Sunday, October 08, 2006
SAMSON ENCOUNTERS THE PHILISTINES
14:1-3 Slave To Desire
14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
Timnah was a town allotted to the tribe of Dan, according to Joshua 19:43. Samson was of the tribe of Dan. The border of the land of Judah ran through through it, and it was close to Philistine land. It appears that Philistines were inhabiting Timnah at the time, for Samson saw a Philistine woman there that he liked. It was on the road to Timnah that Judah met his former daughter in law, with whom he had sex, thinking she was a prostitute, according to Genesis 38.
Samson was a man of many flaws. God used him, but he was not a Godly man. Here we see that he wanted to marry a Philistine woman. Israelites were not supposed to intermarry. In Deuteronomy 7:1-4, Moses warned the Israelites not to intermarry with the pagans around them. This is a principle for God’s people that is carried into the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul said “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” But Samson was attracted to her. 1 John 2:15 says “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
Samson’s father and mother urged him to marry an Israelite woman, but Samson was arrogant and stubborn and insisted on this own way. He did not honor his father and mother, as the Bible commands.
14:4 God Is Working
4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.
The writer interjects the historical narrative here with an explanation. Any Jewish person reading this story would know that Samson was violating God’s commands, yet is supposed to be used by God. So, the writer explained that God used Samson’s sin and willfulness to accomplish His will. God is not limited by our motives or goodness or even our obedience. He works to accomplish his will, even when he uses a non-believer, or a believer living a sinful life. Daniel 4:35 says: "[God] does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What are you doing?'"
14:5-7 If I’m Lion, I’m Dyin’
5 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson's eyes.
This is the first story of Samson’s mighty strength. He killed and dismembered a lion with his bare hands. He evidently had this strength because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
I found 23 places in the Old Testament where the Spirit of the Lord acted, most often coming on a judge, a king or a prophet, to accomplish God’s work. The Spirit brought supernatural strength, or wisdom, or a word from the Lord or the ability to lead.
What does the Holy Spirit do today? In John 16, Jesus said this about the work of the Spirit: “7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
So, we have a helper in the Holy Spirit. He has his own work to do, bringing conviction to the world. But, he also guides us into truth. He does this in the context of bringing glory to Christ. In the Old Testament, the Spirit came to accomplish the will of God, to the glory of God. In our time, the Spirit comes to accomplish the work of God, Father and Son, and to bring glory to them, as he works in us. He does not perform tricks, just as Jesus refused to do, and brings his power to accomplish his purpose, not just for our entertainment.
14:8-9 Breaking The Vow
8 After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.
Samson not only broke the Jewish law, it appears that he also violated his Nazirite vow. Numbers 6 told us a Nazirite was not to touch any dead body, but he touched the carcass of the lion. Leviticus 5 indicates that any Jewish person might become unclean by touching a dead animal carcass. That is probably why Samson did not tell his parents where the honey came from. They would likely have refused to eat it.
14:10-14 The Riddle Game
10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them,
“Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.”
And in three days they could not solve the riddle.
Samson showed his arrogance by taunting the guests at this feast. There is no reasonable way they could solve the riddle, as only Samson knew about the honey in the carcass of the lion. It is like Bilbo Baggins’ riddle to Gollum in The Hobbit. (What’s in my pocket?) But, it gave him a chance to show off and to gamble. They, of course, could not solve the riddle. So, they turned to deceit.
It is also possible that Samson broke his Nazirite vow for the second time, as a feast normally included the drinking of wine.
14:15-18 From Wine to Whine
15 On the fourth  day they said to Samson's wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson's wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
And he said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle.”
The Philistines co-opted Samson’s wife, who was also a Philistine, to find out the answer. She whined until she got the answer, then told the Philistines. Samson would have agreed with Proverbs 27:15, which says “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.” They solved the riddle, but Samson was smart enough to know where they got the answer, and he was not happy about it. This caused his first big confrontation with the Philistines.
14:19-20 The Spirit’s Power
19 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
For the second time, the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson. Again, he gave Samson great strength. Samson killed 30 Philistine men in Ashkelon for his revenge. Verse 19 says he had “hot anger”. He paid the Philistines the price of the wager, but in the blood of their countrymen. Then he went back home.
The Spirit worked even though Samson was not acting in a Godly fashion. Yet, God had something to accomplish, and he empowered Samson to accomplish it. We will see later that Samson pays for hi