I presented the message today at our Common Grounds Service -- it was a first person portrayal
of Delilah who melded into a modern character named Lily. As I mentioned yesterday, grace seemed to flow around my preparation of these thoughts. I'm posting my original ideas, although much changed in the actual delivery. Delilah was not quite as harsh, I think:Delilah / Lily
You think you are so different from me. You sit at your tables, you walk down the streets, and you think you are SO very different from me. I know what you are doing. You are sitting there in judgment, counting my sins.
Do you know who I am? My name is Delilah. Do you know what I did? I defeated Samson – that Israelite named Samson.
He was a judge of Israel. A leader. I thought he would be a fine catch, and well, I suppose he was, but not in the way I imagined at first.
I am a Philistine. We were at war with the Israelites – always fighting, always on guard against them. Not that they were in control – NO! We were. For forty years we held them in the palm of our hand. I lived in the Valley of Sorek
– right between our land and that of Israel. Everyone where I lived had heard of Samson – he was legendary. At night we would tell the children to hurry back inside when it was dark – Samson might be outside, and he might capture you and eat you!
Then one day I met him. Maybe you’ve
heard about him. Maybe you’ve
heard how strong he was, how intimidating. How powerful. Just standing near him, you could sense all of that. I remember his hands. They were big and powerful. Just looking at his hands, you could sense the strength in him. And his hair. Hair such as this should not be allowed on a man – only women should have hair like his. It was long and straight. It seemed to glow with some kind of internal strength.
Was he handsome? I suppose he was, but it didn
’t matter. That wasn
’t what I saw in him. I saw in him my chance to be somebody. To be respected. To have that kind of power myself. And I wanted it. I could taste it.
So I set out to take him. To have him. I used everything I had – my looks, my body, my mind, and the kind of power that only women have. You know what I mean – I used it all. But what choice did I have? I was stuck in my hometown – no chance of ever seeing anything beyond the walls of our valley. I found out later – do you know what Sorek
means in Samson’s language? Empty. My life in Sorek
was empty. And there he was in front of me – my one and only chance for more.
He said he loved me. He promised me everything I wanted. But what did he give me? Nothing. I invited him into my home, my bed. He gave me nothing.
One day, a group of rich men came to see our town. I could tell they had a lot of money by what they wore and by how they acted. All of us in Sorek
were second class compared to them. They acted like they didn
’t even want to touch us.
They came right to my home – they knew what they wanted. And when I saw them, I knew what I wanted. What choice did I have? Samson wasn
’t ever going to give me what he had promised. Never. These men told me that they would each give me 1100 pieces of silver, if I would help them to capture Samson. 1100 pieces! Each! I didn
’t even hesitate. If they wanted him, they could have him. As long as they gave me all that money.
So I went up to him one evening. I squeezed him arm, I played with his hand, I ran my hands through his hair – it really was beautiful hair. I made him feel strong. You know how men like that. And I asked him, “What makes you so strong? How could anyone even tie you up if they tried?”
Idiot man. He told me. At least he pretended to tell me. “Seven fresh bowstrings would do it.” (Holds up bowstrings). So the rich men brought me the bowstrings, and waited in the next room while he was sleeping that night. I tied him up. Tight. I did my part. I woke him up by saying, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson.” He jumped up, broke the bowstrings like they were nothing.
I was so angry! He lied to me! So I asked him again, and let me tell you, he got an earful from me! I thought maybe this time he told me the truth. New ropes. Bind me with new ropes, and I won’t be able to get free, he said.
So that night, while he was asleep, I tied him up with the ropes. Tighter than before. He had told me that the ropes would make him like the rest of us – weak. I was ready for him to be weak. I yelled, “Samson, the Philistines are here to take you away.” He jumped up and broke the rope, like it was sewing thread.
At this point, I was ready to just hand him over those rich men without the money. Well, maybe not, but I hated Samson. Hated him. He told me he loved me, but he didn
’t. He lied to me, over and over. He said he would take me out of this emptiness, but he didn
I nagged and nagged. What choice did I have? This time his answer had a ring of truth about it. It had to do with his hair. His hair was magnificent
. It looked like power, so I thought this was right. He told me to weave seven strands
of it together and make it tight with a pin. I thought it might work. But it didn
’t. It was just another lie.
I used everything I had to try to get the secret from him. I cried – I can cry at the drop of a hat. I ranted – that was my true feelings – I was so mad at the idiot! “You say you love me, Samson, then tell me the truth!” It took days and days and endless nights of nagging, but he finally told me, and I knew that this time it was true. It was his hair. He parents had made some kind of vow to their God to never cut his hair. His power lied in his hair – I knew that it did.
I hated to do it. His hair was the only thing that I really loved about him, it was so beautiful. But I took it. I took his hair; I took the money from those men, and they took Samson. I watched while they gouged out his eyes.
Yes, it was nasty. They left a mess in my house, but I didn
’t care. I had the money, and he was gone. I heard later that he died in the hands of the Philistines. I was glad.She changes to Lily with a change in costume
My name is Lily, and you don’t know me. I live down the street from you, and I am just like Delilah. My sins are many; I’ve
done so many things wrong that I have lost count. I could spell all of my sins out for you, but I won’t. I’ve
done many things that I am not proud of – sometimes I wondered if I had any choice at all.
The joy of my life is my son. We recently moved to a new apartment – new for us, anyway. It is small, but it’s room enough.
Soon after we moved in, our new neighbor came to visit. She brought us a loaf of bread. She didn
’t come in, not that time, but later she did, and we would talk. Her name is Mrs. Morgan. When I was a teenager, I might have called Mrs. Morgan a busybody. A nuisance. Today my son calls her Granny. She has saved us.
But anyway, Mrs. Morgan visited us many times, and she put up with my complaining, my unhappiness. Life for me was empty. It was just work and loneliness. I wanted something else, but I didn
’t know what.
Mrs. Morgan suggested – invited – us to go to church with her. I refused. Why would I go to church? I wasn
’t like those people in church. They were good. I was not. I wouldn
’t be welcomed in that church.
Finally, she convinced me to let my son go to church with her. They were having some kind of program called Vacation Bible School. To him, anything with the word vacation in it sounded good. To me, it was free babysitting for an entire week. Who can beat that? So he went.
He came home one day and gave me this.(holds up a paper heart, obviously drawn by a child, which said, “God loves you
God loves me? Me? No way God loves me. I am like Delilah…there is no way God could love me. I’ve
made too many mistakes, and I just keep making them.
At the end of the week, the kids had a program at church, and my son and Mrs. Morgan convinced me that I should go. I didn
’t want to, but I did it for my son.
They had a cute little play, and then at the end, sang a song.Grace, grace God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all my sin.
Grace that is greater than all my sin. My sin? Greater than my sin? My sins are huge. Grace is that big?
But it is. Grace is that big. Bigger than my sins. Bigger than your sins. I’m not going to tell you what I’ve
done wrong, because God doesn
’t remember it. And if he doesn
’t remember it, I’m not going to remember it either.
God loves me. And he loves you, too.Thanks to Steve and JtM for the brass duet and J and H for singing the Grace song.
Labels: grace, Old Testament