Summary: This entire riddle revealed the disobedience of Samson. Also it says something about the sins of gambling.
The riddle of Sampson.
Judges 14:10 -- 20. 05/25/05
In our last chapter we noted the two trips Sampson and his parents made to Timnath regarding his marriage to the Philistines girl there. In this chapter we will consider what happened after they arrived in Timnath on the second trip. This second trip was for the purpose of finalizing the marriage of Sampson and this Philistines girl. This trip centered on a wedding feast. But the event was not the usual joyous occasion that it was intended to be. It was plagued by arguments and threats and crying and ended up on a very hostile note and was followed by the slaying of 30 Philistine men and the breaking up of the marriage. What should have been a delightful time became instead a very bitter experience for all concerned. But what else can one expect when the course of action is pursued that is contrary to the will of God? Sampson persisted in his own rebellious ways instead of God’s ways, and the results proved it..
That which triggered all the bitter experiences on this occasion was a riddle. At the beginning of the wedding feast, Sampson propounded a riddle for his 30 male wedding guests to solve. If these wedding guests could figure out the riddle each one would be given a suit of clothes; but if they could not solve the riddle, then the group would give 30 suits of clothes to Sampson. The whole riddle reflected Sampson’s corruptness and produced great problems.
For our first point we want to see THE PROPOUNDING OF THE RIDDLE. “Sampson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you; if you can certainly declare it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you 30 sheets and 30 changes of garments; but if you cannot declare it to me, then shall you give me 30 sheets and 30 changes of garments. And they said unto him, put forth your riddle, that we may hear it. And he said unto them, out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
The traditions which were often followed in Bible times for marriage need to be briefly reviewed here so we will better understand the occasion and situation where Sampson put forth his riddle.
The bridegroom’s parents first arranged a marriage; that included giving money to the bride’s parents. That was done the first trip of Sampson and his parents to Timnath. After this arrangement was secured, a period of time went by, often up to a year before the actual marriage took place and was finalized. During that time the prospective bride and groom generally did not see each other. When the time came for completing the marriage, a feast was then held. The people to be married and their parents and invited guest would all come together for this occasion. This is the second trip of Sampson and his parents to Timnath and this would take place.
The wedding feast was the responsibility of the groom. And so “Sampson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.” The feast would last a number of days, this one-lasted seven days. And with a number of guest involved, male guest alone numbering 30, it would therefore be an expensive feast. Just to wine and dine the 30 male guest alone for a week would require some money to pay the cost. So we would have to conclude that Sampson’s parents, who would foot the bill, Sampson’s parents were people of means. The scale of the wedding feast, as regards numbers and duration, indicated that Sampson’s family was one of wealth and position.
This wedding feast provided this sort of situation in which the entertainment of such things as a riddle would occur. Riddles were a favorite Oriental amusement and festive entertainments of this nature and rewards were offered to those who could give the solution. With seven days of feasting, there would be considerable time that would naturally lend itself to the seeking of some entertainment to have passed the time and keep those attending the feast from being bored. So Sampson, who was obviously prepared for the occasion, propounded a riddle at the beginning of the feast. Trying to solve this riddle would keep the guest at the wedding feast occupied through the entire feast. But as it turns out this would also cause a lot of trouble for all involved.
When Sampson came to Timnath to complete the marriage arrangement the bridegroom’s parents brought 30 companions to be with him. They were the groomsman or friends of the bridegroom who accompanied him to the house of the bride. A feast succeeded this. One commentary said that the reason the bride’s parents provided these guests for Sampson was because Sampson had not brought any with him.