Samson's only wife was a woman from Timnah. She caught his eye one day, and that was all she wrote! He told his parents to do what they could to make this marriage happen. “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” (Judges 14:1-2)
His parents objected but ultimately acquiesced. They didn't realize that God was orchestrating this connection so that he could ultimately deliver Israel from the Philistines. (Judges 14:4)
Samson's parents were well intentioned, provided guidance. However, they weren't aware of the details of God's plan for Samson's life. They probably thought that since he was a Nazarite that what they were suggesting made sense. But I also noticed they didn't put up a real fight and they went along with his decision. His parents were at the celebration.
For brevity, the following happened (Judges 14:5-19):
On the way to Timnah for wedding preparations, he killed a lion.
On the second trip to Timnah for the wedding, he ate honey from the dead lion's carcass.
At the wedding celebration, he told a riddle based on his exploits with the lion that no one could figure out.
On the fourth day, the Philistines still couldn't figure out Samson's riddle.
The Philistines told her to entice her husband - Samson. so they could solve the riddle.
His wife wore him down until he gave her the answer which she then told to the Philistines.
"If you hadn't plowed with my heifer you wouldn't have solved my riddle." (Judges 14:18) To me, this sounds like a derogatory view of his wife. This would be consistent since throughout his life he didn't seem to have great respect for women; they were only good for one thing. But this statement also indicates that she was more willing to oblige others than her husband. In trying to keep her people happy she lost her husband and ultimately her life. Samson didn't know how to communicate with his wife or manage himself (i.e. he had no self-control).
And then he got angry.
He used his strength to kill 30 men, then went back home to his parent's house. He left his wife.
It's unfortunate, but his wife became the best man's wife without Samson's knowledge. At some point, Samson decided he wants to go back to his wife only to discover she is no longer his. All he has is his strength so one thing leads to another and his wife is killed as an act of vengeance. (Judges 15)
Now he's angry again and when he's angry he's strong.
He escapes, is captured and returned, pretends to be subdued, releases himself and uses, his strength to kill 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. After this eventful start, he judged Israel for 20 years. During the course of his leadership, we meet his other liaisons - a prostitute and then Delilah. We don't know why Samson never married again, but he may have been employing the adage, "Once bitten, twice shy." This was not clear thinking and was not the best choice, as we will see.
So he spent a night with a prostitute and then he fell in love with Delilah. (Judges 16:4-22)
Delilah was more upfront than his first wife - she specifically wanted to know the source of his strength so that she could tell the Philistines. She was honest and did not have his best interest at heart. Samson knew this and probably thought he could outsmart her - but she wears him down by nagging him, literally to his death. Three times he gave her different scenarios because he was a bit of a prankster, and three times she tried. By the fourth time, he finally tells her the source of his strength. Delilah must have been real good because she was persistent. This is when we wonder about Samson's intellect because Delilah was clear in her mission, but Samson seemed to be blinded by lust and perhaps an over-reliance on his strength.
Samson had a gift but he didn't seem to know how to use it wisely. He didn't develop it, he just knew he had it. It was a good way to get out of trouble or toy with people. In spite of Samson's woman trouble, he was able to have the presence of mind to judge/lead Israel for 20 years. He had strength in leadership, God-given strength and a weakness for women. What a combination.
But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. Proverbs 6:32
What can you learn from Samson's choices in women?
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