Over the weekend, Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald spoke about our third bad girl, Delilah. (Can’t get that song out of your head now, can you? Me neither. Sorry!) She shows up toward the end of the life of a pretty spectacular bad boy, a judge named Samson.
You might be familiar with Delilah’s part in Samson’s story because it is noteworthy, but you might not have heard how Samson got himself into that situation. Samson was born to parents who had been barren. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them they would have a child who must be dedicated to the Lord. They were told never to cut his hair and that he would deliver Israel from its age-old enemy, the Philistines.
That happened, and before too long, the spirit of the Lord began to move in Samson. As you read on in Judges 14, you find Samson to be headstrong and demanding—not someone who you would imagine being used by the Lord. He does whatever he wants, often through violence and trickery, and usually leaves disaster behind him.
Samson has a couple failed relationships and responds poorly, but he does fight it out successfully with the Philistines (Judges 15). For 20 years, they submitted to him and searched for a way to take him down! In Judges 16, Samson is still looking for love in all the wrong places when he comes upon our villain, Delilah.
Judges 16:4-5 NET
After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. The rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her and said to her, “Trick him! Find out what makes him so strong and how we can subdue and humiliate him. Each one of us will give you 10,000 pieces of silver!”
Scripture tells us nothing about Delilah, except that she went to work on Samson. With eyes on the prize, she began to require that Samson prove his love to her by the big reveal!
Andy defined manipulation as when you do something to get something at the expense of someone else. According to Andy, there are three things manipulators do:
- Know your weaknesses and how to exploit them;
- Use your insecurities against you; and
- Convince you to give up something important to you to make you more dependent on them.
In all Samson’s adult years, Delilah is the only woman Scripture says that Samson loved. Perhaps by this time, he was longing for someone to love him for who he was. Sadly, he wound up with Delilah, who exploited this desire for love. In fact, she used his desire against him. In Verse 15 she says, “How can you say, ‘I love you’ when you will not share your secret with me?”(NET). This plea broke down all of Samson’s defenses. He finally told her what made him strong—that his hair had never been cut because he had been dedicated to God.
Delilah called the Philistines, who shaved his head while he slept in her lap. The great strength the Lord had given him for the benefit of Israel left him. Verses 21 and 22 say, “The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. His hair began to grow back after it had been shaved off” (NET).
We don’t know what happened to Delilah—Scripture doesn’t say. It seems that she made out pretty good: lots of money and no pesky husband to deal with. But I wonder if maybe she was standing in a place of honor in the temple of Dagon when all the Philistines gathered to mock Samson and his God. After all, she was crucial in his defeat. Was she there when the Lord used Samson one more time to punish the Philistines, as he pulled down the pillars upholding the temple crushing a vast crowd of people? We won’t know until we get to heaven, but I’d like to hear what Samson has to say about it!
Andy’s bottom line is: If people are the means to your end, you’ll regret it in the end.
I confess that I have been a manipulator and user of people. I thought that was how you got what you wanted. It really wasn’t until God took the scales from my eyes early in my walk with Jesus that I began to comprehend how dishonest and self-serving that way of doing things was. I had to ask for forgiveness from lots of people. And then I asked trusted friends to hold me accountable—because that tendency to manipulate people and things to arrive at my desired outcome runs deep. I have to tell the truth, let people know what I need, and trust God with the outcome. He knows better than I do how things should work out. I’m good with that!
Have you ever thought about how you get what you want? Do you sometimes use people as a means to your end? Do you believe the end justifies the means?
Take some time and answer those questions honestly. If you have the courage, ask a family member to answer them about you. They know you better than anyone. Be willing to listen to their answers. Be willing to do something about it.
Lord God, give us the courage to love the people you put in our lives. Give us the desire to love them as they are, and not try to make them be or do something else to suit us. Help us to walk in your truth, trusting you to work out our circumstances according to your perfect will. Give us open hands, Lord, as you work in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.
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