Tough love

Judges 16:4-5; 15-18 “After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver’ . . . And she said to him, ‘How can you say, “I love you,” when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.’ And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart.  When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.’ Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.” 

Sin can seem so beautiful to us.  It is because of this that we can be so captivated by its seduction.  It tempts us with promises of good, and if we are gullible enough to believe its lies, we can find ourselves victimized by its treachery.  Such was the story of Samson.  Surely, he was aware that the Philistines were his enemies. His life was continuously in conflict with them, yet, time after time he was drawn into close relationships with them as he fell for the seductive beauty of their women.  As he played with fire, he often found himself entrapped in one way or another, but by God’s grace he escaped much of the harm that threatened him.  He obviously became complacent and presumed on God’s grace.  It was a foolish way to live and, in the end, he paid a great price.   

As Delilah seduced him with her physical attractiveness, Samson, little by little, gave in to her lies.  He was blinded by his love for her, but her true colors were revealed only after it was too late. After she worked with her Philistine companions to strip him of his strength, she no longer spoke seductive words to him. No, now she tormented him.  It was then that Samson’s sinful folly resulted in this judge of Israel being judged himself, as his enemies gouged out his eyes and bound him in shackles of bronze.  It was a horrible end to a life of sin, as he was relegated to serving the enemies of God in their prison, with a life of hard labor grinding grain at a millstone and being subjected to their mocking taunts.  What a tragic end to this Nazirite’s life, a man who had been separated for service to God, not the enemies of God, from his birth.   

So, what’s the lesson for us?  Well for one, there is the lesson that our Lord is no one’s fool.  If we call ourselves Christians but live like we are not, we can expect the discipline of God, for it will most surely come. Although Samson was subjected to punishment by the Philistines, God was in sovereign control of it all. If a true believer chooses to persist in a life of sin, he or she may find themselves “handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20).  Yes, any believer that thinks he or she can presume on God’s grace needs to understand that “judgment begins with the house of the Lord” (1 Peter 4:17) and such a person can find themselves “deliver(ed) . . . to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that (their) spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5).  

Yet, for the believer, God’s discipline is always and forever redemptive.  He may burn the wood, hay, and stubble from our lives by the fire that He alone knows how to kindle, but His ultimate purpose is to refine, not destroy.  It was as Samson was in the hands of his enemies that he finally repented and turned to His God. It was in the darkness, at the very bottom, that he finally looked up.  It was then that God again gave him strength and he achieved victory over the enemy, though it cost him his life. And as we look at Samson in hindsight, we see that he was ultimately commended for this last act of faith (Hebrews 11:32).   

And so, the believer, although he or she may find himself or herself suffering the consequences of their sin, though they may have brought great devastation on themselves by yielding so foolishly to sin’s seductions, yet God’s message is that we can turn to Him even now.  He’s a God who forgives “seventy times seven,” though He bring discipline to the sons and daughters He surely loves.  

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