God’s People, part 37: Delilah

Read Judges 16:1-22

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” (Mark 14:10-11 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

delilah Part 37: Delilah. Who was Delilah? Was she a Philistine woman who turned on her lover to help her own people out? Or was she a Hebrew woman who was bribed to sell her people’s leader out? These questions and more have plagued scholars and religious thinkers through the last 2-3 millenia. The Bible offers little to no hints as to who Delilah was and what her true motivation was for what she did.

Delilah is the only woman in Samson’s story who was named; however, it is questionable whether that was her real name or whether that name was merely given to her to fit her character. Professor, J. Cheryl Exum, writes, “Whatever its etymology, her name is a wordplay on Hebrew layla, ‘night,’ for as the night overcomes the mighty sun (the name Samson, Shimshon, is related to ‘sun,’ shemesh), so Delilah overcomes the apparently invincible strong man, Samson” (Exum, https://goo.gl/N5yeZr).

Most people have tended to see Delilah as a Philistine woman. This is certainly understandable, as Samson seemed to have a thing for Philistine women. As a warrior, nothing symbolized his dominance over the Philistines than taking their woman as his own and mating with them. This may sound messed up in our time period, but would not have been uncommon for warriors to do back in that time period. Add in the fact that Delilah betrays Samson to the Philistines, and it is easy to understand why people would view her as one of the Philistines.

With that said, that theory is not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. Would a Philistine need to be bribed by her own people to give up an enemy of her people she was not even married to? Her name, as mentioned before, was Hebrew (provided that was actually her name). So, it is possible that Delilah was a Hebrew who sold out her lover for Philistine money. Neither theory is conclusive and, therefore, this is all speculation.

What is conclusive is that, for whatever reason, Delilah sold out her lover. She made ongoing attempts to figure out Samson’s weakness, not even hiding the fact that she was trying to do so. Samson, the big lug, never even suspected anything and, eventually, gave her the information she was looking for. That proved to be fatal for Samson, who was delivered to the Philistines and had his eyes pushed into his skull.

The question for us is simple. What is our buying price? What is the price that we are willing to forfeit righteousness for. Whether she was Hebrew or not, Delilah was a child of God as we all are. Whether or not she was Philistine, she had the chance to serve God by not betraying Samson, yet she was bought out. As we’ve seen, she was not the first to have a selling price, and she was not the last.

It is important we ask ourselves this question: have we sold ourselves out and betrayed God? Perhaps it is over our political views, or over our view of “country first”, or over our business practices, or over our desire to please people. Whatever the case may be, what is our selling point? What will we take in order to “feel okay” with selling out? If we discover what that is, and how we might have sold out in the past, such awareness will hopefully prevent us from committing such an egregious sin and betraying the one who loves us, literally, to death.

“Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That’s really where failure comes.” – Tom Cochrane

Lord, help me to become aware of me selling point, so that I can resist against being bought out by anyone or anything looking to take me away from your righteousness. Amen.

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