Samson the Strong Man
The stories of Samson are recorded in Judges, Chapters 13-16. Like other folk heroes in the Old Testament, Samson is a Nazarite. An angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and told her she would have a son. She was not to drink strong drink while she was carrying the child. Evidently, Samson disregarded the fact that he was a Nazarite for he drank at his almost wedding feast, he killed many men and therefore had contact with dead bodies, and he let his hair be shaved off to satisfy the whims of Delilah.
Samson does not seem to be a very idealistic character to be doing God’s work of delivering the Israelites from the Philistines. He was infatuated with two other Philistine women before the Delilah incident. You would think he would have learned his lesson from these previous experiences but his passions ruled his head and he was not very bright. He had more strength than intelligence. In fits of anger Samson would kill people on the spot and do other destructive things. When he found out that his prospective bride gave the secret of the riddle to the thirty companions of his at the wedding feast he got angry and went off and killed thirty Philistines and gave their clothing to the thirty companions who had gotten the solution to the riddle from his bride.
On another occasion he got angry and caught 300 foxes and tied them together in pairs and made firebrands attached to their tails and sent them running through the grain fields. He also killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. So you can see why the Philistines were out to get Samson.
When they discovered that he was interested in Delilah they went to her and offered her about $4,000 if she could find out the secret of his great strength. She accepted the challenge and began working her charms on Samson. Samson first told her that if he was bound with seven fresh bowstrings he would be harmless. He then went to sleep and she tied him up. She then called to him saying, “Samson, the Philistines are coming.” Of course they were not coming; she just wanted to see if he had told her the truth. Samson wakes up and breaks the bowstrings as if they were thread. What a character this Samson was. He was supposed to be infatuated with Delilah, captivated by her beauty, and all he does is go to sleep. She coerces him again and this second time he says that if he is bound with two new ropes that have never been used that he will be as weak as other men. Again he goes to sleep and she ties him up and calls to him that the Philistines are coming. Again he wakes up and breaks the ropes.
Delilah now turns on a little more charm and he tells her that if she weaves the seven locks of his hair and tightens it with a pin that he will be weak. He goes to sleep and she does the job on his hair and calls to him saying the Philistines are coming. But again he wakes up and is just as strong as ever. Delilah now turns the charm and persuasion up to a high pitch. She accuses him of not loving her. How could he; he is always falling asleep. But Samson finally gives in and tells her the true secret of his strength. He says that if his hair is shaved off that he will be weak like other men. Again he goes to sleep with his head on her lap. She calls in the barber and has his head shaved. He really must have been sleepy to go through all that without waking up. Finally she calls to him again saying the Philistines are coming. This time they really come. They capture Samson, tie him up, put out his eyes and take him to Gaza to grind grain in the mill.
Some time later when the Philistines are celebrating a feast to their god Dagon, the people call for Samson to be brought out for sport. Samson asks the individual bringing him to the temple to place him between the main pillars of the temple. With his hands on the pillars he prays to his God to give him his strength back so that he can avenge his enemies. His prayer is answered, he pushes the pillars down and over 3,000 people are killed when the temple comes crashing down. Samson is killed along with them.
If we are to understand this story we must realize that it is not a historical incident but a story that helps us understand something that goes on within our own consciousness. The Philistines are within us, the Israelites are within us, Samson is within us, Delilah is within us. They represent thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, habits, and practices that are very active in our own consciousness.
There is another important point we must remember if we are to understand the theology of the Old Testament. It is a theme that is repeated over and over again, especially in the book of Judges. That basic theme is this: “Obedience to the Lord brings blessings, disobedience brings tragedy and captivity.” If an individual is prosperous, healthy, and having a good life it is an indication that he is favored by God. If things are going bad for him it is an indication that he is out of favor with God because of some violation of God’s law.
In metaphysical terms this is a statement of the principle of cause and effect. Obedience to the indwelling Principle of Being brings forth blessings. Disregarding inner guidance leads to unpleasant and undesirable consequences. A key phrase in the stories of the Judges is this one stated at the beginning of the Samson stories. It states, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” (Judges 13:1) When the people repented, the Lord would send a deliverer. In this instance it was supposed to be Samson. Samson was not the most noble character but he got the job done for a time. The Philistines were probably the greatest enemies of the Israelites at that time. There were times when they lived in relative peace together, but the Philistines usually had the upper hand in military conflicts. You will recall they even captured the ark of the covenant, a most cherished symbol of the Israelites.
Charles Fillmore tells us in the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary that the Philistines represent the world of appearances. They represent the many thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we let rule and persuade us that are based on appearances. When we make decisions based on facts rather than intuition we are letting the Philistines rule us. When we look at the challenges or conditions before us and think of them as impossible, hard, difficult, we are letting the Philistines rule us. When we judge by appearances or other people’s negative opinions; when we get very passionately persuaded by the beauty or sensuousness of appearances, we are letting the Philistines dominate us. When we seek a job because it may seem to offer fame and fortune we are under Philistine persuasion. When we seek a relationship with a person because of physical attractiveness alone, we are under the influence of the Philistines. We do many things because of the potential pleasure that these outer things seem to offer us.
Delilah represents the pleasure of the senses expressed as overindulgence. There is nothing wrong or bad or evil about sensory experience. It is only when we let our senses control us to the extent that we do not follow our higher better sense of judgment or intelligence from the Lord God within us. This is not just a story to point out the evils of sex as so many would interpret it. Sex is not evil. It was thought to be evil in religious tradition. This story is talking about all sensory habits and practices that ensnare and trap us and keep us in bondage. We all know how challenging and difficult it is to overcome sensory habits, habits of drinking, smoking, drugs, overeating, overindulgence in sensory pursuits that lead to physical, mental, and psychological problems. Samson got to the place where he could not even think clearly. You would think he could realize what Delilah was up to. You would think that we could realize sometimes what certain sensory experiences will lead to, the bondage and misery, for example, of taking drugs. Samson lost not only his strength, but he lost the most important thing of all. He lost that feeling of oneness with the indwelling Lord, the Source of his great strength.
We are also told that his eyes were put out. This means a loss of spiritual perception. He may have been a Nazarite, dedicated to God, but he was still subject to the laws of the universe. He had no special privileges. Sometimes, individuals get the notion that being in religious or charitable work gives them special privileges; this is especially true in regards to sex. But no one is exempt. No one gets special dispensations. We all must seek to understand and apply principle in our lives. Another way of saying this is, “We must be obedient to the Lord.” After all, obedience brings blessings, great blessings of peace of mind, health, supply and security. The loss of spiritual perception includes a loss of the feeling of oneness, the sense of aloneness and this breeds feelings of guilt.
Sometimes an individual will become so obsessed with the pursuit of some physical sensual goal that he loses all common sense. There is the case of the young girl who wanted to be a championship runner and became obsessed with losing weight, thinking this would help her run faster. It did just the opposite and out of despair she jumped off a bridge and landed on the frozen ice in the river below. She is now paralyzed for life and will never run again. Can you imagine someone weighing 105 pounds thinking that she was overweight and fat?
Many sensory pursuits may seem harmless in the beginning but turn out to be our undoing. Sunbathing is one of those sensory pursuits. Scientists are telling us today that it is harmful to the skin to spend hours in the sun getting baked to a crisp. There are many other sensory pursuits that seem harmless and yet may have negative consequences later on. Remember it is the uncontrollable pursuit of sensory indulgence that must be brought into obedience to the Lord. Your inner Spirit will tell you what you need to do. We need to take time out of our pursuit of pleasureable, sensory seeking to seek spiritual understanding. There are many Delilahs that would capture our attention such as radio, TV, rock concerts, symphonies, video games, computers, football, baseball. I recently saw an episode on TV in which they were featuring certain aspects of life in California. A man interviewed said he could spend every day of his life surfboarding, he enjoyed it so much. There is nothing wrong with surfboarding but when it becomes that possessive, the individual is asking for problems.
The loss of hair symbolizes the loss of vitality, energy, and strength that goes along with excessive overindulgence in sensory pursuits. We should seek to develop the spiritual side of our nature and then we can enjoy the sensory side of life without it being a source of bondage and misery. There is great joy and happiness and a feeling of self-worth when we know that through the power of the indwelling Lord we are in control of our lives.
© 1985, Jim Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.