Judges 14

An Ill-advised Marriage

Samson heads down to Timnah, a town near his home and while he is there, he takes notice of a Philistine woman and is instantly attracted to her. He returns home and announces to his parents that he has found the girl he wants to marry among the Philistines and tells his parents to arrange the marriage for him. It seems that Samson is motivated by lust and when his parents implore him to look among the daughters of his people, he rejects their advice and physical attraction trumps parental counsel. Samson's parents recognized the danger of idolatry and knew that this Philistine posed an immediate threat to his heart. Family tensions were high, but the reader is reminded of God's providence. God would use this for his judgment on the Philistines. God's greater purpose does not justify Samson's sin, but it magnifies God's sovereignty and points to his purposes being accomplished undeterred by Samson's disobedience. 

Power And Weakness

Samson and his parents make their way to Timnah, but they separated at some point, and Samson approach the local vineyard, a young lion came at him roaring. The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon Samson and instead of running away from the beast, he goes straight at the lion and shreds him with his bare hands. He does not tell his parents about the incident with the lion. He talked with the Philistine woman that he desired and everything went well confirming his desire to make her his wife. Sometime later, Samson returned to Timnah to collect his bride, and along the way, he stopped by the place where he had killed the lion. There was a swarm of bees in the carcass and Samson scraped out some of the honey and ate it. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some to eat, but he did not tell them that it came from the body of a dead lion. Following the customs of the day, Samson threw a feast, and his father helped in making the arrangements. The family of the bride brought thirty people to the weeklong feast. Samson had violated his vow by touching something dead, and it would appear that he would violate his oath again by drinking the fruit of the vine. Samson challenged his new family with a riddle and offered a prize of thirty changes of clothes to any that could solve it before the end of the week, but if they could not solve it, then they were obligated to give Samson thirty changes of clothes. They accepted his challenge, and Samson put the riddle to them. Three days passed and the Philistines could not solve the riddle, so they threatened the family of Samson's new wife. They would destroy her family by fire if she did not tell them the answer to the riddle. They were offended that an invitation to a feast might leave them financially disadvantaged. Samson's wife was distraught, and she burst into tears. She accused Samson of hating her and not trusting her with his secret. Samson responded by telling her that he had not even told his family, so there was no obligation to tell her. On the seventh day, Samson folded under the pressure of emotional blackmail, and he told her the answer. She immediately went and told her guests so that her family would be spared. The men came to Samson before sundown, and they gave the answer. Samson knew immediately where they got the answer and he chastised them for manipulating his wife. The Spirit rushed on Samson he went to Ashkelon, killed thirty Philistines, took their spoils, and delivered the garments as promised. He returned to his father's house still seething with anger, and his wife was given to the best man.

Things To Consider:

  • Why is physical attraction sometimes a threat to good judgment?
  • What should be the primary concern for a follower of Jesus when it comes to marriage?
  • Why is physical attraction a dangerous foundation for marriage?
  • How does God work through sinful choices and flawed people?
  • Why is it important to listen to the counsel of others?
  • Why should Samson have trusted his parents?
  • How does Samson's lust lead progress downward?
  • Why do you think Samson made a wager with this Philistine family?
  • What do you think about the response of Samson's wife to be?
  • What else could she do?
  • What are we learning about Samson's self-control?
  • Where do you struggle with self-control?