From Judges 13-15
Jdg 13.1-13; Story; The Birth of Samson
Jdg 14.1-20; Story; Samson’s Marriage
Jdg 15.1-20; Story; Samson Defeats the Philistines
Passage and Comments
Samson is the most well known judge. He proves to be a wild one when he enters adulthood. Not much is said about his childhood or his faith. Only that he was raised to be a Nazirite and he believes in God. His decision making is questionable, but the LORD uses him anyhow.
The Philistines are in power. Israel is subdued under their rule. God has raised up Samson. Samson is a ladies man.
14 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” (Jdg 14:1–3)
Intermarriage was prohibited. Foreign women lead Israelite men into foreign worship. Idolatry. Samson’s parents were wise to try and lead Samson to choose someone from their own people. But when Samson sets his mind on something he can be quite stubborn.
The expression ‘she is right in my eyes’ suggests Samson found her acceptable. People in the scriptures were described as the righteous, as being righteous. God finds them acceptable as well.
4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel. (Jdg 14:4)
Despite Samson’s poor decision making the LORD is going to use his interest in women to the benefit of Israel.
We dont always know how the LORD can use any situation. Good or bad for his own purposes.
The LORD is seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. Samson is a judge. Philistines will die.
5 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6 Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes. (Jdg 14:5-7)
Samson ‘tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat’ (v6). Of course we all know how easy it is to tear a young goat apart with our bare hands… Samson could do the same with a lion. He is strong and fast.
The lion was just in his way. All he wanted was to speak to the foreign women. He didn’t even mention the lion he just tore up. Perhaps he is humble. Samson liked what he saw. Perhaps she was interested as well.
8 After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion. (Jdg 14:8-9)
When Samson returned for the woman he sees again the lion he killed. For some reason bees nested in the lion’s carcass. As you would, Samson scraped some of the honey out for himself. Sticky hands. He shared it with his parents. Once again he did not speak about the lion. So no one knows.
Samson wants to marry this foreign women. So he makes preparations.
10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them,
“Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.”
And in three days they could not solve the riddle. (Jdg 14:10-14)
The wedding feast will last for seven days. Don’t worry, they don’t get married. It falls in a heap.
Samson makes a deal with thirty of the woman’s companions. If they guess the riddle he will pay them thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes. I guess for us that could be a lot for just one person. But for thirty people, that is one linen garment and one item of clothing each. Not too bad. But we will see below even that has a lot of value.
He tells them a riddle based on his experiences with the lion and the honey. They are stumped.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?” (Jdg 14:15-18a)
The thirty companions, who must be friends, family or fellow Philistines with the woman convince her to betray Samson and get him to betray the answer to the riddle. Emotional blackmail. She wears him down. ‘On the seventh day he tells her because she pressed him hard.’ (v17)
And he said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle.” (Jdg 14:18b)
Samson dislikes the fact they ‘plowed with his heifer’ and found out his riddle. They should have feared the consequences.
19 And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man. (Jdg 14:19–20)
Samson strikes down another thirty men. Takes their spoil (clothing) and gives it to the thirty men he had a deal with. The marriage ceremony is broken. The woman he wanted to marry was given to his best man! Shocker. Perhaps a hollywood movie in the works.
And this is how the LORD begins to win over the Philistines. Through crazy mixed up events like these.
Samson is a Judge. He just killed his first thirty Philistines.
Story of Israel
Samson is about to kill many more. The majority of the fights he has are caused by the petty squabbles he has over his woman. None the less the LORD continued to use Samson to kill more and more Philistines.
One thing that strikes me as I read a number of Old Testament stories is the variety of weird and wonderful ways the LORD works. The people he uses are ordinary. Perhaps I’ve seen too many Hollywood movies. I have these expectations about what hero’s must do and say. How God should work and what he must be doing.
The LORD works in mysterious ways.
More often than not the LORD is doing things right under our nose and we don’t even know it. This is encouraging and it teaches us to look in different places. For opportunity’s, blessings and surprises.
Story of Jesus
In the gospel the LORD continues to work in mysterious ways through Jesus teaching and ministry.
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Mt 12:9–21)
Jesus teaches people when it is okay to do good – It’s always okay to do good. He fulfills unexpected prophecies. The Gentiles will hope in his name. This is the unexpected mystery revealed to the apostles. Paul in particular.
3 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph 3:1–6)
Through weird and unusual ways the LORD used Samson to put down the Philistines and thus save Israel. Through Jesus and his gospel, the Gentiles became heirs of the kingdom, members of the same church and partakers in the LORD’s great promises given to Abraham and David.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.