After a month of Bible stories of love and romance, we jump ship and go in the opposite direction. During March we’ll look at Wicked Women in the Bible, starting off with Samson’s wife.
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The Story of Samson’s Wife
When we hear Samson’s wife, we automatically think Delilah. In fact, however, Samson was married long before he met Delilah, and we have no record of the two of them actually marrying.
In Judges 14 we’re told that Samson went to the Philistine town of Timnah, and while there he saw a Philistine woman who caught his attention. He then went to his parents and told them about her and demanded that they arrange for her to marry him.
They resisted, encouraging him to instead select for a wife a godly Hebrew woman rather than a pagan Philistine.
Samson wasn’t deterred. He insisted, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” (Judges 14:3 NKJV)
Samson convinced his parents to come to Timnah with him to make the arrangements. As Samson came to the vineyards of Timnah, a roaring lion came against him, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, allowing him to tear apart the lion with his bare hands. He didn’t tell anyone what happened, not even his parents.
He continued on his way to talk with the woman, and as he got to know her, she continued to please him.
Time passed. Samson went back to visit her, and on his way, he noticed the lion’s carcass with a swarm of bees and honey within it. He scooped up some honey and ate it along the way. He shared it with his parents but didn’t tell them where came from.
Despite his concerns, Samson’s father made the marriage arrangements and Samson threw a big feast to celebrate. The Philistines brought thirty men to be companions with him at the feast. Wanting to impress them, Samson posed a riddle for them. He made a bet that if they could answer it within the seven days of the festival, he’d give them each new outfits. But if they couldn’t answer, they’d each have to give him a new outfit. They took the challenge.
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet.”Judges 14:14 (NKJV)
For three days they tried to figure it out to no avail. Finally, on the fourth day, they went to Samson’s wife and asked her to entice her husband to explain the riddle to her so that she could tell them. If she didn’t, they threatened to burn her and her father’s house.
So Samson’s wife went to him and pleaded with him to tell her. She wept, accusing him of not loving her if he wasn’t willing to share with her.
His response? I haven’t told my parents, why should I tell you?
This went on for the rest of the feast until the last day when he finally broke down and explained the riddle to her. She then told the Philistines who were able to answer to Samson.
He, of course, knew that his wife had betrayed him.He responded by going to Ashkelon and killed 30 Philistine men, taking their clothing and giving it to the men who’d explained the riddle. Disgusted with his wife, he went back to his parents, and she was given in marriage to his companion who’d been his best man.
You’d think that would be the end of their story, but it’s not.
After Samson calmed down, he went back to Timron to see his wife, but her father wouldn’t permit it, explaining that he thought Samson hated her, so she’d given her to his companion. Her father offered up your younger sister in her place and begged him to take her instead.
Samson retaliated by catching three hundred foxes, attached torches to their tails, and let them loose in the Philistines supply of grain as well as the vineyards and olive groves.
When the Philistines asked who’d done such a thing they were told it was Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, so the Philistines burned up her and her father.
Everything about Samson and his unnamed wife’s story is wrong. Last month we looked at the struggles and the strengths of each couple, and their secrets for success. This couple had plenty of struggles, but few strengths, and their only secrets for success lie in not doing as they did.
Samson and his Philistine wife never understood the meaning of love. Their relationship was based entirely on physical attraction.
They saw each other. They liked what they saw. They jumped into marriage without even really knowing the other one.
Neither of them listened to the warnings of their loved ones. They went against the wisdom of everyone who knew best.
Despite being adults of marrying age, both depended on their parents to handle things for them. Neither took on the responsibilities of marriage.
When the Philistines threatened Samson’s wife with violence if she didn’t help them, she showed her allegiance to them rather than to her husband. She used his attraction to her to coerce him into telling her his secret. She thought in doing so it would protect herself and her family. In the end, however, it ended up being her undoing.
Chances are, you might have a hard time seeing yourself in this story. It’s one of those that is so foreign for our modern minds to try to comprehend.
And yet, we may very well find common ground in Samson’s wife.
First, have we ever made impulse decisions based on worldly pleasures versus spiritual wisdom?
Have we ever acted immaturely, failing to take responsibility for our own actions?
Have we ever disregarded the advice of those who are looking for us?
Have we ever used our womanly allure to entice a man to do something he knew he shouldn’t do?
Have we used tears and manipulation to get our way?
Have we ever betrayed a loved one in order to save ourselves?
It’s not pretty when we look at ourselves through the eyes of women like Samson’s wife. If we’re honest with ourselves, we find so much to be ashamed of. And yet, our story doesn’t have to end the way of her story.
Samson was a Nazarite, a man of God. Had his wife gotten to know him on a deeper level, had she respected him and loved him, what a different life they might have had. Of course, Samson had his own flaws and his own issues to deal with.
Let us each strive to act with wisdom rather than folly, seeking godliness rather than worldliness, and protecting rather than rejecting. May we be wives and women who build up rather than tear down, who calm rather than anger, and who love rather than hate.
Lord God, forgive us this day for all the many ways that we act foolishly. Forgive us those times we fail to listen and barge forward in directions that we know are wrong. Forgive us the many ways we fail those we should be lifting up. Lord, thank you for seeing our many failures and loving us anyway. Thank you, Lord, that whatever we’ve done, it’s not too late to turn to you and start anew. Give us renewed wisdom and guidance. Direct our paths. Help us to flee from those who would lead us astray. Draw us near to you. In Christ’s name we pr
Tune in next week when we look at another unnamed wife, Potiphar’s wife.
Judges 14:1-20, 15:1-7
Bible Study Review
- Who was Samson’s wife?
- Where was she from?
- How did she and Samson meet?
Thoughts to Ponder
- What kind of marriage did Samson and his wife have?
- What character traits led to problems in their marriage?
- How did they each hurt the other one?
- How are you like Samson’s wife?
- Do you have areas of immaturity in your own marriage?
- How loyal are you to your husband?
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