Lessons from The Woman in Timnah on Learning from Mistakes

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For the last 2 weeks we have been studying the women in Samson's life. So far we've looked at:

  1. His mother: and what she had to teach us about leading by example
  2. Delilah: and her example of being persistent in our (prayer) requests to God

But there was one more woman of significance in Samson's life, who tends not to be spoken about. Like many women of the Bible, including his mother, she is nameless. As such, the Bible only identifies her by where she came from in Judges 14:1- "a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines".

What I find interesting about this woman is that she came before Delilah; yet there are many parallels between the 2 of them:

  • They both were not Hebrew (like Samson and his family): As previously mentioned, our spritual mother was from Timnah; Delilah was from the Valley of Sorek
  • They were both used to draw information out of Samson that could be used against him by the Philistines, thereby setting him up and bringing about his downfall: The woman from Timnah told the Philistines the answer to a riddle that Samson posed, causing him to be indebted to them (Judges 14:12-20). Delilah told them where the source of his strength came from, which ultimately caused him to end up blind and in jail (Judges 16:4-31)
  • They both managed to coax information out of him through sheer perseverance in playing on his emotions: As shown in Judges 14:16-17 and Judges 16:15-17

So basically, even though Delilah was the one who caused his ultimate demise, she was not the first to try. The Philistines knew that they could use Samson's love for her as a weapon against him because they had done so successfully before with The Woman in Timnah.

One of my favourite sayings when it comes to people is "fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me". It basically means if somebody does something negative to you for the first time then you have every right to say that you didn't see it coming. It is therefore a shame on them because they took advantage of your trust and good will. However, if after somebody treats you in that manner, you allow them to do it to you again- it's a shame on you because you had prior exposure to that trait/behaviour. Can you imagine what would have happened if Samson would have operated with that mindset? He would have been able to see Delilah and the Philistines coming from a mile away! The Woman in Timnah therefore teaches us the importance of learning from our mistakes, which involves the following process:

  1. Recognising that there has been a mistake: whether that's because things have not gone the way you wanted them to (as was the case with Samson and the riddle), because of a set back or perceived failure
  2. Seeking forgiveness: from God and anyone else involved, if appropriate, but also from yourself as we tend to be our harshest critics
  3. Reflect and evaluate: because you need to understand exactly why, where and how the mistake was made- not to beat yourself up about it- but so that you know what not to do/do better in future for, as the saying goes, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"


Related: Lessons from The Adulterous Woman on Grace

So what about you, lovely? Unfortunately for Samson, the cost of not learning from his episode with The Woman in Timnah was huge (blindness, jail and death!) but it doesn't have to be that way for you. God's grace means that we are free to learn from our mistakes and change at any time. That is the true definition of repentance- "to feel such sorrow for sin or fault [mistakes] as to be disposed to change one's life for the better".

Whatever it may be for you both now and in future, follow the 3-part process of learning from your mistakes (as outlined above) and you will be able to say like Emile Coue (20th century French psychologist and pharmacist), "Everyday in every way, I'm getting better and better".


Related: Lessons from The Woman with the Issue of Blood on Being Unorthodox and Upsetting the Status Quo