Intoxicated with Love Samson Breaks Covenant
Samson-Delilah interactions provide important principles for a man or woman seeking marital love and wondering whether to press on or withdraw from a proposed relationship. Samson was determined to win Delilah’s love despite confronting strong negative indications against a marital relationship with her. All she wanted was to spy on him for enemies that sought to neutralize his leadership of Israel. He ignored the danger signs against seeking her love, because he thought he could win her over by giving in without compromising his core belief. He eventually succumbed, broke his covenant with God, but did not win Delilah’s love.
Samson was born in covenant that endowed him with special capabilities and specific mission to begin delivery of Israel from Philistines. He was dedicated to God and to the mission from conception. As a symbol of his commitment, his hair would not be shaved or cut [Judges 13:5]: “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” He grew up with extraordinary strength that struck fear on the Philistines. He could stand up to them, was always successful against them, and was promising as leader to free Israel from Philistine rule. The Philistine rulers had no answer to him.
Then they saw an opportunity. Samson loved a Philistine woman named Delilah that did not love him. The Philistine rulers persuaded Delilah to pretend to be interested in him so she could gain access to spy on him. They would pay her handsomely for information that enabled them subdue Samson and end his leadership of Israel [Judges 16:5]: “The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.’”
Although Samson had sufficient information to understand the woman was spying on him, he continued to seek her love, trying to deceive her by giving in somewhat without revealing the secret that she wanted. However, she eventually wore him down: “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it” [Judges 16:16]. He succumbed and revealed the secret of his extraordinary strength. Delilah took advantage as soon as she could [Judges 16:19]: “After 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.”
Samson broke his covenant with God by revealing the secret and making himself available so they could shave his hair. The hair symbolized his dedication to God and to the mission of delivering Israel from Philistines. He was to keep the hair uncut to fulfill his side of the covenant: God’s conditional promise to endow him with extraordinary strength and leadership ability to execute his mission. He violated the covenant in search of Delilah’s elusive love. And the power of God departed from him [Judges 16:20]: “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.”
The interactions provide important principles for a man or woman seeking marital love and wondering whether to press on or withdraw from a proposed relationship. Samson had sufficient information to call off the search and move on but he persevered and eventually lost his great gift and his freedom without winning Delilah’s love. We can learn three principles from his experience.
Alignment of Interest
A person’s interest in a potential relationship is aligned with the other’s if both will benefit from accomplishing the interest. The intending couple’s interests don’t have to be the same in order to be aligned. In fact, differences in interests among an intending couple are desirable, but it is important that the interests lead to common benefits for the couple.
The experience of Samson and Delilah provides an extreme example of a person’s interest that is not aligned with the other’s. In fact, Delilah’s interest in the relationship was outright inimical to Samson’s interest: “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued” [Judges 16:6]. He would have to reveal the secret of his strength and submit to its destruction in order to show he loved her. She would benefit, because the Philistine rulers would pay her. But Samson clearly would lose. He would break his covenant, lose his great gift, and likely would be taken as prisoner or killed by the Philistines. Maybe Samson didn’t fully understand the consequences of yielding to Delilah’s interest. But we can understand, because of the benefit of hindsight.
We can understand that alignment of interests among an intending couple provides a positive indication regarding the proposed relationship. In contrast, interests that are not in alignment provide negative indications.
Price for Love
A price for love, i.e., something that has to be done in order to win love, could be an indication that there will be no love at all. However, the price should be assessed on the basis of what it would accomplish. If payment of a price would result in accomplishing an aligned interest, then the indication is positive. In contrast, if payment of a price will result in accomplishing an interest that benefits one but not the other, then the indication for the relationship is negative.
Delilah’s price for loving Samson, or what she needed from Samson as proof of his love, was Samson should reveal the secret of his strength and submit to its destruction [Judges 16:15]: “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.” Love based on fulfilling a price is often elusive, because either the price could never be paid satisfactorily or its payment would lead to a condition that precludes love. In this case, for example, Samson revealed the secret of his strength and became ineligible to love Delilah because the Philistines gouged out his eyes and took him prisoner [Judges 16:21]: “Then 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.”
Loving Spouse versus Worshiping God
A potential relationship presents a danger sign if the demand for love implies a challenge to something that is done as part of worshiping God. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention, marital love will be successful if founded on love of God. Therefore, if the demand for proof of marital love requires abandoning or degrading the love of God, then there is a strong negative indication against the potential relationship.
Delilah probably did not know her demand of Samson implied giving up an act of worship. She did not know because she didn’t care—not for Samson and not for his worship. But Samson knew. He initially did not want to submit to the challenge against his worship. He thought he could “play along,” yielding somewhat to the lady’s demand without giving up his core relationship with God. Similar to Solomon accepting to help his wives with their foreign worship but believing his faith to be indestructible (see previous study under Solomon Loses Favor with God). A relationship will likely succeed if the two people shared consistent commitment to worship and serve God. In contrast, a proposed relationship will not succeed if loving each other is somehow inconsistent with the commitment to worship and serve God.
Summary of What We Learned
Based on interactions between Samson and Delilah, we learn the following constitute strong negative indications against a potential marital relationship.
- Personal interests that are not aligned
- A price for love to secure an unaligned personal interest
- A demand for proof of marital love that requires abandoning or degrading the love of God
Samson was determined to win Delilah’s love despite confronting these indications as he sought her love. All she wanted was to spy on him for enemies that sought to neutralize his leadership of Israel. He ignored the danger signs against seeking marital relationship with her, because he thought he could win her over by giving in without compromising his core belief. He eventually succumbed, broke his covenant with God, but did not win Delilah’s love.