do you remember how many pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus? Thirty. Thirty pieces of silver.
I hate Delilah for her disloyalty—for what a deceitfully wicked woman she seemed to be. But when I remember that Jesus’ own disciple betrayed Him for a fraction of her fee, my heart hardly knows what to think.
Judas, how could you sell Jesus for so little?
And what is my price?
What lights my eyes and feels worth forsaking my Savior, even just for a moment?
Delilah’s eyes, it seems, were simply lit up by selfish gain—bags of silver earned by evil. Her persistent scheme and “endless dripping” eventually overcame Samson, and he, too, paid a high price.
As for us—me and you—I’m praying no price is high enough for us to betray our Jesus. I’m praying, by the Lord’s grace, we would not be overcome by evil’s nagging or bought with its shiny facade. I’m praying, in the way of Romans 12:21, we would “overcome evil with good.”
That’s a lot to reflect on for one day, isn’t it? What is the Lord showing you today in Judges 16, friends? Let’s talk together about what He’s teaching us!