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 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.
Sin and rebellion against God put us on a slippery slope of more sin and rebellion. In Judges 14, Samson zips down this very slope. First, he desires and chooses to marry someone outside his faith. Second, he breaks his Nazarite vow by touching a dead animal. After this, he commits murder and then abandons his new wife. As followers of Christ, we’re keenly aware that while acts of holiness often lead to further holiness, sin often leads us to more and more sin. We can learn much from observing Samson’s sinful actions.
As seen in Deuteronomy 7:1-3 and later in 2 Corinthians 6:14, God’s desire is for His followers to marry only within the family of God. Instead of fighting the Philistines, Samson sees a woman who seems right in his own eyes and demands his parents get her to be his wife. He chooses to marry someone outside the Lord’s covenant people. When he says, “She’s the right one for me,” he follows the pattern of the other Israelites who chose to do what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25).
He follows his decision to marry a pagan by eating honey from a lion carcass, thereby breaking his Nazarite vow by not staying away from dead bodies (Numbers 6:6). In Judges 14:19, he strikes down 30 men, and in the next verse he gives his newly married wife to one of his companions. Samson epitomizes doing what was right in his own eyes by marrying outside his faith, breaking his Nazarite vows, murdering 30 men, and abandoning his wife by giving her away sexually to another man.
It’s easy for us to think we’re different than Samson because we don’t murder or marry outside our faith. But we need to be just as careful that we don’t choose to sin against God and others in the mundane and daily moments of life. All sin is against God and everyone one of us sins and falls short of the glory of God. The slope is slippery with all sin, and we would be wise to learn from Samson’s downward spiral of sin and rebellion as seen in Judges 14.
- What do you think it means that Samson’s marriage decision “was from the Lord” (v. 4)?
- Where is your personal sin leading you down a slope toward more sin?
- Whether you’re married or single, why do you think it matters to marry someone who is of your same faith?
It seems odd that Samson’s decision to marry the Philistine woman “was from the Lord.” In his commentary on the book of Judges, Dr. Tom Constable says, “This means the Lord permitted it, though it was not a marriage that He preferred…it shows how God providentially overrules human folly and brings His will to pass in spite of it (cf. Ps. 76:10; Rom 8:28).”
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