Lessons from Samson’s Women
31 Days of Women from Scripture
Day Six: Samson’s Women
Judges 14 -15:3 and Judges 16:4-20
The other day we talked about Samson’s mother.
Yesterday we talked about Esau’s wives and the trouble they caused.
Today, let’s look at the other two women in Samson’s life.
Samson is the judge of Israel and he has been honed from conception to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judg. 13:5, 25).
Samson goes to Timnah, sees a Philistine woman he likes, and goes back home to tell his parents that he wants to marry her (Judg. 14:1-2).
Manoah, being the good Israelite that he is, expresses concern about Samson marrying outside of their people (Deut.7:3-6; Judg. 14:3).
Samson says no, he wants that girl. And scripture says that God is making use of this opportunity to go against the Philistines (Judg. 14:4).
Samson goes down with to Timnah with his parents to talk to the woman. Along the way, he kills a lion with his bare hands, but doesn’t tell his parents about it. Samson likes the girl and goes home again.
When he next goes to Timnah, to marry her, he stops where he had killed the lion. He finds that bees have made honey in the carcass. Samson gathers up some honey and goes on to catch up with his parents. He gives them some honey, but does not say where it came from.
Manoah goes to arrange for the marriage while Samson has a feast along with 30 young men of the Philistines.
Samson makes a bargain with the party-goers. If they can guess the answer to his riddle sometime during the 7 days of the feast, then he will give them each a linen wrap and a change of clothes (Judg. 14:12). He tells them the riddle, which is all about the lion he killed and the honey he found, and waits to see if they figure it out.
Three days later, they still have no answer for the riddle.
On day four these young men go to Samson’s new wife to ask for her help.
She agrees to help them. Her method? She goes to Samson with tears saying how he hates her and does not love her. Because if he loved her he would have told her the answer to the riddle he put before these men (Judg. 14:16)!
Samson’s answer, “I haven’t told my parents, why would I have told you?”
She proceeded to weep about this EVERY DAY of the feast. Finally, Samson tells her because “she pressed him so hard”.
She promptly goes and tells the Philistine men the answer to the riddle. Her loyalty is not with her husband!
The Philistine men come and answer the riddle right before time runs out. Samson immediately knows how they got the answer!
In order to keep the bargain, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson and went to Ashkelon, killed 30 men, and took their linen wraps and clothing. These he gave to the men who answered the riddle.
Then Samson was so angry over the whole thing, he went back to his parent’s home, leaving his wife of one week right where he had found her.
Sometime later, during the wheat harvest, Samson calms down and goes looking for his wife – bringing a young goat as a gift.
Samson is met at the door by her father. Samson insists on being able to go see his wife, but her father says, “No”. He has given her in marriage to someone else because he thought Samson hated her because of the events with the riddle.
Her father offers her younger sister to Samson as wife instead, but the older is no longer his.
Samson becomes angry and says that the Philistines have brought what he’s about to do upon themselves. Samson uses foxes and torches to destroy the harvest as well as the vineyards.
When the Philistines find out that Samson did this because his wife’s father had given her to another man in marriage, they came up and killed the woman and her father (Judg. 15:6).
Samson thought they had gone too far, and so now he seeks revenge on the Philistines for killing his wife. He is very ruthless and then goes away.
The Philistines come up against Judah in response to what Samson has done. The men of Judah come to deliver Samson to the Philistines. Samson agrees to be bound, if the men of Judah promise not to kill him, and to be taken to the Philistines.
When Samson is brought to the place where the Philistines are waiting, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, the ropes around him burn away, and he grabs a jawbone from a donkey and proceeds to kill 1000 men with it.
All for a woman. Or so it would seem at face value. It really was a beginning to getting Israel out from under the thumb of the Philistines. But it took a fight over a woman to get things started.
Now, before we look at what we can learn from Samson’s wife, let’s look at the other major woman in his life, Delilah.
Samson comes to love Delilah, who is from the valley of Sorek, which is Philistine territory.
The leaders of the Philistines learn of their relationship. They offer to pay her money to find out the secret to overpower Samson and to share that information with them. Delilah agrees.
Delilah just comes out and asks Samson, “Where do you get your strength and how could you be stopped? (Judg. 16:6)”
Samson seems to have a sense of humor. Three times Delilah asks this question. Three times he gives her false information. Three times Delilah brings men in to attack Samson (Judg. 16:7-14).
After the third failed attempt, Delilah is frustrated with Samson. She accuses HIM of not loving HER, because he keeps deceiving her about what will end his strength (Judg. 16:15). She then “pressed him daily” to the point that “his soul was annoyed to death”.
Finally, he gives in, and “tells her all that was in his heart” – that he’s been faithful to the Nazarite vow from his mother’s womb and that shaving his hair will take away his strength.
Now, Delilah recognizes that he is now entrusting her with the truth. Apparently, that has no sway over her heart. She contacts the leaders of the Philistines and tells them she knows the secret. They arrange for a time for them to come and they come prepared with her money.
Delilah then lulls Samson to sleep with his head resting in her lap. She brings in a man to shave off Samson’s hair. Then SHE begins to “afflict him” in his sleep until his strength leaves him. She awakens him with a yell that the Philistines are upon him, but Samson does not know that his vow has been broken.
Samson is taken by the Philistines, his eyes gouged out, and he is put into prison in Gaza. After a time, God’s purpose is served, because when Samson’s hair grows back his strength returns. His final deed is to destroy 3000 Philistine men and women (Judg. 16:23-31).
As a wife, reading the stories of these two women hurts my heart. Samson may have been arrogant and a bit naïve, but these women, both, had no care for him at all. Their ruthlessness astounds me.
But do we not see women treat men in this way today?
As we talked about with Potiphar’s wife, we need to be aware of the power that we wield. Samson was a STRONG man. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was faithful to the Lord (Heb. 11:32). Yet, TWICE he fell to the needling and nagging of women. The first time, it cost him his pride and 30 men their lives. The second time, it brought about Samson’s destruction as well as the Philistines.
It’s cliché to talk about “nagging” wives. But that cliché is steeped in thousands of years of truth. These women weren’t asking for what was rightfully theirs (Lk. 18:1-8). They were putting their noses into Samson’s business.
We understand this kind of pressure to get what one wants – children do it all the time. We understand why Samson succumbed to the pressure. When it is intense, it is hard to fight. Even harder to fight when you LOVE the person pressing you.
Most of us, I have no doubt, can see it is wrong when children try to exert power over their parents in this way. But do we realize that we are doing the same wrong when we do this to our husbands, boyfriends, or anyone else?
Part of loving with agape love is stepping back and letting others take on their own responsibilities. It’s doing what is good for them, even when it conflicts what something you want.
This is what Christ did for us. He loved us enough to leave Heaven to come down to a world filled with imperfect and hateful people (Phil. 2:5-8). He did what was in our best interests, dying on the cross, even though His body wanted to reject the idea of death (Lk. 22:42).
These women did not have Samson’s best interests at heart. I would say that in their cases, this is obvious. But how often do we get asked to do the same, but in smaller ways?
Are we encouraged by others to make fun of our men or other people we supposedly care about? Are we given opportunities that benefit us, but are at the cost of something precious to someone else?
Samson shows a man with a great capacity to love. Passionate is a good word to describe him overall. God used that passion to accomplish His will regarding the Philistines. But these women used it against him. Both used the age, old lie, “but if you love me”. Can’t you just see their lip pouting and the tears running down their face?
Other women in scripture handled their frustrations and their men differently.
Hannah had strong feelings about how she was treated by Peninnah and about not giving a son to Elkanah. Elkanah had to draw her out and had worked to console her (1 Sam. 1:7-8). Hannah didn’t berate him for not loving her enough to make Peninnah stop.
Abigail lived with a “worthless man” who created problems that she had to fix (1 Sam. 25). She didn’t yell at him and complain that he should love her enough to not anger the king to the point of wanting to kill them all. She took what was hers to do, left Nabal’s business to himself, and she did so with grace and intelligence. Quite the opposite of these Philistine women.
For today, I want to encourage you (and myself) to pay attention to how you speak to your husband, your boss, your parents, your siblings, or anyone else.
Pay attention to what your motivations are for the actions you take. Are you responding out of anger or a desire for revenge? Are you seeking to benefit only yourself? Or are you saying and doing these things to build them up in truth?
Sometimes we get so entrenched in our routines, that we just stop paying attention to what we say and how we say it. We stop THINKING and just keep doing.
God wants us to be mindful and deliberate in showing care for other people (Mk. 13:33; 1 Cor. 3:10; Heb. 10:24).
Take a lesson from Samson’s wife and Delilah. They show us how NOT to be as wives, friends, etc.
Go out today and follow Jesus’ example instead.
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