REBEL WITH A CAUSE 

Guys may want to be a “big man” on campus.  What is that good for?  I remember a “big man” in grade school sitting on my chest, attempting to pound some sense into me.  I guess that didn’t really work.  But strength is an asset for some men, and Samson is the classic big man; with a little help from God.  He didn’t seem bound to the rules of others when he had strength to be independent.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.  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.  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? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.  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.  Judges 14:1-4

Samson is frustrating because he is the kind of bad boy the girls all like.  I want to hate him for his rebellion, but God had other ideas.  How often do we have an idea of what religion should be that doesn’t meet God’s standards?  Can we accept our fellow servant without judgment?  With Samson no one could stand up to criticize. 

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.  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.  And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.  Judges 14: 5-6

Samson can get what he wants, and no force could stand in his way.  But the actions of today build a pattern that can change our future.

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.  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.  Judges 14: 7-9

Samson must have waited some time to see that Lion dried out enough for bees to net in it’s carcass.  Even when so dry and clean, the remains posed a problem.  You may remember the ritual rules for a Nazarite from the book of Numbers. 

All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.  Numbers 6:6

Samson remembered this encounter with the body, if not the consequences associated with it.  He used it to challenge the Philistines’.

So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.  And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.  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:  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.  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.  Judges 14: 10-14

Samson is operating in pride as he challenges the Philistines mental skills.  They have not discovered his strength, which he had demonstrated against the lion.  They are angered by his arrogance, and threaten his wife with violence.  She is not faithful to him enough to resist.

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?  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?  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.  Judges 14: 15-17 

A week of weeping makes one weak I suppose.  Samson is worn down by the shrew and relented to tell her the answer to the riddle.  The Philistines answer to the riddle reveals to Samson the treachery they had with his wife.  The violence he brings on them is empowered by God, not by sin on his part.  He goes home, and leaves his wife with one he thought to be a friend.

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.  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. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.  But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.  Judges 14: 18-20

How often do we find ourselves in bad company?  If we go among our enemies, we might expect to see bad results.  But Samson was either allowed or moved to go among the Philistines by God.  How often do we assume our neighbors are bad company because we don’t know what God is doing in their lives?  Later we will see David living with the Philistines too, was he a transgressor too?  Well Samson may have seemed to be lost, but let’s see how that goes.

But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.  And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. Judges 15: 1-2

His father in law gave his wife away?  He claims he thought Samson hated his wife.  So he offers her little sister instead.  Why would he hate the woman who betrayed him I wonder?  Well it didn’t satisfy Samson to be offered the pretty little sister.  He had his own plan to answer that.

And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.  And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.  And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.  Judges 15: 3-5

Catching three hundred foxes is a chore unless God helped.  Setting them on fire motivated them to run wildly through the fields of the Philistines. 

Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.  And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.  And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.  Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.  Judges 15: 6-9

Their harvest was destroyed, so they burned his wife and father in law alive.  His revenge slaughter of the Philistines provoked a war party.  The Jews wondered why this was happening.  They wanted a solution to keep the peace.  Perhaps God needed a man of war to overcome their fearfulness and unbelief.

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.  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? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.  And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.  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.  Judges 15: 10-13

These wimps couldn’t be trusted not to betray Samson themselves.  He had to make them promise not to kill him.  Their willingness to remain in bondage was greater than their loyalty to one of their own.  Will we find a man willing to stand against sin today?

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: 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.  And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.  And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.  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 Ramathlehi.  Judges 15: 14-17

The power of God made Samson strong in battle.  He was moved to extreme athleticism and the fury of the vengeance of the Lord.  The slaughter of God’s vengeance must have been horrific to survey after the battle.  This Nazarite had to have faith to experience such an anointing for battle.  Still he had a moment of unbelief after the fight.

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?  But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.  And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.  Judges 15: 18-20 

The water that God personally manifested in that jaw may have been the living water.  The place was named Enhakkore or fountain of him that called or prayed.  He knew he would not be left to thirst when he asked God for the drink.   

Samson wanted a woman who was not Jewish, which was not right.  He also ignored the  rules of Nazarites.  But in times when Israel was content under oppression, he was not afraid to fight for justice.  God knew him well, and made him the warrior of the hour.  The bad boys are sometimes the only ones with enough gumption to get the job done.

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