This morning I attended my monthly Bible study, in which we take a look, under a superb teacher, at the women in the Bible and the men with whom their lives are intertwined. This morning we talked about Delilah, who talked Samson into telling her the secret of his great strength, and then betrayed him for money, what would have been a fortune in her day.
Did Delilah ever love Samson at all? There is no indication in the Old Testament that she did, although we learn at the outset that he loved her. Samson seems to be a man with a blind spot about this love. Three times he fails to tell her the truth about his strength, and then he finally relents, and it is his downfall.
Our leader told us how many depictions of this couple have appeared in movies and TV. We are fascinated, still, by this classic story of love and betrayal of that love. We see Delilah as the personification of evil, the “Judas” of the Old Testament. And we are fascinated with her.
Why does evil and sin cause more fascination than good deeds, often? Why do we keep retelling this story?
I think it has to do with the fact that betrayal, for whatever reason (money included), is an ever-present theme in our lives. I remember my own betrayal, years ago, by a supposed friend in my work environment who turned out to undermine me in every way, eventually seeking my termination at that job. She has become something of a complex for me, for telling me that I fail in my work is a subject that I can’t handle very easily. I have always wanted to do a good job.
In my case, the woman started out as a friend. She and I even socialized together, with others, for a year prior to the first peer review to which I was subject. Her review of me was a shocker, for I had no idea that she held such a low opinion of me. Later, over the two more years that I knew her, she would go on to pack my review committee in a failed effort to deny me reappointment.
This woman even did the best turn for me that anybody has ever done: She introduced me to my husband of now 28 years, Paul.
Yet the betrayal that I knew, seeing her as a friend who turned on me, has been a big problem as I have sought to forgive her machinations, behind the scene, to turn my colleagues in my work environment against me.
Why do we betray others in our daily lives? Why does this falsity in our dealings with one another arise so often?
We have ulterior motives, sometimes ulterior motives that undermine the best and highest that we can do. Delilah wanted money, a secure place for her lifetime in a generation who did not hold women in very high esteem. My colleague’s motives are still unclear to me, and that has made the picture muddled. But one thing that I have in common with Samson is that I trusted someone who did not deserve the trust. I expected to be treated fairly. Surely Samson did as well.
In our lifetime, we are asked to forgive others who betray us. This is not a part of the Old Testament story, but it is a part of the New Testament story, and it is a part of my life as a result. Have a really forgiven this erstwhile “friend”? Was she genuinely convinced of my failure in the job that I held then?
I think that she was, and so I have to give her credit for pursuing what was, for her, the right course—trying to remove me, and find a replacement who would be better suited for the job. The fact that she pursued this course relentlessly made my leaving that job mandatory. And my pathway turned out to be much better as a result. When God closes a door, he opens a window—somewhere further down the path.
Forgiveness is always the best course, and we can postulate that if the events of Delilah and Samson were different, he would have forgiven her. I know that my forgiveness is mandatory as well. And the plot is thickened by the fact that my “friend,” in effect, set into motion the circumstances that gave me my husband.
Betrayal, for whatever reason, is not pleasant. We harken back to Delilah, reading her story with interest, because it speaks to human nature and our own stories. We all have had a betrayal of one sort or another. And so we are all asked to forgive. The years may go by, but a given betrayal may rank as one of the most painful aspects of our past. Then we need to take a long and hard look at what has happened, and put it in the past, securely, by forgiving. There is no better way to make a new beginning. If Samson’s story had ended differently, I can see him forgiving Delilah. And well we would be to reach the same conclusion in our stories.