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Judges – Lesson 18 Judges Chapter 14 

 

Introduction:

Last week we saw the Nation of Israel fall into their seventh Apostasy and Servitude, this time to their arch enemies, the Philistines.  The Angel of the Lord came unto Manoah and his wife and tells them that they will have a son who will deliver Israel from this bondage.  His name was Samson, and he was to be a dedicated Nazarite for all of his life.  We studied his earlier years in chapter 13, this week we study about his adult life.

 

I.                   Samson, The 13th Judge of Israel 

In  the closing verse of Chapter 13, we saw the Spirit of the Lord beginning to move Samson.  This perhaps was the beginning of the special strength that God gave him.

 

Judg 14:1  And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

Judg 14:2  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. 

Samson uses his special strength from the Lord the first time at his marriage to a Philistine girl.   Samson was about 20 years old at this time.  This appeared to be the first contact that Samson had with the Philistines, and it was in Timnath.  This was a town only 4 miles from his home town of Zorah.  In verse 2 Samson asks his parents to arrange a wedding for he and this girl that he had seen in Timnath.   We know from our earlier studies that tradition called for marriages to be arranged by the parents sometimes with no regard to the childrenís desires.  Samson wanted a specific wife of the Philistines, but this was not according to the instructions God gave in Deuteronomy 7. 

Deu 7:3  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.

Deu 7:4  For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 

The reason was because these foreign nations did not serve the true and living God of Israel, and that meant that the young man or woman who married out of their own people was likely to have their hearts moved to serve false gods.  Today, we do  not have to marry a Jew to be pleasing in Godís sight, but it is important that we do marry a Christian.  Sometimes good marriages happen when one of the partners is lost, but normally that is only after the lost mate comes to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  And while we may think we can change the other person, many times we can not.  So the best and safest route in life is to marry a Christian, and pray that it is exactly the one God would have you to marry. 

2 Cor 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 

While on this topic, I think every Christian should make it a point to have a few lost friends that we deal with about Jesus Christ.  But the predominate number of people that you run with, your really close personal friends, really need to be Christians.  If you are always running with all worldly people, it is likely that they will lead you to walking a carnal walk.  But when you mix in a few lost people with your Christian friends, it gives you a great opportunity to share the Gospel. 

Judg 14:3  Then his father and his mother said unto 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? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. 

Samsonís parents ask him if there was not a girl of their own people who he would desire to marry.  They realized the importance of following Godís command. 

Judg 14:4  But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. 

Samson does not agree, and says that this Philistine girl ďPleaseth me well.Ē  While it is great to enjoy the other partner in marriage, we need a lot more reason that this to pick a mate.  But it says in verse 4 that this marriage was of the Lord, because he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.  This would give him that occasion, and we will see him using this divine strength against those who held Israel captive. 

Matthew Henry said God had a plan for Samson. 

But this treaty of marriage is expressly said to be of the Lord, v. 4. Not only that God afterwards overruled it to serve his designs against the Philistines, but that he put it into Samsonís heart to make this choice, that he might have occasion against the Philistine. It was not a thing evil in itself for him to marry a Philistine. It was forbidden because of the danger of receiving hurt by idolaters; where there was not only no danger of that kind, but an opportunity hoped for of doing that hurt to them which would be good service to Israel, the law might well be dispense with. It was said (ch. 13:25) that the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times, and we have reason to think he himself perceived that Spirit to move him at this time, when he made this choice, and that otherwise he would have yielded to his parentsí dissuasives, nor would they have consented at last if he had not satisfied them it was of the Lord. This would bring him into acquaintance and converse with the Philistines, by which he might have such opportunities of galling them as otherwise he could not have. It should seem, the way in which the Philistines oppressed Israel was, not by great armies, but by the clandestine incursions of their giants and small parties of their plunderers. In the same way therefore Samson must deal with them; let him but by this marriage get among them, and he would be a thorn in their sides. Jesus Christ, having to deliver us from this present evil world, and to cast out the prince of it, did himself visit it, though full of pollution and enmity, and, by assuming a body, did in some sense join in affinity with it, that he might destroy our spiritual enemies, and his own arm might work the salvation.   [1]

 

II.                Samson and the Lion 

Judg 14:5  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.

Judg 14:6  And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done

On the way to Timnath that Samson met a lion some distance away from his parents.  Apparently they were not traveling together, and on this trip Samson meets and slays this lion.  This was done in the vineyards of Timnath, with his bare hands.  I donít know about you, but I wouldnít want to take on a lion with a great weapon in my hands, much less bare-handed.  Sounded like it would be impossible to win this battle, but a little with God is much.   And God had given great strength to this man. 

Judg 14:7  And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

Judg 14:8  And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. 

Later on, on traveling to Timnath a second time to take his wife, Samson comes upon this lion, and finds a swarm of bees in the carcass.  On this basis, Samson compounded a riddle. 

Judg 14:9  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 carcase of the lion. 

Samson was very happy with his new bride to be, and he comes to his parents, eating the honey, but he does not tell them of the lion and swarm of bees that he found.  We need to remember that one of the vows of the Nazarite was to never come near a dead body.  Whether that was strictly a human body or whether it included animals, it is unclear.  If the vow of the Nazarite included not touching a dead animal, then Samson broke his vow in doing this.  However, many feel that if Samson had broken his vow, he would have lost his strength.  Others believe that this was just one of the many things he did wrong as he slowly began backsliding away from God and finally lost his strength when Delilah betrayed him.  For sure we know that he went in unto a harlot, and this was a clear act of disobedience to God. 

III.               Samsonís Riddle 

Judg 14:10  So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. 

Samson makes a feast in the city upon arriving in Timnath.  It was a custom to bring the young men out and have this feast prior to the marriage, sort of like our custom in America of a bachelorís party prior to the wedding. 

Judg 14:11  And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. 

The Philistines brought out 30 champions of young men to be with Samson. 

Judg 14:12  And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:

Judg 14:13  But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it. 

Samson put forth the riddle and makes a bet with the men.  If they can figure it out in 7 days, Samson would give them 30 sheets and 30 changes of garments.  But if not, they were to give Samson the 30 sheets and changes of garments.   

Judg 14:14  And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle. 

So Samson goes down with his father to take the girl to be his wife, and they prepare a customary feast and he brings 30 companions with him.  He then puts forth the riddle to themÖ ďOut of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.Ē 

The bet was taken by the young men, and they go off to determine what the answer is to this strange play on words. 

Judg 14:15  And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so? 

Bets can get us into trouble.  On the 7th day, the young men come and tell Samsonís wife to figure out the riddle, or they would burn her and her fatherís house with fire.   I saw a show on TV about a young quarterback from Ohio State who had his whole career ruined by his habitual gambling.  Betting is just another of many tricks that Satan uses to bring us down.  Look at this example, and purpose in your heart to never bet against anyone on anything.  Everything, and I do mean everything, that we do, should be all for the honor and glory of the Lord. 

1 Cor 10:28  But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:

1 Cor 10:29  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

1 Cor 10:30  For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

1 Cor 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Cor 10:32  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

1 Cor 10:33  Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

1 Cor 11:1  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 

 

Judg 14:16  And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?

Judg 14:17  And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people. 

Samsonís wife bows to the pressure of the men, and entices Samson to tell her what the riddle was.  Can women get things out of men?  I promise you that they have a way of working with you.  Wives will smile at this, but it is the truth.   And men who are foolish and are led about by passions are brought as low by evil women as a piece of bread.

Prov 6:23  For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Prov 6:24  To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Prov 6:25  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Prov 6:26  For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

Prov 6:27  Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

Prov 6:28  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Prov 6:29  So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Prov 6:30  Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

Prov 6:31  But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Prov 6:32  But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Prov 6:33  A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

Prov 6:34  For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Prov 6:35  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

 

All of us need to learn to look to God for all things, and to do things Godís Way.  It is the only way we can walk and be successful in this life.  It was by tears that Samsonís wife gets him to tell her the answer to the riddle.  She told him that he hated her for not telling her the riddle.  Samson stated that not even his own parents were given the answer to this riddle. 

Judg 14:18  And the men of the city said unto 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 unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. 

So the men come to Samson with the answer, and win the contest.  Samson know something is amiss, and says that ďIf ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.Ē    He knew that somehow the men had caused her to reveal the riddle to them. 

IV.  Samson at Ashkelon 

Judg 14:19  And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house. 

We find the words again ďAnd the spirit of the Lord came upon him.Ē  This special power was almost sub-human strength.  He went to Askelon and not only battles the Philistines, but it says he slew 30 men.   From those 30, he took garments and sheets and gave to those who had won the bet.   This was the first step of Samson being used to deliver Israel from the Philistines.   Samsonís anger was kindled, and he goes up to his fatherís house.  He was so upset that he refuses to take his wife with him.  We need to be careful to never let our anger get the best of us.   Anger at the right time about the right things is good, but to use it to attempt to get revenge today is wrong.   Samsonís situation was unique.  You and I are to wait on the Lord to recompense our enemies for the wrong they do unto us. 

Eph 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Eph 4:27  Neither give place to the devil. 

Rom 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Rom 12:20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Rom 12:21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 


Judg 14:20  But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
 

After Samson returned home, his father in law gives his wife to one of the companions to be his wife.  This was a sad way to see a marriage end.  When we marry, it is a vow to stay with our partners until ďdeath do we part.Ē 

 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

 

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[1]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.