Written repeatedly throughout the book of Judges are variations of this heartbreaking phrase: “the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD”. A pattern developed after the death of Joshua. The people would fall away and worship other gods. God would allow another nation to come and oppress them. The people would cry out to the LORD. He would hear them and save them.
The judges were leaders that God raised up to save and rule over the sons of Israel: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. Most of those names are not well known, but perhaps everyone has heard the story of Samson.
As I read through the life of Samson in Judges 13-16, the all-too-familiar, and tragic, story played out once again in my mind.
~ The angel of the LORD telling the barren mother that Samson would be born, should never have his hair cut, and would “begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5)
~ Killing a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:6)
~ Marrying, and being betrayed by, a Philistine woman (Judges 14-15:6)
~ Setting fire to the Philistine wheat fields, vineyards and orchards with lit torches tied to the tails of three hundred foxes…I always felt bad for those foxes! (Judges 15:4-5)
~ Using the jawbone of a donkey to kill a thousand men (Judges 15:15-17)
~ Judging Israel for twenty years (Judges 15:20)
~ Falling for Delilah (Judges 16)
~ The cutting of his hair and not knowing “that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:19-20)
~ Having been blinded and humbled, as the “entertainment” at the party he literally brought down the house, killing himself and about three thousand Philistine leaders (Judges 16:25-30)
Both women that Samson loved betrayed him. How sad is that? The final betrayal came from the infamous Delilah, of course.
“And it came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. So he told her all that was in his heart…” ~ Judges 16:16-17a (NASB)
Three times Samson had lied to Delilah about what would make him weak like an ordinary man. Three times she had tried those methods to turn him over to the Philistines. Why would he trust her with “all that was in his heart”??
“And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, [so] that his soul was vexed unto death;” ~ Judges 16:16 (KJV)
She nagged him, daily. The Hebrew word used for “pressed” is tsuwq, which means “oppress”. His soul, his very being, was “vexed unto death”. The Hebrew is qatsar muwth, meaning “grieved to perish, be executed”. Perhaps Samson knew that Delilah was literally going to be the death of him.
When Samson poured out his heart to Delilah, maybe he was hoping she would love him and not betray him? Or maybe he had simply given up and grown weary of this contentious woman. I do not ever want to be like that!
“[It is] better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” ~ Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)
“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” ~ Proverbs 27:15 (KJV)
Don’t be a contentious person, bugging people until you get your way. And don’t be a contentious child of the King, whining until God relents and gives you what you want. God has good reasons for saying “no”, or “wait”. His plan is best for us!
The physical cutting of Samson’s hair was not what made him weak and defenseless. It was symbolic of the power of God leaving him. The covenant made before his birth was broken; his hair was not to be cut, as a sign that he belonged to God.
Samson walked away from the LORD and no longer trusted in Him, and the consequences he paid were extreme. But when Samson repented and called out to Him, God heard.
God will always hear when we cry out to Him. When asked, He will come and help us. Always.
“God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1 (KJV)