The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
SAMSON Part 2
- Samson is the most famous and prominent judge, and he is considered the last of the judges (though some would say Samuel was the last).
- When we consider what a strange judge Samson was, we need to remember, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
- Judges 13 begins with a familiar refrain – “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them…”
- This time the Israelites were delivered into the hands of the Philistines (13:1).
- Samson is an enigma – “a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma,” to borrow Winston Churchill’s phrase.
- He is mentioned as a man of faith in Hebrews 11:32, yet he is one of the most carnal men in the Bible.
- Judges 13:24 says, “The LORD blessed him,” but Samson was double-minded and unstable. James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” This describes Samson.
- Before men Samson was the strongest of men, but before women he was weak and could not resist them.
- Samson was empowered by the Spirit of God, but he constantly yielded his body to the lusts of the flesh. In fact, Samson is said to have been empowered by the Holy Spirit four times, which is three times more than any of the other judges (cf. Judges 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14).
- Since Samson’s story covers four chapters (Judges 13-16), we will take a few weeks studying it. Chapter 13 starts off with the background (the Philistine oppression), and then the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of Samson (his mother was barren, an angel appeared to her, Samson was a Nazarite from birth, etc.).
- Tonight we will pick up here in Judges 14.
SAMSON’S WEAKNESS FOR WOMEN (14:1-4).
- This was Samson’s biggest problem, and we will see it again when we get to chapter 16, which deals with Samson’s relationship with the wicked Delilah.
- One preacher described Samson as a man with unbelievable promise, and undefeatable power, but unreliable character.
- Samson’s parents were believers and he was raised as a Nazarite. Samson was a judge, and we are told four times that the Holy Spirit came mightily upon him.
- Therefore, we would expect Samson to obey the Word of God (cf. Ex. 34:12-16; Deut. 7:1-6). This doctrine of separation is taught throughout the Bible.
- “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:14-17).
- Samson was walking by sight, not by faith – he “saw a woman in Timnath…” (14:1). Remember Potiphar’s wife “cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Genesis 39:7).
- Genesis 34:1 says that Shechem saw Dinah, and took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
- Second Samuel 11:2 says that King David was walking on his roof and he saw Bath-sheba washing herself.
- Our Lord said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).
- First John 2:16 calls this “the lust of the eyes.”
- So Samson desired this woman of the “uncircumcised Philistines” (Judges 14:3), but his parents were opposed to the marriage. They had Scripture to back up their position. All Samson could say was, “For she pleaseth me well” (14:3b, 7).
- This in line with the theme of the book of Judges – “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25).
- Unbeknownst to Samson’s parents (and probably unbeknownst to Samson himself), the marriage “was of the LORD” (14:14). As a result of this marriage (which did not last more than a week), Samson killed thirty Philistines (14:19), burned up their crops (15:1-5), slaughtered a great number more Philistines (15:8), and then slew 1,000 more (15:15).
- Verse 4 does not mean that the Lord approved of Samson’s disobedience, but that He permitted it and planned to overrule it for the benefit of Israel.
- That the Lord used Samson’s unscriptural wedding as an opportunity to provoke the Philistines should not be misconstrued as God’s approval upon what He has already condemned.
- God was able to work through this situation in spite of Samson’s sin, not because of it.
SAMSON’S UNUSUAL STRENGTH
- Whenever we think of Samson, we think of his unusual strength. Apparently he was not born with this unique strength (cf. 13:25). The first (recorded) time Samson was to use his strength was at his marriage to the Philistine girl.
- While traveling to Timnath with his parents to arrange the wedding, Samson killed a young lion with his bare hands (14:5, 6).
- We see another demonstration of Samson’s great strength later on in the chapter when he single-handedly killed thirty Philistines in the city of Ashkelon (14:19).
SAMSON’S FONDNESS FOR RIDDLES
- Later on, while going to his wedding, Samson found a swarm of bees in the sun-dried carcass of the lion that he had killed earlier (14:8-10).
- On the basis of what happened with the lion and the bees, Samson compounded a riddle (14:11-14). The “thirty companions” (14:11) were Philistine men. Apparently Samson did not bring any friends with him to the wedding.
- Jesus refers to these sort of wedding companions as “the children of the bridechamber” in Matthew 9:15.
- The Philistines were unable to figure out the riddle, and on the last day of the wedding feast they pressured Samson’s wife into telling them the answer (14:15-18).
- This story tells us that the Philistines were not to be trusted. Samson’s “thirty companions” (14:11) should have admitted that they could not expound the riddle and they should have paid their debt to Samson.
- Samson’s bride should have alerted Samson as to their threat (14:15). Oftentimes Christians hear and see disturbing things in the church, but rather than tell the pastor, they cover it up.
- But Samson’s bride betrayed Samson and told the riddle to the Philistines (14:16-18).
- Apparently Samson did not learn his lesson because years later he allowed Delilah to pull a similar stunt.
- Samson got his revenge by going to the Philistine city of Ashkelon and killing thirty Philistines. Judges 14:19 suggests that Samson was being led by the Holy Spirit.
- Angered by what happened, Samson left his new bride and went up to his parents’ house. His wife’s father than gave her to Samson’s “companion,” probably referring to the best man at the wedding (14:19, 20; 15:1, 2).
- God can make something good out of a bad situation. Samson slew thirty Philistines in Ashkelon, and news of his exploits must have amazed the Philistines.
- This sets the stage for Judges chapters 15 & 16.