Samson, Part II

Judges 13-16  

By Kathleen Fucci

We can all stand to have our vision sharpened and to see more clearly the full truth of who God is and who we are in God.  

To “see” in Hebrew is most commonly ra’ah (raw-aw’). This can mean literally to see with one’s eyes.  But it can also mean to discern, perceive or understand. [1] 

To be “blind” in Hebrew, ‘ivver (iv-vare’), can mean literally to be unable to see with one’s eyes.  But it can have figurative meanings as well:  To be unperceptive, slow, dense, dim, mindless, careless, indifferent, oblivious, unthinking, indiscriminate, impulsive, unrestrained.[2]

The Bible clearly teaches us that the eyes’ ability to see is determined by the heart.  The two are integrally connected.  We see, perceive and understand with the heart and the eyes, according to Scripture.    

It is impossible to consider one without the other because it is the heart’s condition that will determine what the eyes can see and it is the heart’s condition that will determine how that which is seen will be interpreted or perceived.

That’s why there are thirty-four scriptures in which the heart and eyes appear in the same sentence and their conditions run parallel to each other.  I’ll give you a couple of examples:

“Only take heed to yourself and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.”  (Dt 4:9)

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”  (Dt 11:18)

“Why does your heart carry you away, and what do your eyes wink at that you turn your spirit against God,” (Jb 15:12)

“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes.”  (Ps 19:8)

“My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.”  (Ps 38:10)

“Lord my heart is not haughty nor my eyes lofty.”  (Ps 131:1)

“They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls.  They have hearts trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.”  (2 Pet 2:14)

“Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols;” (Ez 6:9)

You get the idea.  If the heart is edified and strengthened, so are the eyes.  If the heart is unfaithful so are the eyes.  In fact, the heart and eyes are so interconnected that the heart takes on the characteristics of eyes.  Hearts can be darkened, blinded or veiled and of course this leads to the same condition in the eyes. 

We all see a bit differently because we don’t just see with our eyes, but with our hearts and our eyes. Driving this morning, there may have been a man on the corner begging for money.  Some of us might have seen him and felt compassion, others disdain, others revulsion, and others might not have noticed him at all.  He’s the same guy but we will all “see” him to varying degrees and interpret his existence in various ways according to our heart’s condition.

Another way of understanding the connection of the heart and eyes is this: In the New Testament, “oil,” elaion (el’-ah-yon), is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.[3] A lamp is a symbol of the eyes. If the heart is filled up with the oil of the Holy Spirit, the lamp of the eyes will burn brightly. If the oil of the Holy Spirit runs dry or is quenched, the lamp will be dark and so will the rest of the body. The eye is only good if the heart is full of the Holy Spirit. (see Mk 6:22-23)

Let’s return to Samson. We’ve covered the two theophanies, which foretell his birth in chapter thirteen. The theme of seeing is introduced and mentioned ten times in this chapter.  In chapter fourteen, we meet Samson. He is a young man, already full of great power.  What we’re going to discover is that the weakness of Samson’s heart, and therefore his eyes, is even more astonishing than the strength of his body.

Judges 14 begins, “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines.  So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.’” Here the words “saw” and “seen” are again ra’ah, literally to see with the eyes and figuratively to discern, perceive, or understand.

Remember the eye is a moral faculty instructed by the heart.  Now, God’s Word is obviously not in Samson’s heart or it would instruct his eyes that the Philistine woman he sees, he is not allowed to marry (Ex 34:16, Dt 7:3).  She is an evil stumbling block.  And God’s election of Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines has not been received in his heart. If it had, he would see the act of marrying a Philistine as sabotaging his call from Almighty God to deliver Israel from the Philistines. The Word is not strong in Samson’s heart. He is navigating his own way. So Samson does not see as God sees and is not instructed in God’s ways.  Simply put, Samson is spiritually as blind as a bat.  And this is a heart condition.

His parents object to the marriage and he says, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” (Jgs 14:3)

“For she pleases me well,” literally means yashar (yaw-shar’)she is right, righteous, upright, straight in my eye or fountain.[4]  In other words, she is right in my eyes.  And because she’s right in Samson’s eyes, he marries her.  

During their marriage feast, he poses a riddle to thirty of the Philistine men in the party.  The prize for answering the riddle is a new set of clothes for each of them. But the penalty for failing to answer it is payment to Samson of thirty sets of clothes.  The men can’t solve the riddle and threaten to burn Samson’s new wife and her father’s house if she doesn’t get the answer out of Samson.  

“But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire.’”  (Jgs 14:15)  

The word for “entice” in Hebrew explains exactly what the enemy does to us.  The word is pathah (paw-thaw’) and it means to open.[5] Through persistent suggestions thrown again and again at our hearts, the enemy wants us to make room for his lies. He always attempts to challenge both the promises of God and the election of God on our lives.

Satan is constantly throwing thoughts and ideas at us. He keeps yammering and yammering and waiting for one of his thoughts to be considered, pondered, nursed and taken hold of. It is when we dwell on, or repeatedly rehearse evil thoughts and ideas from the enemy in our minds, that we allow him to enter our hearts. Eventually, we act on his evil suggestions. That’s how he fills our hearts. We begin to take up his suggestions and believe his lies, and this affects our heart’s condition, and inevitably, the condition of our eyes since the two are interconnected.

We resist the enemy with the Word of God. The only way we are fortified against the enemy's onslaught is to make room for the Word of God to be firmly planted in our hearts. Then we are sure of His promises and election. Then we can combat lies with the truth. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105)

Samson opened his heart to his Philistine wife because she pressed him and pressed him and pressed him.  This is the devil’s game.  That’s why we’re told in Scripture to resist and keep resisting him until he flees from us.  

The pattern Samson has of seeing and desiring Philistine women, only to have his heart opened up and destroyed by them, is retold three times.  The first is with the Philistine woman he marries, the second is in Judges 16 when “Samson went to Gaza and saw (ra’ah) a harlot there, and went in to her,” and lastly, when he falls for Delilah, another Philistine woman.  This final time the lords of the Philistines are after the secret of Samson’s strength.  

The Philistines came to Delilah and said, “Entice (pathah) him, open him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”  (Jgs 16:6)

And once again, by means of persistence and constant suggestion, which is the way the enemy works, she opened him.

“And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, ‘No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb.  If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.’ When Delilah saw (ra’ah) that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines saying ‘Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.’ ” (Jgs 16: 16-18)

The phrase, “told her all his heart” is obviously important because it is repeated three times in three verses. Translated, he nagad (naw-gad’), exposed, kowl (kole), wholly and completely, his leb (labe), his heart, will, feelings, intellect, most interior part. [6] There's something important buried in these Hebrew words:  

Leb (labe), the heart, will, feelings, intellect, center of everything is from the word lebab (lay-bawb’), the most interior organ, which is from the word labab (law-bab’), meaning, to be enclosed.[7]

And this is what the heart is meant to be: enclosed, guarded … fortified with the Word of God.

When Samson exposed wholly his heart, he was as good as dead.  What was spiritual blindness became physical blindness because his enemies, the Philistines, cut his hair and picked out his eyes.  And so he becomes their captive, a slave who is, in the end, trotted out for their amusement.  

[1]Strong, James and John R. Kohlenberger, III, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red Letter Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), H7200. [2]Ibid., H5787. [3]Ibid., G1637. [4] Ibid., H3474. [5]Ibid., H6601. [6]Ibid., H5046, H3605, H3820.[7]Ibid., H3820, H3824, H3823.

 

Continue to Samson, Part III.