OK, so do I buy this story? Absolutely.
I don’t have any quibbles with this story and I don’t feel any need to qualify it or couch it in “reality” or find a “plausible” explanation of anything in there. Samson was who he was and he did what it was said that he did.
And some of you shout: “But Deacon, c’mon! Magic hair? You mean to tell me you believe that Samson had his strength because of his long hair and lost it because his second wife Delilah cut it off? Jeez you’re a simpleton.”
I don’t have a problem with the Samson tale because he didn’t have magic hair. The hair doesn’t really matter when you get down to it. Not in and of itself, anyway. The issue here was obedience and faith. Samson’s hair had nothing to do with his strength except insofar as God had instructed that he not cut it. Much like in the Garden of Eden, God gave a really simple rule, and like Adam and Eve, Samson messed around and broke faith with God. And that’s why his strength went away.
Samson got cocky, he got involved with a woman who was drop-dead sexy (and married her for pretty much that reason alone it seems), and he ended up thinking with his dick and his pride in the end instead of keeping faith with God. So he told Delilah the secret of his strength and she cut off his hair. You could argue that since he didn’t cut his own hair off God should have let him keep those turbo-boosted muscles, but the point is that Samson didn’t take God’s rule seriously. He gave in to Delilah’s pestering and put himself at risk, and I guess he just figured it wouldn’t matter and God would just protect him.
But that’s the story of the Hebrews and God throughout the Old Testament. He saves them, they get complacent and disobedient, He lets them get enslaved or conquered again, they get to a point where they beg for help, He saves them…and the cycle repeats. Samson was a real person but he also served as a metaphor for the Hebrew people as a whole.
It isn’t until Samson is bound to those pillars at the end of the story, when he reaches out to God in faith and humility and sorrow, that his strength is returned. And it ain’t because his hair had grown back by that time, even though that Wikipedia entry I noted above sort of suggests that.
It’s because he had faith, and God answered that faith because it came from Samson’s heart.
God can be a hard father at times, but He does love us and does listen. But first, we have to listen to Him.