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Bible Commentaries
Judges 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

Judges - Chapter 14

Samson’s Marriage Plans, vs. 1-7

Samson had reached his maturity, and it was time for him to enter into the work for which the Lord had called him. His moving about the country brought him to Timnath (not to be confused with Timnath­serah, where Joshua had lived and was buried). It is also called Timnah, and was about half way between Zorah and Ekron, one of the Philistine’s chief cities. These places of Samson’s locale were almost in a straight line proceeding westward from Jerusalem to Eshtaol, Zorah, Timnah, and Ekron. In this area Israelite towns and cities were intermingled with those inhabited principally by Philistines.

Here at Timnah Samson saw a pretty Philistine girl, who evidently was popular with the Philistines, judging from succeeding events. So Samson became a mischief-maker. He decided he would have the young woman as his bride, intending by it to provoke a quarrel with the Philistines so that he could stir up deliverance for the people of Israel from the Philistine oppression. When he requested that his parents go through with the formalities necessary to marry the Philistine girl, they were upset and protested. They thought Samson should have sought a bride among the Israelites, not understanding that it was a move to carry out the Lord’s will to destroy the Philistines and deliver Israel from them.

When Samson insisted on marrying the Timnite girl the parents went down to arrange the marriage contract, Samson accompanying them. When they reached the Philistine vineyards (This is still an area of grape culture even today) an incident occurred which would soon play a major role in Samson’s first foray against the Philistines. But his parents were not aware what had happened. Samson evidently was roaming some distance form his parents, and a young lion came charging out of the vineyards against him. The Lord caused the mighty power which would characterize Samson to surge through his muscles. He took the lion in his strong arms and tore his body apart as he might have done a young newborn lamb. No weapon was used.

This was probably the first time Samson had experienced such excelling strength, so he kept it to himself, telling not even his parents. Samson talked to the Philistine girl, and all was arranged for the wedding.

Verses 8-20

Samson’s Riddle and Wedding Feast, vs. 8-20

Following the period of time required before Samson could take his wife he went down to her father’s house and claimed her. On the way down he remembered the lion he had killed and turned aside to look at the carcass. It appears that the hot sun had dried out the carcass, so that a hive of bees had taken over and produced honey, probably attached to the rib cage. Samson took some of the honey, ate it, and gave some to his parents who also ate of it. Samson did not tell them where the honey came from. He may still have wanted to keep his super strength secret, but there may also have . been another important reason. The law of the Nazarite required that he keep away from unclean things (Numbers 6:6). This is the first recorded infraction of the law by Samson, but there will be others. It indicates light esteem for the vow on his part.

According to the custom of the times Samson arranged for a feast in celebration of his wedding. The Philistines furnished a party of thirty young men to be his companions during the seven days of the feast. They were to entertain the bridegroom and feast on his banquet. Samson took the occasion to set in motion a scheme to stir up trouble with them. He proposed a riddle, the answer to which would have been impossible for them to expound by ordinary logic. They accepted the challenge, and Samson stated his riddle, which was, of course, based on his experience with the lion in the vineyards, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." They were to answer it within the seven days of the feast. The wager was the exchange of thirty linen sheets (or wraps) and thirty garments. Just one suit of such clothing was an expensive item, so the Philistines were very anxious to find the answer.

After three days the Philistine wedding party was no nearer the answer and becoming fearful lest they be financially stripped if they had to pay off Samson. So they came to Samson’s wife and told her she must get the answer for them, threatening to burn down her father’s house over them if they did not get the answer. It was not an empty threat, and Samson’s wife was very afraid. She began to beg and plead for Samson to enlighten her. Surely Samson knew her purpose and withstood her cajoling, pouting, and crying. An indication of his estimation of her is seen in his words to his wife. She accused Samson of hating her and having no love for her, and he told her he had not even told his parents, so she, a mere wife, should not expect him to tell her.

Finally, the last day of the feast, Samson was so frustrated by the nagging of his wife that he told her the answer, (Proverbs 21:19). Perhaps he thought she could not get the answer to the Philistines so late in the week. But she immediately told them the answer, for she feared for the lives of herself and her family. The men seem to have waited to the end of the day, then came mockingly to Samson, saying, "What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion?" Samson accused them of cheating, "plowing with his heifer," which means that they had coerced her into divulging the answer.

Again, Spirit power flexed Samson’s muscles, and he went down to one of the chief of the Philistine cities, Ashkelon, twenty-five or thirty miles from Timnah, on the sea. There he slew thirty men of that city and got the garments and sheets from them to pay off the wedding party. Thus Samson struck a blow against the enemy of Israel. But he was so angry that he left his wife and returned to Zorah to his father’s house. Consequently, Samson’s wife was taken by her father and given to the one who had been the friend of the bridegroom at Samson’s wedding. And so the stage was set for Samson’s next escapade.

Learn that 1) there should be no delay in carrying out the work which the Lord has impressed upon us; 2) the Lord may lead some in unique ways to carry out His will, contrary to our own thought in the matter; 3) one can quickly get into trouble by not observing the Lord’s requirements for his life; 4) giving vent to intense passion will only result in regret and bring on trouble.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Judges 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/judges-14.html. 1985.
 
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