One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time. As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her. Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion. As his father was making final arrangements for the marriage, Samson threw a party at Timnah, as was the custom for elite young men. When the bride’s parents saw him, they selected thirty young men from the town to be his companions. Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.” “All right,” they agreed, “let’s hear your riddle.” So he said: “Out of the one who eats came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.” Three days later they were still trying to figure it out. On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to explain the riddle for us, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?” So Samson’s wife came to him in tears and said, “You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.” “I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother,” he replied. “Why should I tell you?” So she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration. At last, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging. Then she explained the riddle to the young men. So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!” Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother. So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding.
Dear God, these poor people. I would not have liked to have been Samson’s father. What do you do with him? He’s another one that you made a judge of Israel that I just don’t get. He was terrible. Is that really what you wanted? Did you really want him to do all of the awful things he did? And what were his parents to do?
This one sentence is what humbles me about my own parenting and what I think is my wisdom and insight: “His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.” If Samson had been my son I would have been telling him he was wrong to do what he was doing. If he was the president, I would be wanting to vote him out. If he was the king I would hope he would be overthrown. That’s why, ultimately, I can have my opinions, and I may very well be right, but I can also not live in fear when things don’t go my way. Maybe you are doing exactly what you want done through those who are ungodly.
Father, thank you for this faithful couple. This is the last story we get about them. I think it’s interesting to see Samson’s love for them in his line to the woman: “I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother. Why should I tell you?” He obviously respected them and revered them as his parents because he said as much to his new wife. They were good people who really tried. I am sure it didn’t work out at all like they thought it might. It almost never does. But here they are. They get their own chapter in Judges 13 and then we get to see them doing their best in the next chapter (chapter 14). I hope history will look on me as kindly (if not as publicly) as it does these two people.
In Jesus’s name I pray,