Gospel Song – Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way)

Gospel Song – Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way)

Gospel Song – Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way).

The legendary Blind Willie Johnson composed this song, and he recorded it in 1927. He only recorded about 30 songs in total, but practically every song has become a gospel classic. For more on his life, refer to the post “God Don’t Never Change.” This song about Samson is kind of a combination talking gospel with singing. Blind Willie reportedly was arrested and thrown in jail for singing this song on a New Orleans sidewalk, right in front of the NO Custom House. After singing many times the refrain, “If I had my way, I’d tear this building down,” the police were called to arrest Blind Willie because he was threatening an insurrection, that he was going to overthrow the Custom House. Hopefully the police sooner or later realized Willie was singing about Samson tearing down the Philistine building at the end of Samson’s life. This classic has been a constant part of concert performances, from the Grateful Dead to Bruce Springsteen to Patty Griffin.


LYRICS – Samson and Delilah (If I Had My way)

Refrain: If I had my way, if I had my way, if I had my way in this wicked world, I would tear this building down.

You read about Samson, you read about his birth. He was the strongest man that ever lived on earth.

One day Samson was walking alone. He looked down on the ground and saw an old jaw bone.

And when he got to moving ten thousand was dead.


Samson and the lion got in attack, Samson he crawled up on the lion’s back.

You read about this lion, he killed a man with his paw. Samson he got his hands around the lion’s jaw.

And he ripped that beast til the lion was dead, and the bees made honey in the lion’s head.


Delilah was a woman, she was fine and fair. She had lovely looks, God knows, and coal black hair.

Delilah she climbed up on Samson’s knee, and said, “Tell me where your strength lies, if you please.” 

She talked so fine, she talked so fair, Samson said, “Delilah, just cut off my hair.

Shave my head just as clean as your hand, and my strength will be like a natural man.


They shaved his head just as close as the hand. They took him down to the Philistine’s land.

They took him down to judgment hall, they blinded him and chained him to the wall.

He called out “Lord!” and his hair began to grow. He talked to a kid about three feet tall.

“Place my hands up against the wall,” and he tore that building down. 



Unquestionably, one of Scripture’s biggest mixed bags was none other than Samson, the judge who ruled over western Israel for 20 years. On the one hand, he was touched by God’s hand in a unique way. His birth was announced not once, but twice by an angel of the Lord. There are some scholars who believe it was Jesus Himself making an appearance. The angel of the Lord gave precise instructions to the wife of Manoah about her pregnancy with this son. The boy was to be consecrated to God’s service right from the mother’s womb, dedicated to God and His purposes. The angel told her to eat kosher, drink no alcohol, and never cut the boy’s hair. That was known as a nazarite vow, and was unusual. The parents named him Samson, and he was blessed with superhuman strength in order to subdue, or at least start to subdue, their enemy the Philistines. Samson indeed killed thousands of the enemy before he was through. The Philistines would not be totally subdued until king David. The truth of the matter is that Samson was uniquely called and gifted by God to do His will.

On the other hand, this special consecrated man was deeply flawed. He consorted with prostitutes. He was especially violent. He was ruled by his sensuality and arrogance. He foolishly confided in the wrong people. He chased after pagan women. But his final downfall was trusting in a woman, his latest infatuation, who would betray him to the enemy. Delilah nagged until Samson told her his secret… his unusual strength was his hair, a sign from God that he was blessed by Him. So Delilah called in the Philistines, they shaved his hair, and his strength was gone. Once able to kill a lion with his bare hands, Samson became as weak as a kitten.

One might be puzzled by the fact that, despite his flaws, Samson was mentioned for his faith in the Hebrew Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. Samson revealed this faith in his one shining moment at the end of his life, the one time he seemed to place his trust fully in God. As he was being paraded and shamed at the Philistine’s extravagant pagan ceremony in their huge temple holding thousands of the enemy, Samson asked the Lord for his strength back this one last time. Samson wanted to take down the temple and destroy the enemy there. The Lord gave Samson his strength, and he indeed tore that building down, ending his life but also the lives of the thousands of Philistines in attendance. Samson was truly heroic in his death, he rose to the occasion with his final breath. The Lord responded to Samson’s request with surprising grace, overlooking Samson’s many faults and failed potential. And that is the mystery in the life of Samson. How could someone so specially dedicated to God from birth, with unlimited potential, make such a mess of things? How could a man called and gifted so uniquely, show consistent moral weakness? And how could God graciously overlook the deeds of Samson and grant his last request at the end of his life? Truly, God’s ways are above our ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts. Only God sees the Big Picture. Come to think of it, I guess we are all mixed bags to one degree or another, aren’t we?