Samson: "The Lion, The Woman, and the Judge"
Scripture Reading: Judges 14:1-20
In our reading today, Samson is all grown up – or sort of. He has grown up physically into a man, but by his behavior in Judges 14 he’s kind of like an adolescent in his mind. Samson is no great thinker. He’s not a man of wisdom and faith. His behavior is questionable for one who has been set apart from birth to be “holy to God”. Before he was born the angel of the Lord visited his mother and said that she would give birth to a son and “he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)
In our reading today we see Samson begin to confront the enemy, the people who have been oppressing the people of God. However, there is something about Samson that makes him an unlikely hero. Carolyn Pressler writes, “Samson is no military leader and hardly a willing deliverer. Rather, he is a brawny, bawdy, amoral adventurer. Samson’s attacks against the Philistines stem not from a desire to resist his people’s enemies, but from his passions for women and revenge.”
Why is Samson’s new relationship troubling?
Who is the hidden Agent behind the story?
In Judges 14 we read about the Lion, the Woman, and the Judge – but not necessarily in that order. Our reading today recalls one of the well-known incidents from the life of Samson when he tears apart a lion with his bare hands. That’s impressive! However, before his eyes fall upon the lion, he first sees a woman who stirs the passions heart.
What is significant about the phrase “She is right in my eyes”? How does this connect with what Eve saw when she looked at the fruit of the forbidden tree in Genesis 3:6?
Why are we more attracted by what we see with our eyes than we are to the Word of God?
To his thirty companions Samson puts this riddle, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” What follows next is a pattern that will repeat itself in the rest of the story. The companions are not able to solve the riddle and they press upon Samson’s woman to entice him to tell her the answer. She uses one of the oldest tricks in the book to get her way. She says to Samson in verse 16, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” Verse 17 goes on to say that she wept for seven days and pressed him hard to tell her the riddle. And Samson? He gives in. He tells her the answer and she, promptly, betrays him. In Judges 15, the Lion, the Woman, and the Judge are not a holy Trinity.
What is the answer to Samson’s riddle? What is his response?
Is Samson a good person in this story?
Even when we have sold out to the values of the world and no longer seek the Lord and his ways, God will pursue us. In love and grace, he will preserve us. We live in a world where we often follow the “delight of our eyes”. The Word of the Lord is laid aside quickly when it impinges upon our fun and desires. The call of God into the Kingdom of grace would be impossible to answer apart from the Holy Spirit coming to us. The gospel declares God always hold onto his own. Samson cannot get away from his calling. It will not be of his own doing that his name will be listed in Hebrews 11 along with many others who walked by faith. Samson’s story is God’s story at work in the life in the one he calls.
How might the story of the Lion, the Woman, and the Judge give you encouragement when you look at your life and the life of your family?