Hair is an interesting thing. Even in High School, I had a receding hairline. Or as we called it when I was growing up- a Widow’s Peak. In college theater, it was not unusual for me to play men older than I was. I even played, rather convincingly I would like to think, an 80-year old Irishman with long, thinning hair. In fact, one of the roles I played as a professional actor was as an old, drunken riverboat captain!
Then, one day, all the “hair loss” chickens came home to roost. Our bedroom at the time had closet doors that were hinged instead of sliding. The inside of each door had a nearly full-length mirror on it. I was getting ready for work and had to tie a tie. So I stepped in front of one of those mounted mirrors. AS I tied my tie, I happened to look beyond my reflected image and noticed that I could see my back in the other mirror. Quite by accident, I had never found those doors in exactly the right position…before that day!
AS I looked at my back in the other mirror, I noticed something. My hair was thinning in the back. There was…a bald spot! I called out to my wife, who was in the bathroom, also getting ready. “Honey?” “Yeah.” “I have a bald spot!” (Pause) “Yeah?” “You KNEW about this?” “Well…yeah.” “Why didn’t you TELL me?!” (Pause) “Would it have helped?!”
Today, we continue our current Sunday sermon series- I Didn’t Know That! We are spending 4 weeks looking at things we may not have even known were IN the Bible! Today, we dig into a fact that I am finding a LOT of people don’t know- Delilah did NOT cut Samson’s hair!
So, Samson- out of all the judges that ruled Israel, none of them have stood the test of time like Samson. If I said Samson, everyone knows something about him. But the truth is one of the primary things people know about him…didn’t actually happen the way we all think it did.
Samson was one of the last of the ancient Israelite judges mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Judges. According to the Bible, God gave Samson supernatural strength to overcome his enemies and carry out heroic feats. Samson had only two weaknesses- his attraction to untrustworthy women and another one that we will take a look at now. These two weaknesses ultimately not only rendered him powerless, but they proved fatal.
As chapter 16 of the Book of Judges opens, the author doesn’t try to cover up Samson’s scandalous behavior. Samson seems to feel absolutely NO sense of shame in his behavior. It was Mark Twain who once said, “Man is the only animal who blushes…and needs to.” At this point, Samson has become an embarrassment to Israel. And so, in chapter 16 of the Book of Judges, we see the beginning of the end for Samson. He:
- spends the night with a prostitute
- thwarts a mob that’s waiting to kill him by ripping two doors completely off their hinges
- SOME TIME LATER meets and falls in loves with another woman.
And all of that happens in just the 4 verses! In Verse 5, the Philistine rulers come to this new woman…Delilah…and ask her to find out the secret to his strength so that they can defeat him. To “grease the skids”, they EACH offer her 28 pounds of silver. She is swept up in greed and agrees. And so, she goes to Samson and asks him to tell her the secret to his strength…so that he could be tied up and controlled. He tells her it has to be with new leather straps that are wet. So the “bad guys” supply her with them and she ties him up. There are men hiding in the room to get him but, as they come out, Samson breaks his bonds.
Delilah tells Samson he made her look like a fool- he lied to her. she again encourages him to reveal the secret to his power. He tells her that it is new rope. The scenario unfolds, only with the rope and…the same result.
She again tells him he lied and made her look like a fool. So, he says that if she weaves the 7 braids of his hair into a loom and pin them there. he will be weak. So she does and…again…same outcome. She calls him out again- “How can you say you love me? You STILL haven’t told me your secret.” He finally tells her the truth, “I’ve never used a razor on my head. I’ve never cut my hair. If you shave my head, I won’t be strong anymore. I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
Delilah sends a message to the Philistine rulers. She then gets Samson to go to sleep on her lap. Then, and I quote, “She called for a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair.” So- after all these years of thinking we knew the story- Delilah did NOT cut off Samson’s hair. She “called for a man” to come and do the deed. And that brings about tonight’s first question:
Why did she have someone ELSE do it instead of doing it herself?
Notice there’s no description of Delilah. We imagine her to be beautiful. But it doesn’t tell us that. In fact, it doesn’t give us any description of her at all. That’s because that’s not the important part here. On the surface, she’s every man’s fantasy and every woman’s nightmare. But if you dig just a bit beneath the façade, you find that she is so much more…and less..than that. She is the most treacherous, wicked and lethal weapon Samson would ever face- the most lethal weapon we’ll ever face.
The bottom line is this is NOT story about simple promiscuity or a woman betraying her man. It’s a story about being led astray by evil. The reality is that Delilah doesn’t really have to be a woman. She could be a man. She could be an attitude. She could be a weakness. She could be that thing…that ONE thing…that causes you to cross the line of decency and morality and do that thing you never thought you’d do. Delilah can be that feeling that causes you to be depressed, discouraged, lonely, frustrated and hopeless. Delilah is dangerous in whatever form she shows up. She’s dangerous. She’s unpredictable. And she can easily become lethal.
How would you define “temptation”?
Temptation comes in in many forms. But it doesn’t just show up- all accidental like, floatin’ on a breeze. It’s intentional. The devil knows exactly what to send you. He’s watched you, sized you up and then figured exactly what he should send your way. He knows exactly what might be the best bet to cause you to cross that line. Delilah proves that the devil isn’t playing around. He’s serious like a heart attack. He doesn’t waste his time on Nerf guns- he specializes in lethal weapons. He’s not going to bother with something that you don’t already want. He’s going to choose that one special weapon, tailor-made for you.
Samson didn’t follow the instructions. He wanted to have his cake and eat it, too…whatever that means! But the truth is that you can’t party with the devil during the week and praise God on Sunday and hope that everything is going to be OK. But God’s promise is both easy to understand and very real- if you follow the instructions, if you love God and love others…in EVERYTHING you do…then you will live fully in God’s favor and fully receive God’s blessing.