Friday, September 18, 2015

Delilah's Regret

It occurred to me the other day that there's a pretty good chance Delilah really, bitterly regretted betraying Samson. I suspect that because once the 5,500 pieces of silver (700lbs worth) wears off and you're left with the lonely consequences of your actions things get tend to get ugly. That's a fact of human nature. Two, because I think the text hints at it somewhat, and three, because we know that Delilah was the shadow of Judas, and his regret carried him to the grave.

The first point I take as a matter of course. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Conscience is like a spring, you press down on it it'll press back at you. Hold it down with violence and it will lash out and go in another direction. Delilah was already rich and powerful enough to run a house where she could call for a barber, or loom, or for servants to play the role of Philistines to test Samson's love, so is likely more riches would make her feel less empty inside? No. She wasn't some special heartless sociopath, she was an ordinary wealthy woman who was enticed to sin, and ordinary people tend to have a lot of regrets. Especially about big things like turning a man who loved you over to his enemies. Willingness to do evil isn't a sign that the person doesn't feel bad about themselves afterwards, it's just a sign that at the moment they were more to pay the price of suffering to do it. And sin always causes suffering.

As to the text hinting at it, let me start as I always do, by working backwards. What strikes me chiefly in this story is that Samson's hair returned, which allowed him to bring down the entire temple and kill all the nobles who'd captured him in a colossal act of revenge. How do you explain that kind of failure on the part of the Philistines? We know they weren't stupid because they were clever enough to consider Samson carefully and to devise a successful trap for him. It's far more probable then that they didn't know of his weakness, because Delilah never told them the secret of it. 
There are I think two possible explanations  for this:
  1. The Philistines rushed into the room once they were called for and acted as fast as they could, not bothering to interact with Delilah in any way once they saw their moment had come. To this theory we might point out that they text doesn't say they spoke with her after they had their man, "And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles."
    Spurgeon seems to think this is the answer when he says, "I wonder why these Philistines did not take care to keep his hair from growing to any length. If cutting his hair once had proved so effectual, I wonder that they did not send in the barber every morning, to make sure that not a hair grew upon his scalp or chin. But wicked men are not in all matters wise men: indeed, they so conspicuously fail in one point or another that Scripture calls them fools."

  2. That particular revelation wasn't part of the deal. Look at the terms recorded in verse five, "And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, 'Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.'"
    She was to find out his secret, make him weak, then turn him over to them, but communicating to them the secret of his strength isn't mentioned.
I think this second option is far more likely because I happen to know a thing or two about rationalization from my own heart which so often justifies its wickedness. If it were me the thing would've gone like this: "Yes I'm turning him over to them, but I'm not handing him over to death since they said they wanted him alive so that they could humble him and ridicule him. And without the key piece of information he's going to start out weak, but once his hair grows he's going to become strong again, and they won't know why or how to stop it until it's too late. And once that happens he'll have his revenge and come back to me, and all will be well. I'll tell him, "yes I made you weak, but it was my plan all along to rid the earth of them, and now that I have you back you can see that it worked perfectly."
The best parallel I think of to this is in the book 1984, when Winston is captured by the ministry of Truth and tortured for his working with Julia.
"You have whimpered for mercy, you have betrayed everybody and everything. Can you think of a single degradation that has not happened to you?’
Winston had stopped weeping, though the tears were still oozing out of his eyes. He looked up at O’Brien.
‘I have not betrayed Julia,’ he said.
O’Brien looked down at him thoughtfully. ‘No,’ he said; ‘no; that is perfectly true. You have not betrayed Julia.’
The peculiar reverence for O’Brien, which nothing seemed able to destroy, flooded Winston’s heart again. How intelligent, he thought, how intelligent! Never did O’Brien fail to understand what was said to him. Anyone else on earth would have answered promptly that he had betrayed Julia. For what was there that they had not screwed out of him under the torture? He had told them everything he knew about her, her habits, her character, her past life; he had confessed in the most trivial detail everything that had happened at their meetings, all that he had said to her and she to him, their black-market meals, their adulteries, their vague plottings against the Party — everything. And yet, in the sense in which he intended the word, he had not betrayed her. He had not stopped loving her; his feelings towards her had remained the same. O’Brien had seen what he meant without the need for explanation.
That I that hits very nearly on the mark. Because why else would she withhold that critical piece of information from them? If she was fully evil, or totally sold out, she would have no problem betraying Samson in toto. But if she loves him in return, or cares to guard her conscience that she negotiates a limited arrangement, then she's going to not tell them. Which indicates she's a normal human being and would become regretful once the thing turned out worse than she'd planned.

Lastly, I think she regretted betraying him because it carries a very strong resemblance to another betrayal that happened much later in history. There too did a chosen man of God, the leader of all His people love someone and tell them everything. There too was the response to sell him to the authorities for silver behind his back. The authorities then ridiculed and humiliated the man of God, but by the offering of his life he destroyed the rulers and powers in the dark places, and the work of his death became far greater than all the work of his life. 
Can you imagine what it was like when Delilah found out Samson died? "I have betrayed innocent blood," she said. "What's that to us?" comes the reply.
To which there is no answer. Only regret.

1 comment:

Robert Briggs said...

Enjotyed this Phil, especially the elements pointing us to the greater betrayal of the one Samson points us to.