Destroyed by What You Desire

I've been working my way through the book of Judges and have come to the Samson narrative. Now I have come to the end of that story, Judges 16. I was blown away as I read the whole story of Samson. How very carnal Samson seems to have been from the very beginning. He surely was one of the strangest vehicles of deliverance that God ever provided for His people. Samson was driven by great lusts, he acted nearly always by impulse, and never does one get the sense that the man knew God. He had power with God but I never see in the text that he knew the Lord in any other sense than that his parents set him apart for God through the Nazirite vows. I think that part of the point of the narrative of Judges is to show the increasing wickedness of the people of Israel including their own judges. Samson appears to be one of the final judges and certainly the worst. The Samson narrative gives way to a period of syncretistic worship and civil war. A dark day indeed.

Judges 16 presents to us the final days of the life of the tragic Samson. He loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek. I love the literary compactness and concision of description in the biblical narrative. Epic. Her name was Delilah and she was the final of at least three Philistine women that Samson chased.

Delilah. What kind of woman was this? She asks her Israelite lover and strong man: "please tell me where you great strength lies and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you?" (vs. 6). What a bald and bold question! How could Samson not see her deception? Did he enjoy this cat and mouse game? Did he like walking on the precipice? Apparently. But eventually he was literally lulled to sleep on the lap of his enemy (v. 19). Then he was bound, his eyes were gouged out, and he was enslaved to grind at a wheel.

Regardless of the heroic moment of Samson's death, this story is high tragedy as profound as anything Shakespeare could have imagined. A man, no matter how great, cannot toy with lust and win. He does not have the power. He will be destroyed by the very thing he desires.

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