Judges 14:1-20 (Part 2) – This Is OK for Me, This One Time!

Posted: September 17, 2017 in 07-Judges
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Judges 14:1-20 (Part 2 of 2)
Samson’s Riddle

The one thing about this story of Samson and the riddle was about the bees in the carcass. Although the bees in the carcass of the lion was the answer to the riddle (only something Samson would have known), what was the significance of including in the story to begin with? The first thought was that it was just a nice aside to the story – the lion had attempted to kill Samson earlier and now it provided him something sweet to eat. Then, I was thinking, hey wait a minute, there is nothing in the Bible that is wasted words. There must something significant to tell us by the inclusion of this story in the Bible. What is that thing, that nugget of God’s universal, timeless truths? I struggled. What is it?

I came to the conclusion that it must be something to do with Samson being under a Nazirite vow. His mom had made a vow or commitment to God that her son would to be a Nazarite. He was to be dedicated to the Lord for his whole life. It was unusual in two senses. First, the person who was dedicated to the Lord did not make the vow himself. Second, it was for life. In most instances, Nazirte vows were made for a specific period of time, not an entirety of a person’s life. Part of this commitment was to not cut your hair, drink alcohol, or touch anything dead. This three-fold commitment was a sacred vow to God. Because of that vow, Nazarites were always careful about “drink,” “Hair cutting” and becoming unclean by touching anything dead. However, as Samson heads back this same way a few months later, he comes across this rotting, decaying lion carcass. Immediately he would know NOT to touch it, to avoid it, and to stay away. If he knew that he was not to be defiled by touching an animal carcass, then why did he do it? What is this defilement telling us about Samson? What are we to learn from the story, from Samson?

As we know from Samson’s full story, that many of us have known since we were Sunday school kids, that he had great strength and was a mighty warrior. But he had some flaws, the biggest of which seems to be pride. Pride caused him to hang loose with his Nazirite vows. His vows were OK as long as they did not get in the way of something he wanted. The riddle in this passage was an example of this pride. Only he knew the answer to the riddle. No one else could have known. It was pride on display. He just wanted to show the Philistines that he was superior intellectually to them. So, it is the same with actual carcass sequence itself that gave birth to the riddle. He was prideful and thought that wow, there’s some honey inside that carcass. I will just reach in and grab some. It is a dead animal. But, who cares, I want that honey. It is pleasurable and sweet and I want it. I am proud of killing that lion to begin with so what would it hurt if stuck my hand inside a dead animal and grabbed what I want.

That idea of ignoring what we know, from our understanding of God’s Word, to be the wrong thing to do but plowing ahead anyway is what I thought about when I read thorugh this passage, this chapter (Chapter 14), of the Book of Judges:

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.


Here, in this passage, we see the interplay between pride and sin. As I wrote in my blog yesterday, I thought that it was OK for me to have an affair near the end of my first marriage with the woman who would become my second wife. I could say I deserve happiness. I could blame my unhappiness on someone else and that may well have been true but that does not give us the right to subvert the universally, always true laws of God. We may think that we can make exceptions for ourselves. Just this once is OK. God just wants me to happy so I deserve this. How many times do we say that to ourselves? I deserve this. This violation of God’s law is OK. Or, I know it’s wrong but damn I want it. Or, I will make up for this later, but this, this right now, I gotta have it. It’s all about pride. What we want! And we want it now. God has laws not to keep us from doing what we want but rather to protect us from what He knows to be dangerous and hurtful to us. Most of us take it as keeping us from doing what we want and we want what we want and we want it now! If it feels good to me, it can’t be really all that wrong, right? That’s what I see in the carcass sequence being included in this passage. Samson is revealing some of his nature to us. He was subject to a vow to being in full-time, full-life service to God. But no one was looking. He saw an enticing thing that he was prevented by vow from touching. So what could it hurt? I want it. I want it so I am going to take it.

How many times do you and I rationalize away our sins because of our arrogant pride? Are you participating in a sin right now that you know is against God’s Word and His holy law? Do you rationalize it away by saying that we no longer live under the law as Christians? Do you think that it is OK because you rationalized it away? Do you develop these extended logical arguments as to why your sin (clearly stated in the Bible to be wrong) is now OK? There will be a day of reckoning where we stand before God after having lived a life where we justify, and rationalize away our sins as being OK and that God didn’t really mean what He said in the Old Testament and He will say that my truth is always true all the time. It is absolute and unchangeable. What I said in the Old Testament is still true and will always be true and all your fancy arguments about your sin not being sin is just false. What will be say then?

Come clean before the Lord and beg his forgiveness and flee from your sins? Call on the name of Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord and lose the pride and arrogance about your sins! Admit that you have subverted God’s Word in pride and arrogance and get on your knees before the Lord and repent.

Amen and Amen.

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