When Samson can no longer see physically, he finally sees spiritually. When everything else is stripped away, he finally understands what really matters. What will God have to take away from you in order to let you finally see Him?
"O Be Careful Little Eyes. . ."
The story of Samson and Delilah is the tragic story of misguided love & greed. . .it is a story that box office hits are made of. . .it is a sordid picture that ends with shocking betrayal, pain & death.
The last scene is about to be shot in the life of the rebellious judge. His leadership has spanned nearly 20 years and for the most part his exploits have accomplished little in either unifying Israel or bringing about repentance. . .perhaps because his own life was inconsistent and immoral.
In fact, as we pick up the story in chapter 17, Samson's activity seems like old news. . .17:1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
Once again we are given the subtle hint of Samson's problem - the weak chink in his armor. . .". . .a saw. . ." Back up to chapter 14 again and notice a common theme - v 1 - Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah. . .v 2. So he came back and told his father and mother, "I saw a woman in Timnah. . .v 3b. But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me. . .v. 7. So he went down and talked to the woman, and she looked good to Samson.
Samson's problem isn't his eyesight, it's his focus.
It isn't the sin of observation, it's the sin of concentration.
He seems unable to control his lust, and the scriptural record reveals his downward spiral, which left him blinded and enslaved. The truth was, Samson was already blind, spiritually and he was already enslaved, sensuously.
It is more than ironic that his chief weakness was introduced with, 'And Samson saw. . ." and God will discipline him by allowing the enemy to remove his ability to see.
Let's notice what happens next 16:2. When it was told to the Gazites, saying, "Samson has come here," they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying "Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him." 3. Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulder, (between 4 & 5,000 pounds - a Buick Park Avenue. . .) and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron!
The men are all around waiting to attack; Samson comes out to the locked gates and pulls the posts out of the ground and with a slight "hup" puts the gates and posts on his shoulders and walks away. No wonder none of the men attacked him then. The Gazites are left standing with hole in their city walls and a major dent in their city budget!
What's happening - I'll tell you - Samson has become invincible! The tragedy is that the display of his strength so closely follows the display of his sin! He's been with a harlot and now he rips the doors off the city. . .but what has this done inside Samson's mind - it has deceived him into thinking that he is invincible.
I'm sure people clapped him on the back and said, "Wow, Samson! I heard about the city gates in Gaza - wow, you were really something! Would you sign my Bible?! No one probably mentioned the prostitute.
Samson has never been in a more dangerous position than now. He's a sitting duck for a lollipop named Delilah.
Notice the very next event 16:4 After this it came about that 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, "Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how now we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.
Delilah has been promised 1,100 pieces of silver if she can extract Samson's secret. You remember how many pieces of silver Judas got for betraying Christ? 30! Delilah's getting over 1,000 - she'll live comfortably for the remainder of her life.
Let me pause here and make two observations about moral collapse:
Observation #1 - Moral failure always involves small steps.
In other words, it never happens in an instance. We never fall off a cliff morally; we go down a toboggan slope, until finally we are going so fast that we cannot get off - and we crash.
Samson didn't end up in a Philistine jail overnight. It was a process of steps that began in chapter 14 and progressed downward.
Observation #2 - Moral failure usually involves relevant needs.
It’s easy to miss the fact that Delilah is a Jewish name, not Philistine. She is the first and only Jewish woman Samson has associated with in the scriptural record - perhaps his first attempt to have a long lasting relationship with the "proper" kind of woman. Only woman he "loved".
Realize as well that Samson, by this time, is middle aged. SO get out of your mind the picture of a 25 year old atlas. Samson is probably around 50 years of age - he is time worn and battle weary. He's anything but sharp, he's judged Israel alone for 20 years, and he's compromised his character and sacrificed his purity openly and unashamedly. An immoral lifestyle has diluted his discernment.
But she represents perhaps a final attempt to settle down - it's obvious from the scripture that they lived together - at this point in his life he needs her, otherwise he would have run - he should have run. . .but he chose to stay.
Several years ago, a young lady engaged to be married came to my office. She was a believer who had fallen in love with a young man who didn't care about the Lord at all. She was wanting my approval as her pastor and marriage counseling. In a very short period of time the scriptures had confronted her with God's disapproval of their relationship. I told her that what she really needed was not counseling, but courage to make a decision. A decision to either follow Jesus Christ, or marry this man. She put her head in her hands and wept. . .then after regaining her composure. . ."I choose to marry him."
Let's take a look at the choice Samson made 16:6. So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.
But notice the cold, almost obvious tactic she uses on Samson. A woman in love would want to know how she could protect her loved one - read the verse again, ". . .Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you."
And Samson is so dumb he doesn't see through her! Delilah's not going to win any Oscar here - her acting stinks. Samson is already blinded by his lust.
What follows is a little cat and mouse game - Delilah's the cat, the strong man is the mouse - trouble is, in this story, the mouse is dumb enough to think he can play with a cat.
The name of the game is called, "Let's play, the Philistines are coming."
The first move is found in verse 7. Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh cords (bow strings) 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 cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
These "lords" are the five kings of the five major Philistine cities. They're the ones sponsoring this game.
More than likely Samson is asleep. . .v. 9. Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he snapped the cords as a string of two snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.
Let me correct the typical story. . .I always believed the Philistines rushed Samson - nowhere in the text does it say they appeared from their hiding places. . .they were simply ready in case Samson had indeed lost his strength - that would be revealed by his inability to break the things that bound him.
In other words, Samson doesn't know their are Philistines hiding in the garage. . .he thinks it's one big game!
Move #2 is new ropes - verse 11
same result - "he snapped them like a thread" (v. 12)
Move #3 is weaving his hair and tying it to Delilahs sewing machine. verse 13
same result - only this time he wrecks. . .sewing machine.
However, what troubles me about this move in the game is that Samson has come closer to revealing the truth than ever before - now, for the first time he has mentioned his hair.
Samson is playing Russian roulette - the odds are mounting against him!
Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church wrote a story that I recently read. Years ago, when Oliver Cromwell was lord protector of England, a circus performer was known all about as a daring animal tamer. His most famous and thrilling act was the snake act. This trainer had worked with one particular snake for fourteen years, having purchased it when it was only 7 inches long - a time when with two fingers he could have crushed it.
One night, although he didn't know it, he would perform his final snake act. The tent was packed with excited people. The trainer cracked his whip, and that huge boa constrictor came crawling out of the imitation grass at the edge of the snakes open cage. It slithered slowly toward his feet and then began to wrap itself around the trainer until he was scarcely visible. The audience was ecstatic, they whistled and cheered. Several minutes passed, the crowd finally stopped cheering, something must be wrong.
As the arena grew hushed in terrified silence, as all the people watched, hardly daring to breath, they heard the unmistakable sound bones braking. To the horror of all those present, the snake had tightened its body around the trainer. And now, before anyone could help him escape, the massive boa constrictor crushed it's trainer to death.
16:15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, "I love you" when your heart is not with me?" You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where yourgreat strength is." 16. And it came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death." 17. So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, "A razor had never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I shall become weak and be like any other man."
Did you notice his answer, he has come to false conclusion that his strength lies in his long hair - he has forgotten the role of the Spirit of God. He has become as superstitious as the Philistines who carried charms into battle, believing that they conveyed the power to subdue enemies. His charm was his hair.
No notice verse 18. When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, "Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart." Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands." 19. And she made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict 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." and now the most tragic phrase in this whole story follows. . .but he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.
There is nothing more tragic than a person who loses the power of God, and doesn't even realize it.
If this church were to lose God's power and presence, how long would it take for us to realize it?!
If God's power were to slip away from you, how long would it take for you to sense the loss. . .one day, one week, one hour?!
Samson, God has left you! The Philistines will take you now. "Nonsense, my hair is gone, but I'm still mighty Samson." He swings a once powerful fist against a Philistine shield and his hand crumples in pain; he's grabbed from behind - he strains to free himself - he struggles and bellows - his mind is racing - panic stricken - "No, it can't be!!"
God's Spirit has left you Samson. . .and when He left your strength left too.
Notice the fast motion of the Biblical sequence 21. Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. 22. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off. that tells us, God has not abandoned Samson, God is still available to Samson.
In fact, what happens to Samson in prison, (his prayer will prove it true) Samson comes fact to face with his sin, he repents and his relationship with God becomes what it should have been long ago.
Samson soon hears the chanting mob as they gather to celebrate his capture. They are giving the glory to their god - Dragon - the fish god. They begin to chant - "We want Samson, We want Samson."
Notice v.25. It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may amuse us" So they called for Samson from the prison and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars.
All the dignitaries are their, the five kings and their wives. The rulers of the Philistine empire have assembled (which means that in a moment, they're going to lose their entire leadership. That would be akin to America losing by some catastrophe, the United States Supreme court, the President & Vice President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all the congressmen and senators.
They're all their amusing themselves with this blind man - confusing him - pushing him around, having him led by the hand by a little boy - this is the great Samson?! This is all that the God of Israel could come up with to defeat us - our god Dagon is more powerful!
Samson has had enough - he prays a prayer - for God's honor and for his own vindication. It is only the second prayer recorded.
28. Then Samson called to the Lord and said, "O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."
This prayer reveals two changes in Samson's life:
1) Samson is repentant from his life of sin
The Hebrew word "remember" is critical. It is a word linked with the forgetting of past sin. Isaiah uses the word as God himself speaks, "For behold, I create new heaven and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind."
It's the same idea in the NT when the thief hanging on the cross said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me."
2) Samson is dependant on the Lord for strength
He now recognizes his source of strength is not in his hair, but in his God! Samson for the first time in Scripture can see with discernment.
I find it so intriguing that when Samson could no longer see physically, he finally sees spiritually. When everything else is stripped away, he finally understands what really matters.
May I ask you a question, "Is there something in your life that God must take away in order that you might fully see him?"
- a job
- a mate
- a house
- a child
- a promotion
- a friend
Is there something in your line of sight that keeps you from seeing God?! An inability to see from God's perspective means an inability to live life any other way than from your own perspective. You're going to do things the way you want to do them, you're going to make decisions the way you believe they ought to be made.
It is no coincidence that Frank Sinatra's hit song, "I did it my way" has been recorded by more artists in the last 20 years than any other song. . .it is so true to our human blindness.
For 20 years, Samson has done it his way - and he ruined his life.
Let's finish the story, 29. And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left.
30. And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." (God, use me one more time) And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.
Samson was restored by God to some position of power, but he was not restored to the same position of power. He was supposed to be a judge!
Dear beloved, learn well that although God will forgive sins he may not erase consequences. His hair grew back, but his eyes didn't. God forgave him and used him powerfully, but Samson paid dearly the consequences of his sin.
He toyed with sin for 20 years; his chief weakness was his eyes - sexual sin is that one category of sin that the Apostle Paul tells us to flee from. He never suggest that we debate it, toy with it, flirt with it - no! Run from it. . .Flee fornication. . .run from it and in so doing
. . .Understand that you are running for your life. . .your integrity. . .your family. . .your character. . . your future!
Guard your heart.