Day 17

Samson’s Riddle

from the Judges reading plan


Judges 14:1-20, Isaiah 11:1-5, Matthew 13:16

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Judges 14:1-20, Isaiah 11:1-5, Matthew 13:16

Editor’s Note: Today’s devotional initially appeared with biblical errors that have since been corrected (it wasn’t the author—she had it right!). We are committed to faithfully reading and presenting God’s Word and appreciate your grace and partnership today.

A number of years ago, I met a famous person I had long respected from afar. This is always a tense experience, isn’t it? Most of us, I think, when we encounter famous people, get nervous to some degree. It happens to me less now than it did before because I have interacted with a number of “famous” Christians through my job. But still, especially when meeting some people, my palms get sweaty. Beyond that tension, I’m afraid that when I meet a famous person he or she is not going to be nice. Meeting someone we admire only to learn he or she is human is disorienting and disappointing.

In Judges 14, we continue to read about Samson, a judge appointed by God, a distinguished leader of God’s people, and a massive disappointment. We have already been exposed to Samson and his background, but it is here in chapter 14 that we see his disobedience. In verses 1–4, Samson disobeys the will of his parents and seeks a Philistine woman “because she seemed right to [him]”  (v. 7). This is a foreshadowing of his weakness. For all his physical strength, for all his natural gifting, he is proving to be weak in character.

Samson shares a riddle with Philistine men at his marriage feast. He will pay them handsomely if they solve the riddle within a week, and they will pay him if they don’t. Because they have trouble solving the riddle, they threaten Samson’s wife, which leads her to squeeze the answer out of him, despite Samson not giving the answer to his mother or father. He loses the bet because his wife gives the Philistine men the answer. This leads Samson to kill thirty other Philistine men in order to pay up his end of the bet.

Flashes of Samson’s strength, reliance on the Spirit of God, and anointing give glimpses of what the true Savior of God’s people, Jesus, would one day look like. Some may have thought Samson would be the deliverer of Israel, but unfortunately, he sought his own way and was undermined by his weakness.

In Isaiah 11 we read that the Savior of the world would shoot up from the stump of Jesse, in the line of David, and deliver the people of God from their disobedience and weakness. His justice would be righteous because His wisdom is from above. Jesus, our perfect Judge (Matthew 25:31-46), “will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, he will not execute justice by what he hears with his ears” (Isaiah 11:3).

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Post Comments (121)

121 thoughts on "Samson’s Riddle"

  1. LT says:

    Thank you for pointing this out…I was going to if someone hadn’t done so already. Yes, there is no evidence from the text that the woman Samson marries in chapter 14 is Delilah; she is who he falls in love with later in chapter 16 (but doesn’t seem to marry).

    1. LT says:

      This was supposed to be in reply to Anonymous..sorry it didn’t line up with that comment correctly!

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi LT! We’re so sorry about the confusion this morning—these errors have now been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content we produce, and we’re grateful that you reached out.
      – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

  2. Lindsey Bailey says:

    What seems interesting to me here is that it was God who made this Philistine woman ‘right in Samson’s eye’, ‘For He was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines’. And was it not also God who brought the Lion along Samson’s path. And then ‘The Spirit of the Lord rushes upon Him’ so Samson can tear it limb from limb. And then once again, ‘the Spirit of the Lord rushes upon Samson, when he went down to Ashkelon and struck down 30 men for their garments. God had a plan to deliver His people. My assumption is that God knew Samson would have these sinful tendencies, and so God used them for His purposes and ultimate plan. God is good. And brings good from all things even if good doesn’t seem good in the moment. He is a mystery, strong powerful, yet kind and gentle. And that mystery is what makes Him God.

    1. Anna Damiano says:

      Beautifully said!

    2. Lindsey says:

      Yes! These stood out to me as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on them.

    3. Dorothy says:

      Lindsey I read the verses the same way. You are so right. Amen.

  3. Churchmouse says:

    Psalm 55: 12,13 came to my mind as I read this morning’s passage. I am living this currently. I keep shaking my head in bewilderment but the reality slaps me in the face. I have to deal with what is in front of me even though I find it confusing and nearly unbelievable. Surely they wouldn’t have done this, said that? Surely not them. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. They did and they said. I shake my head. And I fall to my knees and I open my Bible. My Friend Who sticks closer than a brother sits beside me. We talk. His words of comfort leap from His book and my soul settles. My mind starts to wander but His words pull me back to the Truth. Oh how sweet it is to know the Truth. His Word is no riddle. It stands Rock solid. I stand on it. I reread the kind words of my SRT sisters from yesterday. My spirit is lifted. I do not know how this will all turn out but I know Who holds my heart and my future. It is well with my soul.

    1. Tanis says:

      Also currently going through a hardship with family and betrayal and rejection with one of out teenagers. It is a hard road. The tension and strain to be like Jesus in these moments can be crushing and heartbreaking. At times you do think “how is this happening”… it comforts me to know that it is a spiritual battle that is attacking me not my teenager. My teenager just isn’t strong enough yet in the Lord to see the battle for what it is and I can offer her grace upon grace even if……..

    2. Debbie says:

      Lifting you up in prayer this morning.

    3. Mari V says:

      I just prayed for you right now Churchmouse. Praying you may be comforted and knowing that you are loved here.

    4. Carol M says:

      So thankful for your heart…Joining you in prayer…Lifting you to Jesus!!

    5. Clare says:

      Prayers for you Churchmouse… You encourage me and others daily here, I pray that you would be encouraged and lifted up in your situation as you continue to take refuge under His wing.

    6. Dawn says:

      I feel your pain Churchmouse. Our family is currently in turmoil now as well. And like you, I shake my head, thinking surely, they wouldn’t have done this, especially at the time that it was done. And I shutter at how I’ve been acting in the midst of it. I have, and still do, let the enemy win. My heart hasn’t been forgiving like Jesus teaches. I will pray for you to have peace in the situation and that we both trust in the work of Jesus during this difficult time.

  4. Tochi Heredia says:

    I need this reminder today:
    “May the Lord bless us with eyes to see and ears to hear the truth in the midst of the world’s chaos and distraction.” Yes! May we pay no attention to the lies of the enemy.

    I just wanted to tell you I was moved to tears by your answers to my comment yesterday. I’ve been feeling quite unappreciated lately, so that was a tremendous encouragement. I haven’t stopped doing SRT studies and I come over here every day, I’ll try to not let distractions stop me from sharing my heart with you all x

    1. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

      God’s peace with you Tochi. Praying for you

      And yes. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and not buy into what the enemy is trying to sell. It sure is easy to do. I pray that I and my sisters here will all remember that Jesus has more to give us than anything this works can offer. ❤️

  5. Kristy says:

    I had to skip to chapter 16 after reading this. I find it interesting that Delilah betrays Samson in the same way his wife did, yet Samson stays with Delilah. His wife’s betrayal was out of loyalty to her family. Delilah showed him multiple times that she was just not trustworthy. Repeatedly she asks him his secret, he lies and is attacked, and still be succumbed. After the betrayal of his wife he replies, “if you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.” There is no such retort to any of the Philistine attacks. Both women even use the same ploy, “if you loved me…”
    Aren’t we often the same, though? Not learning from the past, entrapped by the enticing ways of the world, hoping the outcome will be in our favor. Aren’t you glad God can even use our mistakes for His glory? Just as He wasn’t surprised by Samson’s actions, He’s not surprised by ours. We serve an awesome, powerful God! I’m so thankful He sent His Son to save me from myself. Aren’t we all just prideful Samsons deep-down? Seeking love, companionship, someone to trust; many times thinking we’re too strong to fall. But, it is Jesus that sticks closer than a brother. It is His Spirit that is our strength when we are weak… and we are weak. We are all simple earthen vessels.

    1. Dorothy says:

      Kristy you put it so well. I agree so fully. I so have been “Seeking love, companionship, someone to trust”, too many times. Christ is my strength not just when I am weak but all the time.

  6. Clare says:

    So thankful for the reminder that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the powers of this world – what a call to a prayerful response to hurt and pain.

  7. Lesley says:

    It is so encouraging to remember that God can use any circumstances and redeem them for his purposes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Samson’s wife in this passage was from Timnah. Delilah was from the Valley of Sorek (likely close to Gaza.) They are 2 different people, so Delilah is not the Philistine woman in this passage. His wife is not mentioned by name.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I was confused by the author’s mention of Delilah’s name here in chapter 14. Delilah doesn’t enter into Samson’s life just yet. The Bible teaches us that though God uses Samson in a mighty way, Samson’s weakness for women outside his relatives is part of his downfall. He had no business living outside the boundaries that God had placed for his life (touching the dead carcass of the lion, preparing a feast – drinking, and marrying a Philistine.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I agree. The woman from Timnah is not Delilah (who enters Samson’s life in chapter 16).

      1. Erica Chiarelli says:

        Yeah, Delilah does not come around until chapter16, even after another woman. Samson truly had a problem with women, particularly Philistine or unclean women… his wife was given to his best man but he tries to get back with her. He makes th Philistines mad and they burn her and her father. Awful.

        1. She Reads Truth says:

          Hi Erica! We’re so sorry about the confusion this morning—this error has been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content we produce, and we’re grateful that you reached out.
          – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

    3. Lesley says:

      So glad it wasn’t just me who found this confusing! Samson’s wife mentioned here dies in the next chapter so she is definitely not the same as Delilah, though there are certainly parallels in their situations.

      1. She Reads Truth says:

        Hi Lesley! So sorry about the confusion—this error has been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content we produce, and we’re grateful that you reached out.
        – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

        1. Lesley says:

          Thank you for your honesty in admitting to the error and for taking time to respond to everyone. SRT has been a huge blessing to me over the last few years and I’m grateful for all you do!

    4. Monica Davis says:

      Exactly

    5. Allie says:

      Yes! @SheReadsTruth please correct this!

      1. She Reads Truth says:

        Hi Allie! So sorry about the confusion this morning—this error has been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content that we present, and we’re grateful to have you reading along with us.
        – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

    6. Bobbie says:

      I agree w y’all. I was surprised to see Delilah’s name in the commentary of this passage. The commentary was good but this was a distraction for me. Hopefully, the SRT team will comment further.

      1. She Reads Truth says:

        Hi Bobbie! Thank you so much for reaching out. This error has been corrected—we deeply value the accuracy of the content we present, and we’re grateful to have you reading along with us.
        – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

    7. She Reads Truth says:

      We’re so sorry about the confusion this morning—these errors have now been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content we produce, and we’re grateful that you reached out.
      – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

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