Title: Judges 14-15. Samson part 5 - God starts a fight with the Philistines.
Israel will not fight against the oppression of the enemy. God raises us Samson to start that fight and to reveal to His own people and the enemy that in Him alone there is power and victory.
God allows Samson to marry a Philistine woman so that the conflict will start. God is in control of all of human history, while He does not cause any sin or evil.
JDG 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.
The Hebrew word used shows that the lion was a full grown cub.
JDG 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.
Last time we noted the differences between the Holy Spirit's ministry in the OT and the NT. Reading through Rom 8 we find that in the church, every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit influences us, empowers us, teaches, and guides us only when we are spiritual. As Rom 8 put it, we set our minds on the things of the Spirit and not on the things of the flesh. In the church, when we set our minds on the things of the Spirit, the Spirit reveals to us the deep things of God, 1CO 2:9.
We see with Samson and the few others that are mentioned as having the Spirit of God upon them, that the Spirit in the OT comes upon a person in order to perform a certain task and then departs from that person. We also see that spirituality is not a precondition to the Spirit's empowering in the OT. We see in this instance how dispensationalism is vital to biblical interpretation.
Samson's physical strength certainly isn't the kind of strength that the Holy Spirit gives us. We don't gain higher IQs or get healthier. Our strength is in the soul and the heart within. That is the seat of real strength. Samson would have been a much stronger man if he had followed Yavah.
He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
Samson's parents had not seen the incident with the lion and he kept it quiet. It is possible that being a Nazarite, Samson didn't pass through the vineyard and took a longer route to Timnah, explaining why his parents were not with him.
The Spirit of the Lord was always the source of Samson's strength and not his hair.
God is always the source of our strength and wisdom. We must yield our will to Him by faith but that never merits us as the originators or creators of power, soul wealth, and wisdom. The glory is forever to God alone and therefore, any arrogance or pride on our part for the good things that we have is completely out of line.
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [kauchaomai = to glory in] about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Paul's thorn in the flesh forced him to concede that only God could empower him in his ministry. That is a lesson that we all must learn. As the Lord said to the man whose son was demon possessed, "All things are possible to him to believes."
JDG 14:7 So he went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson.
After some conversation, she still looked good to Samson. It almost sounds like they had a conversation and Samson just concluded that she's still beautiful. The Hebrew states that she looked "right" to him, so that after the talk, he still thought that this was a good idea.
After the period of betrothal, he returns to Timnah with his parents in order to take the girl as his wife. Again they are not with him when he walks past the place where he killed the lion.
JDG 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.
The event with the honey was after the betrothal period which was at least one year.
The carcass would have been totally dried up. The birds of prey would have eaten all the flesh and the heat of an Israeli summer would have dried up all the purification. Bees don't normally hive in such places, but God's ways are not always normal.
"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]
JDG 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.
Samson violates his Nazarite vow by touching something dead and by eating something unclean, since the honey was in contact with death.
Yet we remember, that this aspect of the Nazirite vow, not touching the dead written in Num 6, was not mentioned by the Lord when He gave instructions to his parents. Certainly, Samson is unique as a type of Israel and this time period. Samson's life is not so much about him as it is a way of revealing a truth to Israel. He is a Nazirite as a type of what Israel should be to God in sanctification. We would not wonder if God had stripped him of his strength when he touched the dead animal or ate the unclean honey, but God is not done using him in strength.
He does not tell his parents where the honey had come from. If they had known they wouldn't have eaten it. However, this secret sets the stage for a subsequent event.
JDG 14:10 Then his father went down to the woman; and Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this.
As was customary, the father went down to the girl and her parents in order to finalize negotiations for the wedding.
Samson makes the feast, which means he financed it, but this is not Jewish custom and so it must have been a Philistine custom.
JDG 14:11 And it came about when they saw him that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
One theory is that they did this because they were afraid of Samson and so wanted to guard him. It also may be that they were given to protect the wedding party against attack from an outside force, or it may just be that Samson didn't bring anyone with him and so they supplied a wedding party for him.
JDG 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.
The proposing of riddles at a wedding was common practice among ancient Greeks, which was the origin of the Philistines. The wedding feast lasts seven days.
It was obviously not a fair riddle since only Samson could possibly know the answer. This reveals how full of himself Samson is. He may be looking for a way to get back the cost of the feast or he may just simply like to win everything. If he can propose an insolvable riddle then he may liken himself to a wise sage, not only the strongest man. If it is solved he will look like a fool, so he gives that which sounds like a riddle but isn't.
Two things are wagered: 30 fine linen garments that were worn next to the body, day or night. 30 festive garments worn for special occasions.
The linen garments were made from fine material, were rectangular and were worn on the body, under other garments. The changes of clothes were festive garments that were worn to festivals or weddings. A person at this time would only have one set of these.
They can't resist the challenge and they have 7 days to figure it out.
JDG 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."
JDG 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.
Literally in Hebrew: From the eater, out came eats; and from the strong, out came sweets.
Riddles are supposed to be solved with logic, but this one is completely unfair.
After three days they were pretty convinced that they could not solve it and after seven days they became desperate.
This shows pride all around, in Samson and in the wedding party and it is to such an extent that it will end up in murder.
All throughout history, starting with Cain, intense pride has too often resulted in murder.
JDG 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?"
This is not an idle threat since they will do it (15:6). This shows the violence of these people.
JDG 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?"
Do you think this is a good marriage?
JDG 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 her people.
For the first six days she asked out of curiosity but now things were extremely urgent due to the Philistine threat upon her.
Samson obviously doesn't think that she will betray him.
JDG 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."
This was a proverbial saying for this time and place. They had worked with his wife to get the secret.