By Roy Clark
The 1987 movie Fatal Attraction is the story of a successful attorney (Michael Douglas), who has an affair with an editor (Glenn Close) while his wife and daughter are out of town for the weekend. Though he believed it would be a simple fling, it developed into a complicated affair. Close’s character is mentally unstable and will not let go of the relationship, which proves to be fatal.
The movie title is the perfect description of Samson’s life in Judges 14–16. Samson has a fatal attraction for Philistine women. He shows up in the wrong places (Timnah and Gaza) with the wrong women. In the end, it really is fatal for him as the seductive Delilah becomes the willing partner for the five Philistine mayors. What are the early indicators that there is “danger ahead” for Samson?
Samson had a rebellious attitude toward his parents. “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.’ Then his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ And Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she pleases me well’” (Judges 14:1-3 NKJV). Even to this day, parentally arranged marriages are practiced in the Middle East. For Samson to dismiss his parents’ counsel revealed a spirit that would lead to disaster.
Samson played games with the enemy. The account of Samson killing a lion with his bare hands is more than a story of superior strength. It takes us back to the Nazirite vow and the three restraints that are a part of the vow: no wine, no contact with an unclean body, and no cutting of the hair. Judges 14 tells us that Samson quickly disregarded the restrictions of the vow. He touched the unclean carcass of the lion and surely drank wine in a 7-day feast in the vineyards of Timnah. Only one feature of the Nazarite vow remained unbroken—his hair!
Samson lost the respect of his fellow countrymen. Samson judged Israel for 20 years. But during his time as a leader, there was no spirit of repentance in the heart of Samson or of his people. Just the opposite was the case. Men of Judah were resigned to Philistine rule, and his own men arrested him and were ready to turn him over to the Philistines (Judges 15:11-13)! And after his rule, the people of Judah declined spiritually. Those final chapters of Judges (17–21) describe a backslidden people who had been led by a backslidden judge.
The danger signs of an ancient story are warnings for today. A lack of respect for godly counsel from parents, playing games with the enemy, and loss of respect for our own leaders spell a Samson-like disaster!