OceanSide church of Christ

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Lesson #13


The First Conflict with the Philistines (7)

Judges 14:1-20

Victor M. Eskew



I.             THE REQUEST FOR A WIFE (Judg. 14:1-4)


II.           THE RENDING OF A LION (Jugd. 14:5-9).


III.         THE RIDDLE OF SAMSON (Judg. 14:10-18)


A.   The Feast (Judg. 14:10-11).

B.   The Fun (Judg. 14:12-14a).

1.    The Conditions (Judg. 14:12-13)


2.    The Conundrum (Judg. 14:14a)


And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness…


a.    For us, the riddle is simple.  It involves the honey that Samson found in the carcass of the lion he had killed.

b.    Two lessons:

1)    Samson had no guilt for his sin.

2)    Samson was not a just man in his dealings with others.

a)    There is no way for the 30 men to know the riddle.

-      “But instead he poses a riddle.  And no ordinary riddle, but rather one that he knows there is no chance of them solving:  for this is not a riddle based on something they already know, or a puzzle of logic that they can think through” (Grossman, 66).

-      “…it was a difficult riddle, so difficult, in fact, that you wonder why the guests accepted the bet” (Butler, 78).

b)    Samson knew that he was a sure winner.  This was not a fair contest.  The odds were stacked against the Philistines.

c)    Leviticus 19:36; Proverbs 11:1


A false balance is abomination to the Lord:  but a just weight is his delight.


3.    The Confounded (Judg. 14:14b)


And they could not in three days expound the riddle.


a.    Two things may have been present during these three days.

1)    The constant annoyance of Samson as he asks them for an answer.

2)    The growing frustration and anger of the Philistines because they cannot solve the riddle.

b.    When frustration, lack of character, and a drinking party come together, there is a perfect storm for trouble.

4.    The Coercion (Judg. 14:15)


And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire:  have ye called us to take that we have?  Is it not so?


a.    The Demand:  “…Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle…”

1)    The appealed unto Samson’s wife as a fellow Philistine.  They expected and insisted on her cooperation.

2)    Entice

a)    Strong (6601):  to open, be roomy

b)    BDB:  to be spacious, open, entice, deceive, persuade

b.    The Duress:  “…lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire…”

1)    There was little doubt that these wicked men would do as they threatened.

2)    Their threat reveals their value system.

a)    They put more value on a suit of clothes than their own honesty.

b)    They put more value on a suit of clothes than on the lives of others.

3)    Threats are convincing for many reasons.

a)    The type of threat:  burning

b)    Who is threatened:  self and family

c.    The Declaration:  “…have ye called us to take that we have?  Is it not so?

1)    These men had formulated a plot to excuse their evil actions.

2)    The bride’s family had called them to the wedding feast. 

3)    If they did not do as directed, they would be charged with having conspired with Samson in order to take their clothing from them.

5.    The Crying (Judg. 14:16-17a)


And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not:  thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me.  And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?  And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted…


a.    The crying:  “And Samson’s wife wept before him…”

1)    “Samson’s wife resorted to a frequent practice of women to get their way – she shed tears…” (Butler, 81).

2)    Her crying

a)    Embarrassed Samson

b)    Dimmed the joys of the feast

c)    Appealed to Samson’s vulnerability

b.    The charge:  “…and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not…”

1)    The charge was false!

2)    The same charge could have been made against his wife.  She did not love Samson by seeking to entice him to tell the riddle for the sake of her people.

3)    He gives her proof that her charge was false.

a)    Not only had he not told her, but he had not told his parents.

b)    Luke Wisemen:  “To an Oriental, while yet young and newly married, his parents are his first confidence, and his wife only second” (as quoted by Butler, 80).

c.    The constancy:  “And she wept before him the seven days, while the feast lasted…”

1)    There is a power in constant nagging and crying (Prov. 27:15).


A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

2)    Samson weighed the cost.  Is it worth 30 sheets and 30 changes of clothes to get her to be quiet?

6.    The Concession (Judg. 14:17b)


…and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him…


a.    Lay sore

1)    Strong (6693):  to compress, oppress, distress

2)    Thayer:  to constrain, press, bring into straits, straiten, oppress

b.    The constant crying and badgering worked.

1)    Some call this weakness; others call it wisdom.

2)    He waited till the seventh day to tell her. 

a)    Perhaps he thought the secret could survive one day.

b)    Perhaps he thought that his love for her should express a trust in her to keep the secret.

7.    The Communication (Judg. 14:17c)


…and she told the riddle to the children of her people.


a.    Butler calls her a “wicked betrayer!”

b.    But, remember her life and the lives of her family were at stake.

c.    Butler:  “But though the threat was indeed great, it still did not justify betrayal; for character is much more important than life” (p. 82).

8.    The Champions (Judg. 14:18a)


And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey?  And what is stronger than a lion?


a.    With the answer in hand, the Philistines were not ashamed to make it known and win the bet.

b.    Only two people knew the answer to the riddle.  Samson had not revealed it.  This left only one person as guilty.

c.    One can almost feel the anger of Samson starting to be kindled at this point.

9.    The Cheating (Judg. 14:18b)


And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out the riddle.


a.    There are possibly three things that caused Samson’s anger to boil.

1)    The evil of the Philistine men

2)    The betrayal of his wife

3)    The laconic (few words) way the riddle is expressed.

a)    Samson viewed his deed as something great and to be proud of.

b)    “Samson senses that the secret he holds so dear, the secret that expresses his uniqueness, his choseness, has been sullied and diminished, turned almost into a joke, into something that can be distilled into a glib one-liner that sounds like a jingle, instantly transforming a treasure into a worn-out currency, cheap gossip that any ‘townsperson’ can pass along to his pals, even if he doesn’t actually understand what is concealed within it” (Grossman, 78).

b.    His words explained

1)    Heifers were young female cows that were not used for plowing.

2)    “Samson is bluntly saying, ‘You have used my wife wrongly, and you are gutless cowards for doing so!’” (Gluchoski, 36).