In our house, we have a multi-purpose room. What’s in there? My computer, printer, filing cabinet, stationary bicycle, a guitar and a 6-foot table sporting boxes of photographs as I’m working through scanning them all.
On the wall is a gun rack and a picture with a quote about faith from Corrie Ten Boom. It’s an eclectic room. One of the things that takes up the most space is my son’s weight bench, sidled by an intimidating stack of weights and two 20-pound dumbbells.
I can barely pick up any of the weights, while the men in my house pick them up like they are made of paper. The men in my house are a lot stronger than me.
But the strongest man who ever lived is someone we read about in the Bible in the book of Judges. His name was Samson.
The Strong Man
Samson was the deadliest threat that his enemies, the Philistines, had ever seen.
We pick up the story after he had humiliated their leaders with a riddle they couldn’t solve. He destroyed their grain fields by putting torches between the tails of 300 foxes, tying them together and sending them running through the fields.
He had broken through ropes like they were thread and killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey.
Samson had to be stopped.
After this he [Samson] loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” Judges 16:4-5
They couldn’t stop him with their hands, so they had to go through his heart. They promised a huge reward to Delilah if she could find out the secret to his strength. Delilah consented.
After a few tries, Samson finally spilled the beans. His strength lay in his uncut hair. That long hair was a symbol of the Nazirite. The evidence of his devotion to God.
Once his hair was gone, so was his might.
Of course, it wasn’t really his hair that made him strong. It was his relationship to God. A Nazirite was set apart for service to the Lord, not drinking wine or strong drink, and avoiding contact with dead bodies, eating according to the Mosaic Law.
By revealing to Delilah that his hair was the secret to his immense strength, Samson betrayed his vow to God and forfeited the blessings that came with it. Including his power to protect his people and himself.
The Weak Man
In verse five of chapter 16, the lords of the Philistines tell Delilah that they want her to “seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him.”
The word translated “humble” is the Hebrew word “anah”, which can also be translated “humiliate”, “afflict”, “oppress” and includes the idea of browbeating and looking down upon someone.
Samson became a source of gloating and amusement for the Philistines after they cut off his hair and he became as powerless as they were. Samson’s foolish confession to a woman he loved resulted in the loss of his strength, honor, integrity and ultimately, his life.
In the end, God granted Samson one last act of power as he caused the building to collapse on the Philistines and himself. But he was defeated and humiliated. Just as the Philistines wanted.
The true strength of a man is not in how much he can bench press or how tall he is. It doesn’t increase if he’s in law enforcement or if he’s a professional athlete. A man’s power is in his connection to God.
As long as Samson kept his vow to God to leave his hair uncut, he had whatever power he needed to defeat his enemies. After he broke his promise, he became the laughingstock of the region and has gone down in human history as a fool.
It’s a blessing to have strong men around the house to lift what I cannot. They open jar lids that are stuck, tote heavy boxes into the attic and move furniture around with ease.
But if there were no men in the house or they were not able to do these things, we could still get them done one way or another. That’s why jar-opening tools and hand trucks were created.
However, there is no substitute for a man whose life is devoted to God. The man who finds his strength in Him.
Wisdom, uprightness, faith, patience and perseverance show the true power of a man.
The man who stands firmly devoted to God even in temptation, is the man who will prosper and fulfill God’s unique and vital plan for his life.
Even if he’s no Mr. Universe.
“The way of the Lord is strength to the upright…” Proverbs 10:29a
“Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.” Psalm 80:17
“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1
“A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength. For by wise counsel you will wage your own war…” Proverbs 24:5-6a