Guard your strength. This is a crucial lesson that Christians need to learn. Our defeats may not be always in the areas of our weakness. It can easily be in the area of our strengths.
One folly that Christians often commit is that they reveal their strengths to everyone they talk to. This exposes them to enemy attack. Maybe this principle seems unbelievable. Yet the Bible offers us valuable insights into this.
We have two examples or reflections from the Bible to understand the pattern of Revealed Strength Destroys.
Reflection 1: Samson
Samson was a mighty man, a Nazirite who was set apart to God from birth. The final episode of his life was tragic. He fell in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah.
The Philistine rulers who were looking for an opportunity to take Samson, dead or alive, approached Delilah. They requested her to try to lure Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength. As a reward for this information they promised her a huge sum of money.
So Delilah started nagging Samson to make him reveal the secret of his strength. Samson tried to evade the issue by telling her false reasons as the secret of his strength. The first time he told her that if he is tied with seven fresh thongs which have not been dried he would be left without strength.
She tried doing that. With men hidden in the room she called out to Samson that the Philistines were upon him. But Samson woke up and broke the thongs easily. The Bible records that: “So the secret of his strength was not discovered” (Judges 16:9b NIV).
But Delilah kept nagging him. So Samson gave another reason. He said that if he is tied securely with new ropes that have never been used he would become weak as any other. And Delilah did that. Yet when she called out to him that his enemies are attacking him, Samson just snapped off the ropes.
Delilah continued nagging him. So he told her that if the seven braids of his head are woven into the fabric of the loom and tightened with a pin, then he would be weak as any other man. She did like that and called out to him as before. And Samson woke up and easily pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
Then Delilah became very persistent in her nagging. She told him that it was useless telling her that he loved her when he had made a fool of her all three times. She told him that he had not told her the secret of his great strength. The Bible adds: “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death” (Judges 16:16 NIV).
“So he told her everything” (Judges 16:17a NIV). He told her that no razor had ever been used on his head since he was a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. He added that if his head were shaved he would become weak as any other man.
The Bible records: “When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, `Come back once more; he has told me everything’ ” (Judges 16:18a NIV).
So the Philistine rulers came to her with the promised money. She put Samson to sleep in her lap. Then she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair. The Bible adds: “… And so began to subdue him. And his strength left him” (Judges 16:19b NIV).
Then as usual she called upon Samson saying that the Philistines were upon him. “He woke up from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20b NIV).
The Philistines then seized him. They gouged out his two eyes and took him down to Gaza. Their they bound him with bronze shackles and they set him to grinding in the prison. The Bible adds: “But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved” (Judges 16:22 NIV).
Finally he was brought out to the Philistine temple of Dagon on a great sacrifice and celebration day. There the blind Samson asked a servant there to guide his hand to the pillars that supported the temple to lean against them.
With a final prayer to God he pushed against the pillars and brought the entire temple crashing down on all of them. The Bible adds: “Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived” (Judges 16:30b NIV).
As we look at the life of Samson we find that he was extraordinarily anointed by the Spirit of God and was gifted with unusual strength. It was obvious to his enemies that there was a secret to his enormous and superhuman strength.
They knew that fighting against him was useless because they had tasted defeat at his hands a few times before. So they craftily used Delilah to nag Samson to reveal the secret of his strength. Finally she succeeded. It led to his downfall. Surely, Revealed Strength Destroys.
Reflection 2: Hezekiah
(2 Kings 20:12 to 19, Isaiah 39, 2 Chronicles 32:24 to 26 and verse 31)
Hezekiah, king of Judah, became ill. He was at the point of death. God sent Prophet Isaiah to him to ask him to put his house in order because he was going to die and not recover.
When he heard this he cried out to God and wept bitterly. Then God sent prophet Isaiah back again to Hezekiah to tell him that he was granted fifteen more years to live.
And as a sure sign of God’s promise to him, God caused the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway of Ahaz to go back the ten steps it had gone down. This became known to even the king of Babylon.
So the king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift by the hand of envoys. This was because he had heard of his recovery and illness. Now Hezekiah received the envoys gladly.
He showed them all what was in his storehouses–“the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them” (Isaiah 39:2b NIV; also 2 Kings 20:13).
Then Prophet Isaiah went to speak to the King. He asked the king from where the people had come from, what they said and what they saw? To the question as to what they saw in his palace, Hezekiah replied thus: “They saw everything in my palace. There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them” (Ref. Isaiah 39:4, 2 Kings 20:15).
Then Isaiah told him the word of the Lord that the time will come when everything in his palace would be carried off to Babylon. The prophet said that all that had been stored up by the forefathers, the previous kings of Judah, would be carried away. He added that even some of his descendants would be carried away to become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Hezekiah, however, comforted himself with the thought that there will be peace and security during his lifetime. And so he considered the word of the Lord spoken to him as good. Many years later the words of the Prophet Isaiah was fulfilled as the king of Babylon plundered Jerusalem and carried away the wealth and treasures of the palace and also many from the royal family.
As we look at this incident in the life of Hezekiah we find that it was because he revealed everything that was in his palace and in his kingdom that God’s wrath came. The only consolation was that he repented of his pride and God did not bring His wrath to come to pass during his lifetime. Yet the pattern that Revealed Strength Destroys holds true.
Yes, revealed strength brings destruction.
In the life of Samson he played with fire when he desired the love of a woman more than his love for God. That itself was dangerous. And when she tried to probe the secret of his strength he should have been wise to either cut off this relationship or at least tell her bluntly and point blank that the secret cannot be divulged.
Yet his love for her was more than his love for God. And he revealed everything. She immediately knew that he had revealed everything. And then it was easy to conquer him.
It is important to always check your words especially when you are talking to people who do not know the Lord. They will lose nothing if you lose your strength. But you lose all. So be careful. Never reveal all your strength. If people keep nagging you, just avoid the questions. Or break off the relationship.
That is better than revealing your strength to them. And never reveal your strength to namesake Christians. They will most likely use that to cause you harm and not good.
If in Samson’s case it was his greater love for the woman than for God that caused his downfall, then in the case of Hezekiah, the cause of his downfall was his pride. That is very clearly revealed in the Scriptures.
After his recovery it seems that he had grown proud and that he did not respond to the kindness shown him. The Bible also records this insight to what actually happened: “But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31 NIV).
Just think on this verse. It should keep you humble when you talk with people who praise you and your achievements. It is the most vulnerable time. Doubly so, because the above verse reveals that God could leave you at such moments to test you to know what is really in your heart!
If you are proud, naturally, you will reveal all your strength or areas of strength to your enemies. All this come out as proud boasting. Therefore be careful. Do not reveal your strength.
Though we find God bringing destruction on Samson and later on the kingdom of Judah because of Hezekiah; we find God leaving a silver lining of mercy in the lives of both these men of God:
Samson’s hair began to grow again. And this coupled with his prayer to be remembered by God helped him end his life on a note of victory over the Philistines. Hezekiah repented of his pride. And God showed him mercy by not allowing the enemy to conquer his land during his lifetime.
So, in case, you have already revealed your strength to ungodly people or even namesake Christians, there is still left for you a ray of hope. Repent. God might still show you mercy.