We have all heard the saying: “Three strikes and you’re out!” But Samson actually had four strikes before he was out — out from under the anointing of God. His downward spiral began when he broke the commandment of God in marrying a Philistine woman (Judges 14). Such unions never work out, because instead of the believer winning over the unbeliever, the believer, having compromised, loses out. The moment he disobeys the commandment of God, he opens the door for Satan to pull him away from God.
Later he met another Philistine woman, Delilah, whom he didn’t even bother to marry, although “he loved her” (Judges 16:4). If he felt safe with her, he had deceived himself. Soon the Philistine lords came to her promising 1100 pieces of silver to betray Samson. They said: “Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him” (vs.5). And so Delilah went to work on Samson.
At first he may have felt like it was some kind of “game” she was playing with him, which is precisely how the devil sets things up for a snare. The first time she asked Samson to tell her where his great strength lay, he told her that if she were to bind him with seven green whips which had never been dried, “then I shall be weak, and as another man” (vs.7). Delilah wasted no time doing so while men were lying in wait outside the door, ready for her signal: “Samson, the Philistines be upon thee!” But Samson arose and threw them off like a piece of straw. Strike One!
The second time they played the game, he told her that if he were bound with seven new ropes that were never used, “then I shall be weak, and as another man” (vs.11). When she had done so and again called for the Philistines, he broke the ropes off his arms as though they were thread. Strike Two!
You would think by now that Samson would realize that Delilah’s “game” was not just for fun, but that’s the treachery of leaking out of God’s power a little at a time. You think you have everything under your control, so you keep pushing the envelope.
The third time Delilah made her pitch, Samson was getting dangerously close to exposing himself to his enemy. He told her that if she would weave the seven locks of his hair with the web, he would lose his strength. She was now touching the very thing that symbolized his consecration and the secret of his great strength.
For many of us, when someone plays with our hair, we relax and even fall asleep. When my kids were little and were restless in church, I would lay their heads down on my lap and strum my fingers through their hair until they fell asleep. And so Samson totally let down his guard and fell asleep. And as she had done twice before, Delilah cried out: “Samson, the Philistines be upon thee!”
“And he awaked out of his sleep and went away with the pin of the beam” still in his hair (vs.14). Strike Three!
This had hit too close to home, and for days Samson avoided Delilah’s attempts to wrest the truth from him. “How could he say he loved her and mock her so?” she accused him. But she didn’t give up! And neither will our adversary!
“And it came to pass that she pressed him daily with her words, so that his soul was vexed unto death; and he told her all his heart: There hath not come a razor upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb, and if I be shaven, then my strength shall go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (vv.16-17).
Realizing that he had told her the truth, she called for the Philistines, and she made him to sleep on her lap while one of the men shaved off his hair. She cried out to him to awake because the Philistines were upon him.
“And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I shall go out as other times before and shake myself. And he knew not that the Spirit of God was departed from him” (vs.20). Strike Four!
The Hidden Hebrew Nugget
I bolded words in verses 14 & 20 to point out a very interesting nugget hidden in the original Hebrew writings: In verse 14 “and he awaked…” is spelled VA YYIKATZ. In verse 20 it is spelled VA YIKATZ. They are identical except in the first there is a double “Y” (which is the letter yud in the Hebrew alphabet ).
Why is the second spelling missing a “Y”? The reason is what the Y stands for, which is the Name of God: YHVH which is translated Jehovah in our English Bible (Psalm 83:18). There is also a shortened form: JAH (YAH: Y becomes J in English), as seen in Psalm 68:4. Furthermore, the letter “yud” also stands for God. The significance is, the extra Y refers to God in verse 14, so when Samson awoke, God’s power and strength were still with him, and he overcame the Philistines. But the last time, after his hair had been shaved, the Spirit of God departed from him, and without God, his power and strength were gone too!
(Ref.: Thought Tools by Rabbi Daniel Lapin/ www.rabbidaniellapin.com)