David C. Cook
In the familiar Samson and Delilah tale, most people see Delilah as the evil, scheming seductress out for victory for Dagon, her god, and her Philistine people. They look to Samson as one of the strong heroes of the Bible who managed to serve God despite his sins. For the most part, Ginger Garrett sticks to this model based on history found in Judges 13-16. But in her novel, Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah, a part of the Lost Loves of the Bible series, Garrett veers somewhat away from the traditional telling when she chooses to tell Samson’s story from the perspectives of the three women who loved him: Amara, Delilah, and Samson’s mother. Consequently, Garrett’s tale becomes slightly gruesome as she shows the reader the darker side of Samson.
The two Philistine women are given stories that make them relatable characters with breakable hearts, while Samson gets a harsh, dark image. Samson has a strong will, and he believes God wants him to marry the two women who fall into his path. Within his relationship with each woman, Samson possesses a gentle, loving nature, but he also throws aside his protesting mother and dying father to follow his own desires. And after Amara (Samson’s unnamed Philistine wife of Judges 14:1) tricks Samson into revealing the answer to the riddle he told in a bet, Samson’s mother witnesses him brutally kill 30 Philistines and deliver their bloody clothes to those he made the bet with as payment for his loss. Suddenly, God’s prophet does not match up with his mother’s ideal of a savior. Samson’s deeds lead to the deaths of Amara and her family, as well, and when Delilah comes his way, his reputation precedes him.
But in Garrett’s version of events, Delilah is not the seductress or fervent Dagon worshipper most perceive her as. Samson must seduce the strong-willed Delilah, who has quite the story to tell. As a young girl, Delilah dealt with family rejection due to her female status and rape because of her beauty. Unexpected events led her to the temple, where she faced the harsh reality of the world that shaped her into an independent woman with boundaries to block out hurt and foster only what brings personal gain. This Delilah cares little for Dagon. When she finally meets Samson, the tempting offer of wealth makes her decision to betray him for her.
Garrett gives Desired a redemptive ending, however, and as Samson meets his destiny, Delilah meets her true Lord through faith. This conclusion does not appear in the Bible, but Garrett thinks positively as she gives readers reason to relate to these broken women. Amara, too, is presented in a positive light as one who would do anything to help her family survive. The chapters told by Samson’s mother are short and leave little time to get to know her, but provide the extra perspective on Samson’s character needed to make the story complete.
Garrett’s writing lacks that page-turner quality, but her story presents enough interesting twists and changes to keep the reader going. Garrett uses incredible historical detail, which must have required much time-consuming research on her part. Ultimately, Desired stays true to the theme that resonates with every Christian: man is fallen and makes mistakes, but God is powerful and will uses man’s faults for His glorious purposes. No one is beyond redemption. Garrett appropriately sums her message up with Hebrews 11:32-24 at the end of her book: “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” – Harmony Wheeler, www.Christianbookpreviews.com
Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desired celebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.