We may know her name from a certain Plain White T’s song, or the fact that she cut off the hair of a judge named Samson to rob him of his strength (Judges 16). But what all do we know about this bad influence from the Bible, and the relationship between Samson and Delilah? Where did she come from and why was it unwise for Samson to fall in love with her?
In this article, we’ll discuss who Delilah was, what Scripture says about her, and what we can learn from her.
What Does Scripture Say about Delilah and Samson?
In either case, she wasn’t a Jew, yet Samson still slept with her. She was likely not his wife, but a harlot, as we see Samson engaging with women outside of marriage in an intimate manner (Judges 16:1).
Even though Samson falls in love with Delilah, she’s swayed by the Philistines, the enemies of the Israelites, to find the source of Samson’s strength. Samson’s strength had wreaked havoc previously on the Philistines, and they wanted to utterly humiliate and destroy him. They offer her about 100 days’ worth of wages to find out his secret.
Samson playfully lies to her about the secret of his strength until she essentially nags him senseless (Judges 16:16).
He divulges the source of his strength, which she hands over to the Philistines. She cuts his hair (the “source” of his strength), rendering him weak. The Philistines capture Samson.
As for Samson, he comes from a very different background than Delilah. He's raised in a Nazarite household. To take a Nazaritic vow meant he couldn't cut his hair, couldn't touch or eat in anything dead (such as an animal carcass), and couldn't drink anything alcoholic. A Nazarite vow didn't last a whole lifetime, but even so, Samson broke all of the rules. In doing so, he places a target on his back. His judgment gets further skewed when he falls for Delilah. They never marry, but they still have sexual relations. It must've hurt all the more when Delilah betrayed him to the Philistines later in the passage.
Was Delilah an Israelite?
Apart from the information presented above, we don’t know a whole lot else about Delilah. Because we don’t know the exact location of Sorek, which leaves some clues missing from the picture.
We do know that the language doesn’t seem to imply that she and Samson are married. Therefore, they would’ve been intimate, but with no nuptial strings attached.
We also know, from Scripture, that each time Delilah tries to discover Samson’s strength, she announces the Philistines have come upon him. Therefore, Samson should have known, to some extent, her true intentions.
Either that or the Philistines just happen to appear every time she “discovers” the secret to his strength.
We’re also uncertain if she was from Israel, Philistia, or somewhere in between. No matter where she came from, she wasn’t good news, and Samson had to know that somewhere deep down. But he chose to ignore the red flags.
He stays with Delilah, despite better judgment, and it ends with severe consequences.
What Happened to Delilah in the Bible?
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about the story of Samson and Delilah is the fact we don't discover what happened to the woman who betrayed Samson. We can cast doubt that she attended the event in which Samson killed a number of Philistines (and himself) when he toppled a slew of pillars.
We can guess that perhaps she attended the temple during the day Samson and many Philistines died. Let's take a look at the passage.
Judges 16:23-30: "Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.” When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.” While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived."
The passage does mention women, a rarity for the Bible. Perhaps Delilah sat amongst the women to gloat. But we can only offer conjecture. At the end of all things, we know that God seeks justice. If she did not get her just desserts at the temple, maybe she did at another time in which Scripture does not elaborate.
Why Does the Story of Samson and Delilah Matter?
Christians tend to pluck lessons from Delilah such as, “Be careful of the company you keep” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Although true, we can find even more applications to the story of Samson and Delilah.
First, be careful with engaging with temptations, especially sexual temptations. Maybe Samson had wanted to leave their relationship at one point. After all, she was nagging him to death. But they had engaged in sexual acts, which created two-becoming-one bonds with each other (Genesis 2:24). These bonds are incredibly difficult and painful to separate, and so he may have been hesitant to do so.
Second, we cannot let our guard down.
Satan will try to find our biggest weakness, and will often do so when we have our guard down. In the case of Samson, he let Delilah impair his judgment. In doing so, he eventually gives in and reveals his greatest weakness.
Finally, sins do have consequences.
Samson may have felt as though he could get away with an extra-marital relationship with someone who was most likely not an Israelite. But he reaps the consequences eventually.
The Philistines capture him, after blinding him, and enslave him. Only, through an act of God, does his strength return, and he ends up dying in the process.
Although we may feel as though we can get away with engaging with sin, the consequences catch up with us eventually. Best to avoid Delilahs in our lives and pursue righteousness.
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Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.