Samson was very strong indeed, when the spirit of the LORD was with him. However, we see in Judges 14 a flaw that ultimately becomes his downfall even more than what he experiences here. He seems to lack wisdom in whom to trust and allows himself to be manipulated by women with whom he is interested.
One can have a debate about whether or not he should be marrying someone he did not feel he could trust for sure. However, he knew he did not trust her and thus was not telling her the secret at first. However, he allowed her crying to manipulate him and ultimately gave up his secret for the wrong reasons. He did not do so because of a loving and trusting relationship with a woman who was to become his wife. He did so because of crying and manipulation. He ultimately is manipulated again similarly by Delilah and to his ultimate downfall.
Let us take care and use wisdom in whom we trust and why. Let us neither be the person who makes a decision based on manipulative tears nor the person who uses the manipulative tears to coerce someone.
Imagine if she could have simply come to her soon to be husband and told him the truth, that she and her father were threatened. Perhaps Samson could have protected her and they could have built a trusting relationship. It is also fair to point out that Samson brought on some of this situation by pursuing a Philistine instead of an Israelite wife and also by arrogantly making a wager about his riddle. The Philistines and Israelites did not like one another and he antagonized the situation. We see also that he has an unrighteous anger and he goes and kills others who were not even involved and steals from them to pay his debt. Samson is not a righteous man, and yet the LORD saw fit to grant him strength and use him to bring victory to the Israelites against the Philistines. YHWH’s ways are not our ways. He chooses at times those whom we would not expect.
12Then Samson said to them, “Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. 13“But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.”
14So he said to them,
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet.”
But they could not tell the riddle in three days.
15Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?” 16Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?” 17However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people.
18So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
“What is sweeter than honey?
And what is stronger than a lion?”
And he said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
You would not have found out my riddle.”
19Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. 20But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.
Perhaps one aspect which I find very interesting to reflect on is easy to miss as we think about the mess Samson made. There seems little argument that Samson was like a bull in a china shop. He breaks things. He is not acting in a righteous manner. Yet YHWH was using this situation to create “an occasion against the Philistines”.
4However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.
So I am once again reminded to take care in what assumptions I make about whom YHWH chooses to use and how. I am also reminded not to assume every time something gets messy that somehow it is not YHWH’s plan. Sometimes he does use conflict for his purposes, sometimes he uses unrighteous people to his righteous purposes.
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