When you think of bad women of the Bible, who do you think of? Chances are, Delilah is right at the top of the list. And no wonder. She betrayed the man she loved in exchange for a large sum of money. She did nothing when his enemies tortured and abused him.
So what can we learn from such an evil woman? In today’s episode of All God’s Women, we take a hard look at Delilah and consider the powerful influence that we as women have over those around us.
We all know the story of Samson and Delilah. Interestingly, though, in studying her, I found Bible scholars have differing opinions of who she was. Some call her Samson’s wife, but though he did marry a Philistine woman when he was young, the Bible makes no mention of Samson marrying again. Others call Delilah a harlot, but though he did sleep with a harlot, it was not Delilah.
All the Bible tells us about Delilah is that Samson loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. We don’t even know for certain that she was a Philistine, although we can assume that she was.
Samson’s women blur together because they all share common themes. Samson had a weakness for beautiful women. Despite his outstanding physical strength, he became putty in the hands of a woman. It didn’t take long for his enemies to figure this out. Unfortunately for the Philistines, he also had a violent temper and didn’t handle well being tricked.
Let’s look first at his wife, an unnamed Philistine woman. Samson saw her, desired her, and married her. At the wedding feast he posed a riddle for the thirty Philistine men at the wedding and placed a wager that if they correctly guessed the answer during the seven days of the feast, he would give them 30 outfits of clothing, but if they couldn’t answer, they would have to give him 30 outfits of clothing.
They spent the rest of the feast trying to solve the riddle, but on the seventh day they grew desperate. They went to his wife and threatened her to find the answer or else they would burn down hers and her father’s house.
She had already been begging him for the answer, but after the threat, she whined and wept until he gave in. And with no apparent remorse or concern, she betrayed her husband by relaying the answer to the Philistines.
What happened next was a series of brutal events between Samson and the Philistines and ended with the Philistines burning to death his wife and her father.
Next, Samson went to Gaza and went after a beautiful harlot. While he was with her, the men of the city schemed to kill him, but were thwarted by Samson’s strength.
Finally, Samson fell in love, or lust, with Delilah. It didn’t take long for the Philistine leaders to find out and to offer her the hefty sum of 1,100 shekels of silver, per leader, if she could entice Samson and find out the source of his strength. Now, to put this in context, the yearly salary for a Levite was 10 shekels. So imagine how serious they were about this. We have no indication that Delilah actually cared for Samson, so she eagerly agreed, knowing that they wanted to capture and torture him.
Each night she began quizzing him about his strength. Pretending to admire him, she was only interested in trapping him. But Samson had played this game before and it didn’t end well. He resisted. Instead of revealing the truth, he made up answers.
He said if he were bound in fresh bowstrings, he wouldn’t be able to escape. So she brought in the Philistines to bind him while he slept. Then she called out, “Samson, wake up. The Philistines are upon you.” But the bowstrings were no match for him.
When she persisted, he told her it would take fresh rope to hold him tight. But, again, they bound him, she woke him up, and he broke through as if the rope were nothing.
She complained to him that he was mocking her and lying to her. He made up another story, telling her if his braids were bound in looms, he’d be helpless. And again, her plans were foiled.
One would think that Samson would have figured out by now that this woman was not to be trusted, but for whatever reason, he didn’t catch on. Maybe he just saw it as a game.
But Delilah was not giving up. The Bible tells us that she pestered him daily until his should was vexed to death. At that point, he revealed the truth, that his strength was in his hair, and if it was cut, he would be as any man.
Sure enough, after Delilah lured him to sleep in her lap, the Philistines came in and shaved his head. And when he awoke, he was helpless.
The Philistines captured him, gouged out his eyes, and made him a prisoner to be mocked.
Not many women would identify with Delilah or Samson’s other women. In fact, when we hear their story, we tend to rise up in righteous indignation that anyone could be so cruel.
And yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, unfortunately, we’ve likely to have at some point used our appeal as a woman to manipulate a man to get what we wanted. It may not have been as dramatic as Samson’s women, but have you ever said, “You never…” or “You always…” or “If you loved me, you would…” Have you ever played the guilt card? Have you ever convinced a man to do something he didn’t want to do, but he did it just to get peace from your nagging?
Charm can be deceptive. We can use our God given allure for good or for evil. We can draw men closer to God or we can lead them astray.
Proverbs 31 talks about a virtuous wife and says, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her”. May we be women who support and encourage our men. May we be safe havens they can turn to in their difficult times. May we never be a snare, trapping them, or luring them into dangerous territory. May we do them good and not evil, all the days of our lives.
Lord God, we come to you humbled by the thought that we could be a stumbling block to our men. Whether intentional or unintentional, we might lead them astray. Lord, open our eyes to the things we do that are not honoring you. Lead us in the direction you would have us to go. Give us wisdom and discernment in our conversations and our decisions. Speak to our hearts. Fill us with your love. We love you. In Christ name. Amen.
That concludes today’s episode of All God’s Women. Tune in next week when we talk about Naomi, a mother-in-law given a new lease on life.
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Bible Study Review
- What relation was Delilah to Samson?
- How were the Philistines able to capture Samson?
- How did Delilah get Samson to reveal the secret of his strength?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Have you ever used your beauty or charm to get your way?
- Have you ever whined or nagged your husband until he gave into your demands?
- Can your husband trust you with his heart?
- How can you be an encouragement to your husband rather than a stumbling block?
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All God’s Women is a Bible study podcast for Christian women. We’re working our way through the Bible, one woman at a time.
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