Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a dozen times–and that’s pretty much par for human experience. That’s what I thought when I recently read the story of Samson. Smitten by the wiles of Delilah, Samson becomes a total fool. This guy was really no fool, of course. He’s the one who, after he finds bees making honey in the carcass of the lion he’d killed, makes up a riddle that stumps all the Philistines. But set him up with Delilah and Samson becomes the dumbest guy in town. We pick up the story in Judges 16:16:
Because she nagged him day after day and pleaded with him until she wore him out, he told her the whole truth and said to her, “My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man.”
This exchange came after Delilah had three times heard him lie about what would render him powerless. Samson suggested bowstrings, new rope, and a weird operation involving the braids of his hair. Each time, Delilah attempts to use this technique and then tells him that the Philistines are attacking him.
Three times, Delilah proved utterly untrustworthy. You’d think that Samson might have caught on and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t trust her,” but that’s not how he was wired. He tells her about his Nazirite vow, effectively breaking it, and he pays the price, first with his freedom, then with his eyes, and finally with his life.
Wouldn’t you think that Samson might have been a little more suspicious? Don’t you think he would have said something along the lines of “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (or four times), shame on me”? But again, that just wasn’t in the cards for this man. I’m inclined to be exceptionally critical of Samson.
But then I look to myself. I’ll do that while you look to yourself. Right now, my biggest frustration is with controlling my eating. A few years ago, I had gotten myself to a healthy weight, but in recent days, despite my best intentions, I’ve lost all the ground I had gained.
Day after day, I intend to control my eating. Day after day, I fail to control my eating. Does it make me happy to pig out on whatever comes to hand? No. Instead, I tend to feel at least guilty and often physically uncomfortable. You’d think I’d learn after one time, but definitely after two times, but what about a hundred times. I don’t. But tomorrow will be different.
What the flesh wants, the mind can create all manner of excuses to justify. Who’s fooling me in those hundred times? Who fooled Samson? Delilah wasn’t his most formidable deceiver, and my refrigerator is not conspiring against me. It turns out that I’m probably my own most dangerous deceiver.