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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!
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
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
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.
AND SAW A WOMAN IN TIMNAH
ONE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE PHILISTINES:
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
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
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
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
for, weapons (if we may so speak), Jesus has already overcome him for us at
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
[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;
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...
In every Christian’s heart there is
a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts
himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne.
Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among
gospel believers today. We want to be saved, but we insist that Christ do
all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king
within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the
pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and
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:
In Old Testament symbolism the Philistines represent the flesh in our life.
They were related to Egypt which symbolizes the world. As the flesh they
constitute the enemy of the Spirit of God. The flesh is that principle of
evil which gained entrance into man at the fall of Adam and Eve. It is
responsible for our tendency to go our own way and to try to live our lives
independently of God. It is an alien intruder; it has no right to reside in
our life. And yet it has taken up residence there and is constantly at war
there with the Spirit of God. Paul says in Galatians 5 that the flesh lusts
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary
to one another, to keep you from doing what you would. So these Philistines,
as we see them in this book, will be portraying the activity of the flesh in
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
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 -
DISCIPLINE - Samson said to his
father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well" (Judges 14:3).
Failure to exercise self-discipline can ruin a person's health and
happiness. A girl I know will probably die young if she doesn't control her
eating habits. And I'm acquainted with a young man who is destroying himself
because he never learned self-discipline. He grew up in a wealthy family and
inherited a position that pays a high salary, but he is on the brink of
financial disaster because of his drinking and gambling.
Lack of self-discipline caused Samson to make the mistakes that led to his
capture by the Philistines, who put out his eyes and forced him to work like
an animal. His downfall began when he wanted to marry a heathen girl and
wouldn't listen to the objections of his parents. His demand, "Get her for
me, for she pleases me well," set the pattern of self-indulgence that ruined
Without self-control, we can squander great talents and waste wonderful
opportunities. Our appetites for food, our sexual desires, our enjoyment of
recreation, and our drive to succeed can become all-consuming if we fail to
hold them in check. People who excel in their sport for many years do so
because they eat properly, exercise, and practice regularly. Likewise,
people who consistently walk with God discipline themselves to read the
Bible, pray, and obey Him.—H. V. Lugt
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
guarantees failure; self-discipline assures victory.
Discipline yourself so others won't have to.
Judges 14:3 Then his father and his mother said to him,
"Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our
people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But
Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me."
THAT YOU GO TO TAKE A WIFE FROM THE UNCIRCUMCISED PHILISTINES:
uncircumcised appears as a cause for disdain or derision several times in
Scripture & is used as a term of reproach in the following verses (15:18;
1Sa14:6; 17:26, 36; 18:25; 31:4; 2Sa1:20; 1Ch10:4, Ac11:3) and the
Philistines appear to be the one pagan tribe that refused circumcision. Note
that the very enemy that Samson had been raised up to deliver Israel from
was now one he was fraternizing with! Samson himself later used
“uncircumcised” as an epithet for the pagan Philistines (15:18; cf.
BUT SAMSON SAID TO HIS FATHER, "GET HER FOR ME FOR SHE LOOKS GOOD TO ME
Literally the Hebrew
''For she is right in my eyes'']: The Greek Septuagint reads "hoti eresen [pleases, satisfies
see Mt14:6 aresko] en ophthalmoi mou" or translated "is pleasing or
satisfies [in] my eyes". It is similar to the Hebrew expression in 17:6 and
21:25 that is translated “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Samson was conforming to the undisciplined life-style of his age.
Samson's reply to his father's plea speaks volumes about the character of
the man. As nothing else could, that simple sentence epitomizes Samson's
heart. (cp Mt12:34) Furthermore it appears Samson had not even met her but
chose her based on her physical appearance. How ironic it would be -- his
seeing a woman who looked good to him, when those very eyes would be put out
because of the betrayal of another eye-pleasing woman! God is surely not
mocked and when Samson sowed to his flesh he was sowing the seeds of
corruption (Ga6:7,8). His emphatic reply might be paraphrased, “She’s the
one I want and that’s it!”
Samson’s words revealed his self-centered attitude. Instead of seeking to
serve God, he was seeking to please himself. Samson’s comment here
foreshadows the author’s summary of the entire period of the judges in 17:6;
18:1; 19:1; 21:25.
(1) rejected authority: (God's & his parents) intermarriage w. pagans was
directly contray to God's command & against the wishes of his godly father,
Manoah. Samson refused to submit to parental authority, saying if I want to
do it, then I am going to do it.
(2) refused practice of self-discipline. His obedience to God was legalistic
and incomplete. He kept the Nazirite vow in part but missed the intent of
that vow, to be separated unto God for God's holy purposes. Samson focused
on the code of separation, not the concept of holiness.
We are all potentially just like Samson, legalistically careful not to do
certain things, yet having huge rooms of our heart in which we entertain as
guests the enemy of our souls bc we desire to do what is pleasing in our
sight. And to the death of our souls!
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).
14 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter
Judges 14:4 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.
HOWEVER, HIS FATHER
AND MOTHER DID NOT KNOW THAT IT WAS OF THE LORD:
We clearly see the mystery
of God's sovereign purpose being worked out even in the midst of man's
waywardness. Human freedom, including our poor sinful choices does not
undermine or derail the sovereign workings of God...in this case to deliver
Israel from the hand of their Philistine enemies. This is not implying that
God condoned Samson's rebellion. He is saying that God was going to overrule
in this situation for a good purpose. God never condoned the sins of this
When God isn’t permitted to rule in our lives, He overrules and works out
His will in spite of our decisions. Of course, we’re the losers for
rebelling against Him; but (Es4:10-14). Samson should have been going to a
war instead of to a wedding, but God used this event to give Samson occasion
to attack the enemy. Because of this event, Samson killed thirty men
(Jdg14:19), burned up the enemy crops (15:1-5), slaughtered a great number
of Philistines (v7,v8), and slew 1,000 men (v15). Samson hadn’t planned
these things, but God worked them out just the same. God is sovereign over
human affairs. What appears to be chance is really part of God's sovereign
design. (Pr16:33) This aspect of God’s sovereignty appeared before in Judges
Other instances of God's sovereignty in action: Jos11:20; 1Ki12:15. The Lord
uses even the sinful weaknesses of men to accomplish his purposes and bring
praise to his name (Ge45:8; 50:20; 2Ch25:20; Ac2:23; 4:28; Ro8:28,29).
FOR HE WAS SEEKING AN OCCASION AGAINST THE PHILISTINES:
The Samson story is
a fascinating study in the relationship between human freedom and divine
sovereignty. It shows the Lord working all things together for the good of
his people, even when they were least aware of it, and despite the
waywardness of the one he had chosen to use. He is still the same gracious,
sovereign God today. He still works all things together for the good of his
people, whether they are aware of it or not. In his perfect servant, Jesus,
however, there is no trace of the waywardness that we see in Samson
NOW AT THAT TIME THE PHILISTINES WERE RULING OVER ISRAEL:
On previous occasions the Israelites had repented of their sin and cried to
the Lord for help. Now there was no cry; they had become content to live
under pagan domination. In contrast to prior oppressions which severely
afflicted them, this does not appear to be the case with the Philistine rule
which makes it that much more dangerous. God’s purpose for Samson was to
cause a breach between Israel and Philistia, and to reestablish Israel’s
sense of separateness and covenant identity.
Judges 14:5 Then Samson went down to Timnah with his
father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a
young lion came roaring toward him.
THEN SAMSON WENT DOWN
TO TIMNAH WITH HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND CAME AS FAR AS THE VINEYARDS OF
TIMNAH: A vineyard was a dangerous place for a man who was not supposed to
have anything to do with grapes (Nu6:1-4). The Sorek Valley (in which Timnah
was located) and its surrounding areas were noted for their luxurious
parents objected to his marrying a Philistine, they allowed Samson’s wishes
AND BEHOLD A YOUNG LION (Cp 1Sa17:34,35) CAME ROARING TOWARD HIM:
Lions were once common
in southern Canaan (see 1Sa17:34; 2Sa23:20; 1Ki13:24; 20:36). Did God send
the lion as a warning to Samson that he was walking on the wrong path? The
Holy Spirit gave Samson power to defeat the enemy, but Samson persisted on
his path of disobedience into enemy territory and an unlawful wedding.
The appearance, in this story, of the lion is very significant. God was
trying to teach Samson something about the degree of power that he
possessed. We read that the lion charged him and he tore it apart as one
would a lamb. They must have been a lot stronger back in those days than we
are. I'm not sure we could even accomplish that with a lamb. Now, what was
the Lord trying to teach him? Just this: that he had adequate power to live
in victory over his passions. His desires, his drives, were not beyond his
control. In the Spirit of God there was available to him adequate authority
and power to live in victory over every area of life, whatever it might be.
There is a lion in our life, as well. Peter writes in his first letter that
our adversary, the devil, goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may
devour. (1Pe5:8) He is our lion, seeking to tempt us, to draw us away from
obedience to Jesus Christ. But in John's first letter he says that, in
Christ, we have already overcome that lion. We have already had our
encounter with him and he has already been torn asunder. Twice John says, "I
write to you, young men, because you have [already] overcome the evil one."
When we chose Jesus Christ, we chose a complete victory in him. The cross
has already dealt with the lion in our life. He has been put away; he is no
longer a threat. We have everything we need to stand against his pressures
and the temptations that he throws against us.
In John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" there is an incident recorded in which
Christian is walking down the road toward the Celestial City. As he is going
through a mountain pass he sees a pair of lions crouched beside the path. He
is frightened and intimidated by them, immobilized, unable to continue his
journey. Standing there in fear he hears a man calling to him from farther
down the trail. The man tells him that the lions have been chained. At first
it is hard for him to believe, but as he ventures closer to them he sees for
himself that this is true. The lions are shackled. And although they are
right by the road, ready to spring, they are restrained so that they can't
harm Christian as he makes his way on toward the Celestial City.
God has done that for you in Jesus Christ. Satan has been dealt with. The
lion in your life has already been torn asunder and there is adequate power
to live in victory over any area of your life. I don't care how deep-seated,
how long-term the bad habits may be in your life. It doesn't matter. There
is adequate power to subdue them. Jesus Christ has done that for you.
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
Judges 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him
mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a kid though he had nothing in
his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
AND THE SPIRIT OF THE
LORD CAME UPON (rush upon, cp Am5:6 "fire") HIM MIGHTILY:
In 1 Samuel the Spirit
came powerfully on Saul, enabling him to prophesy (1Sa10:6, 10) or to
prepare for battle (1Sa11:6). David experienced the “rush” of the Spirit
when he was anointed as king (1Sa16:13). For Samson the presence of God’s
Spirit meant tremendous physical strength (cf. Jdg14:19; 15:14).
In the OT as a whole, there are 39 ref to “the Spirit of the Lord” or “the
Spirit of God,” as well as various other references such as “His Spirit” or
“Your Spirit” or “the Spirit.” The Old Testament speaks numerous times of
God’s Spirit coming mightily upon individuals, usually to empower them
physically for great feats of strength. Other judges received this power:
Othniel (3:10), Gideon (6:34), and Jephthah (11:29). Yet the Spirit
empowered others for the important task of speaking God’s word (Ge41:38;
Nu24:2; 1Sa10:6, 10; 19:20, 23; 2Sa23:2). Probably the most important
manifestation of the Spirit in the Old Testament was the Spirit’s ongoing
presence. 1Sa 16:13 states that the Spirit lived with David from that day
forward, and this is confirmed by David’s statement in Ps51:11:
SO THAT HE TORE HIM AS ONE TEARS A KID THOUGH HE HAD NOTHING IN HIS HAND:
Tearing a goat in half by pulling apart its hind legs is still practiced in
BUT HE DID NOT TELL HIS FATHER OR MOTHER WHAT HE HAD DONE:
why not? It seems certain in context that Samson knew his contact with a
dead body was a violation of his Nazarite vow and he did not want to tell
his parents. Some commentators say "no, this was not a breach of the
Nazarite vow bc that applied to dead people, not dead animals (cp Nu6:6)."
Then why didn't he even boast about his fantastic feat? His silence strongly
supports his sense of guilt. It also suggests that he still had a sense of
conscience and did not want to disappoint his parents who had been so
faithful to help him keep his Nazarite vows in childhood.
And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him. Judges 14.6
The story of Samson is one of the strangest in the Old Testament. It is
surely that of a great opportunity and a disastrous failure. Everything
would seem to have been in his favour. The story of beginnings is full of
tragic pathos in the light of the after years. His birth was foretold, and
the method of his training indicated by the Angel of Jehovah, whose name was
given as Wonderful. Of his earlier years it is said that "the Spirit of
Jehovah began to move him." Had he but yielded wholly to the impulses of the
Spirit, how different a story might have been recorded! In this chapter the
boy is seen, having grown to manhood's estate. full of strength and of
passion. Going to Timnah, he saw a woman of the Philistines, and desired to
take her to wife. His parents attempted to dissuade him, but he determined
to follow his own inclination. This action was a direct violation of the
law of God. There is nothing to admire in this man in these transactions. In
the course of the reading, two statements arrest our attention. The first is
in verse 4: "His father and mother knew not that it was of Jehovah"; and the
second in verse 6: "The Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him." They both
reveal God over-ruling the life of this man, and giving him renewed
opportunities, in spite of his failure. The phrase, "It was of Jehovah," is
used in the same sense as in Joshua r 1.20. God makes the folly of man to
contribute finally to the fulfilment of His own purpose. (Morgan, G. C. Life
Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible).
Judges 14:7 So he went down and talked to the woman; and
she looked good to Samson.
SO HE WENT DOWN AND
TALKED TO THE WOMAN:
Such conversation was not acceptable in the East, unless a
couple was betrothed.
AND SHE LOOKED GOOD ("right in his eyes" cp 14:3, 17:6, 21:25 same phrase)
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
Judges 14:8 When he returned later to take her, he turned
aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and
honey were in the body of the lion.
WHEN HE RETURNED LATER
TO TAKE HER, HE TURNED ASIDE TO LOOK AT THE CARCASS OF THE LION:
What is he
doing here again? This doesn't state it but from [v5] this implies he was at
the grape vineyards again. And the Nazarite vow stipulated that he was not
to eat even the skins of grapes (Nu6:4). So it seems he was tempting himself
again...Paul told the Roman believers to make no provision (don't think
about it before you do it) the flesh in regards to its lusts or strong
desires. (Ro13:14) for our hearts are more deceitful than all else (Je17:9).
to succumb to his appetites foreshadows the Delilah affair, where Samson's
sexual obsession caused him to compromise his Nazirite status.
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
Judges 14:9 So he scraped the honey into his hands and
went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave
some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped
the honey out of the body of the lion.
Some scholars suggest
that Samson violated his Nazirite standard by coming in contact with a dead
body (13:5). Others reason that Num. 6 specifies the body of a person, not
an animal. Whether or not he sinned here, the context does show instances of
many Christians today defile themselves just to enjoy a little honey in the
carcass of a lion—perhaps a popular book, a movie, or a questionable
friendship. Sad to say, Samson passed the sin along to his parents, and then
he made a joke about it to entertain his friends! As a Nazarite and a Jew,
he had no right to be sharing in a worldly Philistine wedding. The marriage
was never completed, but the seeds of sin had already been planted in his
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
Judges 14:10 Then his father went down to the woman; and
Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this.
THEN HIS FATHER WENT
DOWN TO THE WOMAN
AND SAMSON MADE A FEAST THERE:
Hebrew "mishteh" indicates this was a
drinking party, another breaking of the Nazirite vow (13:3). Such a special
feast was common in the ancient Near East (Ge 29:22) and here lasted seven
days (v12; Ge 29:27). Since it would have included drinking wine, Samson may
have violated his Nazirite vow (13:4, 7).
FOR THE YOUNG MEN CUSTOMARILY DID THIS: These festivities normally would
have taken place in the bridegroom’s home, and Samson would have had
Israelite companions and an Israelite best man. Samson’s marriage would be
called a sadiqa marriage in Arab society today, where arrangements are made
directly with the bride’s family. The wife continues to live at home with
her father, and her husband visits her periodically.
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
Judges 14:11 And it came about when they saw him that
they brought thirty companions to be with him.
Judges 14:12 Then Samson said to them, "Let me now
propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven
days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps
and thirty changes of clothes.
THEN SAMSON SAID TO
THEM, "LET ME NOW PROPOUND A RIDDLE TO YOU:
Literally reads “let me riddle
you a riddle,” using repetition to grab the reader’s attention. This is
hardly the statement of a Spirit-filled man but in fact seems more like the
type of wager one would hear from the lips of a "spirits" (as in wine or
beer) filled man enjoying his wedding feast. The Hebrew word for riddle
occurs 21 times in the Old Testament, 11 of them in Judges 14. The queen of
Sheba posed riddles to Solomon (1 Kin. 10:1), and Daniel had skill in
“interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas” (Dan. 5:12).
IF YOU WILL INDEED TELL IT TO ME WITHIN THE SEVEN DAYS OF THE FEAST, AND
FIND IT OUT:
As you ponder the record of Samson’s life, you get the
impression that he was a fun-loving fellow with a good sense of humor; and
sometimes he didn’t take his gifts and his work seriously. A sense of humor
is a good thing to have, but it must be balanced with serious devotion to
the things of the Lord. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with
trembling” (Ps2:11). Samson’s power was a weapon to fight with and a tool to
build with, not a toy to play with.
THEN I WILL GIVE YOU THIRTY LINEN WRAPS:
Large rectangular sheets worn next
to the skin or slept in at night. linen garments is not the usual word for
clothes, but appears only three times in the Bible, here and in two others.
In [Pr31:24; Isa3:23], it refers to fine linens worn or sold by women.
Samson’s offer was extravagant given the value of such finery.
AND THIRTY CHANGES OF CLOTHES:
with silver, as gifts of great value in Ge 45:22; 2Ki 5:22 (see also Zec
14:14). These were very expensive items of apparel. A man might expect to
own one in his entire lifetime! Now Samson is obligating himself to give
each companion two such garments, a total of sixty, if he should lose
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
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.
F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
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
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
Judges 14:16 And Samson's wife wept before him and said,
"You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to
the sons of my people, and have not told it to me." And he said to her,
"Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?"
Delilah used the same
Judges 14:17 However she wept before him seven days
while their feast lasted. And it came about on the seventh day that he told
her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of
Women were Samson's weakness.
He could overcome lions. He could overcome Philistines. But in the modern
idiom, he couldn't overcome the Philistine women.
First the Philistine woman enticed him (Jdg14:1), then she controlled him
(v17), and then she betrayed him (v17), which is the way the world always
treats the compromising believer. Samson could kill lions and break ropes,
but he couldn’t overcome the power of a woman’s tears.
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
Judges 14:18 So the men of the city said to him on the
seventh day before the sun went down, "What is sweeter than honey? And 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."
In calling her a “heifer”
he was ridiculing her for her untamed and stubborn spirit (cf. Je50:11;
Ho4:16). One wonders what the result of this whole story would have been had
he not plowed with their heifer. He had no right to her because she was part
of an alien nation. And yet in willful disobedience he had determined to
We wonder how his wife felt being compared to a heifer? The proverb simply
means, “You couldn’t have done what you did if you hadn’t broken the rules,”
because heifers weren’t used for plowing. Since the guests had played foul,
technically Samson could have refused to pay the prize; but he generously
agreed to keep his promise. Perhaps he found out that his wife’s life had
been threatened and he didn’t want to put her and her family into jeopardy
Those who can’t
control their tongue can’t control their bodies; and in Samson’s
case, the consequences of this lack of discipline were disastrous.
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
Judges 14:19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him
mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took
their spoil, and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle.
And his anger burned, and he went up to his father's house.
Ashkelon was 23
miles SW on the coast
"Killed" Empowered by God's
Spirit, Samson killed 30 Philistines and stole their clothes in order to pay
off his debt to the groomsmen. Unlike Ehud, who was conscious of his role as
a liberator, Samson was unaware of his role as God's deliverer; he was
simply expressing his anger at being cheated. But Samson's quest for
vengeance became a weapon of holy war in God's hand.
ANGER BURNED: Literally "His nose became hot"
HE WENT UP TO HIS FATHER'S HOUSE: this is where Jdg 14 began but disobedience to his parents & to God would soon have its consequences.
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
Judges 14:20 But Samson's wife was given to his
companion who had been his friend.
BUT SAMSON'S WIFE WAS
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
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
SAMSON'S MARRIAGE FEAST
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
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