Samson wanted to marry a young Philistine woman. This was an unusual decision for a Nazirite, set apart for God, who would have been expected to marry a fellow Israelite. However, God had orchestrated this. He ‘was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines’ (v.4). The Philistines had conquered Israel and were ruling over it.
A young lion attacked Samson, while he was on the way to visit the woman, and he tore it apart with his bare hands. The Spirit of the Lord had come upon him and given him supernatural strength.
He visited the woman again later to marry her and noticed a swarm of bees was now living in the lion’s rotting carcass and had produced honey. You can see a picture of this on a Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin – which is a strange logo as dead lion honey doesn’t seem very hygienic.
Samson asked thirty companions a riddle about the honey in the dead lion: ‘Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet’ (v.15). Of course, they had no idea what he was talking about and so they threatened Samson’s wife to find out the meaning of the riddle. She cried and pestered Samson for seven days who eventually told her. He now owed the people who knew the meaning of the riddle thirty sets of clothes, so in fury he killed 30 other Philistines and stripped them to pay his debt. Samson went back to his parental home leaving his wife behind, who was given to his ‘friend’.
To take revenge for the loss of his wife, Samson deployed three hundred foxes tied together in pairs with burning torches attached to their tails. They set the corn fields, the vineyards and the olive groves of the Philistines on fire. The violence kept escalating. The Philistines killed his wife and father-in-law and so Samson slaughtered many of them and then took up residence in a cave. Three thousand Israelites from the town of Judah went to arrest Samson to hand him over to the Philistines. When the Philistines came shouting towards him, the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson in power. The ropes on his arms became charred and dropped off. He grabbed the fresh jaw-bone of a donkey and killed a thousand men. Samson called on God for water and a miraculous spring started flowing. Samson then led the Israelites for twenty years.
What can we learn from this extraordinary story? God can arrange circumstances to that people act as agent provocateur – breaking deadlocks and the status quo, causing a massive upheaval in society. Change might require actual bloody conflict. The Spirit of the Lord can give supernatural strength and release us from bondage. Incidentally, demonic forces can mimic this. Some possessed people have to be held down by up to six strong men, when they are being exorcised, due to their phenomenal strength. When we have served God and won a great victory, he will listen to our prayers and provide the necessities of life.
When we believe in Jesus, ask him to come into our lives and are baptized, the Holy Spirit will take up residence in us. He will free us from bondage the more we turn to him and ask him to lead our lives. God will quench our spiritual thirst with streams of supernatural living water.
The Jews were amazed at the content of Jesus’ teaching. This was original teaching direct from God. Jesus was not reciting lessons he had learned from a human at a university. Jesus was quick to give the glory to God, ‘my teaching is not my own’ (v.16).
We need to make sure we are working for the honour of God and not working to gain honour for ourselves.
Jesus pointed out that not a single Jew kept the law. They said they followed the law of Moses but they still carried out circumcisions on a Sabbath day – the day on which no work should be carried out. If they did important religious work on a Sabbath, then Jesus should be allowed to heal a whole person on a Sabbath.
Jesus said he would go to the one who sent him (in heaven). They would look for him, but not find him and where he had gone, they could not come (v.34).
When we believe in Jesus, streams of living water will flow from within us (v.38). The Holy Spirit living within the temple of our baptized body is the stream of living water. As we pray in tongues, his perfect prayer will gush out of us to edify us and intercede for others. It is wonderful to know that God is living within us and to be able to demonstrate this at will.
People were divided about Jesus. Some were confused due to a lack of knowledge. They thought he was just Galilean, ignorant of the fact he was born in Bethlehem in accordance with prophecy. Jesus still divides the world today. Some want to seize hold of the gift of eternal life he holds out to us; others still want to persecute him and his followers. We have to decide which side we are on.
‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise’ (v.30).
We all have to be engaged on sowing and reaping, trying to win souls for God.
When people give us constructive criticism, we should embrace it.
We can be justly proud of our husband or wife if they are of noble character. If they aren’t yet, let us pray for them to stop them being ‘like decay in our bones’ (12:4).
Once wicked and deceitful people have been overthrown, they are no more (v.7).
The Lord condemns crafty people (v.2). If we are righteous, our plans are just, we obtain favour from the Lord, our speech rescues us and we cannot be uprooted. Our fruit is a tree of life (v.30). We will stand firm (v.7).
‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16).