Transformation Garden - October 7, 2011


“And Delilah said to Samson, ‘Tell me, I pray you, wherein your great strength lies, and with what you might be bound to subdue you.’  And Samson, said to her, ‘If they bind me with seven fresh, strong gut strings, still moist, then shall I be weak and be like any other man.’”
Judges 16: 6, 7
Amplified Bible


“The Ties That Bind”

“(She) who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as (she) who helps to perpetuate it.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

What “ties” have bound my life?

Have these “ties” limited me in following God’s purpose for my life?

“He (she) that once sins, like him that slides on ice,
Goes swiftly down the slippery way of vice:
Though conscience checks him, yet those rubs gone over,
He slides on smoothly and looks back no more.”
John Dryden


“Better shun the bait than struggle in the snare.”
John Dryden

When Jim and I got married, like many optimistic young people, we had a lot of love and a little bit of money.  Furthermore, we weren’t one of those couples who had parents who could throw a big lavish wedding, either. (I’ll make this observation that spending hardly anything on a wedding certainly doesn’t have an effect on the quality of the marriage.)  Trying hard to save at every turn on wedding expenses, we were blessed with friends who stepped in to help in every way.  However, we wanted some kind of music and couldn’t find anyone within our price range to perform.  We came to an interesting decision and chose at the end of the service to have everyone sing the hymn, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds,” written by John Fawcett.  This song proved to be a wonderful choice and now is a wedding tradition in our family as it has been sung at other weddings since then.

            The words to the song are these:

            “Blest be the tie that binds
            Our hearts in Christian love,
            The fellowship of kindred minds
            Is like to that above.”

What are the ties that bind your life together? Who are the people who hold you within their ties of love?  And, are there people or things that tie up your life in ways that do not benefit you?

There are so many things that can be categorized as “ties.”  There are family ties, marital ties, professional ties, church ties and a host of other ties that bind us in various ways.  We are even all bound together just by the fact that we are all inhabitants on planet Earth.

But it is how these ties affect our ability to fulfill God’s plan for our lives that we need to focus on.  The prophet Isaiah gives us this very pointed warning: “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope” (Isaiah 5: 18, K.J.V.).  What we latch onto matters.  The ropes that connect us, matter.

As we look at the life of Samson, from the moment he entered the Philistine city of Timnah, to the time he went to the Valley of Sorek and hooked-up with Delilah, he allowed ties to bind him, literally and physically.

And I believe our heavenly Father placed this story in Scripture, with all the dramatic details contained in it, so we would become keenly aware that when we allow, or intentionally choose, to let ourselves be tied up by the wrong person or with the wrong things, a day may come when those ropes we were once strong enough to break, become an unbreakable bondage.      

Sadly, from Timnah to Gaza to the Valley of Sorek, Samson played with ropes as though they were toys to be used in a game.  He even allowed his own countrymen in the tribe of Judah to use ropes as a phony restraint when the Philistines came after him.

However, the game of “Bind Me With Ropes” took an extremely disastrous turn in the hands of a professional like Delilah.  As Benjamin Franklin so correctly wrote, “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.”  And Samson’s adventure into Delilah’s den was forbidden by God.  Author Paul Hovey observed there are four distinct characteristics to sin: “Self-sufficiency instead of faith, self-will instead of submission, self-seeking instead of benevolence, self-righteousness instead of humility.”  In the life of Samson, the ropes that became the ties that bound him were his self-sufficiency – I’m so strong nothing can bind me. Self-will – I’m going to do what I want, for no one, not my earthly parents or heavenly Father, is going to tell me what to do. Self-seeking – I want Delilah, I’ll get Delilah, I’ll have Delilah!  Self-righteousness -- how can I fail, I’m too great to take a tumble! Tied up tight in these ropes, Samson was unable to break loose and he succumbed to Delilah’s chains.

There is, however, one other very important lesson for you and me in this study of Samson’s “rope game” with Delilah.  And I believe it is a lesson I know I need to remember every day.  Judges 16: 13,( K.J.V.) tells us that eventually, after lying to Delilah twice about the type of ropes that could bind his strength, Samson informed Delilah that, “If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web,” that his strength would be removed.  At first I didn’t really notice the importance of this text, but when combined with Judges 16: 19, there is a very critical change that takes place in the relationship between Samson and Delilah.  At first, the ropes that were used by the Philistines only restrained Samson’s body.  His physical strength was limited.  But having shown power over the ropes that bound his “physical” body, Samson increased the risk by allowing Delilah to “mess with his head,” to the point where Judges 16: 18 says that Delilah informed the Philistines that Samson had told her, “all his mind.” (Amplified Bible).  Having opened up the treasure chest of what was in his mind, Samson revealed to Delilah that his strength came from his “head,” from his thoughts.  As Solomon so correctly penned in the Proverbs, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverb 23:7).

By letting the ropes of passion tie his physical body, Samson found out too late that the ropes of Delilah had a way of moving up his body to his head until in Judges 16: 19 this pitiful report is given that Delilah “made him (Samson) sleep upon her lap.”  His head was in her lap.  She had him so comfortable he fell asleep in her lap.  I had to think about this for a minute.  But it didn’t take long for me to see that God was absolutely, positively correct when he told Samson not to drink anything that would confuse his mind and further, not to enter the Valley of the Vine or get involved with any “Delilah” who would cloud his mind.  Samson wasn’t what he thought he was – strong and invincible.  He became the thoughts he held in his mind.  His mind was fashioned around the ropes he allowed to bind his body.

The story of Samson is the same story of your life and mine.  As Casey Treat so correctly wrote, “The greatest battles are fought in the mind.”

May no Delilah, be it a he or she or a possession or thought, ever bind us with ropes that hinder us from being the person our Father created us to be.  Let us remember these wise words of an unknown author:

            “Watch your thoughts; they become words.
            Watch your words; they become actions.
            Watch your actions; they become habits.
            Watch your habits; they become character.
            Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”

“Blessed is the (woman) that endureth temptation: for when (she) is tried, (she) shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”
James 1: 12


“O Lord, never suffer us to think that we can stand by ourselves, and not need Thee.”
John Donne

“Set me free, Lord, from faith and hope in lesser things.
Set me free from commitment to my own blueprints for my own future.
Set me free for faith and hope in you.
Set me free for commitment to your plans for my future.
Set me free to live and work and serve, building your future.
Set me free, Lord, to be a (woman.)”

Rex Chapman

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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