Judges 14:1-20 (Part 1) – The Grass That’s Greener Is Growing Over a Septic Tank

Posted: September 16, 2017 in 07-Judges

Judges 14:1-20 (Part 1 of 2)
Samson’s Riddle

Back in 1991, my first marriage was in shambles. My wife’s on again off again drug abuse over the previous 6 or 7 years, her affair, and her spending habits and all of that left me feeling smothered, trapped, and angry. I was just numb and felt like I had been dealt a raw deal. I dreamed of having a normal marriage and a normal wife. All those white picket fence dreams seems such a distant thing to me. I was 29 years old but I was old and tired and silently, seethingly bitter about life.

At the same time, my workplace was just a fun place to be. Everybody was relatively young, late twenties and people in their thirties. We all really got along very well. It was in that late-80’s/early-90’s time period that quality teams and quality education was sweeping corporate America. So, it was with Dunlop Slazenger Corporation. We had classes once a week for 13 weeks to implement our quality program at the company. There were two teachers who were executives within the company and two separate classes. Those classes develop a real sense of comradery among us employees there at the corporate office. And there was a sense of rivalry among the two classes about who was scoring better on the tests and such. Finally, at the end of it, we had this big graduation banquet for both classes. It was a big party, with a fancy meal, and then a ceremony at the end where we received our certificates of complete for having gone through the Quality College. It was there I met and was smitten with the woman who would become my second wife. From that night in 1991, she was that which occupied my mind.

Nothing would suit me but her. She was so normal. She was so sane by comparison to what I was married to at the time. We began talking frequently and had similar stories of discontent. And it was an affair rather quickly. For us and our situations, the bedroom only on a handful of situations but the phone calls, the emails, the voice mails…we were smitten with each other. The affair continued off and on for two years. Meanwhile, my marriage was becoming harder to live with as it had become violent and the violence as escalating. Finally, I walked away in April 1993.

I thought that the ending of the first marriage would solve all my problems. The woman who would be my second wife seems to be the answer to all my life problems. I could finally live again. But as you know, there is an old saying, “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!” That was certainly true in my situation. From April 1993 all the way through the split of my second marriage in August 2004, there was some continuing crisis. The divorce from my first wife was literally the divorce from hell. My first wife did everything in her power to embarrass, humiliate, and defeat me so that I would return home with my tail between my legs like a beaten dog. She went as far as accusing me in court of having molested my own oldest daughter. She graffiti-ied my office. She…well…you name it…she did it. Instead of drawing me home, all of those tactics steled my resolve.

However, that which seems so pretty and nice does not always turn out that way. In my second marriage, when it was just her and I in a vacuum, we were great. But we don’t live in vacuums (weekend getaways don’t last forever, bedroom nights don’t last forever). We live in a world where there’s stuff. Ex-wives and your kids and my kids. The weight of a scheming ex-wife was survived but the weight of your kids and my kids was too much for the marriage to bear. It became a battle between her and her kids and me and my responsibilities to my kids. That was a constant struggle and it often got ugly and it was that ugliness about my kids and what I had to do for them and how I was accused of treating my kids better than hers. Man, I can still feel that ugliness if I allow myself to think about it long enough. It does kind of support the old Southern saying, “the grass may be greener on the other side, but its usually because there’s a septic tank there!”

What seemed like the ideal mate and an ideal Brady Bunch marriage back in those days when I was dreaming of what my life would be like with my second wife, became a nightmare of its own by 2004. What seemed like the perfect thing became another disaster. What seemed like the thing that would fix my ills created its own diseases. It was another failure. It was another crash and burn marriage. It was not anything like what I was expecting it to be. I had this idyllic view of what it would be like but it was never grounded in reality, the reality of having to deal with her kids more that I dreamed about, the reality that those fantasies of just staring into each other’s eyes is interrupted by boys fighting with each, the reality of paying bills, the reality of ex-wives and ex-husbands, and the reality of just living together. In my fantasized Brady Bunch view, everything was going to be perfect. Well behaved kids that solved their own problems within 30 minutes with violence or complaint. Her kids and my kids getting along all in perfect harmony. No problems and just us holding hands and having passion whenever the mood struck. The sound of shattering glass right here would be appropriate. What we dream that is good for us is often different from the reality of it, particularly if what you desire is sinful. My life is a testament to the lingering effects of sins of myself and the sins of my ex-wives. Sin causes ripples far and wide and often has lasting or even permanent effects on the future of our lives. The siren’s call of the grass seeming greener, or just this once is OK, or any temptation to immorality and sin sounds so sweet. Satan makes it seem so good. But Satan never gives us the full story.

That idea of Samson wanting a wife that was Philistine, a people that were dreaded enemies of Israel, and a pagan culture that worship idols rather than God made me think about the beginning of my second marriage and how what seems so good can turn out so bad, when it involves rationalizing away sin:

14 One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. 2 When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”

3 His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?”

But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” 4 His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.

5 As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. 6 At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. 7 When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her.

8 Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. 9 He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.

10 As his father was making final arrangements for the marriage, Samson threw a party at Timnah, as was the custom for elite young men. 11 When the bride’s parents[a] saw him, they selected thirty young men from the town to be his companions.

12 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. 13 But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.”

“All right,” they agreed, “let’s hear your riddle.”

14 So he said:

“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;
out of the strong came something sweet.”

Three days later they were still trying to figure it out. 15 On the fourth[b] day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to explain the riddle for us, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?”

16 So Samson’s wife came to him in tears and said, “You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”

“I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother,” he replied. “Why should I tell you?” 17 So she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration. At last, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging. Then she explained the riddle to the young men.

18 So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer:

“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”

Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”

19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother. 20 So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding.


Samson convinced himself that marrying a girl from a culture that was at odds with everything Israel stood for was OK. Why? Because she was pretty, and sexy, and he let his own lust for her convince him that marrying her would be alright. We sometimes blind ourselves to the realities of life when we let lust get in the way. That woman that you think is going to make you happy has her own set of baggage. Often when we remarry we are exchanging one set of problems for new ones. We end up with our old problems plus new ones. We blind ourselves with fantasies of what life is going to be like if I could just have a new relationship. I am an example and our crowded family courts are a testament to our desire to have our fantasies fulfilled instead of working through problems in marriage. Kids and mothers with different names nowadays. You have to have a chart to figure out who was married to who and what kids belong to who. What seems so fanciful in the beginning when lust and passion and no responsibilities turns out to be realities of misbehaving kids, power bills, phone bills, car payments, child support, and cleaning the toilet, fixing broken stuff. And it doesn’t have to be lusts of the flesh that blind us to realities. It can be a new house that you cant afford. It can be a new bright shiny car. It could be a better paying job. It could be anything that we lust for.

The takeaway here is that if you know something is sinful. Don’t rationalize how dabbling in it will be OK. Don’t blind yourself with the bright shiny new thing. Don’t blind yourself to reality of and consequences of sinful behavior. Sin always has its consequences. Always. No matter how you justify why this sin is OK for me but not others. Sin always consumes us in someway and spits us out on the other side used up and destroyed.

Amen and Amen.

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