Inspirational historical fiction writer, Ginger Garrett puts her own spin on a classic Biblical tale with her latest novel, Desired. In this book, the talented author tells the tale of Samson's strength and heartbreak through the eyes of the three most important women in his life. Today, go behind the scenes of the story to discover how Garrett re-imagined one of the Bible's most heroic figures.
Delilah was a legendary seductress. (Wasn’t she?) Samson was a gorgeous hunk who was a feast for the eyes. (Right?) And his mother, who is never named, was just a minor figure in his story. (Maybe?)
All these questions tempted me to explore the tale of Samson as told in the book of Judges. Having grown up with the old Hollywood version of the story, I was perplexed by the biblical account. Samson’s story was more complicated, unsettling, and beautiful than I had imagined. Here were a few verses from Scripture that especially intrigued me:
“There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.” Judges 13:2 NASB
Throughout the biblical story, Samson’s mother is never given a name. That sparked my interest in her. What if this was by her choice? What if she wanted the focus kept on her son and his struggles? I decided to let Samson’s mother tell us the story of raising history’s most notorious prodigal son in her own words…and no, I never give her a name, either.
She had such high hopes for her son, and rightly so. An angel, perhaps the Lord Himself, had appeared to her before Samson’s birth, and promised that Samson would begin a great work. Every mother would have high expectations for her son…who would have guessed that God would work through such a rebel?
Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have killed a thousand men.” Judges 15:16
If Samson’s count is accurate, and he slaughtered one man every thirty seconds, that’s about sixteen hours of killing. Samson was involved in some frightening, disturbing episodes. He must have also been a very strange looking man, with hair as long as you can imagine it, a long beard, and a haunted look in his eye. After all, he knew he had a destiny to fulfill—and he was more interested in marrying the Philistine girls than slaughtering the Philistine men.
“It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.” Judges 16:16
Delilah is often portrayed as a seductive vixen, but the biblical account says her power over Samson was relentless nagging. The strongest man in history was overcome by a determined woman. I wanted to understand Delilah as a broken human, not a cartoon vixen and vamp. After all, she sold the man who loved her. How broken would a woman have to be to let go of the one man who loves her? Delilah was a real mystery, both in the biblical account and to me as a writer.
I loved seeing Samson through the eyes of the three women who loved him most: his first wife, his mother, and Delilah. My heart broke for each woman, but I was left with a message of redemption. Samson reminded me that strength alone can never save, and broken hearts can still be mended by love.
- Ginger Garrett