14 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 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.” 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.”
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.
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. 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. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes.
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. 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.
His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 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, 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.” 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.
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?” 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?” 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. 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?”
And he said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle.”
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. And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
Judges 14 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Samson saw with his eyes, wanted in his heart and in the end did what he wanted. To me, it’s interesting this is the first story of Samson we read. It really sets the table for what kind of man he was. Samson was impulsive. He was his own worst enemy.
The strange aspect of this is God would use this impulsiveness for his glory although it was a character flaw.
Samson’s desire for this woman had many issues. Although he asked permission from his parents to marry her their resistance is understandable. Well, he actually didn’t ask permission but demanded they get her for him. One way or the other he was going to do what he wanted. The issues were great though. She was a Philistine and God’s law prohibited such a union.
This was the issue in Judges 3:5-7 when the Israelites pursued unions with the pagans. They eventually had their hearts turned toward pagan worship and walked away from the Lord. The Philistines also were the latest greatest enemy of the Israelites. His marriage to such a person would stir a hatred from other Israelite’s of the family.
But here is where I’ve always wrestled with this passage:
“However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.”Judges 14: 4
The rest of the chapter reveals how there was some good that came from this union as many of the Philistines were killed because of it – but still. The reality is God knew Samson’s heart, which was selfish and impulsive. This marriage did not justify Samson’s actions at all but God does have the ability to take the evil of our own heart, the choices we make, and use them to serve His purposes. But it never justifies our choices.
God was looking for a divide in the Philistines’ strength as they oppressed the Israelites. He had a purpose of seeing their power overthrown. So God allowed Samson to do what he wanted (which He always does) although the act was sinful.
And I think this is where I always land with this difficult verse. God does not stop us from doing wrong. He never has. And yes, because God knows our heart and motives He can use circumstances to bring about a greater purpose. He knows the weaknesses we have, the bent toward sin we embrace at times. Remarkably, He can and will use these instances many times to move His will forward. However, the reality is there is always a personal cost.
If anything this is a reminder of our own personal pursuit of God daily. Our human nature is crouching at our door continually. We wrestle with putting the ‘old man’ down every single day. It really is imperative that we are surrendered to Him in all aspects of our life so we don’t make decisions that will cost us. Yes, God has the ability to bring beauty from such selfish living, but we can pay for being driven by our own wants the rest of our lives.
One more thing to consider. There are a couple places in this passage that state “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power…” By all references, this was a physical strength that enabled him but was not a spiritual strength. He was not affected personally by this. We have the wonderful Holy Spirit to help us and He is the only way we can stand firm against ourselves or the enemy.
I don’t know about you, but such a passage stirs the thought I don’t want to make mistakes based upon my own mind and will. God will allow us to go forward with our own thoughts but what we need is the power of the Holy Spirit to stop us before we go further. We can be our own worst enemy.
We need the Holy Spirit daily to help us recognize where we’re about to fall off the cliff and pursue Him instead in His strength to stand firm.
Judges 14 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Samson’s story is a difficult one to nail down. On one hand, we see him as an impulsive, selfish brute. On the other, it seems that he was used by God to lure in the Philistines.
However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.Judges 14:4 NASB
It seems as if the Lord was seeking a confrontation with the Philistines, and Samson fit the bill. We are given no indication that Samson or his parents are privy to this knowledge. To them, it is as simple as it sounds. “I want that woman, so get her for me.”
However, God knew Samson’s temperament and character so it would seem that He would use this occasion as an opportunity. Something had to give with the Israelite-Philistine relations, and this would be just the event to do it.
Another interesting theme from this chapter is how the Spirit “rushes” upon Samson. Unlike the other judges which the Spirit “came upon” (Gideon, Jephthah), Samson’s encounter seems much more powerful and dramatic. This description is given twice in this chapter and once in Judges 15. Not only that, but he uses no weapons when he battles the lion. He tears it in two pieces with his bare hands. It’s almost too insane to believe. Once the Spirit rushes him, he turns into some kind of wild beast! It reminds me a little of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4.
Samson’s parents are becoming marginalized, but Samson himself is harnessed by God. Though his parents were his connection and accountability to the Nazirite vow, he would slowly begin distancing himself from their watchful eye. This lion encounter is the beginning of that marginalization. Somehow, even though they are traveling together, Samson manages to kill this lion when they aren’t around, and, to our knowledge, he never tells them about it.
To me, it is a powerful analogy of God’s sovereignty. He had tagged Samson as the vessel he would use for Israel’s benefit. Yes, there would be consequences for Samson’s choices, but the Lord would continue to steer him for His glory. In many ways, it’s absolutely mind-boggling.