Israel by sinning fell under the tyranny of the Philistines, yet God did not forget his people, but raised them up a champion. An angel appeared to Manoah and his wife, foretelling the birth of a son who should deliver Israel. In due time, his promise was fulfilled by the birth of Samson, some incidents in whose history will now interest us.
Judges 14:1, 2
Thus the history of this strongest of men begins with an act of weakness; and his whole life is marred by faults in the same direction. An unusually developed animal nature rendered him the easy victim of his passions: if any of us were as vigorous as he, we should probably be even more ready to yield to the temptations which ensnared him. His faith in God was his peculiar virtue; in this, few, if any, of the saints excelled him; but his peculiar physical conformation left an unguarded point in his character, and that proved his downfall.
It must always be grievous to right-minded parents to see their children marrying ungodly persons No good can possibly come of it. It is most injurious to the soul, and generally leads to heart-rending trials. Surely there are good people enough in the church of God without our looking to the synagogue of Satan for a spouse.
This is too often the only reason men will give or can give for the course they pursue. It is the worst reason in the world, for that which pleases our flesh is usually hurtful to our better nature. Let us never be slaves to our animal nature, but govern ourselves by the power of our mental and spiritual manhood.
They were not aware that God intended to over-rule this to force him into antagonism with the oppressors of his country.
A supernatural might was given to him, and the strong lion fell before his unarmed strength, yet as he was not proud or desirous of vainglory he left the exploit untold. This was fine exercise for him, a grand preliminary trial of strength before his great battles with the enemy. Like David, he learned to fight Philistines by beginning with beasts.
He remembered thankfully how the Lord delivered him, and turned aside to survey the spot, and his memory had its reward, for he found the honey. It is well to recollect past mercies, and learn how easily the Lord can turn our terrors into pleasures.
“Thus the lion yields us honey
From the eater food is given.”
He preserved a singular silence, but great doers are frequently little talkers. Dr. Kitto very properly remarks:—”The whole of the affair of the lion is mentioned in the sacred narrative, not merely as an exploit, but on account of the circumstances which grew out of it. Samson, doubtless, performed many mighty feats which are not recorded; those only being mentioned which directly influenced the current of his history, and brought him more or less into collision with the Philistines. No one would have thought that out of this slaughter of the lion, and the finding a swarm of bees in the skin-enveloped carcass—occurring, as it did, while the hero was engaged in forming amicable relations with the Philistines, occasion for the exertion of his destroying energies against the oppressors of Israel would have arisen. But so it came to pass. The most unlikely agents—lions, bees, honeycombs, may become the instruments of accomplishing the purposes of God, and of leading or driving a man to his appointed task, when he thinks not of it.”
Judges 14:11, 12
Probably these thirty men, under the pretence of being boon companions, were set to watch him as spies: the friendship of Philistines should always be mistrusted.
This ill-blood was engendered by the wedding festivities. How can we hope things to go well if we mingle with the unregenerate? Samson was acting very wrongly in all this, but God was overruling it to make him come forth as Philistia’s foe, and Israel’s champion.
Here he began to learn that a heathen wife was not to be trusted. How could he expect that she, who worshipped a false god, would be true to him! How sad it was that he did not profit by this experience.
As the garments specified would only be worn by persons of wealth, Samson must have dealt the Philistines a heavy blow. Thirty men of rank would be sorely missed.
Thus Samson was used as God’s executioner among the Philistines, but he himself was made to smart for his folly. His foolish love yielded him small solace; where he doted he found deceit and desertion. It is perilous to any man to allow his weaker passions to become his guide. Sooner or later sinful joys will curdle into miseries. Never let us run such risks as Samson dared to encounter. Let his wreck be our beacon.
Up believer, face the lion,
Thou shalt rend it like a kid,
Jesus’ mighty name rely on,
Face thy foe as thou art bid.
Start not at his loudest roaring,
Slay him in Jehovah’s strength:
Then from forth his carcass pouring,
Honey shall be thine at length.