April 8.—Morning. [Or July 14.]
“He shall send them a Saviour, and a great Our.”
ISRAEL by again 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.
1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
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.
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? (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.) And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. (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.)
4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
They were not aware that God intended to over-rule this to force him into antagonism with the oppressors of his country.
5 ¶ Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. (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.)
7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. (He remembered thankfully how the Lord delivered him, and turned aside to survey the spot, and his memory had its reward, for lie 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.”)
9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion. (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, honey-combs, 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.”)
10 ¶ So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
11, 12 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. (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.) And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
13 But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
14 And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so? (Thus 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.)
16 And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
17 And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
18 And the men of the city said unto 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 unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. (Here he began to learn that a heathen wife was not to be trusted. How could he expect that slit, who worshipped a false god, would be true to him! How sad it was that he did not profit by this experience.)
19 ¶ And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. (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.) And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.
20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
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.
April 8.—Evening. [Or July 15.]
“He giveth power to the faint.”
SAMSON’S marriage led to a complicated quarrel, during which he burned the standing corn of the Philistines by means of firebrands tied to the tails of foxes, and also slaughtered a great number of his enemies. He then went and dwelt at the top of the rock Etam, but God meant him to do far more for the overthrow of Israel’s enemies, and therefore gave him but little respite.
9 ¶ Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. (This was probably the valley at the foot of Samson’s stronghold, afterwards called Lehi, or the place of the jawbone.)
10 And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. (The men of Judah had sunk to the condition of vassals, and were forced to be obsequious to their tyrant masters. Sin makes men cowards.)
11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? (O miserable sight, these cowards are friends to their oppressors, and upbraid their best friend. How low were they sunk to talk in this fashion!) And he said unto them, As they did unto me so have I done unto them.
12 And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. (False brethren are our worst enemies, they will ruin us when our enemies cannot. Beware of hypocrites.) And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.
13 And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. (Does it not remind us of our Lord bound by those whom he came to deliver, and betrayed into the hands of his enemies?)
14 ¶ And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him. (This shout came a little too soon. It was soon turned into a shriek of dismay, and then into the silence of death.) And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. (The weapon matters little, the force lies in the arm. The Lord can use the weakest to overcome the strongest.)
16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass, have I slain a thousand men. (Like our greater champion, who exclaimed, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me.”)
17 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi. (Or the casting away of the jawbone.)
18 ¶ And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? (Samson knew how to pray and to pray in faith too: this was all along the saving point in his character.)
19 But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw (or in the place called Lehi or Jawbone), and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived; wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore (the fountain of him who prayed), which is in Lehi (or the place called Jawbone), unto this day. (God, who helps his servants in great matters, sometimes allows them to be greatly tried by comparatively smaller trials, for an exercise of their faith. But he will not leave them in the minor difficulty. Where fell the jawbone from the hero’s hand, there rose a refreshing fountain to quench his thirst. God is never at a loss for supplies. We have but to trust him, and wt shall do great things, and receive great things.)
20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. (By his personal prowess he turned aside Israel’s enemies, and established a settled government, God intending in his person to shew Israel how he could make one man chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.)
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 202–204). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.