The story of Samson and Delilah, recorded in the 16th chapter  of Judges, has been the delight of scores of writers, artists, and composers for  hundreds of years. When Samson dallied with Delilah in the Sorek Valley of  ancient Philistia, he never imagined that their sordid relationship would be  projected on huge movie screens some 30 centuries later.

A quick  overview of the story of Samson and Delilah begins with the announcement of  Samson’s birth by the angel of the Lord (Judges  13:1-24). In fact, Samson is one of the few in Scripture whose birth was  divinely preannounced to his parents (Judges  13:3). He shares this honor with Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Samson,  meaning “sunshine,” was born sometime between 1045 B.C and 1000 B.C., during a  dark period of Israel’s history. Seven times this nation had turned from God and  now found themselves under the oppressive rule of the Philistines.

Samson was born a Nazirite, meaning “separated” or “set aside” for God. This  meant that he was not to drink wine or fruit of the vine. He couldn’t go near or  touch a dead body, human or animal, nor could he cut his hair. Though he was set  apart for special service to God (Judges  13:5), Samson ignored his Nazirite vow of godly devotion and relied upon his  own strength and abilities rather than upon God’s. Although God empowered him  with supernatural strength to begin the deliverance of the people of Israel from  the Philistines (Judges  13:5), it was his weakness for the Philistine women that did him in (Judges 14:1-3, 16:1-22). His passion for  women was more important to him than God’s expressed will (Deuteronomy  7:3).

During his wedding to a Philistine woman, he was deceived and  humiliated by his wife and wedding guests (Judges  14:1-15). Angered, Samson got his revenge by personally killing 1000 men (Judges 15:1-20). But, in  the end it was his passionate obsession for Delilah that led him to reveal to  her the secret of his strength. His hair was shorn by Delilah and as a result,  he was captured, blinded, and forced to grind grain for his enemies. Eventually,  while in prison, Samson’s strength did return and he died while destroying the  temple of the Philistine god Dagon, killing thousands of Philistines (Judges 16:1-31).

With the spirit of God upon him (Judges  13:25, 14:6, 19, 15:14), Samson was a  powerful man with supernatural strength. The story reveals that he was also very  intelligent with an unusual sense of humor. While he had almost unlimited  potential to deliver his people from the Philistines, his story ends in needless  tragedy. He not only failed to deliver his people, but killed himself.  Disobedience, defeat, disgrace, and destruction were his fatal cohorts. Despite  his having the Spirit of the Lord upon him, his sexual yearnings of the flesh  controlled his life (1 John  2:16). Courageous before men, but weak when it came to women (Proverbs 5:3, 6:32; Matthew 5:28).

There are many valuable lessons we can glean from the story of Samson and  Delilah. Though born with unbelievable potential, Samson’s life was forfeit  because of sin. The less for us is that the deeper we allow ourselves to be  influenced by the glamour and allurement of sin, the more blind we become. This  extraordinary story tells us that Samson was spiritually blind long before his  eyes were gouged out (Judges  16:21). We must come to recognize and accept the reality that sin can seep  deep into in our lives. We must know that sin has a blinding, numbing impact  upon us. Otherwise, we find ourselves ensnared by it, just as Samson  did.

All sin, especially sexual sin, comes with its own dire and  sometimes deadly consequences. Sin binds us, then it blinds us; then it slowly  but imperturbably grinds away at us (Judges  16:21). In truth, sin will take us farther than we may intend to go. It will  hold us longer than we may intend to stay. Furthermore, sin will cost us more  than we intend to pay. We must heed the stern warning: “Above all else, guard  your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs  4:23).

We learn that God can use the wicked as well as the  righteous to accomplish His will. We also discover that our own righteousness or  wickedness will not deter God from doing His will. Though God punishes  wrongdoing, He may wait in delivering the punishment.

Samson also  demonstrated that he was a shallow, vengeful man who pouted when things didn’t  go his way. Most telling were his references to “I have a right to get even” (Judges 15:3, 11). This too was the same  mindset of the Philistines (Judges  15:10). It’s strikingly akin to the world’s mindset today and contrary to  the teachings of Christ (Matthew  5:38).

However, despite all of Samson’s weaknesses, he did turn back  to God before he died (Judges  16:28-30). God in His sovereignty used Samson to fulfill His purpose. In  reality, Samson’s death did much to impede the oppressive actions of the  Philistines. Samson’s destruction of the temple of Dagon was a major factor in  their downfall at Mizpah by Samuel and the children of Israel some 100 years  later (1 Samuel  7:7-14).

Perhaps the greatest lesson we learn is that God would  rather forgive than judge. In the final analysis, God saw Samson as a man of  faith. This is evidenced by the fact that he’s listed among those in the hall of  faith (Hebrews  11:32). When we read through the list of names recorded there, we find that  no one in the “hall of faith” was perfect. Samson was the strongest man to ever  live, but it was God who gave him the strength. More importantly, Samson let  himself be used by God. In fact, God could have used him without making him the  strongest man. He’s willing to meet us right where we are right now and to take  us where He wants if we will let Him (James  4:8).