Monday, March 19, 2012

Have you eva been played, playa?

Today, we get to look at one of the most tragic love stories in the Bible.  We get to talk about love today…that’s right, the gushy stuff…sort of.  In preparation for this I spent a lot of time researching.  You see, I have not been in love, and so a lot of today’s lesson was over my head.  I actually started reading this scripture as a story on lust and not love.  I saw Samson as wanting Delilah for her body, because he clearly did not trust her with the important things.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s just read it.    

1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.” 
 3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
 4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels[a] of silver.”
 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
 7 Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
 8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
 11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
 13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
   He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and[b] tightened it with the pin.
   Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
 15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
 17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.[c] And his strength left him.
 20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
   He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Most lessons on this are focused on Samson, how he was ensnared and how he was tricked.  Very few focus on Delilah because we know very little about her.  We know she is a self-made woman because she lives by herself, most believe she owned her own home, but we don’t know how she made her money, was she a widow or was she a great sales person?  We know she lived in the valley between the Philistines and the Israelites, but we don’t know which nationality she was.  We actually know almost nothing about her, which makes teaching on her difficult. 

But, we do know one important thing…Samson was in love with her.  Verse 4 reads, “Sometime later he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Serek whose name was Delilah.”  There is that crazy to define word.  A word I struggle with enough in my daily relationships I thought we would hear from some people who have had a better understanding than me on this one.  Check out this video.  

Wow, that sounds like something to be treasured.  In fact, Proverbs 31:11 says, “The love of a man is to be treasured.  The heart of her husband trusts in her.”  Hear that ladies, we are to treasure the love of a man.  Now, I know you hear this and think, but I am not married it doesn’t apply to me, but it matters more.  The love of a man, whether it is brotherly, friendly, or something more, is to be treasured, and unfortunately, we ladies often become Delilahs. 

Delilah knew Samson was in love with her, and yet she betrays him anyway.  No one knows why she took the money, in verse 5 and 6, but she did.  Perhaps her home was going into foreclosure and she needed to make a payment, perhaps, her car needed a new transmission, perhaps she was about to go bankrupt…we don’t know, but I do know that she was a smart woman, so there would have been a purpose behind the money.  Not that that justifies what she did.

We read that she asks Samson about his strength and how to subdue him four different times.  We know the two probably lived together, something that went against the vow Samson took, but we know they lived together.  I can imagine the first time she asked she probably put on something cute, cuddled up with him on the couch to watch a movie and at just the right time between the end of the movie and the credits rolling asked him in verse 6, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”

When she tells the Philistines and it does not work, I can imagine her frustration at herself.  This probably hit her pride pretty hard, after all she was probably used to getting whatever she wanted and Samson lied to her.   But a determined woman, she did not give up.   I imagine the second time they probably were laying down to bed.  She probably had a book out and he was just crawling in to tell her how much she loved him, and she turns away.  When he asked what was wrong, she stated in verse 10 “You made me the fool” with big pouty lips and crossed arms. 

At this point, you would think Samson would take a hint, but he lies to her again.  When the Philistines fail to succeed, now her pride is broken.  She gets angry.  She tries to shift the blame as in verse 13 “You have been making a fool of me and lying to me.”  He caves again, because he loves her and doesn’t want to see her upset.  But her still lies to her, as if he knows he should run. 

But, the fourth and final time, she used the ultimate card – the love card.  I imagine her pulling out all the stops and then after a quite date he leans in close and whispers to her how much he loves her.  At this, Delilah does the unthinkable, she says in verse 15 “How can you say I love you when won’t confined in me?  This is third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.”  And then she nagged him.  I am sorry fellas, but at this point, Samson is just and idiot!
Ouch.  When I started researching this, I asked a bunch of guys if they had ever experienced this.  Here are a couple answers.  Check out this video.  

I also had a quite a big response on how girls will dress a certain way, flirt at just the right time, or build a guy up just to get what she wants.  When we wear revealing clothes, it is not because we want to be and feel pretty it is because we want attention.  We do not think about what that attire does to our brothers and sisters.  We do this so well they have made movies, TV shows, and books that show example after example of this.  Mean Girls with Rachel McAdams and Lindsey Lohan is example after example of how dress, dance, and flirting to get what you want break and destroy the hearts of men, Pretty Little Liars, shows how when you manipulate a guy to get the knowledge they have by playing on their feelings you will get what you want and destroy them in the process, The Hunger Games shows how a man’s love is to be treasured and how easy it is to play on that in the wrong way.  Katniss loses not only a friend in the process, but the trust of an ally.  Ryan said it best when he said, guys are visual.  Ladies, listen.  As 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “Careful, however, the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak,” and Romans 14:13 states, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacles in your brother’s way.” We know they are visual creatures who need to be encouraged and uplifted…so let’ stop being Delilahs and start being sisters in Christ. 

We are to treasure the love of a man, so why don’t we?  I think some of the gentlemen hit on it.  Girls, we have a hard time understanding our worth.  We struggle to know that our worth does not come from the eyes of man, but the eyes of God.  So, fellas, don’t think you are off the hook.  Guys, I hope you hear this and learn to do something really difficult.  Proverbs 4:23 states, “above all else guard you heart for it is the wellspring of life.”  I hope you listen to the advice of those guys you heard today and treasure what love is, but more importantly, set your sights on God so the right girl comes into your life.  If you challenge us to be better than we are, we usually respond to that.  My sisterly advice for you young men would be this:  It is really easy for a guy to say a girl is beautiful when she is all dolled up for a dance, or dressed in a low cut top or flirting with you, it is a lot harder to tell it to her when she is in sweats and a tee shirt, or just came out of practice, or just had a really emotional day.  Tell her she is beautiful when she feels the ugliest and she will trust you.  Open the door for her as you get in the car or enter a building, not because she is the one you will marry, but because she is someone you are called to love.  If guys treated a girl like a lady, they will be more apt to act like one.  Ladies, don’t take this a way to manipulate and coerce a guy to do what you want, use it as a way to honor your brothers and when the right guy comes along it won’t be about your body and sex, it will be about your character…which is what you really want anyway. 

 Special thanks to all my interviewees for being so willing to talk about this and to my tech team...this could not have happened without you.