Summary: Samson's realy weakness was that he was a he-man with me-problems. Contrast his attitude with Jesus'...
Every superhero has a weakness. For Superman it was a make-believe mineral called kryptonite. In the presence of this radioactive rock, Superman lost his powers and became like any other man. But we’re not interested in comic book characters; we’re following the exploits of someone real: Samson that long-haired strongman of the Bible. Do you know what his weakness was? Samson was a he-man with she-problems, as his encounter with Delilah illustrates. But as we take a closer look at Samson’s fatal attractions we’ll see that there was another underlying cause of his downfall. Let’s find out what that weakness was that, with the Lord’s help, we may guard against it.
We last left Samson standing on Ramath Lehi (Jawbone Hill) where he had single-handedly dispatched a thousand Philistine soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey. Samson was obviously feeling pretty invincible because he next made a trip to Gaza, the southernmost city of the Philistines. We’re not sure why Samson ventured deep inside enemy territory. Perhaps it was a military scouting mission. Or, since Gaza was on the Mediterranean, perhaps he just went to take a stroll on the beach to show off his muscles. Whatever his reason his trip didn’t end well, spiritually speaking. In Gaza, Samson shacked up with a prostitute, that is, he paid a woman to go to bed with him. The enemy found out about it and posted guards to kill Samson when he got up to leave in the morning. Samson, however, woke up at midnight and finding the city gate locked tight to keep him in, picked up the gate, posts, crossbar and all and carried them up a hill outside the city! One scholar estimates that the gate weighed at least 700lbs but that seems to be a conservative estimate to me. What we can say for sure is that Samson had superhuman strength which only God could provide.
But here’s the thing. How was Samson using that God-given strength? To provide relief for the Israelites as God had called him to do? No. Like an employee who takes the company truck out for a joyride, Samson used his God-given strength to indulge his own passions. I said in the introduction that Samson was a he-man with she-problems. His night out on the town of Gaza proves that much. But Samson’s greatest weakness was this: he was a he-man with me-problems, that is, self-centeredness. Contrast Samson with Jesus. Samson showed off his strength when he carried a city gate up a hill to declare: “I am the greatest! Don’t mess with me!” Jesus, on the other hand, needed help to carry a single cross up a hill. And then the world jeered as they crucified him because he looked like a weakling. But what was really going on? The God-man held his almighty strength in check because he didn’t live for himself. He lived to do his Father’s will: to rescue sinners from hell. That could only be accomplished if he let himself be punished for our sins.
How about it followers of this Jesus? Do you use your God-given strengths to live for others? Do you use your winning personality, for example, to make others feel welcome and loved or do you pour on the charm so that others will love and adore you? Do you use your quick wit to cheer others up or to put them down? And what about your gift of faith in Jesus? Do you guard that or foolishly expose it to attack when you plunge deep into enemy territory as did Samson? Why is it, for example, that many are so eager to vacation in Vegas? Because flights there are cheap? Or because that city has a reputation of encouraging footloose living that no one back home has to ever hear about?
Of course Satan is not going to wait for you to make a trip to Vegas before he attacks. Like a skilled angler, Satan baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish. Samson had an appetite for women. Your appetite may be for money or popularity. Whatever it is, don’t needlessly expose yourself to Satan’s lures! But when temptation does come, don’t think that you are helpless against it either. Just as Samson was able to tear apart a lion with his bare hands because the Spirit of the Lord had given him that power, you have God-given power to resist that roaring lion, the devil, so that he will flee from you says the Apostle James (James 4:7).
Samson must have laughed as he left Gaza behind. But he would return and when he did it would be the Philistines who were laughing – thanks to a woman named Delilah who arranged the world’s costliest haircut. Delilah lived somewhere in the Sorek Valley which cut across both Israelite and Philistine territory. And since Delilah is a Semitic name she could very well have been an Israelite and not a Philistine as we often suppose! What we do know is that Delilah loved money more than she loved Samson. But who could blame her; Samson didn’t really love Delilah. He didn’t make a life-long commitment to her in marriage but just came and went as he pleased. And so when the Philistine princes each offered to pay Delilah three-year’s wages worth of silver to find out how they could overpower Samson, she readily agreed.