About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 14

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Samson's Marriage (ch. 14:1 - 20)


The next three chapters concerns the life of Samson.  Most all of us who ever went to Sunday school as a child will remember all the stories about him, which by the way, I feel is very romanticized.  I call this the "Sundayschoolization of Scripture".  By that I mean we have simplified literal historical events into stories, similar to fairy tales, in order to help children learn.  There are a couple of difficulties with this.  First of all I believe children can understand more than we think they do.  We don't have to simplify things so much that we lose their original purpose for being in the Bible, and most of all, their historic reality.  Second of all, many Christians have not grown up from this simplified understanding of the Bible.  Therefore, they carry a wrong understanding of many Biblical events.  I suggest that we grow up when it comes to Biblical understanding. 


The history that surround Samson is one of these Biblical passages that we've almost turned into a fairy tale.  Samson, as we will see, wasn't really a righteous man, even though He was used by God to fulfill a particular purpose.  God can, does, and will, use anyone to accomplish His will.  Samson was a very hostile and sex crazed guy, at least in my opinion.  You see for yourself as we go through the next few chapters.     


In verse 1 we're introduced to the Philistines.  The Philistines have been traditional enemies of Israel,  Yet at this point in history Israel was influenced by them because they were a well developed people and Israel benefited from their association with them. 


It is interesting to note that after 135 A. D. when  Rome invaded Jerusalem, they name those in the area Palestinians, which is derived from the word "Philistines".  Those living in the area were Jews, and so out of spite for the Jews, Rome call them by the name of their traditional enemies. So, from that point on, Palestinians were Jews, that is, until recent decades when history has been rewritten and that Arabs in Israel have now been called Palestinians. 


Samson sees a young Philistine woman, so in verse 2 he said to his mother and father, ".. get her for my wife".   This sounds pretty demanding and the Hebrew text seems to suggest that Samson was demanding.  What Samson really wanted here was a sex partner, or so I believe. 


We must remember that in this day and culture, parents arranged the marriages for their children, thus, this is why Samson brought this to his parent's attention.  Also, we need to note the word "young".  In our culture, young means late teens.  In this culture "young" probably meant 11 or 12 years old, or younger.


In verse 3 Samson's parents responded in a more God-fearing way.  It was not permitted that an Israeli marry a Gentile, which this younger girl was.  Obviously, that didn't matter to Samson.  We are now beginning to see what kind of man the Lord chose as another judge.  Samson was not the most holiest and Law of Moses fearing man. 


I think we can safely say that Samson's parents were very unhappy, saddened, and disturbed, over his choice for a wife.  They knew the tradition of the Jews.  They knew what the Law of Moses said,  They knew the command of the Lord that stated that Israeli men must not take pagan women for their wives, and this is what Samson wanted. What they didn't know, is that this was God's will as we will see later. 


In verse 3 Samson responded in the same words and tone of voice as his original request.  He said, "get her for me.  She's the right one for me".  Samson is obviously more "in lust" than "in love". 


Verse  4 is interesting.  It's a side note that the author, or, the editor added.  In brackets, the text states that Samson's parents did not know that the woman Samson was requesting as his wife was actually the Lord's choice. We thus need to ask.  "Why would the Lord choose a Gentile wife for Samson when He Himself has told Israelis that is not permitted"?   There are many answers by many people, but I think the obvious answer is that God is God and He can do whatever He wants.  That being said, God is just.  He is all loving.  He cannot be dishonest or unlawful.  So, whatever He does, must be done in the parameters of these Godly character traits. 


I believe that the Law of Moses was only a temporary expression of God's will and ways.  All of who God is, is not expressed in the Law of Moses.  I believe this has a part to play in our answer to the above question as well.  Jesus Himself said that man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man.  This is a slightly different take on the Sabbath Law than what we might think, but it expresses the nature of who God is.  It expresses the God behind the Law and tells us that there is more to the will of God that is seen in the Law of Moses.


All the above being said, the text states the specific reason why God seemed to be laying aside His own rule concerning Israeli men marrying gentile women.  Verse 4 says that the Lord was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines for their treatment of His people and by having Samson marry this Philistine woman, He could work out his plan.  So, we see how God's will supersedes His own Law. This is not the only time we see God doing such a thing.  Hosea was asked by God to marry a prostitute that continued her prostitution after she was married to Hosea.  The principle is clear.  God's will supersedes His Law at times but His will does not supersede His nature – who He is.


One last and important note about this.  It appears by the end of this chapter, even though some do not agree, that Samson never did get married to this girl anyway.  She was given to one of his friends.  Therefore, God may have initiated this marriage, but it never came about. So, in the long run, no law was broken.  


In verses 5 through 7 we see that Samson and his parents went to find the young woman Samson was interested in.  The text states that once talking with the young woman, Samson "liked her".  Instant love, or, should I say "hormones were raging". 


Something else takes place in verses 5 through 7.  While Samson was apart on the trip to see this woman, He encountered a lion that was ready to attack him.  The text states that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon" Samson and he tore the lion apart. 


We need to know a couple of things here.  One is that when the Spirit of the Lord comes on someone, whether in New Testament times or Old Testament times, something dramatic happens, and in this case, it was a supernatural strength by Samson to kill this lion. 


We also need to note that there is a difference between someone having the Holy Spirit reside in him and the Holy Spirit coming upon someone.  Samson did not have the Holy Spirit living within him, and his life showed that to be true.  Those in the books of Acts did have the Holy Spirit residing in them, but He also cam upon them as well.  When the Holy Spirit came on the believers, something dramatic happened as well.  I've said this many times, too often in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles the presence of the Holy Spirit is lost because those involved use the Holy Spirit to get some kind of spiritual high, a spiritual drug, so to speak.  Well, that is not the reason for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He comes on people to enable people to do God's will in some special way, and, if you abuse that, you may never see the Holy Spirit poured out again.


In verses 8 and 9 we see Samson and his parents returning for the wedding.  This shows us the coziness that Israelis had with these Philistines.  The plans for this wedding should have never had taken place, other than we know it was the will of God.  The whole event, that is, until things went bad, shows us how Israelis had pretty much accepted and adopted the Philistine way of doing things.


Along the way he saw the dead lion that he had killed.  Bees had taken up residence in what was left of the lion.  He scooped some honey from the hive and ate it, and also took some to his parents.  The text states that he did not tell his parents where the honey actually came from.  The text says this for a reason.  Samson was committing sin by touching a dead animal and by eating from it.  His parents would not have eaten the honey if they had known where it came from.  Again, this did not seem to bother Samson, and, again, this tells us what kind of a man Samson was.  It tells us what kind of a man God chose to fulfill His purpose.  If you read Romans 9 and 10 you will see that the apostle Paul tells us that those who have been chosen by the Lord to do His will are chosen simply because God has so decided to choose them.  It does not matter on any good thing or things these people may do.  In other words, "it's not of works.  It is of grace, lest any of us should boast".


We see in verse 10 the preparations for this wedding.  It was probably a Philistine wedding tradition we see here since it is in Philistine territory and Samson is marrying a Philistine.  We note that Samson prepared the feast in verse 10.  In verse 11 he was given 30 men who were Philistine.  It seems these men were part of the wedding party.  Note that in verse 12 the feast lasted 7 days as was the tradition.  Wedding feasts lasted 7 days and during this time their would have been much drinking.  The text does not say that Samson drank, but we know that he must have.  It would have gone against tradition and good will towards the young woman's family for Samson not to drink.  This means that Samson, being a Nazirite should not have drank.  We see what kind of compromising person Samson was.  He was not a saint.  


The riddle that Samson sets forth in verse 12 was something normal to Philistine weddings. It was simply one form of enjoyment.  It was a game, just part of having a good time.  This riddle did not provide the good time that most did. 


Note in verse 15 the terms "Samson's wife".  This was before the marriage had been consummated.  The Hebrew word translated here can and probably should be translated as girl or woman.  This woman never did become Samson's wife.  Her trick ended the whole event.  


In verse 13 to 15 we see Samson wanting to spice things up at the wedding feast.  He told the men at the wedding feast a riddle that they had to guess the answer to by the end of the feast.  Depending on if they could figure out the riddle or not would depend on who wins the predetermined prize.  The riddle would have been impossible to figure out because the men knew nothing about where Samson got the riddle from.  The riddle went like this.  "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong something sweet".  We know the answer to the riddle because we know the whole story.  The eater is the lion. "Something to eat" out of the eater was the honey.  The strong was Samson.  The sweet was the honey.


The clothing that was to be the prize would have been very expensive, probably too expensive for one man in Samson to purchase.  Samson made the riddle hard because he expected to win, so he did not anticipate having to buy the clothes.  This was all in God's will.  The fact that Samson could not have bought the clothes if he lost is the foundation of the conflict that would take place as a result of this riddle. 


From verses 15 to 18 we see that the 30 Philistine men encouraged the bride to get the answer of the riddle from Samson.  She did.  She cried for 7 days. This surely would have messed up the feast.  Samson gave in and told his bride the answer and she told the 30 men.


In verse 18 we see that the 30 men told Samson the answer to the riddle.  This made Samson really angry because he knew the only way these men would know the answer to the riddle was that his bride told them.  He was so mad that he went to the closest Philistine village and killed 30 men to get their clothes to give to the 30 men at the wedding feast.


In verse 18 Samson told the men, "if you had not plowed with my heifer…"  To  me, in my modern way of thinking, this is humorous.  Samson is calling his wife a "heifer", something most women today would not find appropriate.   It may be humorous to me, but living in a farming type of community and culture, this would have been a reasonable statement to make.  Samson was simply saying, that is in our modern way, "you've messed with my women".   


In verse 19 we see the Spirit of God came on Samson and that aided Samson to kill 30 Philistines.  Does this sound like God?  Well, we know from earlier in this chapter that the reason why God had chosen this pagan woman to be Samson's wife was to stir up trouble between Israel and the Philistines.  This is because the Lord wanted Israel to defeat the Philistines and this is simply God's creative way of causing this to happen.


Verse 20 tells us that Samson's bride was given to another man who attended the wedding, probably one of the 30 men.  Samson never married this woman.



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