Monday, August 30, 2010

Judges series - Judges 14

The way to read this article is that the orange underlined texts are the verses of the Bible (NIV, unless otherwise stated). The black texts following the Bible verses (and enclosed by square brackets) are my commentaries. At the end of these Bible texts and commentaries, I have inserted a section on "Points to take note/What we have learnt/can learn".
{For full listing of all articles in this series, click here}

Samson's Marriage

1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." 3 His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) [The stirring referred to in the last verse of previous chapter was this – go and get a particular Philistine woman as wife. This stirring was of the Lord.]5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. [This part of the story speaks of the first occasion that Samson realized he had special strength. It occurred on his way to meet the Philistine woman he wanted to marry.] 8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9 which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass. [After some time, Samson went back to the Philistine woman again, this time to marry her. His parents again accompanied him on the journey. Because they used the same route, Samson went back to the carcass of the lion he killed the previous time he passed by the place. It said here that he took the honey from the carcass, ate it, and even gave some to his parents who ate them as well. It was a strange thing, lion carcass, bees and honey. And it became Samson’s riddle which you will read later on.] 10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. 11 When he appeared, he was given thirty companions. [It seemed it was customary for the town folks to assign 30 male companions to the bridegroom. Samson got 30 men companions.] 12 "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." 14 He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. [Samson gave the 30 men a riddle for them to guess within the 7 days of feast. Samson was to make a 7 days feast before taking the hand of the bride. The bet was 30 set of linen garments and 30 set of clothes.] 15 On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" [For 3 days, the 30 men could not give the answer, so on the fourth day, they went to threaten Samson’s bride for the answer of the riddle.] 16 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. [Samson’s bride pestered him for the answer, and finally on the 7th day, Samson told her the answer.] 18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." [When the 30 men finally got the answer correctly, Samson realized that his bride gave him away.] 19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding. [Ashkelon, one of the 5 city-states of Philistines, commentators put it as 24 miles away from Timmah, was where Samson went to get the clothing he had promised the 30 men. It was far enough not to create any commotion at the wedding place. Samson was really angry that his bride gave him away, but apparently not enough for him to remember he could be tricked again by a woman, which we will later learn in Chapter 16.]

What we can learn here:

1. If the Lord wants it done, it is not foolishness. The Philistines were a great enemy of the Israelites. At the opening of the previous chapter, we read that the Philistines oppressed the Israelites for 40 years. Pure thoroughbred Jews would not marry a pagan and enemy woman as wife. Generally speaking, the Jews understood that God frowned upon the Jews inter-marrying the non-Jews, because God did not want the non-Jews to mislead the Jews into worshipping other gods, and practising their religious practices. We should not speak of this as foolishness on Samson’s part, because the Word is clear that it was a stirring by the Lord (Judges 13:25 & v4 above).

2. God will show hand, so to speak, when the time comes; we need to wait patiently for that day, and recognize it when it comes.

For example, God did not show hand to Moses until Moses was 80 years old, at a time that Moses was probably thinking that he was going to be a shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock for life.

I, too, am waiting and learning to recognize such. Perhaps, the Lord has shown hand, and I am still not quite recognizing it. Samson’s supernatural strength was later to be so powerful that he could pull down a pagan temple proper, but at the moment when God first manifest that power to show him, it was relatively mild; here, we read of the comparison, tearing apart with his bare hands of a lion contrasted with what a normal person of that time was capable of doing, tearing apart of a young goat, but nevertheless, it was exceptional, it was supernatural. Did God show you something exceptional or supernatural that you would otherwise not able to do? God might be showing hand to you!

3. Do not worry if you have missed it, i.e. you have not recognized it. Our God is a God of second chance. How exactly God is going to remind you of his specific anointing for your life, I cannot say for sure, will he show a similar “fighting” episode for you to overcome again? Maybe, maybe not; in the case of Samson, God reminded him of the specific anointing on him by having him passed by the same track, having the lion carcass still left there with bees having made a home in the carcass, producing honey for Samson to come along to scoop it out with his hands and ate it as he went along. Now, this episode had seated well in the heart and mind of Samson, because later when he had to give a riddle for his 7 days marriage feast ritual, he used it as the riddle. So, still watch for yours (God’s reminder, I mean)!

4. Sometimes, we slip, and we slip! Samson slipped here; he should not have told his bride the answer to his riddle, and we see later, in chapter 16, he made the same type of mistake all over again. In that sense, God has always picked one of us, mere men, as his servants. Some of us just made God’s job a little “harder” but nothing is too hard for God. He will still work out all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

5. When we continue in His will, God continues to grow the specific anointing upon us. Despite his parents’ original objection, not only that, I am sure, other Israelites around, friends and relatives, must have objected and frowned upon what was intended to be done, yet Samson persisted to want to marry a Philistine woman. I believe, even the giving of the riddle, “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” was prophetic, i.e. it was the Lord’s idea to give the riddle. Its contemporaneous answer was the lion, but the prophetic answer was another! Perhaps, at the end of my expositions on the 4 chapters of the Bible devoted to Samson, I will make an attempt to answer the riddle!

Anthony Chia – Lord, I pray when you show your hand, we will recognize it. Amen.

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @:
Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.