A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. [Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)]
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. [Philippians 4:13 (NLT)]
While the Nazarites’ long hair was supposed to be a constant reminder of their commitment to God and a sign to others of their vow, I don’t think his hair was what gave Samson his strength. Three times Delilah asked Samson the source of his strength, three times he lied in his answer, and three times he woke to find himself incapacitated in the way he said he could be defeated. After being betrayed by Delilah three times, why would the man finally tell her the truth the fourth time she asked? He couldn’t possibly have been that foolish. Perhaps, his Philistine wife’s betrayal years earlier taught him a thing or two about deceit. When Samson finally told Delilah the source of his strength, could he have thought all four of his answers to be lies? Wanting to continue enjoying her favors in bed, he might have thought he’d given her an answer as outlandish as tying him with seven bowstrings or weaving his hair onto a loom. I’m not a Bible scholar but I suspect the boastful warrior thought that, in spite of having the long hair of a Nazarite, he alone was the true source of his strength.
What the proud man didn’t understand was that his strength wasn’t found in bulging muscles, six-pack abs, or even untrimmed hair—it was found in God. Samson didn’t lose his strength when he lost his hair. He lost his strength when he lost sight of God—when he decided his lustful desires were more important than his Nazirite vows. Nazarites’ hair was dedicated to God and their heads were shaved only when their vows came to an end. This was to be done publicly at the door of the tabernacle. Considered sacred, the hair was part of their offerings presented to the Lord and was to be burned with the peace offering. Because the hair was consecrated to the Lord, it was not be cast into any profane place—and there probably was no place more profane than the pagan Delilah’s bedroom. Samson’s strength didn’t leave him because his head was shaved. He lost his strength when he ended his Nazirite vows by choosing the pagan and treacherous Delilah over the God to whom he’d been dedicated.
Samson’s long hair was merely a symbol of his being set apart and it didn’t give him strength any more than wearing a cross or a clerical collar endows people with virtue or makes them Christian. Earlier in life, it wasn’t Samson’s hair that enabled him to break out of restraints and kill 1,000 Philistines with a bone—it was the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him. Rather than thanking God, however, Samson proudly boasted of his personal triumph: “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” After claiming the victory for himself, he complained to God about his thirst. When water gushed from a rock, rather than offering thanks to God, Samson called it “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out.” A better name would have been the “The Spring of the God Who Answers!”
Although Samson called to God to deliver him from thirst, he might have been wiser if he’d called to God to deliver him from temptation and desire. Sadly, there is no mention of Samson calling to God again until we find him blind, weak, and humiliated as he is paraded in front of the Philistine crowd in their temple. Thinking God’s purpose was to serve him rather than his purpose being to serve God, Samson was blind long before the Philistines gouged out his eyes. He’d been blind to the power of God throughout his life. As Craig Groeschel aptly said, “He lost sight of his blind spots, which ultimately cost him his sight.”
It was only when he was blind that Samson finally saw the real source of his strength and prayed, “O God, please strengthen me just one more time.” God heard his prayer and Samson killed more Philistines as he died than he ever did when he lived. Without God, no matter how good our eyesight, we are blind and, without Him, no matter how many hours we’ve spent at the gym, we will be weak. It is when we look to God that we see, when we admit our weakness that we become strong, and when we are humble that we can be great.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. [John Newton]