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. J V says:

    I was confused by the lion part. After rereading it in verse 6 “the Spirit the Lord came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart” he didn’t tell his parents about it etc. then in verse 19 it says the say this time I regards to Samson striking the thirty men. God used the lion to begin to show Samson his strength. Gods plan in action! Proverbs 19:21

  2. Beth Meagher says:

    The word heifer is part of a metaphor.
    ‘Plow with my heifer’ refers to the plowing of a field with live stock. They enriched themselves (or prevented their loss) by working through his wife. Also, consider the idea that God knew Samson would rebel in this way and allowed it to happen to achieve something greater. Consistent with why he does not stop us from bad decisions but can use those situations for our good and his glory. Just some personal musings…

  3. Gina says:

    The bible says God actually planned for Samson to marry the Philistine. So I’m not sure why that is called disobedience. The worst part in the NIV version, I think, is that he called his wife a heifer….lol!

    1. Merrilyn Tan says:

      Noticed quite a bit of confusion in many of the messages left by the sisters for the devotional, so I thought I could share some insights I got from reading Judges 14. Not sure if any of you will still get to see this as I am quite behind everyone in schedules. These were some of my reflections before I read the editor’s interpretation.

      When I read vv 4, 6, 19, “from the Lord” and “the spirit of the Lord came upon Him”, I remember the countless examples in the Bible whereby God’s people went on to do what was foolish and defiant in God’s eyes with the gifts given by God to pursue their own interest instead of God’s glory, even though God’s spirit was with them. One example could be King Saul, where God’s spirit eventually left him as he persisted in doing his own ways and serving his own interest. I feel the description of “this was from the Lord” was more that the foolish act was permitted by God so that His will is done, just like how it happened with Judah, the priests and Pontius Pilate in the crucifixion and salvation by Lord Jesus Christ later. The salvation by Christ Jesus was from the Lord, but the disobedience and sin of the people who brought about it was on them.

      It is by the mercy, grace and sovereignty of God that His way proceeds even with our foolishness, and that is his ultimate wisdom and love for us – you can read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, I was greatly humbled and comforted by this!

      It is a good reminder for myself as I read Samson’s story, that I who is set apart for God (just as Samson was as a Nazirite) and given spiritual gifts can so easily walk away from God and use all these blessings in such self-serving ways. I can only give thanks to God that my acts of worshipping myself and other idols in my life had not succeeded in deterring God’s plan for the world and the people He has placed around me.

  4. Brittany Stone says:

    Actually Samson’s marriage was God designed…. If you read the scripture it was God’s plan. So Samson was not being disobedient. Matthew Henry; Here, I. Samson, under the extraordinary guidance of Providence, seeks an occasion of quarrelling with the Philistines, by joining in affinity with them—a strange method, but the truth is Samson was himself a riddle, a paradox of a man, did that which was really great and good, by that which was seemingly weak and evil, “.. I too find this devotional a bit confusing.

  5. Monica Davis says:

    Confusing.

  6. KC Derond says:

    This devotional confused me quite a bit today. At first I thought I just couldn’t fully concentrate, but now that I see others are struggling too, it makes me feel a bit better, haha.

  7. Rebecca Jo says:

    This devotional is a little strange transition to me… “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” … at the beginning we’re talking about how Samson didn’t have good character & choose his own path. hmmm…. this devotional is just confusing to me today :) haha. Maybe my mind is off track. WHERES MY COFFEE???? ;)

    1. Brigetta R says:

      I think when she describes “flashes,” it refers to getting small glimpses of the ways the Lord is working through Samson, which is a nod of Christ to come. I wouldn’t say Samson didn’t have good character, but he relied more on his own strength and pride vs leading the people as a better judge during those times of weakness and anger. That’s what I kinda get…I hope you found some delicious coffee!

    2. Jessica Diaz says:

      I found it a little confusing as well =)

    3. Elisa Graf says:

      I felt so too but I can really recommend a video that explains the role of the Holy Spirit in it. It’s made by the Bible project & called „judges“ you can find it on YouTube:)

  8. Amy Videon says:

    Is Samson choosing a Philistine woman sinful when it was from the Lord (v. 4). I’m confused by that part of the devotional?

    1. Jennifer says:

      I had that same question as I was reading it?

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