4 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 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.” 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.” 7 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.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 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. 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. 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.” 18 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. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
The enigmatic leader of the Israel finally meets his match in the prostitute, Delilah. She uses determination, wheedling, and sex to finally bring him down. Delilah is an interesting individual. She has a Hebrew name but is clearly working for the Philistines. The amount of money offered her for her services in defeating Samson is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years’ wages. This much money would allow her to retire from her life as a prostitute. And Samson seems to almost have a “relationship” with her. He visits her at least four times that are recorded in the text.
Samson’s Nazarite vow takes its final hit at the hands of Delilah. He has clearly touched numerous dead bodies and imbibed in strong drink. Now we find him revealing the “key” to his strength lies in those unshorn locks of hair. All Delilah had to do was shave them off and his strength would flee. His seven unshorn “locks” were but the outward token of an inner dedication to God. By breaking his Nazirite vow he had violated his special covenant with the Source of his strength, whose Spirit had “come mightily upon him” in the past. His strength left him because the Lord had left him. By the end of this segment of the story, Samson is left blind and enslaved, grinding grain in a mill – something that would have been considered “women’s work.” But in this moment, Samson also has the time to think – finally.
We touched on this briefly yesterday. What we find in Samson is a belief that he is invincible. Those who believe they are spiritually untouchable are living with the greatest form of foolishness and that pride will almost always end badly. Perhaps I am alone in this belief, but I regularly see myself as a helpless beggar at the feet of our Almighty God. Any arrogant belief in my own invincible status is folly. And I don’t believe it is humility. I believe it is reality. Samson lost (or perhaps never had) an understanding of himself as vulnerable before a Holy God. His God given strength created a sense of power that was an illusion, for when God pulled away, Samson was as helpless as anyone else. Now he has time to think.