One of the favorite characters of the Old Testament that any Sunday School teacher worth their salt will cover is Samson. We always think about Samson as a man of great strength. He was able to kill a lion with his bare hands (“as he might have torn a young goat” – as if tearing a young goat sounds easy). He killed 30 and took their clothes. He killed 1,000 with the jawbone of a donkey. He caught 300 foxes and tied them together (that sounds pretty difficult). He tore city gates and posts off of the wall and carried them outside of the city. He was a pretty tough fellow.
Despite all this strength, the most powerful part of Samson’s body was not his biceps. It was not his legs or his back. In Judges 14:1 – “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman…” Notice only later did he actually speak to her and found out that she was actually likeable for more than her looks (14:7). 14:3 is not captured very well in most translations. Samson says he wants here because “she is right in my eyes.”
Samson meets Delilah, whose name is linked with being subdued, just as she will do to Samson. Samson saw her (16:1) and fell into the trap that would mark the beginning of the end. You probably know the story, Delilah eventually tricks him into telling her the secret of his strength. Harris notes that Samson’s name is linked with “sun” but he turns out not to be so bright! Samson is subdued and made entertainment by the Philistines. Instead of killing him they gouge out his eyes and force him to do slave labor.
What was the most powerful part of Samson’s body? His eyes. His eyes got him into more trouble than his physical strength was able to compensate for. His eyes ultimately led to weakness, downfall and eventually cost him his life. Controlling his eyes would have saved his life and made him a more effective leader. In a culture that surrounds us with visual images that compete for our attention and even our heart, I think we have a lot we can learn from Samson.
More on teaching soon…