Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bad Girls of the Bible: Delilah

Bad Girls of the Bible: Delilah
Judges 16:1-30

Bad Girls:       Bad to the Bone- Not a single kind word was ever spoken about them in scripture; a pattern of sinning; no evidence of remorse, repentance, or a desire to change; they sinned with gusto. Made in the image of God, so not truly bad to the core—they just behaved that way.
                        Bad for a Moment- Women who made one huge, colossal, life changing blooper that was recorded in scripture to teach everyone else a lesson. Seem to be believers in the one true God at the start but when forced to make a decision, chose disastrously.
                        Bad for a Season, but not Forever- Sins in their past, but were willing to change and be changed.

Intro: Tonight we’re going to be studying Delilah but you can’t understand the depths of Delilah if you don’t have a grasp of her co-star Samson. Samson and Delilah are cats that live in the same house I do, but for those of you who don’t know, they are actually Biblical characters, too. Without getting too in depth, an angel of the LORD appeared to Samson’s mom and dad and proclaimed that they were going to have a son who will be a judge over Israel. A judge at that time was the head honcho over the entire country. He also said that he would be a Nazirite from the womb, and that she should drink no wine or strong drink. A Nazirite was someone who had taken a special vow for a period of time, usually 1-3 months, where they didn’t drink any wine, come into contact with a dead body, or cut their hair, which was the earthly source of Samson’s strength. Samson was different because 1) He didn’t choose to take the vow; 2) The vow was from birth and lasted until death. On a side note, the angel declared that he would be a Nazirite from the womb and that his mother, who was not yet pregnant, could not drink wine. This is a great Bible verse that proves that life begins at conception. Samson, however, was not the greatest example of a Nazirite.
            Samson had super hero strength and mad fighting skills. As a kid I always pictured him as a WWF wrestler because of his huge muscles and long hair. I guess he always seemed like caricature. Now for someone who couldn’t touch dead bodies, he sure made a lot of them. Samson ripped a lion apart with his bare hands on the way to meet his philistine fiancé, and then didn’t tell anybody about it. I would be telling everyone about it. Later when he went back to marry her, he found bees had made a honey comb in the dead lion so he ate some of it. He wasn’t supposed to touch a dead body. After this he challenged the men of the town to a riddle. The men threatened to kill the fiancé and her dad if she didn’t find out the answer to the riddle from Samson. She persuaded him to tell her, Samson lost the bet, and went to another philistine town, and killed thirty men to pay off the bet.
            A little later Samson finds out that his father-in-law gave his wife to the best man at the wedding. In anger he caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together, put a torch between them, and set them loose in the Philistine town’s barley fields. After that he killed a thousand Philistines with a fresh jawbone of a donkey.
            Another time Samson went and visited a Philistine prostitute. The people of the city waited for him by the gate to kill him. When Samson came out he grabbed the entire gate and carried it about 40 miles. Samson could not be defeated by any man.
            It would take a woman.

Judges 16:4 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
                Delilah was a valley girl. In Arabic Delilah means “flirt.” Delilah’s charm worked on him because it says that Samson loved her. There is no scripture indicating that she ever loved him. But we do know that he loved her because he trusted her and stayed there quite often, unlike the prostitute and his wife, whom he was not even aware that she was given to someone else in marriage. Both of those women were nameless, but Delilah has a name. We don’t know much else about her, though.
            She’s from the Valley of Sorek, which borders Philistia and Israel. We don’t know if she was an Israelite who betrayed her country, or a Philistine who managed to infiltrate their greatest enemy. She had her own house, which was odd for a woman. Was she a widow? Was she rich? If she was rich, why was she enticed by the money? Was she a prostitute? If she was why wasn’t she addressed as such like the prostitute earlier? If she was a prostitute, how did she find time to spend with Samson?
            Delilah must have been quite the looker, because Samson could have had any woman he wanted and he wanted her, even though we see no evidence of charm, wit, compassion, or affection. Samson’s weakness wasn’t his long hair. It was Delilah.   
            Scriptures define Delilah as “woman.” Since then commentators have called her a harlot, a prostitute, low down and mean, the Judas of the Old Testament. A kinder term might simply be, “pawn.”
Judges 16:5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
            Betraying Samson wasn’t Delilah’s idea. One may ask if she chose to be with Samson and was then approached about betraying him, or was she out to betray him the whole time? We will never know this side of heaven, but it’s interesting to think about.
            She must have had a reputation of being able to lure men, as her name “flirt” would suggest. They realized that Samson’s strength was super human and wasn’t just because he worked out, or maintained a healthy diet. They wanted to know what it was.
            It is also worthy to note that the men didn’t appeal to Delilah’s patriotism (again we don’t know her nationality), or her intellect. They waved a lot of cold hard cash in front of her nose. They each were to give her 1,100 shekels of silver. That is 34 pounds of silver each. Times several men. An average man might work all year for 10 shekels.
            Before we condemn Delilah, let’s compare some notes here. On one hand she could stay with a large, hairy, violent and secretive man with a rocky reputation and a history of sleeping around, someone that we don’t even know she loved. Or she could take the money, and stay well fed, and well dressed for the rest of her life.

Judges 16:6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”
            She shot it to him straight. She didn’t water it down or appeal to his male ego, “What makes you so strong big boy?” and even added “So you can be subdued” at the end. The world asks, “How did she say it?” Did she say it teasingly? Brazenly? With a kittenish pout? A playful wink? We don’t know. However she did it, she did it well. Remember Samson has a history of riddles, and his girls getting the answers out of him. This may not have seemed so strange to him. So Samson plays along.
Judges 16:7-16  Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.” 11 And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web.[a] And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
15 And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.
            It’s weird how Delilah is the one who is always accused of deception when she has been nothing but honest; Samson is the one who has been lying. The difference is their intention. He lied for fun. She lied for cash.
            But Delilah was as persistent as her sister, Mrs. Potiphar, in seduction. She never professed love for him but used his love for her as a cattle prod, “You say you love me but….” At this point Delilah was whining. There’s no way to read those words without whining. Whine whine whine whine whine. Ugh. Remember Samson’s wife whined him into revealing his riddle’s answer. By verse 16 Samson had had enough. Scripture even says he was “vexed to death.”

Judges 16:17 And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
            So three times he tells her an answer and three times she has Philistines ready to pounce on him—why would he allow the possibility for a fourth time?

Judges 16:18-21 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.
            It’s hard not to compare Delilah and Judas. Both betrayed someone for silver. Judas for thirty pieces of silver, and Delilah for 110 year’s worth of wages times several people worth of silver. It’s not the amount that matters, it’s the sin, treachery, and deceit that matters. I heard a story about a man who asked a woman to have sex with him for a million dollars. She said “yes.” Then he asked her if she would for a dollar. She said, “What kind of person do you think I am?” He replied, “We already know that. Now we’re just haggling over price.”
            The comparing and contrasting of Judas and Delilah will go on, but for now we move ahead.

Judges 16:22-30 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
The Death of Samson
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.”[b] 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.
28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.

            Why did they not shave his head, oh I don’t know, every hour?
            Delilah disappeared from scriptures never to be seen again. What happened to her? Did she take the money and run? Did she live a happy content life? Did she live with regret and remorse like Judas did? What I really want to know is if when they invited everyone in town to mock Samson at the temple if they brought Delilah in as the star of the show, the woman who brought down the strongest man in the world? There is no way to know for sure, but I believe she was there, and I believe she died with him before she could spend a single shekel of silver.
            Judas overcome with remorse returned the thirty pieces of silver and hung himself. I believe both received blood money and both died without experiencing the joy it was supposed to have brought them.
            I like the way Lizz Curtis Higgs finishes up this section, “Maybe Delilah left town long before that disastrous day. Or maybe the last thing she saw before her eyes closed for eternity was the strong hero she’d once brought to his knees, lifting up his eyes to heavens, calling on a God she would never know. Of all Delilah’s shortcomings, this was by far the greatest: not that she was rich in silver, but that she was poor in spirit.”

Application: Delilah was Bad to the Bone because she showed no signs of repentance or remorse, and no good thing was ever recorded about her. Remember Judas, overcome with remorse for betraying Jesus, an innocent man, so much so that he killed himself? There’s a difference in godly sorrow, and worldly sorrow. Paul describes the difference in 2nd Corinthians 7:10. Godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to salvation. Worldly sorrow leads to death. Judas was sorrowful, but that sorrow should have led him to the foot of the cross where he could have found forgiveness and salvation. Instead he went to another tree and hung himself, separating himself from God for all of eternity.
            Sorrow is good. Remorse is good. We should feel sorrow and remorse for our sin which should lead us to the cross. We are sinners separated from God and in a world of hurt. Sin doesn’t make us bad, sin makes us dead. We don’t need to feel better about ourselves, or need a pep talk. We need forgiveness which can only come from Christ.