Lord, I focus on the presence of Your Spirit as I prepare to meet You in Your Word.
Read Judges 14
14 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. 11 When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions.
12 “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.”
“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”
14 He replied,
“Out of the eater, something to eat;
out of the strong, something sweet.”
For three days they could not give the answer.
15 On the fourth[a] day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?”
16 Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.
18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle.”
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.
- Judges 14:15 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew seventh
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHas God ever worked in unexpected ways in your life?
There’s a lot not to like about Samson here. He demands a wife from among Israel’s oppressors, the Philistines (1–3). He surely breaks his Nazarite vow by being in the vicinity of vineyards (5), touching the carcass of a lion (6,8,9) and by participating in what was likely an alcohol-fueled, week-long wedding feast (10–12). He lacks resolve (16,17), and flies into a violent rage when he loses his bet with the Philistines (19). Readers who yesterday detected echoes of the New Testament stories announcing the births of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5–25) and Jesus (Luke 1:26–38) in the account of Samson’s birth, might be wondering what is going on – this is not the approach to Israel’s deliverance that was expected!
Those who like to see things in black and white may be frustrated at the narrator’s refusal to either condemn or condone Samson’s conduct. As ever, we are assured of God’s sovereignty (4)– but does that really justify Samson’s behavior? Does He really have Israel’s deliverance in view? The fact that God works for the good in all things (Romans 8:28) does not mean that all things in which He works are good. Does God’s sovereign end justify all human means?
As Christians we too are set apart for God. What should this look like in the various contexts in which you live out your faith?
Holy Spirit, I consecrate myself again to You and ask for Your transforming power in my life to make me more like Jesus.