Delilah's Treachery. B. C. 1120.
4And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver. 6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee. 7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known. 10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound. 11And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. 12Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread. 13And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. 14And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web. 15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death 17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
The burnt child dreads the fire yet Samson, that has more than the strength of a man, in this comes short of the wisdom of a child for, though he had been more than once brought into the highest degree of mischief and danger by the love of women and lusting after them, yet he would not take warning, but is here again taken in the same snare, and this third time pays for all. Solomon seems to refer especially to this story of Samson when, in his caution against uncleanness, he gives this account of a whorish woman (Proverbs 7:26), that she hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her and (Proverbs 6:26) that the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. This bad woman, that brought Samson to ruin, is here named Delilah, an infamous name, and fitly used to express the person, or thing, that by flattery or falsehood brings mischief and destruction on those to whom kindness is pretended. See here,
I. The affection Samson had for Delilah: he loved her, Judges 16:4. Some think she was his wife, but then he would have had her home to his own house others that he courted her to make her his wife but there is too much reason to suspect that it was a sinful affection he had for her, and that he lived in uncleanness with her. Whether she was an Israelite or a Philistine is not certain. If an Israelite, which is scarcely probable, yet she had the heart of a Philistine.
II. The interest which the lords of the Philistines made with her to betray Samson, Judges 16:5. 1. That which they told her they designed was to humble him, or afflict him they would promise not to do him any hurt, only they would disable him not to do them any. And so much conscience it should seem they made of this promise that even then, when he lay ever so much at their mercy, they would not kill him, no, not when the razor that cut his hair might sooner and more easily have cut his throat. 2. That which they desired, in order hereunto, was to know where his great strength lay, and by what means he might be bound. Perhaps they imagined he had some spell or charm which he carried about with him, by the force of which he did these great things, and doubted not but that, if they could get this from him, he would be manageable and therefore, having had reason enough formerly to know which was his blind side, hoped to find out his riddle a second time by ploughing with his heifer. They engaged Delilah to get it out of him, telling her what a kindness it would be to them, and perhaps assuring her it should not be improved to any real mischief, either to him or her. 3. For this they bid high, promised to give her each of them 1100 pieces of silver, 5500 in all. So many shekels amounted to above 1000l. sterling with this she was hired to betray one she pretended to love. See what horrid wickedness the love of money is the root of. Our blessed Saviour was thus betrayed by one whom he called friend, and with a kiss too, for filthy lucre. No marvel if those who are unchaste, as Delilah, be unjust such as lose their honesty in one instance will in another.
III. The arts by which he put her off from time to time, and kept his own counsel a great while. She asked him where his great strength lay, and whether it were possible for him to be bound and afflicted (Judges 16:6), pretending that she only desired he would satisfy her curiosity in that one thing, and that she thought it was impossible he should be bound otherwise than by her charms.
1. When she urged him very much, he told her, (1.) That he might be bound with seven green withs, Judges 16:7. The experiment was tried (Judges 16:8), but it would not do: he broke the withs as easily as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire, Judges 16:9. (2.) When she still continued her importunity (Judges 16:10) he told her that with two new ropes he might be so cramped and hampered that he might be as easily dealt with as any other man, Judges 16:11. This experiment was tried too, but it failed: the new ropes broke from off his arm like a thread, Judges 16:12. (3.) When she still pressed him to communicate the secret, and upbraided him with it as an unkindness that he had bantered her so long, he then told her that the weaving of the seven locks of his head would make a great alteration in him, Judges 16:13. This came nearer the matter than any thing he had yet said, but it would not do: his strength appeared to be very much in his hair, when, upon the trial of this, purely by the strength of his hair, he carried away the pin of the beam and the web.
2. In the making of all these experiments, it is hard to say whether there appears more of Samson's weakness or Delilah's wickedness. (1.) Could any thing be more wicked than her restless and unreasonable importunity with him to discover a secret which she knew would endanger his life if ever it were lodged any where but in his own breast? What could be more base and disingenuous, more false and treacherous, than to lay his head in her lap, as one whom she loved, and at the same time to design the betraying of him to those by whom he was mortally hated? (2.) Could any thing be more weak than for him to continue a parley with one who, he so plainly saw, was aiming to do him a mischief,--that he should lend an ear so long to such an impudent request, that she might know how to do him a mischief,--that when he perceived liers in wait for him in the chamber, and that they were ready to apprehend him if they had been able, he did not immediately quit the chamber, with a resolution never to come into it any more,--nay, that he should again lay his head in that lap out of which he had been so often roused with that alarm, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson? One can hardly imagine a man so perfectly besotted, and void of all consideration, as Samson now was but whoredom is one of those things that take away the heart. It is hard to say what Samson meant in suffering her to try so often whether she could weaken and afflict him some think he did not certainly know himself where his strength lay, but, it should seem, he did know, for, when he told her that which would disable him indeed, it is said, He told her all his heart. It seems, he designed to banter her, and to try if he could turn it off with a jest, and to baffle the liers in wait, and make fools of them but it was very unwise in him that he did not quit the field as soon as ever he perceived that he was not able to keep the ground.
IV. The disclosure he at last made of this great secret and, if the disclosure proved fatal to him, he must thank himself, who had not power to keep his own counsel from one that manifestly sought his ruin. Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird, but in Samson's sight is the net spread, and yet he is taken in it. If he had not been blind before the Philistines put out his eyes, he might have seen himself betrayed. Delilah signifies a consumer she was so to him. Observe, 1. How she teazed him, telling him she would not believe he loved her, unless he would gratify her in this matter (Judges 16:15): How canst thou say, I love thee, when they heart is not with me? That is, "when thou canst not trust me with the counsels of they heart?" Passionate lovers cannot bear to have their love called in question they would do any thing rather than their sincerity should be suspected. Here therefore Delilah had this fond fool (excuse me that I call him so) at an advantage. This expostulation is indeed grounded upon a great truth, that those only have our love, not that have our good words or our good wishes, but that have our hearts. That is love without dissimulation but it is falsehood and flattery in the highest degree to say we love those with whom our hearts are not. How can we say we love either our brother, whom we have seen, or God, whom we have not seen, if our hearts be not with him? She continued many days vexatious to him with her importunity, so that he had no pleasure of his life with her (Judges 16:16) why then did he not leave her? It was because he was captivated to her by the power of love, falsely so called, but truly lust. This bewitched and perfectly intoxicated him, and by the force of it see, 2. How she conquered him (Judges 16:17): He told her all his heart. God left him to himself to do this foolish thing, to punish him for indulging himself in the lusts of uncleanness. The angel that foretold his birth said nothing of his great strength, but only that he should be a Nazarite, and particularly that no razor should come upon his head, Judges 13:5. His consecration to God was to be his strength, for he was to be strengthened according to the glorious power of that Spirit which wrought in him mightily, that his strength, by promise, not by nature, might be a type and figure of the spiritual strength of believers, Colossians 1:11,29. Therefore the badge of his consecration was the pledge of his strength if he lose the former, he knows he forfeits the latter. "If I be shaven, I shall no longer be a Nazarite, and then my strength will be lost." The making of his bodily strength to depend so much on his hair, which could have no natural influence upon it either one way or other, teaches us to magnify divine institutions, and to expect God's grace, and the continuance of it, only the use of those means of grace wherein he has appointed us to attend upon him, the word, sacraments, and prayer. In these earthen vessels is this treasure.