Samson has an interesting history. According to Flavius Josephus, Samson's mother was very beautiful and Samson's father loved her passionately. Samson's parents tried for many years to have a child, but without success. Though his wife was barren, Manoah, Samson's father, did not marry any other wives. Instead, he prayed to God to give him a child with the wife he loved, but when the answer came, he was slow to believe it.
Manoah was inclined to be jealous about his wife. When his wife told him that she had been visited by a tall, beautiful angel who told her they would have a child, Manoah was suspicious. He thought his wife may have been unfaithful to him with a handsome stranger who was no angel, and concocted this elaborate, improbable story to explain why she was pregnant. Was he sterile, and was this is why his wife had not conceived until now? He assumed she was already pregnant.
Just in case his wife really had been visited by an angel, Manoah asked the Lord to send the angel again to prove to him that his wife was not lying. Accordingly, God sent the angel and he appeared to Manoah's wife when she was sitting in a field. She leaped to her feet and ran to get Manoah, telling him that the angel had reappeared.
Manoah hurried out to the field where the angel was waiting and questioned him about the child his wife was expecting, pretending that he believed every word. The stranger certainly was handsome. Manoah could hardly blame his beloved wife from letting him have his way with her, but it sure burned him up to think of her in another man's arms.
Still going along with the angel "pretense", Manoah asked the angel to stay for dinner. The angel said that he would wait, but Manoah could not make an offering to him, but rather to the Lord. Manoah figured that the stranger was playing his role well. He asked him his name so that he could make some inquiries about this scallywag, whom he believed had fooled around with his wife, and find out where he was from. The angel asked him why he was asking him his name, seeing as it was a secret.
Stymied, for the reply was in accordance with what an angel might say, Manoah resentfully prepared a dinner and set it on a rock before the stranger, wondering how he could trip him up and expose his ruse. The angel touched the food with his staff and fire came forth, consuming the offering. Then the angel ascended to Heaven in the smoke from the offering.
Manoah and his wife fell to the ground in shock and awe. Manoah was terrified that God was going to kill him because he had not believed the angel's message and had thought he was an adulterer who had lain with his wife. His wife, however, reasoned with him that if God was going to kill him, He would not have received their offering or shown them that they were going to have a baby, and given them detailed instructions how to raise the child.
The child was born and they spoiled that kid. Yes, they did all that the angel told them to do. Their child did not eat or drink any grape products and they never cut his hair, but after waiting all that time for a child, they were inclined to let him have his way too much.
Samson grew and a special anointing came upon him to make him very strong. Sunday School pictures show him as a big, hulky guy. Such unbelief. His strength wasn't because he was a body builder. He may not have even been particularly tall. I imagine Samson as a guy of regular height, slim and sinewy in build. Good–looking, probably resembling his mother, and with long, long, curly black hair worn in braids to keep it from tangling and getting too much in his way. He probably looked like he had normal strength, but nothing extraordinary.
The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, though, and enabled him to do extraordinary things at various times. It was not a constant demonstration of supernatural strength. It happened enough times that people could see that God had marked him in a special way, and they asked Samson for advice and also to decide disputes. His wisdom must have been supernatural, too, because it wasn't normal for him to be wise.
This is evident in how he cast his eyes towards the daughters of the Philistines. Samson had no business looking in their direction. He was a Jew and the Jews were commanded to not marry pagans. He was probably bored with the Jewish girls, though. They were in a tizzy over him because he was such a celebrity, but guys tend to be bored with what they can obtain too easily. He became interested in an attractive Philistine girl who was coy with him, and presented more of a challenge.
Samson asked his parents to talk to the girl's parents to arrange a marriage. His parents should have said, "No, we're not going to help you behave like a fool. If you're going to do that, you arrange it yourself, but don't bring that pagan into this house." It might have given him a bit of a shock to have his adoring parents speak to him that way, and made him have second thoughts about what he wanted to do, if it was going to alienate his parents.
Instead, they tried to reason with him. "What? Aren't there enough nice Jewish girls, that you have to go running after a shiksa?" He just looked at his father and said bluntly, "Get her for me. I like her." Manoah may have grumbled, but he did as he was told. He wasn't willing to risk having his long–awaited son upset with him, but he should have stood up to that raging unicorn that was stamping and snorting at him through his son's flesh.
God could have prevented the marriage, but He let the marriage take place because Samson was a spoiled, stubborn guy who was going to have to take some hard knocks before he learned better sense. Also, it was time to get the Philistines stirred up and make war on them. They weren't supposed to still be occupying that land. God had pronounced judgment on them for their wickedness, and His people needed to carry out that judgment. Instead, Samson was making friends with them. His best buddy was a Philistine.
The Philistines got stirred up when Samson teased them with a riddle during his wedding celebrations. They couldn't figure it out. They pressured his wife to find out the answer, so that they wouldn't lose a bet that Samson made with them. She turned on the tears and Samson caved in. When the Philistines told him the answer to his riddle, he was furious because he knew they had gotten the answer out of his wife. He paid his bet, at the cost of thirty Philistine lives, and then returned to his parents.
After a while, Samson got over his anger towards his wife and went back to visit her, only to find out that she was now married to his best friend. So, the war was on. It was Samson against the Philistines and the Philistines were always coming out the losers, much to their dismay.
Samson didn't learn his lesson about lust, and about leaving those Philistine fillies alone. He went to Gaza to spy, and there his eye lit upon a pretty filly whose favours could be bought. He should have stuck to his business for being there, but nay, neigh, neigh, right into the unicorn's lair he went. Someone recognized him and the Philistines figured they would kill him in the morning. God was merciful, though, and stirred him up to leave in the middle of the night. He toted away the city gates, leaving a message to the Philistines to beware of how they treated the Jews because they had a powerful God on their side.
Samson should have been more careful because that powerful God was not going to put up with his unfaithfulness to Him indefinitely. But Samson kept riding the unicorn and the unicorn took him to his downfall, the seductive Delilah. He started an affair with her, and the lords of the Philistines offered to pay her, if she would find out the secret of Samson's strength. Accordingly, Delilah powered up her charm and went to work on Samson.
Samson joshed around with her a few times, telling her this and then telling her that, but each time she found out that he hadn't told the truth. He had three chances to figure out that this woman was out to do him in. Every time he supposedly told her what the secret of his strength was, the woman tried it out. If she had loved him, she would have done all in her power to make sure that the things that weakened him were kept at a distance.
No, instead, seven fresh cords showed up on the premises, then new, thick ropes that had never been used, then a weaver's loom. "Hello, Samson! Is anybody in there?" Waking to find himself tied up and or with his hair unbraided and woven into a loom didn't clue him to the fact that Delilah was trying to render him helpless. A siren should have been going off in his ears, but he wasn't tuned in to God. He was tuned in to the unicorn, and it was a siren's song that he listened to.
An apostle named Andrew Shearman preached an excellent message on how to overcome temptation. He referred to story of Ulysses, and how Ulysses had himself tied to the mast of his ship while his crew stuffed wax in their ears, so that when they sailed past the island of the sirens, he could hear their song without the ship being driven onto the rocks.
That was typical of Ulysses. He was such a jerk. I got fed up reading his story because there he was fooling around on his wife in affair after affair, while the faithful Penelope kept scores of suitors at bay. And she held down the fort against a mob of intriguers who were eating her out of house and home, while Ulysses was jaunting around, making war on people so that he could rob them, instead of staying home, looking after his family. What a creep. Yes indeed, he wanted to hear the sirens. Just looking at them probably would have been enough for the randy, old goat to jump overboard to get to them, if he hadn't been tied to the mast.
In contrast, Andrew cited the story of Jason and the Argonauts, where there was a man on board the ship who was especially gifted in music. When they sailed by the sirens, Jason had Orpheus play his music, which was so much better than the sirens' song, that nobody felt tempted to respond to the sirens. Andrew said that when we fill ourselves with God's song, we will not feel tempted to give in to satan's allures because we will already have something that is far better.
Worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness has two applications. One is that we worship Him in holiness, rendering sincere praise rather than merely lip service. But it also can mean to behold God in His beauty, to keep our eyes turned to Him, and groom our hearts to love that which is wholesome and pure so that we will discern offers for fulfillment that are sordid and unclean, and disdain them.
Samson got a thrill out of dancing with danger. He was not one to be yoked with a helpmeet who was spiritually mature, and would steadily, faithfully pull together with him and help extend his days and his usefulness to his people. "Nice Jewish girls are a drag; a sweet, young bride will become a frumpy hag," sang the unicorn. "My Delilah is frisky, she's unpredictable; she surely is risky, but oh so delectable!" Samson tossed back his freshly braided hair after he got the pin from the loom out of it, chuckled to himself about what a minx his girlfriend was, and went back to her den for more slap and tickle, instead of burning rubber to get out of the trap before it was too late.
Day after day, Delilah went to work on him, pouting that he didn't love her because he would not totally open his soul to her. She played that one song all day long until he felt like he was going to go out of his mind. But she was too cute to leave. Delilah kept herself in good shape and looking her best, her voice like a melody, her movements languidly graceful, her bedchamber inviting, serving scrumptious meals between bedroom bouts, catering to his physical senses in every possible way so that she could weasel his secret out of him.
Samson should have been keeping himself busy with his ministry, and then headed back to Mom's and Dad's place each night until they found him a respectable wife. His testosterone level was such that it wasn't a good idea for him to be single. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:2 that men and women who cannot control their sex drive should marry to avoid fornication. That probably applies to about 80% of any given population.
If Samson was avoiding marriage because he'd had bad experiences with women in the past, it wasn't because women can't be trusted. He picked the wrong kind of women. If he couldn't trust his own judgment, then he should have referred the matter to his parents. He could have even said, "I want a beautiful wife, so when you're looking for character, don't forget about the packaging."
But the unicorn had turned their colt into a dolt. He kept on hanging out with Delilah until finally he told her the whole story about his miraculous birth and the angel's instructions, and how he'd never had a haircut in his whole life, which was the reason why he was so strong. Delilah quickly sent a message to the Philistines and then duly rewarded Samson for his compliance to her demands for information, gushing to him that now she knew he truly loved her.
A barber stood waiting outside the bedchamber. After Samson drifted off to sleep, Delilah stealthily arose, dressed, beckoned the barber, then slid in beside Samson, cradling his head in her lap, stroking his face with tender caresses while the barber gently shaved off his tresses.
When that was done, Delilah began to pinch Samson. He twitched in his sleep, his brow furrowing with annoyance at the pain. Delilah smiled with delight like a demon. She nodded to the warriors who were watching cautiously from their hiding places that they had slipped into while the man of God slept.
Delilah shouted to Samson to get up because the Philistines were upon him. She was a Philistine. It's funny how it never occurred to him that his lover might hold a grudge against him for having killed some of her people. It's odd how he didn't give much thought to her character, considering how she supported herself. She wasn't married and seemed to have oodles of time for romping in bed, instead of working at a respectable trade to earn her living. Maybe Delilah was a wealthy widow, but it is evident by how she sold out her lover that she didn't feel that she had enough income to keep her in the style of living that she felt entitled to, or to sustain her in her old age. Samson certainly wasn't using his brains when he told a Philistine whore his secret and expected her to keep it.
The Philistines beat Samson and put out his eyes, those eyes that had been his downfall. Eyes that were too impressed with physical beauty and had wandered in the direction of pagan beauties.
In similar ways, Christians sometimes let their eyes look at porn, or don't turn their eyes away when they see sexy images on billboards. They let those images linger in their minds until their hearts are turned away from the Lord. I recall the incongruity of a man in church who, while he was clapping his hands and saying, "Praise the Lord," his eyes were glued to the well–shaped derriere of a sister as she walked by. We would do well to obey the words of a song sung in Sunday School, "Be careful, little eyes, what you see." We can never outgrow that need for caution.
God severely disciplined Samson because he did not turn away from his sin, though he had warning after warning. His Philistine wife betrayed his riddle, then she betrayed him with his best friend, then she was murdered by her own people because of her association with him. He could not expect any woman connected with him to be safe from being meddled with when she was living among his enemies, and especially if she was of a people who were Israel's enemies, but he kept turning to worldly women.
He would have been jumped in Gaza if God had not rousted him to leave before morning. Then Delilah three times tried to do something to him that she thought would take away his strength. God didn't want Samson to lose his eyes and be made a slave, but Samson was determined to be blind to danger and a slave to the unicorn. So blindness and slavery was what he got.
In time, Samson's hair grew and his strength returned, not really because his hair grew, but because he repented of his folly. His heart was now right, and he could be trusted with that precious anointing, but his repentance didn't give him his eyes back. Day after day, Samson trudged around in a circle, tied to a mill that ground meal for the Philistines, smelling prison stench, hearing curses, feeling a whip on his shoulders, being mocked when he asked to be released so that he could relieve his bladder or his bowels. But day by day, he felt his strength coming back. He was careful to not push that wheel any harder than before or break his chains, so that the Philistines would not suspect that he was again a danger to them.
On the day of a feast, Samson was led into the temple of Dagon so that the Philistines could make sport of him. Delilah was probably sitting in the balcony, being fondled by a new lover while she shouted abuse at Samson. She was a national heroine to the Philistines and enjoyed her fame. As he stood there in darkness, his hands upon the pillars, Samson probably heard Delilah's voice mocking him among all the rest. He could bring down that building by pushing on those pillars. He could then dig his way out of the rubble and return to his people, but Samson didn't want to live without being able to see. He asked God to let him die with the Philistines, and then he bowed himself in a mighty push that brought their temple down around their ears.
And so ended the life of a man who was not only remarkable for his strength, but also for his foolishness. The unicorn did not get the last say, but it did trample on a very precious anointing and ministry that was supposed to last a lot longer than what it did. And it left Samson without an heir to carry on his name, for he did not marry the good Jewish girl that God would have given him, if he had let God tame the unicorn sooner.
Click below to read:
Taming the Unicorn, Chapter 12
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on April 8, 2010
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.