Samson fell in love with a beautiful Philistine woman named Delilah (Judges 16:4).The five representatives of the five rulers of Philistia had come to offer a reward to Delilah if she would deliver for them the secret of Samson’s strength. When Delilah asked them why they presumed that she would be paid to betray Samson, they felt that she was about to refuse.
“You should do this for the good of our great nation and all your Philistine friends,” they anxiously told her. ‘You would be aiding in keeping down trouble and bloodshed!”
Delilah eyed them quizzically for a few moments.
“I suppose you are right,” she finally said, casually running one hand over her hair to push it into place. “If I find out what you want to know, how much are you willing to give me?”
“We’ll give you a total of 5,500 pieces of silver and no more,” the relieved spokesman for the agents replied. “This money will be delivered to you just as soon as Samson is in our hands” (Judges 16:5)!
“Be prepared to pay me very soon,” Delilah quipped as she smiled at the five men. Although Samson didn’t realize it, the woman he loved was proving to be a greedy opportunist who would do anything for enough money.
That same night she began to question Samson about the source of his strength.
“One reason why I admire and respect you so much,” she fondly whispered to him in a time of intimacy, “is that your enemies have never been able to overcome you because of your great physical power. I know that you must have some secret source of such unusual power. It would please me if you would tell me that secret.”
“I can think of no worthwhile reason why you should know such a thing,” Samson replied. “You are a bit too curious to be pleased.”
“I suppose so,” Delilah tactfully sighted. “I merely hoped that you would share with me the knowledge of what great thing it would take to overcome such a strong man as you.”
Samson fondly surveyed Delilah. He had such an ardent affection for her that he didn’t wish to refuse her some kind of answer. Yet, he did not completely trust her with the secret of his great strength. And Samson did not want to risk unnecessary danger. So he decided to use his sharp wit again so that, if Delilah talked too much to the wrong people, he might have another good laugh on the Philistines.
“If my enemies were to carefully bind me with seven strong, green strips of bark twisted together,” Samson said, “then my special strength would fail me, and I would be no stronger than any other man of my physical development” (Judges 16:7).
“Samson, why do you tell me such a tale?” Delilah gently scolded him, thereby trying to cause him to think that she didn’t believe him.
“Why don’t you try binding me with such a cord and see what happens?” Samson asked.
“I think I shall do just that, my darling,” Delilah replied.
Hours later, Delilah contacted the representatives of the rulers of Philistia to tell them what Samson had told her.
“It could be that Samson made up a story to test your loyalty,” one of the men observed.
“I realize that,” Delilah answered, ‘but you’ll agree that we’ll have to take a chance. Furnish me with the seven strong, green strips of bark braided together, and I’ll manage somehow to tie Samson up with them, and I’ll have men hiding in another part of my home to leap on him if he cannot break the cord!”
“Excellent!” exclaimed the spokesman for the five agents. “We’ll send you the cord right away! The rest is up to you!”
Later, when everything was in readiness, Delilah produced the cord and playfully wound it about Samson.
“I took you at your word,” she told him smilingly, carefully knotting the cord at his wrists behind his back. “Now, if you are as helpless as you said you would be, what if I should call for your enemies to come and take you?”
“This little game of ours wouldn’t be very interesting if you already knew what would happen,” Samson teased. “If you have some way to get in touch with my enemies this very minute, I’ll face them!”
Samson was quite unaware that a number of picked Philistine soldiers were hiding only a few yards away, ready to pounce on him at the expected moment of his helplessness. He was quite surprised when Delilah began shouting.
“Samson is bound,” she called out excitedly. “Come after him, you men!”
The hidden men, peeking through small slits in a curtain, failed to move or make any noise. They first wanted to see what the Danite would do. They had been told that he probably would struggle quite fiercely with his hands if they proved to be too much for him, and the soldiers were taking no chances.
Suddenly Samson broke the cord as though it were made of cobwebs, causing the Philistines to fall back and quietly flee through a rear entrance. Delilah was relieved that the solders hadn’t rushed into the room. She quickly regained her composure and concealed her disappointment by smiling and applauding (Judges 16:8-9).
A few nights later, when she felt that enough time had passed so that Samson wouldn’t guess how anxious she was to betray him, she again brought up the subject of his strength.
“Why did you jest with me about the wonderful source of your great power?” she asked in a hurt tone. “I don’t think it was fair of you to tell me something that wasn’t true.
“I didn’t think you had a good reason to be serious,” Samson explained, “so I put you off with a light answer.”
“But I was serious!” Delilah insisted. “Why shouldn’t you tell me what a wondrous thing it would take to overcome such a man as you?”
Again, because of his deep feeling for Delilah, Samson felt that he should give an answer, but he was too wary to tell her all she wanted to know.
“All right, Delilah,” he sighed. “Here’s what could prove my undoing. If I were bound tightly with strong, new ropes that have never before been used for any other purpose, then I would be only as strong as any other man of my size and development.”
Delilah realized that this wasn’t necessarily so, but there was nothing to do but obtain the new rope and again hide the Philistines in her house while she once more went through the rather childish procedure of playfully binding Samson.
“I can’t imagine why tying me up seems so fascinating to you,” Samson commented, “but if it makes you happy, I don’t mind.”
By this time Delilah had bound Samson very thoroughly with the heavy, strong, new rope. She believed now that he would have great difficulty in getting free, what with the manner in which she had wound the rope around and around his arms, wrists, waist and neck. After tying a last knot, she abruptly backed away.
“Samson is bound,” she shouted. “Come out and seize him before he can loose himself!”
Again the peeking Philistines held back until they could be doubly sure that it was safe to expose themselves. When they saw Samson flex his muscles and break the ropes as though they were find threads, they once more fled for their lives (Judges 16:10-12).
Delilah could well be thankful for the second time that the Philistines left instead of exposing themselves. She repeated her performance of the time before, to try to cause Samson to believe that it was all a little game, however, silly, to show him how much she admired his unusual physical power.
For the third time, several nights later, Delilah launched into another attempt to uncover Samson’s secret.
“You have mocked me twice in this matter,” she told Samson in a wounded voice. “Don’t you love me enough to share your greatest secret with me?”
“Of course I do,” Samson answered. “Now listen to this. As you know, I often divide my hair into seven different tresses. I’ll lie here on the floor in front of your loom. If you can weave my seven locks with the web of your loom, the main source of my strength will depart from me.”
For the third time Delilah half-heartedly arranged for Philistines to be hidden in the next room while Samson submitted to having his seven plaits of hair being put through Delilah’s loom. Delilah purposely took so much time that Samson fell asleep. When she had his hair woven with the web and securely fastened to the pin of her loom, she cried out to the hiding men to leap out and seize Samson. Awakened, he sat up suddenly, jerking the pin and the web loose from the loom by the strength of his hair and muscles. As before, when the Philistines saw that he was free, they fled (Judges 16:13-14).
“How can you say that you love me after mocking me three times about your great strength?” Delilah asked in a slightly displeased tone.
“I can love you without having to answer all your questions,” Samson replied with some irritation. “If you really care for me, you won’t bother me any more with this subject!”
Nevertheless, from then on, Delilah kept badgering him with questions. Every day and every night she would ply him with questions about the source of his strength.
He began to feel that the risk he would run by exposing his secret wasn’t worth what he suffered by her nagging. In fact, he felt that he would rather risk death than continue to put up with such nagging.
“All right! All right!” Samson finally exclaimed in desperation, clamping his fists against the sides of his head. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know! After that I never want to hear any more from you about why I am as I am!”
Assuming an expression of compassion, though she was really quite elated. Delilah rushed to Samson and threw her arms about him. It appeared that this unprincipled temptress whom Samson unwisely loved was about to succeed where a whole army had failed.
“I’m sorry, my darling!” she murmured. “I guess I didn’t realize that I was being so troublesome. If it will help you to get anything off your mind, sit down and tell me all about it!”
“You Philistines probably don’t’ know much about such things,” Samson began, “but at the moment I was born I became a Nazarite, which meant that I was dedicated to service for the God of Israel for my entire life (judges 13:1-15). There are several special things that a Nazarite must do. One of those things is to let his hair and beard grow without any cutting or trimming (Num. 6:1-21). If my hair and beard were to be cut off, my Nazarite vow would be broken and God probably would not give me the special protection He had given all my life. Neither would He give me the special strength I have at times when I am to perform unusual feats” (Judges 16:15-17)!
Delilah was certain that at last Samson had told her the truth. Later, she contacted the agents of the rulers of Philistia to tell them that Samson was about to become their prisoner. She arranged for the usual men to go into hiding in her house that night.
When Samson returned from business elsewhere, Delilah met him with unusual warmth. Because it was quite late, she sat on the floor and suggested that Samson lie with his head in her lap. She sang to him softly, gently running her fingers through his great mass of hair. Soon he was asleep, but she didn’t try to rush matters.
She waited until his heavy breathing indicated that he wouldn’t be easily awakened.
It was then that she silently signaled to one of the men in concealment, who hesitantly appeared and fearfully moved toward the sleeping Danite. This man was a barber whom Delilah had hired to join the Philistine soldiers.
It took time for this timorous fellow to get up courage to apply his razor to Samson’s flowing locks, but once he got off to a start, it didn’t take him long to deftly crop the sleeping man’s hair and beard off short. When his task was done, he lost no time in leaving.
During this most unusual haircut, Samson had at times moved restlessly. Delilah continued singing to him softly, hoping that he wouldn’t spoil every thing by awakening.
But as soon as he was shorn, Delilah didn’t care how soon he awoke. She signaled to the Philistines to come out of hiding, but they didn’t dare until they could believe that he was too weak to overcome them.
“Wake up to face our enemies!” Delilah scoffingly muttered to Samson.
Samson moved, but didn’t awaken. Delilah pushed his head off her lap and prodded him with her foot (Judges 16:18-19).
“Get up, Israelite!” she smirked. “You have company!”
Only half awake, Samson slowly got to his knees, at the same time sleepily rubbing his head.
When he felt the absence of hair, his eyes popped open and he lurched to his feet. Because he reeled slightly due to coming out of deep slumber so suddenly, the hiding Philistines believed that he had suddenly become very weak. At last, after running from Samson several times, they had the courage to charge out and swarm over him.
Samson at first tried to beat them off as they came on, but suddenly realized he no longer had his great strength. He began wondering how he had lost his hair and if God had completely deserted him because of his breaking his Nazarite vow. The answer was plain when it became apparent that he was powerless against the group of brawny Philistine soldiers. Samson’s love for a pretty pagan had been his undoing, Just as God had warned the Israelites (Ex. 23:31-35; Joshua 25:12-13).
The Philistines hauled Samson to the floor, then pinned him down and bound him. By this time Delilah had disappeared. She had slipped out to collect the 5,500 pieces of silver from the agents who were close at hand.
From then on, for the next hour or so, Philistines closed in from all directions. Samson was dragged outside and confronted by a growing number of enemy officers who were most jubilant about the great victory over one man – a victory it had taken them more than two decades to accomplish because God had planned it that way.
Amidst the shouts and cheers of the Philistines, Samson realized that he had been betrayed by a woman he should have shunned, and that God was punishing him. Bitter indeed was the distress of this mighty man who had just been outwitted and overpowered by a woman of very low character.
To add to his misery and apprehension, the bound Samson suddenly was aware that someone was shoving two red-hot pieces of metal directly toward his eyes (Judges 16:20-21)!
We shall continue with The Story of the Bible, be watching for future installments.