Weakness Revealed

Judges 16:15-21

15Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. 17So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

18When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. 20Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.

Achilles Heel

You may have heard about the idiomatic expression Achilles Heel.” It pertains to a weakness of person which can lead to downfall in spite of overall strength. Originally, it refers to a physical vulnerability. Idiomatically, it refers to other attributes or qualities that can lead to failure or defeat.

In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, his mother held him by his heel and dipped him in the magical river Styx, which made him invulnerable and cannot be wounded. However, his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a great warrior and survived many great battles. Achilles died in the Trojan War when his heel was hit with a poisonous arrow of Paris the prince of Troy.

So, what was Samson’s “Achilles Heel” or point of weakness that led to his downfall? Samson became weak as any ordinary man when his head was shaved. Why did Samson become weak when his head was shaved?

The angel of the Lord told the mother of Samson in Judges 13:5, 5You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

God had declared that Samson will deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. And, it happened just as God declared. The Philistines tried but they cannot defeat Samson. Yet, Samson had his share of weakness. He gave in to the pressure of Delilah’s nagging, and he was subdued subsequently.

1. Pressure

15Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. 17So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

Samson was pressured by Delilah’s nagging. The word “nag” is properly translated “pester,” “irritate” or “provoke.” Samson was pestered, and he was sick to death. Other translations described that the pestering nags of Delilah made him wished he were dead. Yet, Samson did not even consider going away from Delilah because he had fallen in love with her. He wanted to be with her always.

The love of Samson for Delilah was reckless kind of love. He did not care much not just his safety but Israel’s safety as well when he revealed his secret.

Shechem

When emotion prevails, it is alarming and dreadful. One biblical example of tragedy caused by reckless love happened in the time of Jacob. It narrated in Genesis 34:11-12, 11Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”

The story narrates that Dinah’s brothers deceitfully required Shechem and his father and all the men of their city to be circumcised. Shechem did not waste time. He convinced his father and the men of their city to be circumcised. Three days later while they were still in pain, Dinah’s brothers annihilated Shechem and all his people, and took away everything they wanted from the city.

Shechem’s love for Dinah and Samson’s love for Delilah were actually selfish kind of love. The people of Shechem suffered because of Shechem’s reckless love for Dinah. The safety of Israel was sacrificed because of Samson’s reckless love for Delilah. Love is a powerful experience.

Interestingly, it says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This greatest love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit as oppose to Samson’s love for Delilah and Shechem’s love for Dinah. Their love for women was selfish kind of love. In contrast, the greatest love that comes from the Holy Spirit is selfless.

Apostle Paul experienced such selfless kind of love that comes from God. When God’s love prevailed in Apostle Paul’s life, he obeyed the Lord even when he ended up in prison. In comparison, because of Samson’s selfish love for Delilah, he revealed the secret of his weakness, and he also ended up in prison.

2. Prison

18When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. 20Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 

When Delilah pestered Samson with her nagging, it exemplified her selfishness also. She did not have any love for Samson. She did not care for him.

Delilah may have been pressured by the Philistine rulers but she was also interested to the silver that the Philistine rulers promised her.

Actually, it was not mentioned if they gave her the silver they promised her. It only mentioned that they returned with the silver in their hand. It’s also possible that they did not give the silver to Delilah. Delilah was never mentioned again after Samson was put in prison.

Prison is a place of confinement for convicted criminal. Samson was convicted of crime against the Philistines when he burned their vineyard and killed Philistines. The person who commits a crime is bound to be punished.

Nissan Chairman

A news article featured the chairman of one of the world’s most powerful auto empires. With the aim to rival Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors, he brought together three big carmakers — Renault of France and Japan’s Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. As of this writing, this executive with 40-year experience in the auto industry is now sitting in a Tokyo prison cell. He is accused of taking advantage of his position at the top of Nissan for more than 15 years. The allegations include concealing millions of dollars of personal income and using company assets for his personal benefit.

Guilty or not, such case is illustrates the reality that a powerful or ordinary person has “Achilles Heel,” vulnerability, or point of weakness to be exploited.

Yet, as believers we rejoice in our weakness, why? Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8:26-27, 26The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Most often, we feel like we are not qualified to serve the Lord because of our weaknesses. But, who is qualified to serve the Lord actually? What human effort or expertise can attain the standards of God? How can we please God?

It is only by the grace of God at work in our life that our service to the Lord can satisfy the requirement of God. If by God’s grace, church members serve in the church ministries, then, Christ is glorified in us and through us.

Apostle Paul testifies in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, 7Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

When we sense the sufficiency of God’s grace, Christ is reigning in us.

God’s grace compels us to serve Him willingly with gladness.

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