Relationships – Samson and his Lady Friends

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions.
“Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.”
“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”
He replied,
“Out of the eater, something to eat;
    out of the strong, something sweet.”
For three days they could not give the answer.
On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?”
Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.
Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him,
“What is sweeter than honey?
    What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
    you would not have solved my riddle.”
Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.

  • Judges 14:1-20

Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.
“I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”
Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.
When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.”
So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

  • Judges 15:1-8

One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”
But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

  • Judges 16:1-23

A Quote

[Judges 14:1-4] “The Philistines were not among the seven nations of Canaan which Israel was specifically forbidden to marry. Nonetheless, Samson’s choice was misdirected (cf. v. 3). Samson sins here, although God is sovereign and was able to turn the situation to please Him (v. 4). He was not at a loss, but used the opportunity to work against the wicked Philistines and provided gracious help to His people. He achieved destruction of these people, not by an army, but by the miraculous power of one man.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Samson was passionate and he had an eye for the forbidden fruit.  If he was sleeping around on the Israelite side of the house, it was not a worthy tale to tell in the Bible, but he had at least three women of the Philistines in which he had interest.  He fell in love with a young girl of Timnah.  We never learn her name, but Samson wanted to marry her.  During the week-long wedding feast, he makes a wager.  His wife’s family is threatened, and she cajoles Samson into explaining the riddle.  Samson had no money to make good on the bet, so he mugged Philistines to get the clothing that the bet required.  The father offered his younger daughter, but Samson refused.  The revenge story is not copied, but Samson burns their crops by capturing foxes, tying their tails in pairs and placing lit torches on their tails.  Then he escapes into Judah.  Judah betrays him, but then he grabs the jawbone of a donkey (or ass, as we do not know whether this bone was from a tame or wild animal), and he kills a thousand Philistines or more.

Then, some time later, he visited a prostitute.  The town’s men laid in wait to attack, but Samson ripped off the gates of the city.

Then Samson falls for Delilah.  She does the same thing that his wife had done.  She is after wealth and power rather than protection of her family, but as Samson tells falsehoods about the source of his strength to play with her, he knows what she is up to.  He eventually tells her the truth.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

As most scholars will state, for being a Nazarite and set apart for a special mission for God, Samson lived a sinful life with regard to sexual morality. But God used his impulses to gain a victory over the Philistines and keep them at a distance for a time.  They again become prominent in the days of King Saul.

We can also infer that Samson had an eye for the exotic.  The girls of Dan were just silly neighborhood girls, but the Philistine women were exotic.  They had that special look that attracted him.

But did he love these women?  The prostitute was obviously a one-night stand, and what saved Samson from a fierce battle was the fact that it did not even last all night.  Judges 14 says that he liked his wife.  Judges 16 states that he fell in love with Delilah.  It may simply mean that he was attracted to that type of a look – all superficial.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

With three short stories of “romance” with Samson, a story of revenge, and the story of God granting Samson with strength once again to kill everyone, and himself, in a Philistine temple, the story of Samson ends with him leading the people of Israel for twenty years.  Often we read these stories as sequential and the three stories could have only taken a couple of months, but there were probably many instances of Samson’s strength coming into play.  As mentioned before, Samson could have had liaisons with women throughout the twenty years that were not noteworthy for the Bible.  These stories showed strength beyond what a normal human could muster.  As Rev. MacArthur said, victory not by an army, but by one man given miraculous strength.

What is probably unfair in a gap being filled is Samson’s retort to the Philistines that “solved” his riddle.  He said they would have never gotten the answer without “plowing my heifer.”  These days, plowing one’s heifer is a euphemism for having sex in many circles.  A heifer is a cow that has never produced a calf.  Thus, in human circles it could mean a virgin.  The text does not suggest anything sexual here.  She was told that her family would suffer, and she was protecting them.  There could have been sexual contact there, but from what is in Scripture, we can leave that out of our gap filling.

And while we are on the subject of week-long marriage ceremonies, my boss and I had the privilege of attending a wedding in India.  Our company’s sales manager had married a teacher at the missionary school in the city with a steel mill.  They had the main ceremony in Kolkata before we arrived to teach one and a half weeks of training.  When we left for the steel mill, the sales manager and his wife were with us in a private car on the train.  That night we met most of the people from the missionary school and a few relatives that were there.  So, in some cultures, the wedding ceremony could last longer than a week.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

We quickly learn that God’s will can even be performed through sinful man, even unwittingly.

As far as relationships are concerned, the trust that has been mentioned in previous relationship discussions needs to be a two-way proposition.  Samson trusted his wife, but she only cared about protecting her family.  Samson knew that he could not trust Delilah.  Was it God saying, “Not again?!  Enough is enough.”  Was Samson testing God?  God led him to great battles after the first betrayal, but with the second betrayal, God allowed the Philistines to rob Samson of his strength.

And we learn from that story, if God has commissioned us, called us, guided us to do something, belittling and betraying God’s protection over us will end disastrously.  Samson’s hair was part of the Nazarite ceremony and means of being set apart.  By telling Delilah this, he lost his strength by belittling the ordinances of God.  The cutting of the hair was simply symbolic at that point.

Thus, in our relationship with God, we can trust God, but we should try, through God’s power given to us, to be trustworthy in return.  Repeated sin shows a lack of trust in God to remove that problem, and that weakens our growth in faith.  We all seem to have that one problem that hangs on, and I seem to have more of those than most.  Then again, I stay in the Word enough for God to keep reminding me that I still have a long journey ahead.

But before we get off the subject of Samson’s love affairs, it says in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to not be yoked with unbelievers.  The King James says “unequally yoked.”  People have, for centuries, condemned marriages among different races due to this verse, ignoring that the verse is specific about unbelievers and believers.  This color barrier does not seem to be there with the present generations, but there is still a deep-rooted lack of trust.  As racial tensions get worse, there is less trust and more of a divide.  Yet, DNA testing of male Y chromosomes, only found in males, show that skin color is scattered over the entire spectrum, leaving most modern geneticists to not consider skin color as a factor, leaving “races” as an archaic term that is meaningless.  We are all part of the human race.

But an unbeliever will drag down the believer to their level rather than the opposite – in most cases.  My wife had the head knowledge, and her actions were generally good, loving her neighbor better than I ever could.  But she had issues with giving to the church, daily prayers, and Bible studies, etc. until God got her attention in 2000.  We had battles on those fringe issues which led to our boys getting mixed signals.  But we have many Catholic / Presbyterian marriages in our present church.  Some work out that only one parent takes the children to their church, but in a few cases, they attend both services.  With my maternal grandparents, one was Primitive Baptist and the other Methodist.  They each felt that they would go to Hell by stepping into the other’s church.  For the most part, my MauMau attended occasionally and my PauPau never went, thinking that the Southern Baptist churches in town were full of Hell-going folk.  While the NIV focuses 2 Corinthians 6:14 on strictly Christian:Unbeliever, the KJV, by mentioning unequally yoked takes it a step further to people who are at far distant points in their walk of faith (or vastly different denominations with unbiblical views).  Maybe the KJV is too strong of a point, not intended by the Apostle Paul, but I have seen strife in that area.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  Help us to find ways in which we can love one another rather than finding ways in not doing so.  Let us always be mindful of being trustworthy toward each other and to You..
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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