Samson’s Riddle

Scripture Passage: 
Judges 14:1-20

INTRODUCTION: Samson is generally considered to be a man of great strength, but this lesson magnifies his great weakness. This proves the point of Psalm 39:5 where it says, “verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” The strength of Samson proves to be his weakness. As indicated by Psalm 39:5, this is true of “every man.”

  1. SAMSON DEMANDS A WIFE FROM TIMNATH (Judges 14:1-4)
    1. Samson Goes Down to Timnath (Judges 14:1).
      1. Timnath is down in direction (cp. Genesis 12:10; Isaiah 31:1).
      2. Timnath is a border town originally given to Judah (Joshua 15:10). Application: Samson was certainly a man who liked to dwell on the border or edge of right and wrong.
      3. Timnath is at this time a city of the Philistines.
      4. NOTE: The Philistines were a people of the coastal region of southern Palestine. For a long time, they were the enemy of Israel that could not be entirely disposed of.  Samson only begins to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). They were characterized by
        1. Their pride (Zechariah 9:6)
        2. Their vengeful heart (Ezekiel 25:15)
        3. Their occultism (Isaiah 2:6)
    2. Samson Chooses a Wife (Judges 14:2-3).
      1. He chooses according to outward appearance (Judges 14:2); “I have seen.”
      2. He chooses against wise counsel (Judges 14:3).
      3. He chooses according to personal lust and desire (Judges 14:3); “she pleaseth me well.”
    3. God Prepares a Conflict (Judges 14:4).
      1. It is of the Lord (cp. Genesis 50:20). Note: The Lord works in mysterious ways from time to time. Sometimes He does things with which we would not necessarily agree, but we have to come back to the truth of Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
      2. The conflict will be between Samson and the Philistines.
  2. SAMSON KILLS A LION IN HIS TRAVELS (Judges 14:5-9)
    1. Samson Takes His Parents to Timnath (Judges 14:5-7).
      1. A young lion comes against him (Judges 14:5).
        1. In the vineyards of Timnath
        2. Out of sight of his parents
      2. He kills the young lion (Judges 14:6).
        1. By the Spirit of the Lord
        2. As he would have rent a kid
        3. With his own hands
        4. Without telling his parents
      3. He talks with the woman (Judges 14:7).
        1. She pleases him well.
        2. Unlike many situations in the Old Testament, neither family seems to be really involved in the relationship between Samson and this woman.
    2. Samson Returns to Timnath (Judges 14:8-9).
      1. He finds honey in the carcass of the lion (Judges 14:8).
      2. He eats the honey and gives to his parents (Judges 14:9).
  3. SAMSON TELLS A RIDDLE AT THE WEDDING FEAST (Judges 14:10-14)
    1. Samson Makes a Feast for the Wedding (Judges 14:10-11).
      1. When his father came down to settle the marriage (Judges 14:10)
      2. With thirty companions to be with him (Judges 14:11)
    2. Samson Tells a Riddle at the Feast (Judges 14:12-14).
      1. The prize for answering the riddle (Judges 14:12)
      2. The forfeit for not answering the riddle (Judges 14:13)
      3. The content of the riddle (Judges 14:14)
        1. Out of the eater came forth meat.
        2. Out of the strong came forth sweetness.
      4. NOTE: This is a good example of the danger of gambling. Samson thinks he has a sure bet and therefore risks thirty changes of clothing. When he loses, he kills thirty men and steals their garments. Although God has His purpose for letting this happen, nothing humanly good comes from it.
  4. SAMSON’S WIFE DISCOVERS THE RIDDLE (Judges 14:15-18)
    1. The Men Threaten Samson’s Wife (Judges 14:15).
      1. Entice thy husband.
      2. Declare unto us the riddle.
      3. Or we will burn you and your father’s house.
      4. “Have ye called us to take that we have?”
      5. Evidently, they are not willing to lose the bet either and are willing to cheat to win. Gambling brings many other things with it. It does not stop with gambling.
    2. Samson’s Wife Discovers the Riddle (Judges 14:16-17).
      1. She uses her emotions to weaken Samson (Judges 14:16-17).
        1. She accuses Samson of hating her (Judges 14:16).
        2. She cries for seven days (Judges 14:17).
      2. Samson gives in to her emotion (Judges 14:17).
        1. He finally tells her on the seventh day.
        2. Because she lay sore upon him
      3. She tells the riddle to her people (Judges 14:17).
    3. The Men Give the Answer to the Riddle (Judges 14:18).
      1. The answer to the riddle
        1. What is sweeter than honey?
        2. What is stronger than a lion?
      2. Samson’s response
        1. If ye had not plowed with my heifer
        2. Ye had not found out my riddle.
  5. SAMSON KILLS THIRTY MEN FOR THEIR GARMENTS (Judges 14:19-20)
    1. The Spirit of the Lord Comes on Samson (Judges 14:19).
      1. He goes down to Ashkelon.
      2. He slays thirty men of them and takes their spoil.
      3. He gives change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle.
      4. He goes up to his father’s house.
    2. Samson’s Wife Is Given to Someone Else (Judges 14:20).
      1. She is given to Samson’s companion.
      2. This companion is the one “whom he had used as his friend.” Compare this to the “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29).

CONCLUSION: The man, who slew a lion with his bare hands and will slay ten thousand with the jawbone of an ass, cowers at the sight of a woman’s tears. Samson is so convinced of his own greatness, he fails to consider that his own wife might be working against him for the sake of his enemies. We, too, must be careful not to put our confidence in the flesh.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 13:11

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.