From the Book of Judges:

Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes your strength so great, and how you could be bound, so that one could subdue you.” Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that are not dried out, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.” Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried out, and she bound him with them. While men were lying in wait in an inner chamber, she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a strand of fibre snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Jugest 16:6-9 – August 18, 2012)

Samson and Dalilah, Max Liebermann, 1902It may be a sign of my age or a condemnation of my cultural up-bringing, but I cannot read any of the story of Samson and Delilah without hearing Tom Jones’ voice sining, “Why? Why? Why, Delilah? My, my, my Delilah?” Silly, I know, but it sort of fits with this bit from the Old Testament lesson from today’s lectionary readings.

We are told that Samson “fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah,” (v. 4) and that she is then persuaded by the Philistine leadership to discover and disclose the source of Samson’s strength. So begins a series of events in which she asks Samson, he lies to her, she undertakes to betray him on the basis of the lie, and he overcomes the betrayal. After three such episodes, he finally tells her that he will lose his strength if a razor touches his head and the story proceeds as every Sunday School child remembers it.

Reading these three episodes of question, lie, and betrayal, Tom Jones’ lyric keeps ringing in my ears, “Why, why, why?” Why does Samson stay with or keep returning to this woman who is clearly in league with his enemies? Why?

I suppose the answer is in verse 4: “He fell in love with [her].” Love, or perhaps we should be honest and note that what this really is is lust or passion, does that to us; it blinds us to the faults in the beloved. “Love is blind” says the old shibboleth. Erotic love makes us overlook the obvious and do things that simply do not make sense.

One of my favorite songs of a bygone era is 10-CC’s Things We Do for Love:

Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river
Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea
You lay your bets and then you pay the price
The things we do for love, the things we do for love

Communication is the problem to the answer
You’ve got her number and your hand is on the phone
The weather’s turned and all the lines are down
The things we do for love, the things we do for love

Like walking in the rain and the snow when there’s nowhere to go
When you’re feeling like a part of you is dying
And you’re looking for the answer in her eyes
You think you’re gonna break up
Then she says she wants to make up

Ooh you made me love you
Ooh you’ve got a way
Ooh you had me crawling on the floor

A compromise would surely help the situation
Agree to disagree but disagree to part
When after all it’s just a compromise
Of the things we do for love, the things we do for love
The things we do for love

Walking in the rain and the snow, crawling on the floor, returning again and again to a paramour whose clearly bent on betrayal . . . the soul in search of love will do a lot of silly and stupid things that make us ask “Why?” I think we know the answer, though; we’ve known it at least since St. Augustine of Hippo write his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Only in God do we find that love which does not betray.


Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.