Judges 14 Commentary
|Judges 14:1 Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines.|
Then - This word often marks succession or sequence (see expressions of time) so that whenever a "then" is encountered one should always ask questions like "When is then?" or "What is the sequence of events that is being emphasized?" At times this interrogation can yield very fruitful answers which help greatly in the interpretation of a section of Scripture. Observation of "then" in prophetic writings can be especially valuable to explain a succession of prophetic events.
In this case the then follows the phrase that "the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him" (Jdg 13:25). However the events that follow are not such that suggest Samson was obedient to the Spirit's stirring! In fact, Samson's subsequent actions seem more representative of the national mindset in which everyone did that which was right in his own eyes (Jdg 21:25-note) rather than what was right in God's eyes! So here we have a man who was set apart (Nazarite conveys the idea of separated and in context specifically to the LORD and His uses) from his mother's womb with the appointed task to begin to deliver (see Jdg 13:5-note) Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Instead one of his first "official actions" as Israel's deliverer was to spy out a Philistine woman!
What a name Samson had been given -- "sunlight, sun-like". Samson is a sobering reminder that great abilities or potential do not necessarily equate with great great faith, specifically faith that shows itself in obedience (see related discussion - Obedience of faith). Samson had a miraculous birth, godly parents, a life-long Nazarite vow and special ministry by the Spirit. God had given the Spirit to Samson in an unparalleled way, so that whenever Samson stood in need of physical strength, it was unreservedly supplied to him. As Paul pointed out, one can “speak with the tongues of men and of angels” yet live a life of loveless emptiness (1Co 13:1).
Believers today can live like Samson, failing to exert self discipline and refusing to wholeheartedly commit to the Lord Jesus Christ. The result? Just like Samson, even though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ep 1:3) and having been granted by our Lord Jesus Christ everything necessary for life and godliness (2Pe 1:3), they fail to live up to their potential in Christ, in fact falling far short of what God had designed (Ep 2:10) and desired for them as men and women redeemed out of bondage by the blood of Christ. And so Samson's story makes for painful reading to most all saints, as we tend to see various aspects of our failings brought out by his glaring failures. It is fascinating that God used 25% of the book of Judges to portray the warning of Samson's life to all saints of all ages! And so we wince as we read Samson's story. Let us read & heed though (1Co 10:6,11,12) not deluded into thinking that this could never happen to us! Samson may well have been the strongest man who ever lived but sadly he proved one of the weakest when it came to self control (Pr 16:32, 25:28, 14:29; 19:11).
These were sad times and needed a godly judge to deliver Israel. The priesthood was corrupt under Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas who were "worthless men" (1Sa 2:12 where the literal Hebrew reads "sons of Belial"!) and profaned the offerings ("despised the offering of the LORD" 1Sa 2:17). Scripture sums up these times in [1Sa 3:1] -- "word from the LORD was rare in those days… "
Life In Conflict
Samson's life was full of conflict,
as this passage shows us.
STUBBORN WILL - Jdg 14:1-4
SECRET ADVENTURE - Jdg 14:5-9
STRANGE RIDDLE - Jdg 14:10-14
SURRENDERED ANSWER - Jdg 14:15-20
SECURED REVENGE - Jdg 15:1-8
WENT DOWN (physically but also spiritually) TO TIMNAH : about 4 miles westward down the valley of Sorek, about 5 miles west of Beth-shemesh, a little over 20 miles straight west of Jerusalem, approximately 4 miles southwest of Zorah (Jdg 13:25).
All of this wonderful heritage the grown Samson despised! Instead of putting himself in God’s hands to accomplish his God-given task, he chose to live to please himself. How tragic it is when God gives a young person a wonderful heritage and a great opportunity, and he or she treats it lightly.
One evidence of spiritual decline can be the way we get along with our loved ones. “Samson went down… ” (14:1) is true both spiritually and geographically. Instead of staying in the borders of Israel, he went into enemy territory and fell in love with a heathen woman. He knew the laws of separation God had given to the Jews, but he chose to ignore them (Ex34:16 Dt7:3 2Co6:14-18; Ge24:1-4). Note that he told his parents; he did not ask them. And when they reminded him of God’s law, he defied them. “Get her for me,” he insisted, “for she pleases me well!” It did not bother Samson that his desires displeased his parents. Note that in this instance God mercifully was going to overrule his sin and use it to weaken the Philistines (v4). Christian young people need to stop and consider carefully when they find themselves defying godly parents who know God’s Word.
The saga of Samson begins and ends the same way, with Samson displaying an unwillingness to control his passions one manifestation of which was a fatal weakness for Philistine women. It was "lust" at first sight! In the Israelite society the father was recognized as the head of the family and as such chose wives for his sons (cp Ge21:21). But Samson made his own choice. Even though called to live a separated life to God he directly betrayed his calling as well as directly disobeyed the Word of God (Ex34:12-15,16; Dt7:1-2,v3; cp 2Co6:14-18). Samson was living by sight and not by faith. He was controlled by “the lust of the eyes” (1Jn2:16) rather than by the Law of the Lord & the Spirit of the LORD (cp Ro8:13). The important thing to Samson was not pleasing the Lord, or even pleasing his parents, but pleasing himself (Jud14:3, v7, cp 2Co5:14,15, Php2:3,v4).
Samson willfully disregarded loyalty to Yahweh and sought a pagan wife. The presence of Philistines at Timnah reveals their occupation of Israelite territory. Philistine rule was more subtle and peaceful than the other periods of oppression, since Samson and presumably others were free to intermarry with the Philistines. Even the tribe of Judah was content to let the Philistines control them, a sign that a fairly normal life was possible (15:11).
Three things were wrong about this relationship:
1) It is evident from this paragraph that he really cared nothing for this girl as a person. He simply saw her and wanted her. She was an object to be used, to be possessed. There was no recognition that she was a person with needs, a person of worth and value. This is "impulse" buying at its worst!
2) The Old Testament scriptures, which Samson possessed, were very clear about God's prohibition of intermarriage between the Israelites and surrounding pagan nations. This provision stemmed from God's love. He knew that if they married into these idolatrous peoples the nation of Israel itself would become idolatrous. Heathen wives would pollute the households with their idols. And God knew that wives chosen out of these nations would be miserable as well. To be unequally yoked in this way would result in a relationship which would chafe both parties. So because he loved his people, and because he loved the world, God had commanded that they were not to intermarry with unbelievers. But Samson cared nothing for this. He saw the girl and he wanted her.
3) He disobeyed his parents. Again, the Scriptures which Samson had were very clear. Children were to obey their parents so that they might live long in the land which the Lord had given to them. God never stuttered at that point. That was Standard Operating Procedure. It is clear that these parents were interposed by God between this girl and their son in order to save Samson from a disaster. But he would not listen; he disobeyed. He insisted on having his own way. So he said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well." His passions reigned. This was the area of his life which ultimately brought him to defeat, because he would not deal with it. Verse 4 seems strange:
Henry Rossier - The Serpent and The Lion. The Feast (Judges 14)
We have seen what Nazariteship is. The history of Samson shows us, that in it lies our spiritual power.
Christ only has fully made good His Nazariteship, an absolute moral separation, throughout the whole of His life down here, and it is still the case in heaven where He abides the true Nazarite "separate from sinners" (He 7:26-note).
Samson, the Nazarite, is hardly a type of Christ except as to his mission (Judges 13:5). He is really, rather the type of the testimony which the church of God renders in separation from the world, in the power of the Spirit and in communion with the Lord. The history of this man of God, although abounding in acts of power, is notwithstanding one of the most sorrowful recitals contained in the word. Samson (the church likewise, founded on an ascended Christ) should have been a true representative of separation to God. Alas! he was nothing of the sort. In comparing his Nazariteship with that of Christ, how striking does the deficiency of Samson's appear!
Christ, the true Nazarite, encountered Satan in two characters: in the desert, as the serpent subtle and enticing; and, at the end of His course, as the roaring lion that rends and devours. In the desert, the Lord met the wiles of the enemy, with the word of God and entire dependence upon Him, and gained the victory. Samson, at the beginning of his career, encountered the serpent, who sought to entice him by means of one of the daughters of the Philistines. Twice is it said that "she pleased him well" (Jdg 14:3, 7). From that time he formed the intention of uniting himself to this woman who belonged to the race of Israel's oppressors. It is just the same with the individual or with the church when in conflict with the deceiver; Satan, who had nothing in Christ (John 14:30), easily finds a response in our hearts: By means of the eyes, our hearts are lured to the object presented by him and find pleasure in acquiring it. It does not necessarily follow that we must fall. If such objects are attractive to our eyes, grace and the word which reveals this grace to us are able to keep us. Notwithstanding the tendencies of his heart, Samson, kept by the providential grace of God, never married the daughter of the Philistines.
The desire of Samson showed that the word of God had not its right weight with him. His parents, knowing much less of the counsels, but more of the word, of God than he did, said to him: "Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?" (Jdg 14:3) The word of God was indeed explicit on this point: "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son, for they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods" (Dt 7:3, 4). Why did not Samson take heed to this? Christ, the perfect Nazarite, recognized the absolute authority of the Scriptures and fed upon every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The word of God not having its right weight with Samson, he started on a downward path which could only lead to a fall. In the life of Samson, three women mark the three stages which led to the loss of his Nazariteship. The first was pleasing to his eyes; he formed a passing connection with the second (Judges 16: 1), and he loved the third (Judges 16:4). When his affections were engaged, the last hour of his Nazariteship had sounded.
Nevertheless Samson was not devoid of affection for Jehovah and His people. It is said, "But his father and his mother knew not that it was of Jehovah, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines" (Jdg 14:4). The domination of the latter was hateful to him. He was looking for a favorable opportunity to strike the blow which should break the yoke weighing upon the children of Israel. But Samson was not single-eyed; he brought a divided heart to the work. Trying to reconcile pleasing his own eyes with his hatred against the enemy of his people, he was holding out his left hand to the world and at the same time wanting to fight it with his right. Yet God took note of what there was for Him in this divided heart. "It was of the Lord" who could use even the weaknesses of Samson to accomplish His purposes of grace towards His people.
This proneness to seek in the world that which "pleases the eyes," led Samson into endless difficulties from which only the power of God could deliver him. There are many instances in the word where a first look turned toward the world involves the believer in irreparable trouble. We have to watch against that with fear and trembling, for we can never foretell what abyss a single lust may open for us. Such was the case with Adam, with Noah, with Lot, with David. Grace can keep us, but it will not do to trifle with it, nor to imagine that we can use it as a cloak to cover our lusts or to excuse our sins Let us rely on it in order to be sustained and preserved from falling, and if we have been so unhappy as to have abandoned for an instant this support, let us quickly return to it for restoration and for the recovery of our lost communion.
Samson was on slippery ground. His eyes were enamoured, and he desired to take this woman for his wife; for alliance with the world follows the lust of the eyes. Then he made a feast (Jdg 14:10), and seated himself at it, guarding no doubt the external marks of his Nazariteship, for we are not told that he drank wine with the Philistines; yet this repast had a sorrowful termination for him.
Before going any further let us take into consideration what preceded the feast in Samson's history. We have already said that Satan not only presents himself as a serpent, but also as a roaring lion. It was in this character that the Lord Jesus met him in Gethsemane and at the cross. Nothing is more terrifying than the roar of the lion. Satan sought to frighten the holy soul of Christ in order to make Him abandon the divine path which led down to the sacrifice. In the power of the Holy Spirit and in perfect dependence on His Father, the Lord withstood him in the garden of the Mount of Olives. At the cross, where he opened his mouth against Christ "as a ravening and a roaring lion" (Ps 22:13-note), the Lord in "the weakness of God" (see 1Co 1:25), overcame "the strong man," and, through death, nullified his power (He 2:14-note). In just the same form does Satan present himself to the children of God. "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pe 5:8-note). If he does not succeed in beguiling us, he tries to frighten us. Samson was now confronted by the young lion, coming up against him from the country of the Philistines, and here his Nazariteship was manifested in its full power, which is that of the Spirit of God. "And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand" (Jdg 14:6). Such is the way that we have to act when meeting Satan. We should not spare him in the least, for if we do he will return to the charge. We must, in our struggle, rend him as we would rend a kid. He can do nothing to us so long as we resist him fearlessly (see Jas 4:7; 1Pe 5:9-note); for, weapons (if we may so speak), Jesus has already overcome him for us at the cross.
Later on, Samson, passing by the same road, turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and found in it "a swarm of bees and honey;" he ate some of it as he went along, and gave some to his parents. As the fruit of Christ's victory on the cross, all heavenly blessings have been placed in our hands, and these blessings are taken from the spoil of the defeated enemy. And if we, obtaining a victory over him (henceforth rendered easy), treat him as a vanquished foe, our souls will be filled with strength and sweetness. We shall be able to impart of what we have got to others; but, like Samson who ate as he went along our own souls will have first been fed. Let us never treat Satan as a friend; if we do, we shall come away from such a meeting beaten and enfeebled, embittered and famished.
The victory of Samson over the lion of Timnath was not only a proof of strength; it was a secret between him and God. When his eyes were attracted to the daughter of the Philistines, he told his parents of it; concerning his victory he told no one. I he life of Samson abounded with secrets and at the same time with acts of power. Even his Nazariteship was a secret, a link, unknown to any, between his own soul and Jehovah. This link is for us communion. We meet with four secrets in this chapter. Samson had not divulged his intentions to his parents, nor the part that Jehovah had in these things (Jdg 14:4); he had not told them of his victory (Jdg 14:6), nor the place whence he had procured the honey (Jdg 14:9), nor his riddle (Jdg 14:16). All that, kept unbroken between his soul and God, was for him the only means of following a path of blessing in the midst of this world.
Let us return to Samson's feast. He put forth his riddle to the Philistines, rightly supposing that they would understand nothing about it; indeed, had it not been for the feast, he would not have been in danger of betraying himself. But the enemy succeeded in robbing him of that which he had so carefully concealed. The world has an insidious effect upon us, leading to loss of our communion with God. If our hearts, like Samson's, in any way cling to what the world may present to us, it will not be long before we lose our communion. Absence of communion does not at first imply loss of strength; it is, however, the road which leads to it; for, as long as Nazariteship exists, even externally, strength will not be lacking, as Samson proved to the Philistines in the matter of the thirty changes of garments. But did this man of God have much peace and joy during the days of the feast? On the contrary, it was a struggle with tears, care and pressure (Jdg 14:17). He was betrayed by the very woman of his choice. One can scarcely conceive that association with the world would produce the bad results which, as a matter of fact, it does. Samson would never have thought that his thirty companions, aided by his wife, would lay traps to plunder him, for the thirty changes of garments by right belonged to him. Satan may separate us from communion with the Lord, may make us unhappy; he may also hinder our being witnesses here below, but, thanks be to God, he cannot pluck us out of the hand of Christ.
The grace of God preserved Samson from the final consequences of his error, and delivered him from an alliance which God could not approve of. The Spirit of Jehovah having come upon him he performed mighty deeds. "And his anger was kindled" (Jdg 14:19). Samson was a man of a very selfish character and was guided in his action by the sense of the wrong that had been done him. Nevertheless he was victorious over the enemies of Jehovah, and kept for himself none of their spoil, it went back to the world, from whence it had been taken. Then he quitted the scene of so much unhappiness and "went up to his father's house," which he never should have left to settle among the Philistines. May we profit by this lesson; and if, in our intercourse with the world, we have passed through painful experiences, let us hasten to return to the Father's house (which we never should have left, even in thought), where He dwells whose communion is the source of our peace and happiness all our pilgrimage way, till that moment comes when we shall enter forever into that house — our eternal dwelling-place!
William Kelly - Lectures on the Book of Judges (Judges 13-16)
In the next chapter (Judges 13) we begin a new kind of instrument God raised up for His purpose; and in this case the state of the people was such that God severs him to Himself as a Nazarite. A stronger proof there could not be desired, that the people, as a whole, were far from God. In all ordinary cases a Nazarite was one who had taken a peculiar vow of separation to God, but lasting only for a short time. In the instance before us it was an extraordinary Nazariteship, stretching through the whole life. But what a Nazarite was Samson! Outwardly indeed he was separate. We have here one of the strangest and most humbling of histories recorded in Scripture, and withal singularly marking that very truth that we have so often ere this referred to: how little moral strength keeps pace with physical power as it wrought in and by Samson. Of all the deliverers that grace ever raised up, there was not one who for personal prowess was to be compared with Samson; but of all those, where was the man who fell so habitually below even that which would have disgraced an ordinary Israelite? Yet was he a Nazarite from his mother's womb! It seems therefore that the two extremes of moral weakness and of outward strength find each its height in this extraordinary character.
But we must look a little into the great principles of divine truth that meet us in weighing the history of Samson. His very birth was peculiar, and the circumstances too before it; for there never had been as yet a time when Israel had been so enslaved; and undoubtedly the deliverer, as we have traced regularly hitherto, so here again to the last, is seen to be according to the estate of the people, with whatever might or success God might be pleased to clothe him. "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years." It was a long time, we might have justly thought, in the days of Gideon, to have known seven years' subjection; but we hear of a far longer period in the case of the Philistines, the hottest and most pertinacious of the hostile neighbours of Israel, and so much the more galling as being within their border. For forty years the people groaned under their hard mastery. We shall find too that Samson's feats of power, great as they were, in no way broke the neck of Philistine oppression. For on the contrary after Samson's days, the sufferings of the children of Israel reached even a higher degree than they had ever attained under Samson or before.
However this may have been, we may notice first the quarter whence deliverance was to come: "There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites." It was ordered of God that it should spring from that tribe, which was more than any other marked, not merely by a weakness that portended danger to themselves, as we shall see, but by a moral laxity which would finally afford a suited subject, as indeed from the beginning it had been intimated prophetically in the last words of their father Jacob a-dying, for the fatal result of departure and apostasy from God. Of this tribe Samson was born.
The circumstances also were highly remarkable. "His wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto the woman" with the promise that a child should be born, at the same time enjoining that she was to drink no wine nor strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; and that, when the child was born, no razor was to come upon his head. "For the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
There was another whom God would employ at a later date to destroy the power of the Philistines, a man of another spirit, and of a hand very different from Samson's. I speak of course of David, the son of Jesse. Whatever might be wrought now was but the beginning of deliverance for Israel. God would magnify His power, but only as a witness now and then; nothing more. Anything like full deliverance must await that day, itself a type of the day of Jehovah.
The woman then tells her husband of the angel's visit, and they both entreat Jehovah, Manoah particularly, that the man of God might be sent again. Jehovah listens, and His angel appears to the woman, who summons her husband, when both see the angel as he repeats his message with its solemn injunction. Separateness from what was allowed to an Israelite was not only commanded but made life-long in Samson's case, as I cannot but believe it significant of what was due to God in consequence of the state in which the people of God then lay.
In due time the child was born, "and the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." His chequered history follows. "And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines, and he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife" (Judges 14). His father and mother remonstrate in vain. ''Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?" Samson was just as self-willed as he was strong. "And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it was of Jehovah, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines."
Now that the occasion calls for it, one may notice by the way the transparent boldness of Scripture, as wonderfully instructive as the reserve we have already remarked. If man had the writing of the story, would he have dared to speak out thus plainly? I doubt that any believer, without inspiration, would have felt it desirable to write that verse, and many more, as God has done it. If unveiling the fact at all, he would have apologized for it, denounced its evil to clear himself, spoken much perhaps of God's permitting and overruling. Now I am far from denying that it is right for us to feel the pain and shame of Samson's ways. But there is one thing that God's Spirit always assumes — the perfect goodness and the unswerving holiness of God. And this, beyond all doubt or fear, we are entitled always to keep before our hearts in reading the Bible.
Never then let the breath of suspicion enter your soul. Invariably, when you listen to the written word of God, range yourself on His side. You will never understand the Bible otherwise. You may be tried; but be assured that you will be helped out of the trial. The day may come when nobody appears to lend you a helping hand. What is to become of you then? Once allow your soul to be sullied by judging those living oracles, and real faith in the Bible is gone as far as you are concerned. If I do not trust it in everything, I can trust it in nothing.
So dangerous is apt to be the reaction against one ever so honest; the more you have trusted, when you begin to doubt, the worse it is apt to be, even with poor erring man, who knows not what a serious thing it is. Nor ought anyone to allow a suspicion until he has the certainty of that which can be accounted for in no way save by guilt. And this, I need scarce say, is still more due on the score of brotherly relation and divine love, not merely on the ground of that which we might expect for our own souls.
But when God and His word are in question, it ought to be a simple matter for a child of God. How often it is ourselves who make the difficulties of which the enemy greedily avails himself against our own souls and His glory! For objections against scripture are always the creation of unbelief. Difficulties, where they exist for us, would only exercise faith in God. The word of God is always in itself not only right, but fraught with light. It makes wise the simple; it enlightens the eyes. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
Undoubtedly there are many things in scripture of which we are ignorant; but then we are not entitled to interpret the word of God by ourselves. There is such a thing as to be taught of God. The Holy Ghost is given for this as for other purposes. It may often be doubtless that we are obliged to wait, and a wholesome thing too for our souls it should be. It is well sometimes for all those who teach that they should be obliged to learn; well that they should be forced to feel that they do not know; an excellent moral lesson that they should confess it — not only be conscious of it, but own it; for indeed the necessary claim of scripture is that it be confided in as the word of God, though it does not thence follow that we are competent to explain all. By the Holy Spirit only can we enter in and enjoy.
It is not here meant that there is any special difficulty in that which has been the occasion of these general remarks; still less is it implied that he who speaks makes any pretension to know anything as he ought to know, more than those he sees around him. If through the unction from the Holy One we know all, it is equally true that we all are but learners.
Again, it is not of course any attainment of mine that leads me to speak as I have done now. If I have spoken strongly, it is only, I trust, what becomes every believer. I have taken no ground beyond your own, my brethren; but surely this is a ground that calls you to assert the very same inestimable privilege that I boast as by grace a man of faith. It is not the vanity of setting up oneself as possessed of exclusive powers or special means of attaining or explaining anything; for I should distrust anyone who pretended to anything of the sort, no matter who or where he might be. But that which does good to every saint and to every soul is the unqualified confidence in God and His word, which, if it does not reproduce itself in hearts purified by faith, at least deals with the consciences of all others till utterly blinded by Satan. Nor are you thus called to believe anything like an extravagance, though it surely would be so if the Bible were a human book, and so to be treated like any other, which after all even infidels do not: witness their occupation with it and zeal against it. Who troubles himself with the Koran or the Shastres, save their votaries?
But scripture claims always to be the word of God — never the word of Isaiah or Ezekiel, of Peter or Paul (1Co 14: 37; 2Pe 3:15, 16); for, whatever the instrument may be, it is as truly God's word as if the Holy Ghost had written it without a single instrumental means. If this be submitted to (and you might more consistently reject the Bible altogether, if you do not submit), one sees the hollowness and falsehood of sitting in judgment upon it: for who can question that to doubt that which comes directly from God Himself would be to take the place, not merely of an unbeliever, but of a blasphemer or an atheist? And if unbelief be probed home, it comes to this: it is a virtual denial of God's veracity, of His revelation, if not of His being.
But returning from this to the simple tale of Samson's life, I take it as the plain fact that God meant us to learn that He saw fit at that time to deliver by an unworthy instrument, by a man who showed how low he was, if only by the moral incongruity of an Israelitish Nazarite seeking a wife from the fiercest of Israel's uncircumcised enemies. The grossness of such conduct is left to tell its own tale; and yet God, by the man that was thus pursuing his own self-willed course, meant to overrule the occasion for His glory, snapping the more violently the ties which Samson's ungoverned passion and low thoughts induced him to form. The descent is great, when one bearing the name of the Lord slights His word and seeks a path of his own. If God permits him for a season to do his own will, what shame and pain he must reap ere long! Meanwhile the man, morally speaking, is ruined — his testimony to His name being worse than lost. Even if God interfere and produce the direct opposite of the fleshly enjoyment which self-will had sought, it is in no way to the man's praise if God effects his purposes by his acts, spite of wrong and folly. Never indeed is good the fruit of man's will, but of God's. This only gains the day; for it alone is as wise and holy as it is good. I take it therefore, that in the present case there is nothing to stumble the simplest believer, though no doubt there may be to one who knows not God and His word. Alas! how many there are in these days of audacious free-thinking who are disposed to sit in judgment on His word, and give His revelation no credit for telling us the truth as it was and is.
Whatever then might be Samson's motives and conduct, it was the Holy One, as we are told, who prompted him against the aggressors of Israel. "It was of Jehovah, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him." Thus there was an arrest on the road. We know that the spirit of ease and self-indulgence readily finds a lion in the way — can make one where none is; but here was a real lion that roared against the self-willed youth. "And the Spirit of Jehovah" — to some minds a marvellous fact under the circumstances — "came mightily upon him." It is the expression of the agent of divine power — in no way the seal of redemption or the earnest of the inheritance, as we know Him dwelling in us now since the shedding of the blood of Jesus. It was the energy of His Spirit who thought of His people showing out by the way, as we have remarked, in that wayward man the fallen state to which they were reduced by their own sin, with the highest claims outwardly but morally in as low a condition as could then be conceived. "And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand."
Samson stands alone; of Israel none with him, as with the others before him. There was the plainest proof of what God could be, even where there was but one man to work by; but this very fact showed to what a depth was Israel now sunk. It was bad enough when Gideon had only three hundred that God would employ. What was it when there was only one, and such an one as Samson? In order to have communion, we must have some good which is shared together. There was, there could be, none any longer as Israel was.
What a picture of the true state of things! Even his father and mother knew nothing about their son's movements. Everything was out of course. Scanty honour paid he to his parents, but ardently gave himself up to the pursuance of his own plans. Yet was God behind and above all; and God, deigning to employ even such a man, at such a time, and under such circumstances, to accomplish, or at least to begin, the deliverance of His people.
Samson was afterwards about to put a riddle to the Philistines from this lion. But did he heed the lesson conveyed in the fact himself? Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Treat Satan as Satan when he betrays himself; and what can he do against the name of the Lord? Yet is the victory won by God's Spirit, without anything in the hand; but it is by direct antagonism to the enemy, not by guilty connection with his instruments. Grave truth! Ah! why did not the strong man learn wisdom in the fear of Jehovah, as he again visited the place where his first lesson was given? His victories had then been as holy as they were brilliant; for he surely needed not to have defiled his Nazariteship by an unholy marriage in order to have punished the Philistines.
Alas! we next hear of Samson's visit to the Philistine woman who pleased him well: no small sin for an Israelite, as it is worse for a Christian, to marry one of the world. "And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. So his father went down unto the women: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do." Then follows the story of his companions and the riddle — a riddle which he was clever enough to put, but which he had little faith to understand or appropriate himself. Is it not evident that Samson feebly knew what God was teaching him by the lion which he slew, and by the lion's carcass which he found with the honey in it? Carried away by his uncurbed feelings (to whatever end God might turn all, for He always governs), he was mighty to act; but as to intelligence, little more than an unconscious instrument. yet did he propose a most instructive riddle, which set forth justly the then condition of the people of God.
In that image we have the enemy in great power, but God infinitely above him, able as well as seeing fit to use the least worthy vessel of His power, and out of the slain enemy to furnish the sweetest refreshment. How triumphantly has it been done in Christ our Lord, but in how different a way! Absolutely immaculate Himself, He was made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him who for us by death annulled him that had the power of death, and gave us out of that defeat our unfailing comfort. Bright contrast between Samson and the man that overthrew Satan on that cross where He Himself reached the very climax of weakness! For He won by no external strength but by suffering. He was crucified in weakness, but rose in the power of God; but there, instead of folly, instead of shame, instead of unhallowed alliance with the enemies of God, how does unsullied perfection shine in Him of whom we boast! The result in the type alas! is that, whatever might be the victory over the lion and whatever the sweetness of the honey, the effort to connect himself with the woman of Timnath turns out no small trouble to the man of might, whose anger was kindled at the treachery which sold his riddle, and, when his wife was given to the companion he had used as his friend, issued in such vexation for the Philistines as is known to us all. (Judges 15: 4, 5)
This again leads to a bitter vengeance of the Philistines on those of Timnath who had served him so ill — the very fate befalling them at last, to escape which at first the woman had lent herself to the basest treachery. (Compare Judges 14: 15 with Judges 15: 6.) Now it was that God wrought for His glory. He extricated failing Samson from the direct consequences of his sinful association; but He dealt retributively with treachery by the hands of their own people. For "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness"; and in its measure it is very striking to see the way in which this came out even in the case of the worldly uncircumcised enemy. We can all understand righteousness where the ground is clearly sanctioned of God; but is it not also strengthening to our hearts to find that, even where all was dark and faulty, God knows how to give effect to His principles? He has no doubt secrets of grace above all difficulties and wrongs: of this we cannot doubt for a moment; and indeed we have abundant proofs of it here. The earth is destined to be the theatre where God will display righteousness reigning; but even now, while things are out of course, and His enemy is in power, He holds to His own character, owning and using all He can.
After this we see the Philistines the object of the severest chastisement from Samson, who smote "them hip and thigh with a great slaughter, and went down and dwelt at the top of the rock Etam." There he encounters a new trial, which sets before us the state of Israel in the most painful light. Is it not increasingly true that we can go no lower, whether we look at the people of God or the last deliverer in the book of Judges? Is it possible to conceive a conjuncture of its kind more humiliating? Not till they desired a king like the nations. But alas! even when God gave them one in a man after His own heart, we then trace greater abominations under the lines either of those who broke off in self-will or of those who turned the line of promise to nothing but corruption. We are arrived at the end of this sad history. Picture in imagination, if you can, how God could descend more to meet a degraded people; yet was it just then that the outward exploits against the foe were so brilliant. But if God's people have got into subjection to the world, none are so heartless about, if not bitter against, him who breaks fully with the enemy.
Samson is now absolutely isolated on the rock Etam. There is not a man that sympathizes with him, not even in Judah; yet Judah, we know, was the royal tribe in the purpose of God from the beginning, as in fact its type followed in David. This makes their behaviour the more remarkable here. "Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us?" Judah! is this the tribe for the praise of Jehovah? is this the tribe that men praise? Could, at the beck of the Philistine, there be found at once three thousand men so willing and prompt to betray the champion of Israel? three thousand men of Judah! One could understand three thousand men of the Philistines; but to what a deplorable pass in Israel were things come, when three thousand men of the worthiest tribe were thus obedient to the Philistines, and joined against the strong deliverer to hand him over, bound a prisoner, to the tender mercies of those that hated him and despised them! Is it they who say to Samson, "Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us?" Not only were they in slavery, but content to be slaves, yea, traitors. Could a people descend lower in human things?
Alas! it is no new thing to faith; Jesus knew it to the bottom. It was His brethren who sought to lay hold on Him as beside Himself, His brethren who did not believe on Him. It was not for their lives, but for the truth He confessed, that His own people would have Him die.
"What is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them." There is little moral elevation in Samson, little in any way to command respect or love. "As they did unto me, so have I done unto them." We see a man, not without faith indeed (Heb. 11: 32), though his confidence was largely in the strength with which God had invested him, rather than in Him who would yet prove Himself the sole source of it; a man who was roused by personal affront and desire of vengeance, not by a solemn duty; a man who slowly and weakly wakes up to any sense of his mission, who is ever too ready to sink down again into the lowest indulgence of fallen nature among the enemy. In short Samson appears to me a man with as little, or as low, an appreciation of what it was to fight the battles of the Lord, as God had been pleased to use in any epoch throughout inspired history. "And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves." What an opinion he had of them! And as naturally as possible too they take it. They have no shame nor resentment on their part at this accusation of treachery. Their moral condition indeed was the very lowest, below nature itself, towards their deliverer. "And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men."
Nor was this the only intervention of the Lord, but personal succour follows at His hand. For "it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi. And he was sore athirst, and called on Jehovah, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? But God crave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day." We have seen before, from the earlier part of the book, the remarkable manner in which, either personally or in the weapons that were employed, God was acting mysteriously at this period of Israel's history. To those who discern what a witness it is that the people were far gone from Him here the principle reappears in all its strength — the isolation of the man himself, the circumstances that had brought about the rupture with the foe, the mind of Judah, if not treacherous to the Israelite, cowering before the uncircumcised, and now the strangest of weapons for war that Samson uses against them — the jawbone of an ass.
Never was there failure of divine power with Samson against the foe; but moreover the pitifulness of Jehovah is marked towards His poor servant (for did He disdain when the thirsty man called on Himself, as he cried to God in his distress?). Bad as were the features we have seen, we have to see even worse still; yet he was heard and answered when he called.
We do not find in Samson the generous disinterestedness of grace that could suffer affliction with the people of God, and is willing to be a sacrifice upon that faith. We have nothing like a Moses in Samson. Not without faith, he was a combatant ready to fight the Philistines at any odds. No doubt it was a wonderful display of physical force on the one hand; as on the other those he vanquished were the unrelenting enemies of God's people. Still the overt thing to Samson seems to have been that they were his enemies. This certainly stimulated him though I am far from insinuating no better underneath. But the good was hard to reach or even to discern, the evil abundant and obvious, "And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years." It appears to me that the Spirit of God brings in this little notice of his judging Israel here in order to show that this is the normal close of his history. Nor should we wonder at it. Not that God did not work mightily afterwards, and even more in his death than in his life. But it need surprise none that the proper history of this judge terminates according to the mind of God here; for what has the Lord to tell in the next chapter? We have seen how grace overruled, broke up an evil association before it was consummated, and gave him righteous ground to take vengeance on the Philistines, followed by his judging Israel for twenty years.
"Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot;" yet here, though fallen lower than ever, we find power put forth under these deplorable circumstances. "And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him. And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron." The man thus went forth in the confidence of his strength, and to outward appearance did things just to make the enemy feel what he could do, with as little exercise toward God as could well be found in one that feared Him.
But again, "And it came to pass afterward that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." And here we confront not simply the old offence repeated, and in the grossest form of fleshly corruption, but along with it an infatuation as extraordinary as his degradation. This indeed becomes distinctly the moral of the tale. Delilah sells herself to the Philistine lords to entangle the champion of Israel, now beguiled by his lusts: else the various efforts to seize him must have otherwise opened his eyes to her guile and their murderous malice. But the wages of transgressors are hard, and the guilty man falls under the strange woman's spell again and again. Such is the blinding power of sin; for was he ignorant of her vileness or of his own danger? But the crisis came; and we see that at last, pressed by the harlot's toils, he tells out the secret of Jehovah. On his unshorn locks hung his invincible might by divine will. There was but one thing really involved — obedience. Alas! he fell, as did Adam at the beginning, and all since save one — Christ. But how perfectly He stood, though tried as none ever was or could be but Himself! Do we know what a thing obedience is in God's eyes, even though it may be displayed in the simplest manner? It is the perfection of the creature, giving God His place, and man his own; it is the lowliest, and withal the morally highest place for one here below, as for the angels above. In Samson's case, tested in a seemingly little sign but a sign of entire subjection to God, and this in separation from all others, it was obedience; not so in our case, where we have the highest treasure in earthen vessels, but obedience in everything, and this formed and guided by the Spirit according to the written word, now set in the fullest light, because seen in the person, and ways, and work, and glory of Christ. It is no mere external sign for us who know the Lord Jesus. But the secret of the Lord in our case involves that which is most precious to God and man. We are sanctified both by the Father's word and by Christ glorified on high. But we are sanctified by the Spirit unto the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, and are called to obey, as the wife her husband. Therein are involved thus the very highest and deepest privileges that God could communicate to the souls of men on earth.
To Samson, as we see, it was far different. His secret was to keep his hair uncut, with all strength annexed to it. But if it was his hidden power, it acted also as a test; and now the enemy possessed it, disclosed to a harlot, who had wrung it for gold from his foolish heart. Whatever might have been his low state through unchecked animal nature, whatever his delinquencies before, so long as he kept his secret with God, strength never failed him from God, be the strain what it might. Jehovah at least was — could not but be — true to the secret. But now, as we know, the one whom he had made partner of his sin wheedled it from him that she might sell it to the Philistines.
Degraded to the utmost, Samson becomes their sport as well as their slave. But God was about to magnify Himself and His own ways. "And it came to pass when their hearts were merry that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto Jehovah, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes." Again we see the man, and his character in its weakness is before us, even at that solemn moment.
I am far from doubting that God wrought in him whom He had made the champion of His people. Let no man question that Samson was in prison or that he lost his eyes for nothing. I feel pretty assured that he saw clearer morally without them than he had seen in any sense with them. He had far too often made a wretched use of them in times that were past; and even now, in spite of the work of God in his soul, was there nothing weightier, was there nothing deeper, was there nothing to lament over more than the loss of those two eyes? It was Samson feeling for himself, yet not unpitied of the Lord; for there was One above Samson Who heard. And this is the great point for us that we can and ought to count on. Let us not forget that we have got a nature exempt from nothing we deplore in Samson, and the person that does not believe it may live to prove it, especially if a believer, who should know himself better; whilst he who does take it home to his soul is thereby enabled to judge himself by the Spirit before God.
But what a God we have to do with, as Samson had! and how He magnified Himself in that hour of supreme chagrin and of his deep agony, when he was made to sport before those uncircumcised haters of Israel, and the witness, as they fondly hoped, of their idol's triumph over Jehovah. Samson felt it easier to die for His name than to live thus in Philistia. But God reserved great things for his death. What a figure of, but contrast with, His death who only pursued to that final point His absolute devotedness to the will of God, not doing it only but suffering it to the uttermost, and thus righteously by His death securing what no living obedience could have touched!
Nevertheless, I have little doubt that, though the dying hour of Samson brought more honour to God than all his life, its manner was in itself a chastening in its character; and in this, too, may one discern a representation of the condition to which Israel had come similar to what was noticed in the life and person of Samson. For what can be more humiliating than that one's death should be more important than one's life? Such was the point to which things had come (an inglorious one it was for those concerned), that the best thing for Israel and Judah, the best thing for God's glory and for Samson himself, was that he should die. "And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." And his brethren, as we find, came up, took him away, and buried him. "He judged Israel twenty years," is the repetition of the word at this point.
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14. Samson’s First Transactions with the Philistines.—Vv. 1–9. At Tibnath, the present Tibne, an hour’s journey to the south-west of Sur’a (see at Josh. 15:10), to which Samson had gone down from Zorea or Mahaneh-Dan, he saw a daughter of the Philistines who pleased him; and on his return he asked his parents to take her for him as a wife (לָקַח, to take, as in Ex. 21:9). (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Judges 14:2 So he came back and told his father and mother, "I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife."|
SO HE CAME BACK AND TOLD HIS FATHER AND MOTHER I SAW A WOMAN IN TIMNAH:
These are the first words out of Samson's mouth!!! Samson was living by sight and not by faith. He was controlled by “the lust of the eyes” (1Jn 2:16) rather than by the Law of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord. It becomes clear that the important thing to Samson was not pleasing the Lord, or even pleasing his parents, but pleasing himself (Jdg 14:3, 7, 2Co 5:14,15). This is amazing - Samson had not even talked with this woman if one reads the text literally. Instead, the text suggests that this set apart, Spirit simply saw her and he wanted this pagan idol worshiper.
ONE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE PHILISTINES NOW THEREFORE GET HER FOR ME AS A WIFE:
A godly home is no guarantee of a godly life if the spiritual influence is rejected by the children. The parents were not at fault; Samson was. The Lord had given Samson a godly heritage, and he had been raised to honor the Lord; but when Samson fell in love, he wouldn’t listen to his parents when they warned him. Samson had wandered 4 miles into enemy territory where he was captivated by a Philistine woman and decided to marry her. This, of course, was contrary to God’s Law (Ex34:12-16; Dt7:1-3; 2Co 6:14-18).
Get her for me: Negotiations for marriage were customarily carried on by the parents. Samson’s parents appear to be initially involved in this marriage contract (vv. 1-5).
See [Ge 34:4]. As the head of the family, the father exercised authority in all matters, often including the choice of wives for his sons (12:9; Ge24:3-9; Ne10:30).
As we study Samson's heart and his choices we would do well to pay heed to what the modern day prophet A W Tozer once said…
A principle that is found throughout Scripture can be expressed this way: If there is any area in our life where we are resisting the Lordship of Christ, and if we continue to resist, then we will discover that, in other areas also, our life will begin to fall under the dominion of the flesh. If God is speaking to you, for instance, about a resentful spirit, or an unforgiving heart, or lustful thoughts, or whatever, and if you are unwilling to deal with that, then you will find yourself falling back into sins that you felt had long since been vanquished in your life, slipping back into habits from which you have been delivered for years. Perhaps your old jealous spirit returns, or your former bad temper comes back, and, whereas once you had complete control in this area, now you find that you've lost control. Samson's life is a clear illustration of this principle. Old Testament people are so fascinating because they show us, in such a realistic way, the principles laid out in the New Testament.
Dave Roper writes:
The story continues with the angel of Jehovah, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus, who appears to Samson's mother before Samson is born. He promises that Samson will deliver Israel, at least partially. Two very interesting things emerge from their conversation. One is that Samson was to be a Nazirite from his birth. We need to distinguish between a Nazirite and a Nazarene. A Nazarene is someone who lives in the vicinity of the town of Nazareth. Jesus was a Nazarene, but he was not a Nazirite. A Nazirite was a person who took a vow of separation for service to God. There was a provision under the Mosaic covenant by which a Jew could vow to set himself apart for a period of time in order to accomplish some particular purpose. The word comes from the Hebrew verb "nazar," which means to separate, to cut off.
There were three conditions a Nazirite had to observe: 1) He could not touch a dead body of any kind. 2) He was not allowed to drink wine or strong drink, or even to have any contact with the fruit of the vine. 3) He was to let his hair grow long. That sounds very contemporary.
These Old Testament provisions, again, are symbolic snapshots of things which are true of our life today. A Nazirite in the Old Testament symbolizes sanctification. In the New, "sanctified" means "set apart for a particular purpose." Those of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord are said to be sanctified, to be set apart to serve him. And the same three conditions obtained under the Nazirite vow are true for us in the spiritual realm:
1) We are not to touch anything dead, either. We are to have nothing to do with the old life. Paul says, "You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." We are not to go back and attempt to resurrect the old life, the flesh which has been crucified with Christ, and try to live out of that resource. We have a new life, a resurrection life, which Paul says is life indeed.
2) We are not to attempt to derive our joy in life, and our sense of well-being, from wine or any other natural source, but rather, from the Spirit of God.
3) The provision regarding long hair is very interesting. In the Scriptures long hair is said to be a shameful thing for a man. It is a sign of weakness. This refers, of course, to excessively long hair--longer than the accepted length for women at any particular time. It is a relative judgment, depending upon culture. I'm not against long hair; I just wish mine would grow at all. But excessively long hair is a sign of weakness. A Nazirite would put himself under that condition in order to indicate his weakness, because his strength would grow out of that weakness.
The same is true for us. The Scriptures say that where we are weak that is where we are strong. If we sense our need for dependence upon another resource, if we are not counting upon our own credentials, our own strength, our own abilities--that is proper recognition of our weakness. It is in weakness that we discover our strength in our indwelling Lord. So, just as a Nazirite was to fulfill these three conditions of separation, so we as sanctified individuals set apart for the particular purpose of serving the Lord, are to operate on the basis of these same three conditions.
It is interesting that Samson was called to be a Nazirite from his birth, which was unusual. Ordinarily a person would take this vow later on in life, generally for only a short term. But Samson was to be one from his birth. We, as well, are Nazirites from our birth, our new birth. From the time we are born into God's family these conditions become applicable to us.
The second thing of interest is the statement by the angel of the Lord that Samson "will begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines." "He will begin to deliver … " As we go through the story we will discover that in reality he never did deliver them, because he never delivered himself. There was frequent partial victory, but never a complete victory and final, total domination of the enemy, because he could never deal with one particular area in his life--at least, he never would deal with it. So he only began to deliver Israel. (Judges 13-16 Samson and Delilah - Dave Roper)
DISCIPLINE - Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well" (Judges 14:3).
Self-indulgence guarantees failure; self-discipline assures victory.
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:3, 4. His parents expressed their astonishment at the choice, and asked him whether there was not a woman among the daughters of his brethren (i.e., the members of his own tribe), or among all his people, that he should want to fetch one from the Philistines, the uncircumcised. But Samson repeated his request, because the daughter of the Philistines pleased him. The aversion of his parents to the marriage was well founded, as such a marriage was not in accordance with the law. It is true that the only marriages expressly prohibited in Ex. 34:16 and Deut. 7:3, 4, are marriages with Canaanitish women; but the reason assigned for this prohibition was equally applicable to marriages with daughters of the Philistines. In fact, the Philistines are reckoned among the Canaanites in Josh. 13:3 upon the very same ground. But Samson was acting under a higher impulse, whereas his parents did not know that it was from Jehovah, i.e., that Jehovah had so planned it; “for Samson was seeking an opportunity on account of the Philistines,” i.e., an occasion to quarrel with them, because, as is afterwards added in the form of an explanatory circumstantial clause, the Philistines had dominion over Israel at that time. תֹּאֲנָה, ἁπ. λεγ., an opportunity (cf. הִתְאַנֶּה, 2 Kings 5:7). (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:5, 6. When Samson went down with his parents to Timnath, a young lion came roaring towards him at the vineyards of that town. Then the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, so that he tore the lion in pieces as a kid is torn (lit. “like the tearing in pieces of the kid”), although he had nothing, i.e., no weapon, in his hand. David, when a shepherd, and the hero Benaiah, also slew lions (1 Sam. 17:34, 35; 2 Sam. 23:20); and even at the present day Arabs sometimes kill lions with a staff (see Winer, Bibl. R. W. Art. Löwe). Samson’s supernatural strength, the effect of the Spirit of Jehovah, which came upon him, was simply manifested in the fact that he tore the lion in pieces without any weapon whatever in his hand. But he said nothing about it to his parents, who were not eyewitnesses of the deed. This remark is introduced in connection with what follows. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:7. When he came to Timnath he talked with the girl, and she pleased him. He had only seen her before (v. 1); but now that his parents had asked for her, he talked with her, and found the first impression that he had received of her fully confirmed. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:8. When some time had elapsed after the betrothal, he came again to fetch her (take her home, marry her), accompanied, as we learn from v. 9, by his parents. On the way “he turned aside (from the road) to see the carcase of the lion; and behold a swarm of bees was in the body of the lion, also honey.” The word מַפֶּלֶת, which only occurs here, is derived from נָפַל, like πτῶμα from πίπτω, and is synonymous with נְבֵלָה, cadaver, and signifies not the mere skeleton, as bees would not form their hive in such a place, but the carcase of the lion, which had been thoroughly dried up by the heat of the sun, without passing into a state of putrefaction. “In the desert of Arabia the heat of a sultry season will often dry up all the moisture of men or camels that have fallen dead, within twenty-four hours of their decease, without their passing into a state of decomposition and putrefaction, so that they remain for a long time like mummies, without change and without stench” (Rosenmüller, Bibl. Althk. iv. 2, p. 424). In a carcase dried up in this way, a swarm of bees might form their hive, just as well as in the hollow trunks of trees, or clefts in the rock, or where wild bees are accustomed to form them, notwithstanding the fact that bees avoid both dead bodies and carrion (see Bochart, Hieroz, ed. Ros. iii. p. 355). (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:9. Samson took it (the honey) in his hands, ate some of it as he went, and also gave some to his father and mother to eat, but did not tell them that he had got the honey out of the dead body of the lion; for in that case they would not only have refused to eat it as being unclean, but would have been aware of the fact, which Samson afterwards took as the subject of the riddle that he proposed to the Philistines. רָדָה, to tread, to tread down; hence to get forcible possession of, not to break or to take out, neither of which meanings can be established. The combination of רָדָה and אֶל־כַּפָּיו is a pregnant construction, signifying to obtain possession of and take into the hands. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:10–20. Samson’s Wedding and Riddle.—V. 10. When his father had come down to the girl (sc., to keep the wedding, not merely to make the necessary preparations for his marriage), Samson prepared for a feast there (in Timnath), according to the usual custom (for so used the young men to do).
Judg. 14:11. “And when they saw him, they fetched thirty friends, and they were with him.” The parents or relations of the bride are the subject of the first clause. They invited thirty of their friends in Timnath to the marriage feast, as “children of the bride-chamber” (Matt. 9:15), since Samson had not brought any with him. The reading כִּרְאֹותָם from רָאָה needs no alteration, though Bertheau would read כֵּרְאֹתָם from יָרֵא, in accordance with the rendering of the LXX (Cod. Al.) and Josephus, ἐν τῷ φοβεῖσθαι αὐτούς. Fear of Samson would neither be in harmony with the facts themselves, nor with the words וַיִּהְיוּ אִתֹּו, “they were with him,” which it is felt to be necessary to paraphrase in the most arbitrary manner “they watched him.” (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Judges 14:11 And it came about when they saw him that they brought thirty companions to be with him.|
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:12. At the wedding feast Samson said to the guests, “I will give you a riddle. If you show it to me during the seven days of the meal (the wedding festival), and guess it, I will give you thirty sedinim (σινδόνες, tunicae, i.e., clothes worn next to the skin) and thirty changes of garments (costly dresses, that were frequently changed: see at Gen. 45:22); but if ye cannot show it to me, ye shall give me the same number of garments.” The custom or proposing riddles at banquets by way of entertainment is also to be met with among the ancient Grecians. (For proofs from Athenaeus, Pollux, Gellius, see Bochart, Hieroz. P. ii. l. ii. c. 12; and K. O. Müller, Dorier, ii. p. 392). As the guests consented to this proposal, Samson gave them the following riddle (v. 14): “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” This riddle they could not show, i.e., solve, for three days. That is to say, they occupied themselves for three days in trying to find the solution; after that they let the matter rest until the appointed term was drawing near. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Judges 14:13 "But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes." And they said to him, "Propound your riddle, that we may hear it."|
|Judges 14:14 So he said to them, "Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet." But they could not tell the riddle in three days.|
Out of the eater came forth meat.
Young lions roar at the saints. The lion of hell gives them no little trouble. Though he may not come upon the path of holiness — for no lion shall be there — yet he comes very near it. “He goeth about like a roaring lion.” (1Pe 5:8-note) Temptation may well be compared to the attack on Samson by the young lion of Timnath.
The lion’s carcass, lying where Samson had rent and cast it, became the home of honey-bees. And as the hero went back to look at it in after-days, he obtained meat and sweetness.
How apt the parable! Every conquered temptation yields these two things — strength and sweetness. We are more than conquerors (Ro 8:37-note), not only vanquishing the foe, but dividing the spoils of victory.
It yields strength. — Each time we overcome sin, the strength of the temptation passes into our hearts; as the Indian warrior supposes that the might of each warrior whom he levels to the dust, enters into himself. To resist impatience, makes us more patient in proportion to the strength of the temptation we resist. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” (Jas 1:12-note)
It gives sweetness. — There is a new gentleness to those who have been tempted; a humility, a modesty, a consciousness of the presence of God, through Whom the victory has been secured (Ps 98:1-Spurgeon note; Pr 21:31, Je 51:14, 1Co 15:57); a new zest for the Word of God. How sweet are thy words to my taste! sweeter than honey and the honeycomb (Ps 19:10-Spurgeon's note; Ps 119:103-Spurgeon's note). The life that is hid with Christ in God is full of sweetness and gentleness. “The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.” (Ga 5:23-note)
|Judges 14:15 Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband, that he may tell us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?"|
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:15. On the seventh day they said to Samson’s wife, “Persuade thy husband to show us the riddle,” sc., through thee, without his noticing it, “lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire. Have ye invited us to make us poor; is it not so?” In this threat the barbarism and covetousness of the Philistines came openly to light. הַלְיָרְשֵׁנוּ without Metheg in the יָ is the inf. Kal of יָרַשׁ, to make poor,—a meaning derived from inheriting, not the Piel of יָרַשׁ = רוּשׁ, to be poor. הֲלֹא, nonne, strengthens the interrogative clause, and has not the signification “here” = הֲלֹם. Samson’s wife, however, wept over him, i.e., urged him with tears in her eyes, and said, “Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not; thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people (my countrymen), and hast not shown it to me.” חַדְתָּה is from חוּד. Samson replied, that he had not even shown it to his father and mother, “and shall I show it to thee?” (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:17. “Thus his wife wept before him the seven days of the banquet.” This statement is not at variance with that in v. 15, to the effect that it was only on the seventh day that the Philistine young men urged her with threats to entice Samson to tell the riddle, but may be explained very simply in the following manner. The woman had already come to Samson every day with her entreaties from simple curiosity; but Samson resisted them until the seventh day, when she became more urgent than ever, in consequence of this threat on the part of the Philistines. And “Samson showed it to her, because she lay sore upon him;” whereupon she immediately betrayed it to her countrymen. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:18. Thus on the seventh day, before the sun went down (חַרְסָה = חֶרֶס, Judg. 8:13; Job 9:7, with a toneless ah, a softening down of the feminine termination: see Ewald, § 173, h.), the men of the city (i.e., the thirty young men who had been invited) said to Samson, “What is sweeter than honey, and what stronger than a lion?” But Samson saw through the whole thing, and replied, “If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, ye had not hit upon (guessed) my riddle,”—a proverbial saying, the meaning of which is perfectly clear. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:19. Nevertheless he was obliged to keep his promise (v. 12). Then the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, slew thirty men of them, i.e., of the Ashkelonites, took their clothes (חֲלִיצֹות, exuviae: see 2 Sam. 2:21), and gave the changes of garments to those who had shown the riddle. This act is described as the operation of the Spirit of Jehovah which came upon Samson, because it showed to the Philistines the superior power of the servants of Jehovah. It was not carnal revenge that had impelled Samson to the deed. It was not till the deed itself was done that his anger was kindled; and even then it was not against the Philistines, to whom he had been obliged to pay or give the thirty garments, but against his wife, who had betrayed his secret to her countrymen, so that he returned to his father’s house, viz., without his wife.(Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)
|Judges 14:20 But Samson's wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.|
BUT SAMSON'S WIFE WAS GIVEN:
Even the Philistines continued to refer to Samson as “the son-in-law of the Timnite” (15:6).
TO HIS COMPANION WHO HAD BEEN HIS FRIEND:
If Samson had won his way and married a Philistine woman, that relationship would have crippled the work God had called him to do. Believers today who enter into unholy alliances are sinning and hindering the work of the Lord too (2Co6:14-18). If Samson had sought God’s leading, the Lord would have directed him. Instead, Samson went his own way, and the Lord had to overrule his selfish decisions.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you” (Ps32:8,v9, NKJV). If we’re looking by faith into the face of the Lord, He can guide us with His eye, the way parents guide their children. But if we turn our backs on Him, he has to treat us like animals and harness us. Samson was either impetuously rushing ahead like the horse or stubbornly holding back like the mule, and God had to deal with him.where Judg14 began but disobience to his parents & to God would soon have its consequences.
|F B Meyer…
Samson is the type of a man who, guarding against ceremonial laxity, and so keeping the Nazarite vow intact, is at the same time extremely lax in his morals. Though he touched neither wine nor strong drink, and ate no unclean thing, he was carried by passion, like a leaf before the autumn wind.
Judges 14:1-4 Samson's illicit love. --As in so many other cases this great mistake lay at the root of much of the misery and sin of Samson's life. He had no right to allow his heart to go out towards any woman of an alien race (Deut. 7:3); but apparently it was quite enough for a woman to please him well, and he insisted that his father should get the Philistine woman to be his wife. How foolish is it to be ensnared by a pretty or a handsome face, unless we know something of the inner life also! God overruled the results, though that did not relieve Samson of blame (comp. Judges 14:4 and Acts 2:23).
Judges 14:5-9 Samson's first exploit. -- The rending of the lion was accomplished by Divine power (Judges 14:6), but the contact with the carcass rendered Samson unclean (Lev. 11:27), and when, later, he returned to fetch his wife, and found the carcass full of honey, he would not tell his parents the origin of the honey, lest they might have scrupled to partake of it. In these little acts of laxity, he was already laying the foundation of his fall. The borer-worm prepares the oak for its fall, long before it snaps before the northeast blast.
Not once or twice in our lives have we met with a close analogy to this old story; circumstances which have roared against us, threatening our lives, have finally yielded honey and meat. We think as we meet them that they will involve us in unmitigated disaster; but as we look back upon them in after years, we count them the sources of unutterable delight. Everything depends upon how we meet them. It is only they on whom the Spirit of the Lord comes mightily, to whom the strong yields sweetness.
Judges 14:10-20 Samson's marriage-feast, and riddle. -- The proposal of riddles was a favorite Oriental pastime. It was the seventh day of the week, but the fourth of the feast (Judges 14:14-15). The sheets (Judges 14:12) were the hykes still worn in the East. When, at the end of the seven day limit, the Philistines were unable to solve the riddle, they sought the aid of the bride, so that they should not become impoverished (Judges 14:15, marg.), by forfeiting the penalty. Their threats caused this Philistine girl to waver in her allegiance to Samson, and she worked until she had extracted from him the answer. Her efforts, however, to avoid the fate with which she was threatened (Judges 14:15) only obtained for her a temporary respite, as the identical punishment she dreaded was afterwards meted out to her and her people (Judges 15:6). How weak human love may be unless it is sanctified by the love of God! Even the love of a newly-married wife may fail, unless it is possessed by a stronger passion, and held true by a mightier hand than her own.
Let us never forget the sense in which Samson's riddle has been realized in the destruction of death by Christ (1 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:54; Heb. 2:14-15). Some of our bitterest foes yield us strength and sweetness beneath the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit. (F. B. Meyer. CHOICE NOTES ON JOSHUA THROUGH 2 KINGS)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 14:20. “And Samson’s wife was given to his friend, whom he had chosen as a friend.” מֵרֵעַ is not doubt to be understood here in the sense of “the friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29), ὁ νυμφαγωγός (LXX), the conductor of the bride,—namely, one of the thirty companions (v. 10), whom Samson had entrusted with this office at the marriage festival. The faithlessness of the Philistines towards the Israelites was no doubt apparent here; for even if Samson went home enraged at the treacherous behaviour of his wife, without taking her with him, he did not intend to break the marriage tie, as Judg. 15:1, 2 clearly shows. So that instead of looking at the wrong by which Samson felt himself aggrieved, and trying to mitigate his wrath, the parents of the woman made the breach irreparable by giving their daughter as a wife to his companion. (Judges 14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p409)