Forty women: 21. Delilah
Love makes us all vulnerable. Maybe that’s what love is, even: willingly making yourself vulnerable to someone else. Letting them in deep enough to change you, to touch you, to hurt you.
Samson was the great and mighty hero. The strong man who tore apart the city gate with his bare hands. He’d been blessed by God since his birth. He was clever and handsome and everything he wanted fell into his lap.
But he’d been stung before. His first wife, a Philistine woman, had tried to coax his secrets out of him in order than the Philistines could use them against him. The plan backfired and she ended up being used by them in revenge against him. He’d liked his first wife well enough, she’d been his choice, but she’d been a bad choice for him.
And then he meets Delilah. Beautiful Delilah from the valley of Sorek. And he falls in love.
Delilah, on the other hand, sees an opportunity. The Philistines want to know Samson’s weak point. He’s too strong for them and too clever for them and he’s repeatedly proved that. But surely he’ll tell Delilah how he can be defeated? He loves her. He’ll make himself vulnerable to her.
For eleven hundred shekels of silver from every Philistine ruler, Delilah will do it.
She’s not subtle about it: “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.” (Judges 16:6).
Samson is not going to let another woman be his undoing. So he lies to her. And again the next night. And the next.
But Delilah is not giving up. Just think of all those lovely silver shekels that will be hers. One way or another, she’ll get him to tell her his secret. Nagging and prodding and poking him about it every day, “until he was sick to death of it.” (Judges 16:16). Like the dripping tap of water, in the end it wears away at him, and he gives in.
This is her moment. She sends for the Philistines and a barber. And the moment Samson is asleep, she acts. She exposes his weakness, through her persistent nagging. She waits for him to expose it further, when he sleeps. And she exploits his weakness, calling on the Philistine leaders to take advantage of him.
If only he hadn’t loved her. If only he hadn’t laid himself bare, exposing his deepest weaknesses, trusting her not to exploit them.
And for what?
I daresay those silver shekels made a hard pillow for Delilah to rest her head on each night.