Beautiful, irresistibly sexy, and married to a famous NBA star, Delinda has Samson head-over-heels in love . . . in a dangerous affair that leads to a physical confrontation with Delinda’s husband.
Now, the disgraced pastor begins a journey he could never have anticipated, where his heart is now his guide—not a heart of lust, but of new wisdom and a new kind of seeing. God will forgive Samson’s past—but will Samson himself be able to let go of bitterness and regret, and find a new light in his life?
Inspired by the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, Jacquelin Thomas powerfully portrays a modern-day pastor’s dance with earthly desires . . . and the faith that made him whole.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The first Sunday in June was a perfect day for the installation ceremony of a new pastor.
Samson Taylor admired his reflection in the mirror adorning a wall in his uncle’s office. His suit, made just for this occasion, was tailored to complement his athletic build. He deliberately chose navy because it represented knowledge, power, and integrity.
Women loved his creamy, smooth peanut-colored complexion, his greenish gray eyes, and his neatly trimmed wavy hair. Samson’s six-four height and muscular body had carried him through four years of college basketball at Duke University, from where he graduated at the top of his class, earning a bachelor degree in sociology, and on to the Duke Divinity School, where he earned a master’s of divinity degree.
In a few minutes Samson would be preaching his first sermon after his installation as assistant pastor of Hillside Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
There was a soft knock on the door. Before he could utter a word, a young woman stuck her head inside, gave him a quick once-over, and then said, “You look real handsome, Samson. I just wanted to be the first to congratulate you.”
He broke into a grin. “Thank you, Pamela.”
She met his gaze, then flashed a seductive smile. “I was thinking that maybe we can celebrate later.”
“Maybe,” he responded.
“I guess I’ll see you in the sanctuary.” She disappeared as quietly as she’d come.
He and Pamela had dated during their college days at Duke. She was attending law school now and had made it quite clear that she wanted to renew their relationship. Samson found her attractive, but he knew he had to watch himself now.
He returned his attention to his reflection in the mirror and checked his teeth. Samson had gone to the dentist on Friday to have them cleaned and whitened. His aunt had arranged to have a photographer take a formal picture of him, which would be placed in the lobby beside the one of his uncle Zachariah, the senior pastor of Hillside. Smaller photographs of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather—the man who had founded the original church—graced another wall in the foyer.
Over the years, Hillside had grown from a small congregation of eight to a membership of nearly two thousand. Samson would be the fifth family member installed as a pastor there, following his father, who was now deceased.
The Spirit of the Lord stirred in him, and Samson sensed that something great was about to happen. As far back as he could remember, his father had always told him he was set apart for service to God. After his dad’s death, his uncle Zachariah continued raising him in the knowledge of his calling.
“Your parents would be so proud of you,” said a voice behind Samson.
He turned around to face his aunt. “I really wish they could be here to see me—hear me preach this morning.”
“You are a lot like your father. Elijah was an eloquent speaker, and that man knew the Word,” Hazel told him. Her voice changed as she added, “He had a weakness for beauty, you know. I know that you think I need to mind my own business, but I worry about you. I see the way those fast-tail girls are always up in your face. If you’re not careful, Samson, a woman can ruin everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.”
Samson realized she must have seen Pamela pop in before. He walked over to his aunt and gave her a hug. “Aunt Hazel, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m not letting anyone distract me from what I’ve been called to do. I already tried to run from my calling while I was in college, but I couldn’t escape.” He held her by both shoulders. “Aunt Hazel, I give you my word. No one will come between me and God. I won’t let that happen.”
She glanced up at him. “I pray for you daily.”
“Trust me. I have everything under control,” he reaffirmed with a smile. “I admit that I love the attention, but I won’t let that control me or take my focus off the Lord. You’ll see.”
“Famous last words. I don’t know why I bother to tell you men anything. You think you know everything, but you don’t. Mark my words . . .”
“Honey, what are you all afire over this morning?” Zachariah asked as he walked in on them talking in his office.
“Uncle, she was just warning me not to walk the same path as my father.”
Zachariah slipped on his blazer. “Well, I have those same worries, Samson. Elijah was a good man, but he let those women ruin him. It bothered me greatly when he was forced out of the church, but there really wasn’t much I could do.”
Samson nodded, the memory putting a slight damper on his mood. “I don’t think I ever saw my mother cry as much as she did that day. When we got home, she told him that we were leaving. My mom packed us up and we left for the train station.” He became quieter, lost in the awful memory. “Dad followed us. I remember they were standing outside the train station talking. My mom was still upset and standing close to the street. That truck was coming so fast—I had a feeling something was about to happen. So did my dad, because he put his arms around my mom as if to protect her just as it jumped the curb. I heard him tell her that he loved her, and then he asked God to forgive him. Those were the last words I ever heard my dad say.”
Hazel wrapped an arm around him. “It was a sad day.”
Samson’s parents were killed on impact by a PET Milk truck. After it was discovered that the driver had been drinking, Samson’s aunt and uncle sued the company and were awarded over two million dollars, which they placed in a trust for Samson. The trust had come under Samson’s control on his twenty-fifth birthday, and the only luxuries he allowed himself were a couple of nice suits, the down payment on a brand-new town house, and the purchase of a Lexus SUV.
“You really think my dad would be proud of me?” Samson asked.
Zachariah nodded. “My brother and Ruby would both be thrilled to see the man you’ve become, son. And you know that Hazel and I couldn’t be any more pleased than we are right now.”
One of the ushers passing by the office paused briefly to remind them that the service was about to start. Samson and his aunt followed Zachariah out of the office and quickly made their way to the sanctuary.
After the praise and worship services, the moment had come for Samson to deliver his sermon. Confident, he walked up to the podium, carrying the Bible that had once belonged to his father in his hands. He flashed his aunt a bright smile, then said, “Good morning, Church.”
“Good morning,” the congregation responded in unison.
“The scripture references today will come from Hebrews chapter ten, verses thirty through thirty-one. The King James Version reads like this: ‘I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’”
He paused to let them consider these words. “There was a man sitting at his dying wife’s bedside. ‘Honey,’ she breathed, her voice little more than a whisper, ‘I’ve got a confession to make before I go. I’m the one who took the ten thousand dollars from your safe and spent it on a fling with your best friend. And I was the one who forced your mistress to leave the city. Also, I’m the one who reported your income tax evasion to the government.’
“This was his response: ‘That’s all right; don’t give it a second thought. I’m the one who poisoned you.’”
Laughter rang out around the sanctuary.
Samson’s uncle gave a slight nod of approval.
“My message this morning is about what happens when you sin. The first thing you should know is that there is a price to pay. Now here are two interesting facts: Our sinful nature is inherited. Ephesians chapter two, verse three, tells us, ‘Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’
“The other fact is that sin is the result of a human choice. Now, make sure you catch this in the spirit. Romans chapter one, verses eighteen through twenty, says, ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.’”
Samson’s eyes darted around the sanctuary, noting the expressions on the members’ faces. Pleased that they appeared engaged, he gave a brief overview of what sin does before moving on to the consequences.
“Man becomes a slave to sin, and sin places a barrier between God and man,” Samson explained. “Sin ruins relationships. Sin brings guilt, it brings death, and more importantly, it is eternal separation from God.”
He finished his speech to a rousing standing ovation. Several members approached him afterward, offering congratulations and words of support and encouragement.
“Man, you even had me interested today,” his best friend Trey said, joining him. Trey and Samson had been friends since third grade. They were similar in features, only Trey’s complexion was the color of a new penny and he had shaved his head bald. Trey’s muscular build served him well as a physical therapist. “You did an awesome job. Congrats.”
Trey’s words meant a lot to Samson, especially since Trey was virtually a stranger to church. “Thanks for coming to support me. I really wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“That’s what friends are for. Right, Pastor?”
Samson laughed. “Pastor. Trey, can you believe it?”
“I’m still working my head around it,” he admitted. “I always thought you were doing all this to please your aunt and uncle. To be honest, I never really thought you’d go all the way. Not Mr. Oh-so-smooth Samson Taylor.”
“I’ll always be smooth. That will never change,” Samson responded with a chuckle. “It’s just who I am.” Trey was referring to his love for women. He and Trey shared a lot of the same interests, even when it came to women. They were both drawn to the same type of woman. Only, Samson always seemed to get to them first.
“I hear you, bro,” Trey said. He lowered his voice to a whisper and added, “You know you have to change your ways now. You are a man of the cloth.”
“I am still a man, Trey,” Samson countered. “There’s no denying that I love women, and that won’t ever end, but I’m not going to do anything that will taint my ministry or stain my uncle’s sterling reputation.” For a second, Samson thought about his father.
A couple of women strolled by, smiling like the sun was shining down on them.
Samson and Trey both smiled back.
“Lord, deliver me from temptation,” Samson muttered.
Trey laughed. “Look at you . . .”
Samson held his hands up in innocence. “Hey, I never said it was going to be easy, Trey, but I will overcome. I don’t want to stand up in the pulpit and be a hypocrite.” I have no intention of being like my father.
“You’re making it hard for yourself by becoming a pastor,” Trey responded. “You could have just stayed a regular old sinner like me.”
Surprised, Samson burst into laughter. “I wish it were that simple, Trey. The truth is, this isn’t about my family or what they want for me. This is the call that God placed in my heart and there’s no running from it. I already tried that, remember?”
Trey scanned his friend’s face, noting the subtle lift of Samson’s chin. “You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am. This is what I was born to do. By the way, I’m hoping to see more of you in church from now on.”
Trey shook his head. “Samson, you know me,” he said seriously. “I’m still searching for something, but when I find it, I’ll know.”
“The only thing missing from your life is God,” Samson told him.
“We’ve had these discussions before, bro. I’m not knocking what God means to you, but I’m just not where you are. I might get there one day, but for right now, I’ll just keep searching.”
“I’ll keep you lifted in prayer, Trey.”
“Hey, we should be celebrating,” he told Samson, changing the subject. “Let me take you to lunch.”
“Sounds like a plan.” He knew that Pamela was expecting to spend time with him, but Samson wasn’t in the mood for her whining. She was clingy at times, a quality that Samson found unattractive. That and her constant whining.
Hazel walked up, stopping the two men before they could make their escape. “Oh, no you don’t,” she said, wagging a finger. “We have all this food prepared in Samson’s honor. You and Trey just march yourself over to the banquet hall. You’re eating here.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Trey towered over her, and he wrapped an arm around her tiny frame. “It was your nephew’s idea. You know that, right?”
She glared sharply at Samson, who said, “Why do you always believe everything Trey tells you? Aunt Hazel, he’s the real culprit.”
She looked from one to the other. “See, that’s why I used to punish you both.”
“Man, I remember those days,” Trey said. “And then when I went home, I was punished again.”
“When you went home,” Hazel echoed. “Boy, you practically lived at our house. You went home on the weekends.”
“That’s because my mom worked nights at the hospital and she didn’t want to leave me home by myself.”
“Honey, I know,” Hazel said as she gave his hand a little squeeze. “Trey, you know that we loved having you around. In fact, I wish you’d start coming around more—seems like the only time we see you these days is when you’re picking up my nephew.”
Trey pretended to be solemn. “I’ll be better about that from now on, Miss Hazel.”
“See that you are,” she responded.
“Some things never change, huh?” Samson muttered when his aunt went off to find her husband.
A young woman sashayed past them, swinging her hips. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure they were watching her.
“Bro, you sho’ right about that—some things never change,” Trey said. “You just stepped out of the pulpit and look at you. I saw the way you were looking at that girl.”
“I’m human, Trey. Not blind.”
They laughed as they made their way toward the church cafeteria.
“Mr. Preacher Man, the ladies sure are checking you out,” Trey said in a low voice. “You better make sure the only thing you’re doing up in this place is preaching, Samson. I hope you can stay focused with all this attention.” He took another glance around. “Bro, I don’t envy you one bit. I don’t know if I could handle all this temptation.”
Samson shrugged nonchalantly. “Trey, I got this. Don’t worry, I’m the one in control.”
© 2010 Jacquelin Thomas
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Samson by Jacquelin Thomas includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In this modern-day adaptation of the Bible story of Samson and Delilah, Samson Taylor, the charismatic associate pastor of Hillside Baptist Church, marries Savannah Ramsey, a beautiful young Buddhist, despite their different religious faiths. Over time, their union unravels: Samson discovers that Savannah has betrayed him with his best friend, Trey, and he insists on a divorce. Hungry for revenge, Samson seduces Savannah’s younger sister, Kenya. When Kenya reveals that she is carrying his child, Samson reluctantly agrees to marry her to protect his professional reputation as pastor, but this second marriage also dissolves. Samson loves God and wants to do right, but his lust for beautiful women cannot be stopped. When he becomes romantically entangled with Delinda Lewis-Hatcher, the wife of an NBA superstar, her cuckolded husband responds with violence, injuring Samson in a vicious fight that results in Samson’s blindness. Eventually, Samson’s faith, his love for family, and his path to recovery bring him to a new place in his walk with God, one that transforms his life.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. “‘I am still a man . . . there’s no denying that I love women, and that won’t ever end, but I’m not going to do anything that will taint my ministry or put a dark stain on my uncle’s sterling reputation.’” How would you characterize Samson’s call to the ministry? What role does his family’s history as religious leaders in Hillside Baptist Church play in Samson’s decision to become a pastor? What does his resolve against yielding to sexual temptation suggest about his awareness of his own weaknesses?
2. How does Samson’s initial encounter with Savannah Ramsey foreshadow the nature of their relationship as husband and wife? Why isn’t Samson more forthcoming with Trey about his true feelings for Savannah? How does his dishonesty jeopardize their friendship?
3. “‘Samson, I know that you love this girl, but you are a man of God,’ his uncle said. ‘What do you think the members will say when they find out you’re married to an unbeliever?’” Why doesn’t Samson listen to his family’s concerns about Savannah’s Buddhist faith? To what extent is it problematic for a Christian religious leader to marry someone who doesn’t worship the same God? Why is Samson eager to marry Savannah despite their different religious beliefs?
4. How does Trey’s conversion to Buddhism impact his relationship with Savannah? Given Trey and Samson’s shared attitude about never letting women come between them, why would both men risk their friendship for Savannah’s affection? What aspects of Savannah’s character make her so compelling to both Trey and Samson?
5. To what extent is Samson’s behavior toward Kenya in the aftermath of his divorce from Savannah in keeping with the moral standards of a Baptist pastor? Why does he treat her as he does? What does Kenya’s decision to sever ties with Samson and refuse him access to their child suggest about the impact of his behavior on her?
6. “Samson vowed to be a better man now that he had been given a second chance. He . . . was going to do his uncle proud. He was not going to make the same mistakes as before.” How do Aunt Hazel and Uncle Zachariah together function as Samson’s moral compass? In what ways do Hazel and Zachariah embody traditional Christian values in their lives? How do those values help them accept and love Samson, despite his personal failures?
7. How does the author’s decision to set the story of Samson in the context of a religious institution—a pastor of a Baptist Church who engages in extramarital sexual activity—impact your appreciation of the personal tragedy that befalls Samson? How would a secular setting—a law firm or a bank, for example—alter your sense of Samson’s true character, and the physical, professional, and spiritual risks implicit in his behavior?
8. “‘I can’t go with you. Samson, I’ve already told you that what we had is over. I’m not going to leave Bobby.’” How would you characterize Delinda Lewis-Hatcher’s feelings for Samson, and his for her? Given her suspicions that Bobby has been unfaithful and was having her followed, what accounts for Delinda’s refusal to end her marriage? Are Delinda and Samson’s affections grounded entirely in physical lust, or is there something larger that connects them?
9. Why do you think the author gave Delinda a name so closely associated with that of Delilah in the Bible story of Samson and Delilah? To what extent do Savannah, Kenya, Teà, and Delinda all serve as symbols of Delilah—the feminine temptress who causes an inherently good man to stray? Is Delinda the worst of these temptresses, or just another in a series of women who cause Samson to depart from his spiritual obligations? How responsible is Samson for his own downfall, and to what extent is he the victim of these beautiful women?
10. “‘This is my life and I accept it.’” What role does Meagan play in Samson’s transition from life as a sighted person to life as a blind person? How does Kenya’s willingness to include Samson in Jamie’s life affect him? What does Samson’s adjustment to his new reality reveal about his character and his faith in God?
Tips to Enhance Your Book Club
1. Are you interested in learning more about Jacquelin Thomas’s creative process in writing the novel Samson? To read little-known biographical details about the author and to learn about her many other works of fiction, visit her official website: http://www.jacquelinthomas.com.
2. Jacquelin Thomas may be available to participate in your next book club meeting, either in person or by telephone. Visit http://www.jacquelinthomas.com/bookclubs.htm to set up a meeting!
3. The Biblical story of Samson and Delilah is one that has undergone many contemporary retellings. Your book club may enjoy viewing the 1949 film Samson and Delilah, starring Hedy Lamarr as Delilah and directed by the famed Cecil B. DeMille. After your club views the film, discuss as a group how Jacquelin Thomas’s modern story of the aftermath of a passionate affair compares to the relationship portrayed in the movie.
4. Savannah Ramsey is a committed Buddhist who adheres to her faith in spite of pressure from her husband, Samson, to convert to his Christian faith. How familiar is your book club with either religious tradition? To learn more about what Christians, Buddhists, and other people of faith believe, visit the Big Religion Chart chart at http://www.religionfacts.com, a comparative religion site that analyzes different faiths and examines their underlying beliefs. Your book club may want to examine what Buddhists and Christians have in common, and where they differ in terms of their religious tenets.
My first book I've read by this Author. She is a great writer and knows how to make the Characters come to life. The story flows well and has a good Christian message for readers. I like that this book doesn't mix sexual content with Christian content like many Christian non fiction books do. So if you are looking for a good book with a good flow and where characters come to life this is a must read.
Jacquelin Thomas has been one of my favorites when I first read the Prodigal Husband and I have been on her tail since that time reading everything I can get my hands on...She captures the essence of the bible stories that we all know that in where we are in life, captures it in another light causing you to not just understand but look at it in another way in REAL LIFE...Thank you Jacquelin never stop writing you inspire me...
This book was engaging from beginning to end!!! A true page turner!!!
Samson ,is a truly good read
Christian author Jacquelin Thomas has crafted a new novel with a contemporary twist on the love story of the Biblical characters, Samson and Delilah. Her modern day Sampson is the Assistant Pastor of Hillside Baptist Church in North Carolina where his uncle Zachariah is the senior pastor. Samson Taylor was born into a family of pastors beginning with his great grandfather who founded the church. He indeed had some big shoes to fill. He had tried to run from his calling while he was in college but found that he could not escape the plans that God had for him. Tall, muscular and very handsome, Samson has a weakness for beautiful women, not unlike his late father Elijah who was forced out of the church as Pastor when he allowed his wanton ways to replace his love for ministry. Samson was determined that he would not repeat his father's fate. Raised by his uncle and aunt after his parents are killed in a tragic accident; Samson has finally reached the pinnacle of success and they are very proud of him. Yet, they too worry that he is his father's son. He is a single man in ministry and already the congregation wants him to take a wife. Samson meets and marries the lovely Savannah Keyes after a brief courtship despite the fact that Savannah is a practicing Buddhist. And here is where the drama begins. Samson falls hard for Savannah, a lawyer who is just as intelligent and accomplished, as she is poised and beautiful. He feels that once he captures her heart, she will give up being a Buddhist. They are certainly unequally yoked and although both their families and friends are against this union; he and Savannah marry anyway. What I like about this author's work is her ability to take Biblical characters and Christian themes creating modern-day story-lines that appeal to all readers. She uses real problems that Christians struggle with that are both timely and believable. There are no "pie-in-the-sky" story-lines in her novels and her latest release is no different. It doesn't take long before troubles begin to befall the newlyweds. Savannah leaves him for his childhood best friend. He is both hurt and angry and in his anger, he spirals into a downward spin. He plans his revenge against Savannah. He finds comfort in other women. Samson gives in to each and every temptation that he is presented with. Although Samson loves God; he allows himself to be controlled by his lust. He is forced to walk away from the church. After a very tragic encounter with the husband of one of these women, Samson is a broken man. He has no other alternative than to turn to God. This book was a very engaging read. The storyline was well paced and full of emotion. The plot was complex with a great deal of action. The characters were just like everyday people with everyday issues; yet they were unique and interesting. As Sampson finds his way down the winding road to redemption, I felt like I knew this man and had come to care about what would ultimately happen to him. Jacquelin Thomas receives another feather in her cap for this book. I highly recommend it.
Samson Taylor has just joined Hillside Baptist Church as an associate pastor under the leadership of his uncle, Zachariah. A known womanizer, Samson tried to flee his calling, but he could no longer deny that he was indeed called into the ministry. Afraid that his father's curse with women would in some way destroy his life, as it had his parents, Samson vows that he would not live the same way. Now if he can just find a way to curb his lustful ways, life would be that much easier. After meeting Savannah Ramsey, a Buddhist, he is convinced that she is the one. Even at the thought of losing a long time friend, he can`t imagine his world minus her. However, when betrayal enters the relationship, Samson's Christianity takes a backseat as he allows his bruised ego and heavy heart to guide him from one rocky road to the next. Caught up in a dangerous love affair, Pastor Taylor finds himself forced to see the world in a whole new way. Will his anger prevent him from seeing what God is trying to teach him? I really enjoy reading Jacquelin Thomas' books. It's like taking a refresher course in bible study with a new approach. The characters are three-dimensional, with solid story lines that flow effortlessly. You can't help but to embrace the message. Definitely a recommended read. Reviewed by: Crystal
On the surface, Pastor Samson Taylor appears to be the ideal pastor. Every time he mounts the podium, he delivers a soul-stirring message. Lives are changed and people are uplifted, unfortunately, Samson doesn't listen to his own sermons. Instead, Pastor Taylor is lead by his arrogance and lust for the flesh. Ms. Thomas has written a realistic modern-day story of the biblical Samson. At times, I became frustrated with Pastor Samson Taylor, because of the foolish mistakes he made and his lack of accountability and godly consciousness. I sadly discovered my frustration was due to the similarities of many church leaders today. I recommend this book to all church leaders.
Once again, Jacquelin Thomas delivers a first-class piece of work. As I read this book, I begin to imagine how many preachers are dealing with the same struggle that Samson is dealing with. It reinforces how important it is that we yield not to temptation and that we take the calling on our lives very seriously and not allow the desires of the flesh to cause us to miss our destiny.
Jacquelin Thomas has done it again. She has made me fall in love with the characters and kept me turning the pages. This book is a great read for anyone. Sensual yet classy, Sexy but not raunchy. Good to the last drop. Jacqueline gives us the characters that we grew up reading stories about in Sunday school then adds a twist to make us understand more clearly that they were very much like some of the people that we know today. I can't wait to see what She will come up with next.
Loved it. Can't wait to read the next book!
I found the book to be rushed. I wish the author would have taken more time with Samson's relationships after Savannah.
The book was kind of slow at times, but overall a good read.
This is an amazing story!
Great book love love the story