Judges 16:1-30

In this study, we are going to be looking at a woman who deliberately set about ruining a spiritual leader. Delilah was a Philistine woman, belonging to a people who worshipped idols. This was a woman who had little respect for herself or for her body; she was little more than a highly paid prostitute. As a woman, she had been created by God in His own image, but she degraded herself and set out to cause misfortune and damage to Samson, the man who loved and trusted her.

Samson was a Jewish man, called of God to be a "Nazirite" - someone dedicated to God from the time of his birth to become a leader. (Judges 13:4-5) His parents had previously been unable to have children and were elated at Samson's miraculous birth. He developed into a strong warrior with enormous physical strength and, single-handedly, led a highly successful guerilla campaign against Israel's main enemy at the time: the Philistines. He was duly appointed as a "judge" (ruler) of Israel and held sway for twenty years. However, Samson had significant flaws. He was morally weak and had no control over his sexual desires - disastrous in a spiritual leader.

Delilah was not the first Philistine woman in Samson’s life. His first wife had been from the Philistine city of Timnah but he had married her against his parents' wishes and promptly fell out with his new in-laws. It gave Samson the excuse to mount a raid on another Philistine city but ended with his new wife being given to someone else. Samson tried to visit her again, but her father turned him away so, instead, he attacked another Philistine town, setting fire to all of their agricultural produce (grain, vineyards and olive groves). In retaliation, they burned his wife and her father to death. So it went on for some years, with Samson always gaining the upper hand.

Some time later, Samson went to Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. Again, the Philistines tried to surround him and kill him, but he tore out the gates to the city and carried them away on his shoulders. He was unstoppable. Then he met Delilah and fell in love with her. Once this became known, Delilah was approached by the five heads of the Philistine nation and offered eleven hundred pieces of silver to discover the secret of Samson's strength. (Judges 16:5) It was apparent that sheer, physical strength was never going to overcome Samson, so they resorted to subterfuge and trickery instead.


It's difficult to know precisely what motivated Delilah to accept the proposal from her nation's rulers. Was it patriotic pride? Her country was being shamed and ridiculed by the apparent ability of this one man to wreak havoc on them. Was it simple greed? The amount of money they were offering Delilah would have been the equivalent in today's terms of winning the Euro lottery - an inconceivable amount for a woman such as herself. Was it perhaps personal pride? As a woman in a patriarchal world, she was automatically considered a second-class citizen, yet here were her countries top leaders begging for her help. Whatever the reason - perhaps a combination of all three - Delilah accepted and set to work on Samson.


Delilah began her deceit by using every means, as a woman, that she had at her disposal.

  • Flattery – “Please tell me what makes you strong?” (Judges 16:6)
  • Temper tantrums – “You have mocked me and told me lies.” (Judges 16:10)
  • Questioning his integrity – “You're making fun of me and telling lies.” (Judges 16:13)
  • Emotional blackmail – “How can you say you love me when you won't confide in me?” (Judges 16:15)

When all else failed, Delilah began to lose her patience and resorted to her only means left: her mouth. “She nagged and nagged continually until he could no longer stand it.” (Judges 16:16)


We can see that Delilah is certainly persistent in obtaining what she wants and she knows where she is going. These can be good qualities if used in a godly way. Persistence when faced with obstacles can build character in us and strengthen us. To know what we want to achieve and where we are going, gives us focus in reaching goals and desired results.


Delilah finally achieves her goal and brings Samson down. Perhaps it was her love of money above all else that proved the strongest motivation because she kept going until it was hers. Had she ever loved Samson? We don't really know. But she betrayed the man who had undoubtedly given her his love and her "victory" looks to have been a hollow one.

How about us?

How can we keep our desire for love, sexual pleasure, security and financial security from deceiving us into believing the enemy's lies? We need to learn who we are in Christ if we are to be the whole person that the Father created us to be. Only then can we be someone else’s "other half". We must use our womanhood in a godly manner, so that we are living as God created us to be: a husband’s lover; a helper; a home-maker; a child bearer. We need to consider whether we are a "darling" or a "delilah"; firstly to God then, secondly, to our partner (husband or boyfriend).

Consider Proverbs 31:30: “Charm and grace are deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!

  • Do we flatter to obtain favour?
  • Do we sulk?
  • Are we persistently nagging with our tongue?
  • Do we use our bodies to gain control?
  • Are we seeking control by losing our temper?
  • What is the reason for the way we dress?


Samson had only himself to blame. In effect, he had betrayed himself by being out of fellowship with God. But Delilah was personally responsible for Samson’s downfall. She stood before God as responsible for her deeds; she was accountable in this disaster. Our choices can have heavy consequences and our only true security is found in staying close to God.

Guidance for those looking for love

  1. Decide what kind of person you are looking for, before passion takes over.
  2. Most of the time spent with your partner will not involve sex, so look for companionship, personality, temperament and commitment. All these must be more gratifying than hot, steamy kisses!
  3. Be patient. Do not leap into something that is wrong. A second look often shows a different side.
  4. Remember personality, character, pleasantness are attractive alternatives to looks. Beauty is more than skin deep.

Hard lessons

Several Bible stories - such as this one - do not reflect well on those who appear in them. Was all Delilah’s deceit worth anything? Did all her cunning ways reach some goal? What did she achieve? The book of Judges does not reveal precisely what happened to Delilah in the end. We know that, after being captured by the Philistines, having his eyes gouged out and being placed in prison, Samson renewed his relationship with God. His hair grew back and his strength returned. When the Philistines gathered in the temple of their god (Dagon) to celebrate their victory, they called in Samson to make fun of him. But Samson found the two central pillars on which the entire building rested and, with a final prayer and a push, he brought down the pillars and the temple collapsed. More were killed - including Samson - in this one act than in all his previous exploits.

Was Delilah among them on that day? Quite possibly. She certainly lost her lover through her actions and her triumph was short-lived. If she survived that day, what was left for her to enjoy?

The book of Proverbs concludes with an epilogue concerning "the wife of noble character". Her character contrasts strongly with that of Delilah and she is a shining example for all Christian wives. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Do we fear God enough not to play around with the gifts and talents that He has given us? It is not always going to be easy, but are we prepared to pay the price? Are we going to be a hindrance or a help to our mate? As we go through all these experiences, we have decisions to make. Are we going to be a "darling" or a "delilah"?

Questions to ask ourselves

1. Have I an example to follow? (If not, where can I find one?)

2. Am I obeying my Father’s commands to me?

3. Have I a behaviour I need to change?

4. Have I a sin I need to confess?

If we are aware of shortcomings in our lives, putting them right is so easy. We need to repent now and make a personal commitment to Jesus to put these things right. We need to ask Him for His help and strength in this area, (Galatians 5:16) Sin can only increase in power when hidden. When released, it loses its power. Yippee! and Amen!

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