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14 Samson went down from the hill country to the Philistine town of Timnah, on the coastal plain, and he saw a Philistine woman there. When he came home, he told his parents,

Samson: I saw this woman in Timnah who captured my attention. She’s a Philistine, but I want her for a wife. I beg you, make the arrangements for her to be my wife.

Samson’s Parents: What? Isn’t there a single woman among your tribe, among all of our people, the people of Israel? Do you have to take a wife from among the uncircumcised Philistines?

Samson (to his father): You have to get her for me. She is the one and is pleasing in my eyes.

The longer the Israelites are in Canaan, the more they find themselves drawn into the beliefs and practices of those around them. Samson, although he is a deliverer of his people and set aside by God, demonstrates the worst traits of his people. He actually takes a wife from among the other people who are trying to conquer Canaan, the Philistines.

But in all of this, we are told, God is working out a purpose; Samson has the Spirit of God. Not only does God use imperfect human beings for His own designs, but God can use human weakness to achieve His goals. Samson’s weakness, although it leads to his personal destruction, becomes God’s strength and leads to great victories for Israel.

Samson’s parents did not know that this passion was planned by the Eternal, who was working out a way to move against the Philistines who ruled over Israel.

Samson and his parents went down to the vineyards of Timnah. While they were traveling, a young lion roared at him. The Spirit of the Eternal moved upon Samson in that instant, and with his bare hands, he tore the lion apart as one might rend a small goat; but since he was by himself when this happened, he did not tell his parents what he had done. Afterward he continued on to Timnah and talked with the woman. Samson was quite taken with her for she was very attractive.

So Samson returned later to marry her, and on the journey, he turned aside to see again the carcass of the lion he had killed. A swarm of bees was in the carcass, where they had made their hive with some honey. Although he had been set aside as a Nazirite, and was not supposed to touch a corpse, he scraped some honey out and went on, eating it from his hands. When he came to his parents, he gave some of it to them to eat, but he did not tell them where he had gotten it.

10 His father went ahead to the Philistine woman, and Samson made a wedding feast with food and drink, as was the custom for young men being married. 11 The Philistines of the bridal party invited 30 men to serve as companions for Samson at the feast, since he had not brought any of his friends.

Samson (to the 30 young men): 12 I have a riddle for you. If you can solve it during the seven days we eat and drink here, I will give each of you a set of linen garments and a change of clothes. 13 If you cannot solve it in the seven days, then you will have to give me 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes.

Thirty Men: Ask away. What is your riddle?

14 Samson: Out of the eater came something to eat,
        and out of the strong came something sweet.

For three days the young men puzzled over Samson’s riddle. 15 On the fourth[a] day, they went to Samson’s wife and threatened her.

Thirty Men: Trick your husband, seduce him if necessary, whatever it takes to find out the answer to this riddle, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to take away what is ours?

16 Samson’s wife went to him and wept in front of him.

Samson’s Wife: You say you love me, but you don’t. You asked my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.

Samson: I haven’t even told my parents the answer. Why should I tell you?

17 She went on crying until the seventh day of the feast; and, at last, because she continued to bother him, he told her the answer. Then she reported it to the young men, 18 so that before the sun went down on the last day of the feast, they knew the answer.

Thirty Men: What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?

Samson: If you hadn’t gone behind my back with my wife, you would never have found the answer to this riddle.

19 The Spirit of the Eternal came upon Samson, and he immediately received great strength. He went down to the Philistine town of Ashkelon where he killed 30 men, took their possessions, and gave their garments in payment to the young men who had answered his riddle. Then, furious, he left the feast and went back up to his father’s house, 20 and Samson’s wife was instead given to the companion who had been his best man.


  1. 14:15 Hebrew reads, “seventh.”

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