JUDGES CHAPTER 14
THE PRELIMINARY ARRANGEMENTS. — V. 1. And Samson went down to Timnath, in the region where the highlands of Judah merge into the plains of Philistia, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the philistines, who were therefore encroaching pretty far upon the territory of the Israelites. V. 2. And he came up, to the hilly country where the home of his parents was, 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. The act of giving children in marriage is clearly the prerogative of the parents according to the plain doctrine of God’s Word. A young man may state his preference and, in most cases, urge his suit successfully, but first with his own parents, for unless he sets forth with their blessing, or at least with their express consent, the serious business of taking a wife may prove disastrous to him. V. 3. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, of his own tribe, or among all my people, in all Israel, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines, for the rite of circumcision was a distinction which Israel had above all heathen nations as a sign of God’s covenant. The objection of Manoah and his wife was founded upon Ex. 34, 16 and Deut. 7, 3. 4, for, although the philistines are not expressly named in the list of heathen nations with whose members marriage was not to be consummated, yet the principle of the prohibition excluded the Philistines as well as all others. Mixed marriages are dangerous at all times, and parents will best perform their duty if they prevent the union between their children and unbelievers, and also false believers, from the start. And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. It may have been only a temporary attachment which Samson felt, but he was insistent, and his parents finally consented. V. 4. But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that Jehovah had so arranged matters, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines, a valid ground for a quarrel and for an attack upon them; for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel, the Lord had delivered Israel into their hand to be oppressed by them, chap. 13, 1. V. 5. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, the young man evidently preceding his parents in his eagerness to press his suit with the woman of his choice, and came to the vineyards of Timnath, to the hills which bordered upon a more desolate section of country; and, behold, a young lion, fierce and bloodthirsty, roared against him, rushed upon him with all evidences of bloodthirstiness. V. 6. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, urging him on with great force, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, taking hold of the beast with his bare hands and slaughtering him with the greatest ease, and he had nothing in his hand, no weapon of any kind; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done, he was conscious for the first time that the strength which he possessed was an unusual power, and he felt diffident about discussing it even with his parents, all the more so because they would have been startled by the account of the danger in which he had been. V. 7. And he went down and talked with the woman, with the idea of finding out more of her character and suitability by a conversation with her; and she pleased Samson well, the impression which he had first gained was confirmed. V. 8. And after a time he returned to take her, coming down once more with his parents to celebrate the nuptials, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, for the heat of the dry season is so great as to take up all the moisture from a dead body before decay sets in; and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion, the wild bees had lost no time in using the dry carcass as a hive. V. 9. And he took thereof in his hands, drawing it out with his fingers as the only spoons available and using his hands as vessels, and went on eating, munched of the honey as he went along, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat, also relishing the delicacy; but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion, for that would have brought out the story of the encounter with the lion. This incident gave Samson the suggestion for the riddle which he proposed during the week of feasting. A greater than Samson, Christ, the almighty God, has overcome the roaring lion, Satan, and this victory is the source of peace, salvation, and life for all men.
THE RIDDLE AT THE WEDDING-FEAST. — V. 10. So his father went down unto the woman, to signify his parental approval of the match and to attend the wedding; and Samson made there a feast, intending to live in Timnath and not take his bride to the city of his parents; for so used the young men to do, that was the custom at that time, that the bridegroom provided the entertainment. V. 11. And it came to pass, when they, the parents and relatives of the bride, saw him, that they brought thirty companions, attendants of the groom, “sons of the bride-chamber,” to be with him, for Samson had neglected to provide himself with these very necessary witnesses, with this retinue of merrymakers. V. 12. And Samson said unto them, evidently as soon as the festivities began, I will now put forth a riddle unto you, announce or propose it to them; if ye can certainly declare it me, give its solution, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets, ordinary garments, and thirty change of garments, dresses of state, to be worn on festival occasions; v. 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, feeling sure of their ability to gain the prize held out before them, Put forth thy riddle that we may hear it. V. 14. And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness, literally, “Out of the feeder, consumer [German, Fresser], came forth food, and out of the powerful one something sweet.” And they could not in three days expound the riddle, for so long they attempted to get the solution honestly. V. 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, she was to manage in some way to get him to reveal the solution or at least a key to its understanding, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire; have ye called, invited, us to take that we have, to impoverish, to plunder them? Is it not so? They implied that the riddle was merely a pretense, a scheme, to make them pay, although they had willingly agreed to the terms stated by Samson. Their threat shows their callous brutality, their miserable covetousness. V. 16. And Samson’s wife wept before him and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not, the easiest and handiest reproach in the circumstances; thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people and hast not told it me. Her speech shows that the woman, in a choice between her husband and her people, inclined to the Philistines, the usual result in the case of mixed marriages. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, who might, till now, have expected him to share his secrets with them, and shall I tell it thee? V. 17. And she wept before him the seven days, for her curiosity had prompted her to badger him from the very first day, while their feast lasted; and it came to pass on the seventh day that he told her, because she lay sore upon him, she was unbearably importunate in her pleading; and she told the riddle to the children of her people, thus betraying the confidence of her husband. V. 18. And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, before the time as fixed by him had expired, 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, a proverbial expression which, at the same time, indicated his contempt for the method employed by them. V. 19. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, a city of the Philistines on the coast of the Mediterranean, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, their attire, of which the fallen were usually stripped, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. “It is in harmony with the dramatic course of the action that Samson flung to his treacherous friends, as the price of their deception, garments snatched from their own countrymen.” (Lange.) And his anger was kindled, in a flame of bitter resentment against the entire Philistine nation, and he went up to his father’s house, leaving his wife at Timnath. V. 20. But Samson’s wife, for such the woman now was before all the world, was given to his companion, to his chief attendant at the wedding festival, to his “best man,” whom he had used as his friend. Cp. John 3, 29. This action on the part of the woman’s parents shows the low state of morals in their nation, and the fact that the woman added infidelity to treason characterizes her as well; hers was a mean and small soul. Note: It was the Spirit of God who urged Samson to slay the Philistines. The same Spirit today is full of zeal against all godlessness and impels the believers to use the weapons of the Word in combating every form of unchristian doctrine and conduct.