Judges 14


“Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)” Judges 14:1-4

Samson’s Marriage

As we enter this chapter, it seems that the only way to motivate Samson to combat the Philistines was to get him angry over losing his bride and losing face. The text tells us a Philistine girl catches Samson’s eye and it was definitely ‘lust at first sight’.

Samson tells his parents to arrange the marriage, dismissing their objections, Proverbs 17:21. But his parents are appalled that he would want to marry a pagan girl, someone who was outside of God’s covenant with Israel.

It’s quite clear that Samson totally disregarded his parent’s authority and so in the process, he was breaking the fifth commandment to ‘honour your mother and father’, Exodus 20:12.

And as we shall see over the next few chapters, Samson’s fatal attraction to Philistine women was going to be his downfall. The text literally says that Samson argues with his parents and says, ‘she is right in my eyes’.

What’s so important about that? Well, remember the theme for the Book of Judges, ‘every man did what was right in his own eyes’ Judges 17:6. And so Samson is no exception in this instance.

But God as we have seen time and time again through the Book of Judges has a way of using people’s weaknesses to accomplish His will, 1 Corinthians 1:27.

The only good result of this union was the destruction of God’s enemies. And so God was going to use Samson’s moral weakness to accomplish His purpose, and that was to confront the Philistines.

“Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.” Judges 14:5-7

On a visit to arrange his wedding, Samson is attacked by a lion, and here, he discovers his miraculous strength and without any weapon, he tears the lion apart.

We sometimes picture him as some pumped-up superman, but the reality is, he was more likely an ordinary-looking person, which is in theme with the people God chooses to deliver His people.

It was evident that God had given Samson his strength because the text says that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him’. So we need to understand that he didn’t become strong by working out, he became strong because God was working through him.

Why didn’t he tell anyone about what happened? Samson doesn’t tell anyone about the lion incident, because he would have to undergo a lengthy cleansing ritual at the tabernacle. But the main reason was he was simply too busy taking care of personal interests.

There are times when we simply get too busy looking after our own needs that we neglect to do what’s more important. Samson isn’t putting God first, He’s putting his own needs first and we too can easily put our own needs before God if we’re not careful, Proverbs 3:6.

‘Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he re-joined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass. Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions. “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.” “Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it. Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet. On the fourth1  day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?” Judges 14:8-15

On his return trip sees the lion carcass occupied by a hive of bees, and he devises a clever riddle. Riddles were given great importance in the ancient world and when you think about Samson himself, his whole life was a riddle.

And as the wedding was being prepared, Samson wagers his riddle as a challenge to the 30 groomsmen.

Just as a side note, the next time you’re in the supermarket shopping for honey, pick up a jar of Lyle’s Golden Syrup and you’ll see on the front of it, a picture of a yellow lion and you’ll find these very words written on the front.

Samson is obviously talking about the lion carcass with the beehives inside of it and because the wedding feast would last 7 days, that would give them a week to figure it out.

But they were stumped and determined the only way to solve the riddle and win the bet was by threatening Samson’s bride.

“Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.” “I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.” Judges 14:16-18

I mentioned earlier that Samson’s weakness was Philistine women and here we see his weakness again. His wife’s tears unlock the secret and when the groomsmen so easily and persuasively solve Samson’s riddle, his anger is aroused, and he correctly concludes that they pressured the answer from his bride.

And he goes on to rebuke them, but I don’t know about you but I don’t think my wife would like to be called a heifer. This basically means ‘if you had not slept with my wife’.

‘Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.’ Judges 14:19-20

God moved Samson through His Spirit to take vengeance, slaughtering 30 Philistines. And I’m sure that his leaving the celebration feast must have been awkward for his bride and her family.

His angry departure suggests that he simply abandoned his bride, making the marriage invalid. In his anger, Samson didn’t complete the marriage ceremony and because he left, the father of the bride assumed that Samson was no longer interested in her. She was then given to a friend of Samson, which friend could have been a Philistine.

If Samson learned anything from this event, he learned just how deceitful the Philistines really were.

Go To Judges 15


"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."