Judges 16:20, "And she said,
The Philistines be upon
thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and
said, I will go out as at other times before, and
shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was
departed from him."
This morning, one of the most woeful and sorrowful verses in all the Bible is upon our minds. While it is never pleasant to consider these moments, segments of God's word like these are for our instruction, as we are liable to fall into similar situations. My own experience contains situations when the Lord was absent, and I knew it not. While we understand that His presence is not far from every one of us, fellowship with God that we so enjoy can be wanting when we follow after our own imaginations instead of His precepts. David encountered a similar time when in the depths of woe for his transgression, and he cried out, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." (Psalm 51) Therefore, let us learn what we can about these times in the lives of Biblical characters to become more steadfast in our approach of our own lives so that we would be found walking with God instead of away from Him.
This account is in the midst of the life of Samson (one of the judges of Israel). He has been blessed with remarkable human strength and blessing from God that makes apprehending him impossible by the Philistines. Many times they tried to take him, but each instance was marked by a great deliverance from the Lord. So, the Philistines bribe Delilah to beguile Samson to unlock the secret of his great strength, and then be able to capture him. After several series of events, Samson tells Delilah that if his hair is cut with a razor, he will be weak as another man. After his locks are shaven, the verse above follows in which Samson is apprehended. But, notice that he immediately did not know about his plight. He arose to shake himself just like any of the previous times! How often we today think that if we have done something a certain way before, and we can just do it again the same way. James cautions us about saying we will do this or do that without the all- important "if the Lord will."
So, Samson's demise comes without him even knowing (at least for a time) that the Lord's presence had departed from him. How sorrowful a condition! Yet, even though he did not know at that moment that he was weak, those about him that sought his destruction did know. Delilah was convinced of the sureness of this event (even though Samson lied to her 3 times before). She felt sure that cutting his hair would indeed lead to his capture. Therefore, the question is, "How would we know that the presence of the Lord had departed from us?" To answer that question, I believe we must answer another question, "What was the source of Samson's strength?"
There is a popular mode of thought that Samson's strength was in his hair. Yet, the hair of his head was only symbolic of where his true strength lie. As a birth by promise, Samson's parents were told by an angel of the Lord what they must do and how the child must be brought up. As a Nazarite, his hair was not to be shaven, he was not to drink wine, etc. Each of these outward things were symbolic of him being special in the Lord's sight. Notice that the deliverances that Samson wrought before were not just second nature. When he slew the lion with his hands, the 1000 Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass, etc, each occurrence is marked by the LORD's presence. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, or he besought the Lord for the deliverance. Therefore, Samson's strength did not rest in his hair but in the LORD. The hair represented a covenant (if you will) of the Lord with him as a Nazarite of God.