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. Amy Horn says:

    Am I the only one reading Judges and not understanding a word of what I’m reading?? Honey being made out of the carcass of a lion and then Samson eating it? What in the world….

    1. Kristy says:

      Right there with you! Some of this stuff is bizarre!

    2. Dorothy says:

      First of all it did mention there was “a swarm of bees in the body of the lion” as well as the honey. Second it said “after some days”, that would be after the death of the lion — in two other versions I read it said Samson returned sometime later — so we don’t know how long it had been. Third this is the Bible.

    3. Laura says:

      Lions are on the list of “unclean” animals, found in Lev. 11, because they do not have hoofs and do not chew their cud. Samson should not eat or touch the dead body of unclean animals. I think the eating honey from the lion carcass story is simply another example of Samson choosing his own will instead of following in the will of God.

      1. Constance says:

        Laura, I agree with you. When I read it, Samson was going against God’s commandment to him by eating from the dead body of an unclean animal.

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    Does it bother anyone else that in Judges 14:18 Samson refers to his betrothed as a heifer? “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle” makes it sound as if his fiancée is cheating on him with the Philistine men. Is this a translation issue or can someone shed light on a different understanding? I am having some trouble reconciling how poorly women (including this unnamed woman, as well as Delilah) are being portrayed when it comes to Samson’s story?

    Is it possible these women were meant to be his “downfall” because the world was not yet ready for the real savior Jesus Christ?

    The SRT daily readings have been an amazing tool to grow my faith and I would love if the community and other readers could respond to what I consider problematic portrayals of women in these few chapters.

    1. Dorothy says:

      You’re talking about a translation from Ancient Hebrew or Ancient Greek into modern day American English, first of all. Also in the time and country of Samson we don’t know their culture and how they referred to women who may have been cheating. Samson may not know these men are family. Yes I believe women were his “downfall” but meant to be by God no; by the devil yes.

    2. Cacey says:

      According to my study Bible, his accusation of them “plowing with his heifer,” refers to their misuse of her. As heifers were not used for plowing.

      1. Kaitlyn says:

        Thank you! This really clarifies things.

    3. Laura says:

      I think it’s important to remember that we cannot expect all people from all time and cultures to have the same values as our cultures today. Even currently, there are cultures that devalue women daily and abuse is just part of life. Judges is a historical book, meaning it’s telling the events as they happened, not necessary as what was morally right. Samson is a great reminder that even the most devote Believer can make sinful decisions and rash choices, but those weaknesses don’t disqualify us. Although not by name, Samson is mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11! This is not he man I would choose to compare alongside Moses and Abraham, but honestly, they made some bad choices too. I’m so thankful God didn’t just put the Instagram highlights of peoples’ lives in Scripture, but all the mess too.

      1. charlie woodruff says:

        Amen!

    4. Julie says:

      The study notes in my Bible say it could have been a saying in Samson’s time, it also says that heifers were occasionally used for plowing (cf. Deuteronomy 21:3). Some light Googling showed that heifers aren’t really meant for plowing, so I would lean towards what Cacey’s study notes said.

    5. Connie Williams says:

      Through out the Bible we find the use of words that are quite different from the use of words in today’s time. We must keep in mi d when reading the Bible the time and culture that it was written in. This was the ancient world.
      Secondly I wouldn’t say that Samson’s Wife was cheating on him. The philistine men wanted an answer to the riddle because they couldn’t figure it out. So they threatened her to get the answer from on samson she sat around and cried for seven days and he ended up relenting and gave her the answer.
      She was weak by letting the philistine men use her against her husband and Samson wasn’t smart seem like he should have known what was going on.

    6. Candice Lofton says:

      Hi friend! It is common in Hebrew for them to use poetic devices or hyperbolic phrasing to get their point across. This wouldn’t be considered disrespectful language so much as a poetic device. Samson knew his wife was being ‘used’ by the men of her town. I do agree he’s not he guy in the Bible I’m going to point my son to for behavior modeling, but this particular instance is not intended disrespectfully.

      1. Kaitlyn says:

        Thank you so much, this totally makes sense and was just the insight I was looking for!

    7. Constance says:

      Cheating on one’s spouse does not have to be sexual in nature. She betrayed him by secretly working against him. I think we should not try to take those times and apply today’s attitudes. We must recall in the Bible that women were not to be preachers or take on certain other leadership roles.

  3. Clare says:

    Hi SRT team – I read this devotional here in England early this morning and noted the issues. However I also want to let you know that inspite of this, and maybe because I payed special attention, I felt so moved to pray in specific ways due to the devotional. Yes, we don’t want to be confused by what we are reading, but as per today’s passage of scripture, God can use all things, so I want to say thank you for all that you give to us and that He is strong and still speaks through his word, as he spoke through the author this morning. I see that the devotional is entirely different now… But I would like you to know that the original word was still powerful and carried a helpful message. Thanks for all you bring to us.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Clare, we appreciate you sharing this with us. We’re so grateful that you’re reading along with us and are a part of our community! -Margot, The SRT Team

  4. Christen Doggett says:

    I agree this is a concerning post due to the inaccuracy of the explanation of Judges 14. Not only is Samson’s wife not Delilah, but it is also very clear in verse 4 that the LORD wanted Samson to marry the Philistine. It was not foolishness as this author describes.

    1. Ellen Taylor says:

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

      1. Christen Doggett says:

        Thank you to your commitment to Biblical Truth and responding so quickly to your readers! I’m certain that many of us dove deeper into God’s Word for a better understanding today!

  5. Deborah Schmidt says:

    It appears the guest writer, Erin, did make errors in her writing. We all make errors, forgiveness ladies! It also seems the editors did not catch the error. Again, forgiveness! The GOOD news is that we all read deeper into Samson’s life and story and the error brought even clearer understanding as we discerned Samson’s role in God’s words!

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Deborah! We’re so sorry about that—these errors have now been corrected. We deeply value the accuracy of the content that we present, and we’re thankful for your grace and forgiveness. Thanks for reaching out!
      – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

    2. Dorothy says:

      Deborah Amen let’s not forget to forgive for the error

  6. Churchmouse says:

    So good that many here are as the Berean church – checking the Scriptures for themselves! Grace be extended to the SRT team for today’s confusion and praise that we love the Scriptures enough to fully study and chew on them personally. Appreciate you all.

    1. Churchmouse says:

      See Acts 17: 11

      1. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

        Thank you for that reference Churchmouse.

  7. Elizabeth Stewart says:

    I too don’t think the woman in chapter 14 is Delilah and am confused at this conclusion.

    1. Priska Jordan says:

      You’re right – She’s not. Delilah is introduced in ch. 16

      1. She Reads Truth says:

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

    2. She Reads Truth says:

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

  8. Kaitlyn says:

    I really think this needs checked out for some theological errors…Samson married a Timnite…whose name was never mentioned. She was then given over to Samson’s “best man” (14:20). Samson’s wife is then killed in 15 (I read ahead a little). Delilah is never mentioned until 16…and she even came after a prostitute in Gaza. Delilah was “a woman in the Valley if Sorek” who Samson ended up loving. Clearly a different woman than his first wife.

    Also, even though it’s so confusing (to me at least), Samson’s marriage to his first, unnamed wife was “from the LORD” (14:4). God is still Sovereign even when we sin. I don’t personally believe that Samson’s first marriage was a good thing…God had always instructed His people to not marry outside of their people. Here we have an Israelite who was under the Nazarene vow marrying a Philistine. Heck, even Samson’s parents were skeptical. Not ideal…yet God uses it to accomplish His purposes.

    Thank goodness He chooses to use us even when we are sinful!

    Just a little disappointed over some errors in this reading. I would hope there would be a little more fact-checking, especially when the Scriptures are being shared.

    1. Heather N says:

      Agreed. I had a hard time reading the devo this morning because of the error in calling Samson’s wife Delilah.

      1. She Reads Truth says:

        Hi Heather! 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 that you reached out.
        – Ellen, SRT Editorial Team

    2. She Reads Truth says:

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

      1. Kaitlyn says:

        Thank you so much for the humility and the correction! We the readers appreciate that so much. Still love this ministry, community, and teaching. God works in all things! I’m sure we’ve all made a mistake or two in our time ;)

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