Summary: Samson’s wedding riddle was born out of conflict teaching important life lessons.
Charles W. Holt
SAMSON’S MARVELOUS RIDDLE
Samson’s quick wit and prankish nature unexpectedly yield a gem of stunning insight. It is a masterpiece of encouragement and hope for times when life gets crazy, seemingly out of control; when one is fighting to survive and the big question is: Why?
Many miss it because it is couched in his carefully crafted riddle. He intended to confuse, puzzle and mystify. It worked too. It worked so well that the 30 young men who played Samson’s game of "guess my riddle" were so desperate by week’s end they resorted to menacing measures to get the answer. Under the duress of death from her Philistine countrymen Samson’s fiancee feigned such emotional agony until he reluctantly gave her the solution, which she quickly passed along.
This occurs within the setting of a gala week-long celebration in anticipation of the marriage between Samson and a young woman in the Philistine village of Timnath. Recently he had experienced success in overcoming a deadly adversary. He turned that event into an opportunity to challenge the 30 young men, who were appointed to be his groomsmen, to pit their wit against his. The game required them to find a solution to his cleverly concocted riddle. They agreed to his rules and asked him to recite his riddle. Samson said,
"Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came someting sweet"
(Judges 14:14 NKJV).
The encouragement and hope found in the riddle can best be appreciated when seen as the centerpiece of its large-as-life setting. Consider these things:
I. SAMSON’S RIDDLE WAS BORN OUT OF HIS LIFE EXPERIENCE.
It was born out of his confrontation and clash with a powerful opponent. He struggled against a strong foe that challenged his person and purpose. It was born out of threat to his physical life--born out of pain and distress.
He stared hatred in the face. He saw eyes burning with fierce anger. He heard the roar of a raw beastly nature that, had it been words, would have sent a blistering message intended to incite a sense of worthlessness and depression. He wrestled with this beast. Smelled its foul breath. Experienced the pain from tooth and claw.
Scripture teaches us to, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pt. 5:8 KJV).
Troubles, trials, disappointments, heartaches, physical and mental infirmities -- all may present themselves as "roaring lions." We are reminded of Paul’s exhortation that we, "wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12 KJV). James tells us: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Ja. 4:7 KJV).
II. SAMSON WAS DOING GOD’S WILL WHEN THE ATTACK OCCURRED.
His mother and father were dismayed that he desired a Philistine woman for a wife. "But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD--that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at this time the Philistines had dominion over Israel" (Judges 14:4 NKJV). Whether rational or irrational to anyone else (ourselves included),the day Samson set his foot on the path toward Timnath he was walking a road ordained by the Lord. He was in God’s will.
"In God’s will" does not guarantee freedom from assault by the adversary nor secures a painless passage through this life. It does not insulate or make us immune to "the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). Because one struggles with pain, sorrow, disappointment and affliction does not necessarily indicate that one has missed God’s will.
III. THE ATTACK OCCURRED SUDDENLY
"Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him" (Judges 14:5 NKJV). Healthy and spiritually minded people do not go around looking for trouble. They don’t wake up in the morning expecting trouble to come roaring after them before noon or even later. At the same time, healthy and spiritually minded people know it is possible that such a "surprise" may be around the next bend in their life’s road. In reality one is as apt to be "surprised by grief" as well as "surprised by joy."
IV. THE ATTACK WAS FROM AN AGILE FOE.
A "young lion" roared against him. The animal was in the prime of life. Nimble. Spry. The threat posed was real. It was a situation that could not be easily dismissed by the wave of a hand. Simply ignoring the problem with a dose of positive thinking was not a good choice.
Samson’s lion was determined to do one thing
--devour. Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (Jn. 10:10). Jesus said, "I am come that you might have abundant life."