Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lessons from the Life of Samson: The Lion and the Honey

"Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him." - Judges 14:5

At this point in our narrative, Samson travels south to find for himself a wife among the Philistines, but as we have already read: "His father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines." (Judges 14:4) The Lord was bringing this young man into his future as a judge of Israel; and as it eventually turned out, Samson would lead the Israelites for twenty years.

But on the road to Timnah the devil attempts to kill him before it has a chance to happen (for the enemy of God was much pleased with the occupation and bondage of the apple of God's eye, and didn't want Samson to spoil it). We read in verse 5, "...a young lion roared against him." Satan is the master of preemptive striking, and typically endeavors to eliminate opposition in advance of any real trouble. That is how it is in our own lives. The devil tries to suppress the individual with his basic arsenal of pleasure, worries and wealth, killing whatever possible maturation exists. Jesus likened it to seed among thorns: "Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain." (Mark 4:7) God desires for you to bear much fruit for the Kingdom, but are you being "roared against"?

"And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done."
(Judges 14:6)

There are two things about this passage I would like to point out:

First, that Samson defeated the lion with nothing in his hand; that his weapons were purely of a spiritual nature. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Without the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him we can be sure that Samson would have been torn to mincemeat in seconds before that ferocious foe. How many Christians are overpowered and trampled upon day after day by the world, the flesh and the devil because they fail to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit? They choose to take up a weapon in their hand, a carnal security, and lean not upon the power of God to win the day. Martin Luther wrote it well in this famous hymn when describing our enemy:

For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal

But although our adversaries are indeed mighty, the weapons of our warfare are indeed mightier, and well able to tear down every stronghold, silence every roaring lion, and rend every opponent of Christ asunder as if simply rending a 'kid'.

Secondly, and I notice this with great interest, that Samson does not tell his father or mother what he has done. After just ripping a lion apart with his bare hands, you would think he would be anxious to boast of such an amazing feat to anyone and everyone! Christians today love to boast; we want to have the prominent place at the head of the table. We love telling about our secret times of prayer, our donations, our Bible readings... Have we so failed to understand Jesus' warning in the first verse of the sixth chapter of Matthew? "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." When I get to heaven I want the magnitude of my good deeds to be those which no one else has ever seen but God. Sadly, most people do not think eternally but temporarily. The act of killing a lion in such a way is far more extraordinary than the things most of us have to boast for, and yet Samson remains silent. This reveals a tremendous quality of character in the man that we may so often overlook.

"And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion."
(Judges 14:8-9)

Some time later Samson returns and discovers a bees nest creating honey inside the carcass of the fallen beast, whereby he treats himself and his parents to a sweet dessert. This was certainly a pleasant surprise as honey was one of the few natural saccharines in Israel, commonly associated with the sweetness of the Word of God (see Psalm 119:103). What makes this even more special is that Samson knew God had promised Israel a land "flowing with milk and honey", and this might have been God's way of encouraging Samson and giving him hope by allowing him a small taste, or foreshadow, of the days to come.

God used the attack for good, turning the devil's scheme into an opportunity to bless Samson. "Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Genesis 50:20) Is there a raging lion in your own life? Do not despair or run away in fear, for if you stand strong throughout the night God will certainly reward you with His delectable honey when morning gilds the skies! And you will be able to bless others, for the greatest blessings come from the greatest battles; and when they taste the sweet anointing welling up from within they will wonder, like his parents, where you acquired such wisdom and virtue.

Having now discovered his strength, Samson was prepared for the coming encounter with the deceitful Philistines at the feast in Timnah which would ignite a long and bloody war between him and Israel's oppressors. It was all part of the unfolding plan of God...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, I was just reading the same passage this morning.

Anonymous said...

Just a curiosity... the story of Samson is from Judges, correct? In the post the only thing I'm confused with is if the story of Samson is from the old testament, which was before Christ was born. Your statement that Samson does not tell his parents and that we would think that he would want to boast. YOu say, and I totally agree, that Christians love to boast. But was Samson a Christian? If he lived before the time God gave us his son and our Savior Jesus, how can Samson be a Christian? Wouldn't he be Jewish and maybe Jews are less boastful than what we have become. Just a thought...

Eli said...

Hi Bert,

Thanks for the good question. You are absolutely right, the story of Samson is found in the Old Testament, the book of Judges, chapters 13-16.

If there was any confusion I apologize, for I did not mean to insue that Samson was a Christian. That term is specifically used for followers of Jesus since the early church days (Acts 11:26).

That being said, maybe this would be an appropriate time to talk a little bit about what exactly is a Christian and what is a Jew. First of all remember that Jesus Christ existed at the beginning before anything was made, so He does not have an exclusively NT role (Colossians 1:15-20). Jesus was also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), not 2000 years ago, meaning His blood was available to both Old and New Testament alike. They looked ahead by faith to His coming and we look back by faith to Him being come.

The term "Jew" just means "God praiser", from the word "Judah" meaning "praise". Paul says it well like this:

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Romans 2:28-29)

Modern translations make a mistake when they change the last line from "of" to "from". They think Paul is saying God praises Jew but really the passage means the Jew praises God. Read it carefully and you'll see what I mean. It should sound more like this: "Whose praise is not [for] men but [for] God."

Therefore Samson was a Jew and so are you and I if we call ourselves Christians. We are grafted into the vine and are now part of the family of God (Romans 11). We did nothing to deserve it, but God in His mercy brought salvation to the Gentiles. Therefore rejoice in the fact that we are now accepted and called God praisers, with all those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart!

Again, thanks for the comment brother. May the Word of God dwell in you richly.

Bless the Lord!
In Christ,

Anonymous said...

great article brother.


TaylorW said...

awesome post, I learned alot!
God used it to speak to me....