The name alone for many brings to mind a man of great strength, of amazing feats and victories, of riddles and sick burns* along with long hair and donkey jawbones and foxes and … and Delilah.
Delilah. Not the first – but the last – in a line of questionable romantic entanglements. Granted, God had used a similar situation beforehand to work against Israel’s enemy: the Philistines. Maybe Samson had the thought God would work through this, too; that some kind of good would come for the people of Israel. Instead came a series of choices and consequences that have served as a sad, cautionary tale for centuries since – a story of a secret unwisely revealed, of strength and power lost, of a strong man left blinded and grinding grain in prison before one last plea of a prayer and one more victory which cost him his own life.
It’s easy, isn’t it, to shake our heads with a sigh and a ‘tsk’ as we read Samson’s story? To wonder why he did not see the trap Delilah was setting for him? To look at all the ways he Should Have Done Better? Until we realize Samson’s story is also our story. Because I’m sure we can all rattle off a list of the ways we Should Have Done Better, of poor choices made with consequences we did not foresee, of strength suddenly gone, and the soul-numbing brought by humiliating defeat. Which is why I’m working to get this verse deep into me, seemingly tucked away from my line of sight until this past week:
“But before long, his hair began to grow back.” –Judges 16:22 (NLT)
Before long …
… his hair began to grow back.
God had not given up on Samson. Do you not think He could have kept the man bald? Allowed him to die in prison, eyes gouged out, devoid of strength only to be trotted out for the amusement of his captors?
But He did not. Samson was not supernaturally liberated from his horrible conditions. But his hair grew, a shot at redemption arrived. Strength returned. It was true for Samson, and it’s true for us today … and in a better fashion because of Jesus and the way He opened for us to the Father. And oh, the tales yet to be told of when our strength returned, redemption was found, when hope grew.
(“Courage, Brave Heart.” –C.S. Lewis)
*Read Judges 14:18 for the epic burn.