If you have the time, read the book of Judges chapters 13-16 in the Bible. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6); this was the continual theme of the Israelites throughout the book of Judges. At that time Israel did not have a king, so God sent Judges which would govern and deliver them from oppression – amongst those was the mighty Samson.
Samson’s purpose was to deliver the Israelites from their oppressors, the Philistines. From birth his head was not to be shaven: his long locks were a symbol to show that he was consecrated to God (Judges 13:2-5). As he grew up it was evident that he had extraordinary strength, with his bare hands he tore apart a young lion (Judges 14:5-7). Samson was made well aware of his purpose and identity, his source of strength wasn’t founded in his locks but in the God he served: it was the Spirit of God coming mightily upon him which gave him his strength and power. This gift was not meant to be used for his own purposes but through it Samson was to bring glory and honour to God.
In the midst of his physical strength however, there was a weakness rooted in him that has also ensnared and sidetracked many men since the beginning of time – women. There was always something so fascinating in these women if you looked with lustful eyes. The look of lust consumed their sound mind to discern evil. This then led the sons of God to turn their hearts from their Creator and unite with women that enticed them to a life of wickedness that preceded the flood (Genesis 6: 1-2); there was something about these types of women, which the Bible constantly warned about. They perpetually crumbled seemingly strong men and hindered their progress and fulfilment of their high calling. It was something about their expressive style of dress and personality that caught mighty men like Samson off guard. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, was a casualty like Samson to these types of women and went on to wisely counsel “do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25). Oftentimes we fall into the trap of being fascinated by the external beauty and fail to discern the internal morality and character of the person we get into a relationship with. Whilst these women were very much pleasing to the eye, their personality and character was one that led many men away from God to destruction.
God persistently warned the Israelites that they should not marry outside of their own people because their hearts would be turned from God to serve other gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4; 1 Kings 11:1-4; 2 Corinthians 6:14). But Samson rejected God’s instructions and disobeyed his parents by doing what was right in his own eyes: he fell in lust and married a woman from the Philistines, the very people he was raised to overcome. One wrong step prepares the way for another and this was the beginning of Samson’s downfall.
After entering into an unholy matrimony, Samson became even more acquainted with the Philistines by forming friendships with them despite the fact that they hated his God and oppressed his own people. But Samson’s friendship with the enemies of his people soon turned sour. His wife was handed over to his ‘friend’ by his Father-in-law: which provoked him to take advantage of his given strength in order to avenge the Philistines by setting on fire their fields (Judges 15:1-5). But in retaliation, the Philistines burnt his wife along with her father (Judges 15:6) – the vengeance of Samson and the Philistines now became a recurring theme (Judges 15:7-16).
Whenever we voluntarily enter into such relations, it is all too easy to feel that it is necessary to conform to the practices of our friends. The companions and relationships that Samson engaged in did not edify him, instead he mingled with bad company that corrupted his character (1 Corinthians 15:33). This all unravelled at the crucial stage of Samson’s life when he was to execute his mission and purpose, it should have been the time when he was to be focused and true to God. However, Samson disconnected himself with his purpose and the plan God had for his life to be connected with the Philistines. His experience with those that hated his God should have been a wake-up call for him, but it was far from it.
On his way to Gaza unable to contain his inclinations – he saw a prostitute and slept with her. While in the chambers with a prostitute, his enemies became aware of his infidelity and planned to wait for him till the morning to kill him (Judges 16:1-2). By now Samson was well acquainted with his God given capabilities; he often took advantage of God’s mercy and patience with him and used his God given strength and power to ease his way out of the sinful situations he got himself into. In escape from his enemies and under conviction of his infidelity, he awoke during the night, uprooted the gigantic gates of the city and carried them upon his shoulders to the top of the hill (Judges 16:3). Too often we take for granted God’s patience and mercy towards us, using it as a cloak to sink deeper into sin not realising that His patience and mercy is intended to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Samson always seemed to get away with his sinful behaviour and nothing seemed to sprout from it, so he thought it was license for him to persist in sin; by doing so he was numbing his conscience that was convicting him of his sins. Samson was aware that his actions did not please God; it was not the life God called him to live. Whether sinning overtly or secretly, Satan loves to lead us to believe and naturally assume that because we do not visually see the consequences of our actions we can just continue. But “do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7): certain seeds that are sown sprout quicker than others. But ultimately the sins you commit – especially those private, cherished ones may not reap immediate consequences but their consequences will be revealed eventually.
However like Samson we often fail to learn from our mistakes. After his bitter encounters with the Philistines, he decided to aimlessly linger in Sorek: the valley separating his people and his opposition. When lingering aimlessly, Satan will easily keep us occupied; “afterward it happened that he loved a woman of Sorek, whose name was Delilah” (Judges 16:4). Throughout his course, his enemies the Philistines were keeping close tabs on the sinful behaviour of him who professed to be a believer in the true God, like a lion seeking to devour its prey, they were waiting for an opportune time to catch him. After being allured by Delilah the consumer, the Philistines used her intimate relationship with Samson as a means to unravel the mystery of his strength (Judges 16:5-6): promising her a large sum of money.
Now comfortable and settled in sin, with his guard down Samson was at ease in the company of his new companion Delilah. Although she seemingly loved him, her heart was fixed on worldly gain and she would do anything to attain it. After a time she began to try and unravel this seemingly strong man’s source of strength; “please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you” (Judges 16:6). But Samson would not tell her the true source of his strength: in response he would fabricate a lie “if they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then shall I become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:11). Coincidentally, as soon as he revealed what seemed like the truth to his lover, she would bind him as he stated, having the Philistines hiding in the room and scream “the Philistines are among you Samson” (Judges 16:14). But in response he would use his God given strength to easily break free from the instruments that bound him, thus revealing to Delilah that he was lying. This happened on three occasions and eventually his lies vexed his lover.
After being mocked three times, Delilah switched to a more seductive, smooth talking approach; “how can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and not told me where your great strength lies” (Judges 16:15). Eventually, after persistent pestering Samson fell into submission and the consumer got access to his heart and he revealed to her his hidden secret “no razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (Judges 16:17). “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8); although Samson’s locks were a symbol that he was consecrated to God, in reality his actions demonstrated that his heart was consecrated elsewhere.
Now exposed, Delilah the consumer made him sleep on her knees and she called for a man to shave his locks (Judges 16:19), as she did unsuccessfully before she screamed “the Philistines are upon you, Samson” (Judges 16:20). But as his custom, he planned to use his God given strength to loosen himself: awaking in arrogance he said “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free” but he did not realise that God departed from Him (Judges 16:20). Now like any other man, the Philistines captured him, gouged his eyes out and took him captive back to Gaza.
Delilah represents Satan in our lives; it is Satan that constantly tempts us to sin. He presents sin in such an enticing and inviting manner that seems to be irresistible, accompanied by the feelings running through the body urging you to give in.
Along with all of that, comes the smooth talking seductive voice of the tempter – ‘try it just this one time’. Such is the trickery of Satan, in these moments he seems to be so close to you urging you, hyping you in a certain direction: maybe it is just that lustful look which seems minor but germinates into filthy thoughts running through your mind, that sneak peak on that x-rated site that leads to more than you just watching, that innocent kiss or that innocent but inappropriate touch that ventures into something not so innocent, or whatever the sin may be causing you to easily trip up. Satan is ever present urging on.
But then when all is done, there is a moment of silence – you are left in the ditch of guilt and shame, angry at yourself as to why you did such a thing. Then the same Satan that was hyping you, urging you in the sin you chose to commit returns with accusations ‘what type of Christian are you’, ‘you will never be forgiven’, ‘here you are again in the same position’, ‘you said you wouldn’t do it again’, ‘I knew you wouldn’t last long’. You already feel such a heavy burden but he tries to dig deeper and deeper to the point where he wants you to feel that there is nothing you can do, that there is no hope, you will always relapse – you are simply a lost cause. Then Satan, like Delilah leaves you, after getting what he wanted he is nowhere to be found and you are all alone in your sin, deeping all those things that he said to you and like Samson you are in captivity of the enemy. Enslaved and bound in his chains.
However, under captivity Samson was in deep reflection of the life he lived: realising he was incompetent and was self reliant on his physical strength forgetting to exercise self-control, integrity, firmness of character thus realising he was the weakest of men. This led him to a deep repentance of the sins he committed against God and his locks began to grow back (Judges 16:22).
During this time all the Philistines assembled in the temple for a festival commemorating their god Dagon for delivering the mighty Samson into their hands: now intoxicated they thought it fitting to call Samson to perform for their pleasure (Judges 16:25). Stationed in between two foundational pillars, thousands of men and women gazed at Samson performing for them. Having repented and now forgiven for his sins, Samson remembered his identity and purpose: calling on God with his heart he pleaded one last time that he might fulfill the mission God set out for him; “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28). Believing in the prayer he uttered, he took hold of the two pillars and said “let me die with the Philistines”: pushing with physical and spiritual strength he was victorious over his enemies, the entire temple collapsed and killed the Philistines (Judges 16:30). Thus Samson fulfilled his mission and purpose.
You like Samson may have gone astray, you may have been entangled in ungodly ties that have polluted you, you may have done some things that you are ashamed of, things that you regret doing, you right now may feel entangled in a situation that seems like it has no way out; accepting Satan’s lies about you. At this point in time, you may feel stuck thinking that there is no solution, that you cannot overcome the sinful habits that you have so long been practising. Satan is constantly telling you that you will never overcome and that you will never be forgiven: you like Paul may be crying out “Oh what a [wretched] person I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is dominated by sin” (Romans 7:24 NLT). But just take a look at the life of Samson, although he constantly made mistakes we see God’s love and mercy towards him. God wants to lead and guide us because He knows what is best for us; but He has given us the power of free will and will not force us to follow Him. He will allow us to go through situations to help us understand that the way we are going is not right. In all of this God was patient and merciful towards Samson and He is towards us and the reality is, God did not leave Samson, Samson left God.
Wherever you are now, God has promised that “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). When you were on Satan’s ground, when you were in depth of your sins Jesus came to die for you (Romans 5:7-10) that if you believe in Him you will have victory over sin, if you believe in him you will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16; Jude 24): with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
You cannot undo the past but through Jesus you have the power to determine your future and ensure what happened never happens again. In Christ you are a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If you confess all your sins God promises to instantly forgive you and will erase them and remember them no more (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; Micah 7:18-19)
In the hands of the Philistines, Samson had time to reflect on his actions and re-evaluate his relationship with God. If you come to Him in confession and sincerity you will be forgiven. Is it your desire to reflect and reconnect with the One who will set you free from the chains of sin?