The Lust of the Eyes — Lessons from the Life of Samson

By and large, all sins can be categorised into one of three types:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16, NIV).

From the story of Samson, we perceive that he struggled with the lust of the eyes. We first infer this from the account of Samson asking his parents for a Philistine wife:

One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” (Judges 14:1-2; NLT; with emphasis added)

His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” (Judges 14:3; NLT; with emphasis added)

Samson got his wish, but it ultimately led to his grief:

When Samson did not explain his riddle to her, the bible says that she “tormented him with her nagging” (Judges 14:17; NLT) until she got her way.

Later on, Samson’s father-in-law gives Samson’s wife away, and when confronted by Samson, interestingly, Samson’s father-in-law’s reply was: “But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.” (Judges 15:2; NLT; emphasis added), suggesting that he was well-aware of Samson’s weakness for beautiful women.

Shortly after, Samson’s lust of the eyes is once again exposed when he visits Gaza, and “where he saw a prostitute” (Judges 16:1; NIV; emphasis added), and was apparently so smitten by her beauty that he spent the night with her.

Subsequently, Samson meets Delilah, and the bible does not provide details over how they met, but as in the case of his Philistine wife, Samson seems to have focused on Delilah’s external qualities, rather than her inner ones, which eventually brings him grief, as Delilah is just as capable as his previous Philistine wife of “tormenting him” and the bible says that shetormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it” (Judges 16:16; NLT).

The bible warns that “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), and perhaps one might infer from the fact that Samson got his eyes gouged out (Judges 16:21) that this was his ultimate penalty for repeatedly yielding to the lust of the eyes.

Many men in modern society have a weakness for the lust of the eyes just as Samson did. This is reflected by the popularity of Internet pornography among many males.

While the lust of the eyes is often considered as a male issue, are women exempt from its temptation? Perhaps not. Some women can spend hours browsing Internet shopping sites, eventually buying things they want but don’t really need — is this not also an example of yielding to the lust of the eyes?

That said, if one has a propensity for the lust of the eyes, the best way forward would be to confess it to the Lord, and to ask Him to save one from it “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NIV), rather than to ignore the problem and someday have to face up to its tragic consequences.


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