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First Marriage Attempt
Bible Passage Judges 14: 1-20
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & books Deuteronomy, Judges.

Samson’s First Marriage Attempt

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached April 26, 2023

1 A while later, Samson went down to Timnah and observed a woman in Timnah who was of Philistine origin.

2 Then he returned and told his father and mother, “In Timnah I saw a woman of Philistine origin.” He ordered them, “Get her for me as a wife. Now!”

3 His father and mother asked him, “Isn’t there a woman suitable among the daughters of your relatives or among all of our people, since you’re going to get your wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson retorted to his father, “Get her for me, since she looks fine to me.”

4 Meanwhile, his father and mother did not know that she was from the LORD, because he had been seeking a favorable opportunity concerning the Philistines, since the Philistines were dominating Israel at that time.

5 Then Samson went down in the direction of Timnah with his father and mother and arrived as far as the vineyards of Timnah. And—surprise!—a young lion came roaring at him!

6 The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he ripped the lion apart as one might dissect a young goat, even though he carried nothing in his hand. But he didn’t tell his father and mother what he had done.

7 Then he went down and talked to the woman, and she looked fine to Samson.

8 When he came back later to marry her, he turned aside to observe the lion’s carcass. Amazingly, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, complete with honey.

9 So he scraped some out into his hands and went on his way, eating all the while. When he met his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they ate it, too. But he didn’t inform them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

10 Later on, when his father went down to visit the woman, Samson threw a party there, since young men customarily did this.

11 When they saw him, they brought 30 companions to accompany him.

12 “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson told them. “If you can solve it during this week-long festival, I’ll give you 30 linen garments and 30 formal garments.

13 But if you don’t solve it, then you’ll give me 30 linen garments and 30 formal garments.” “Tell us your riddle and we’ll solve it,” they responded.

14 So he told them: From the eater came something edible; from the strong something sweet. For three days they couldn’t solve the riddle.

15 The next day, they told Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband to explain the riddle or we’ll set fire to your father’s house—with you in it! You’ve invited us here to make us paupers, haven’t you?”

16 So Samson’s wife cried in front of him and accused him, “You only hate me. You don’t love me. You’ve told a riddle to my relatives, but you haven’t told the solution to me.” Samson responded, “Look, I haven’t told my parents, either. Why should I tell you?”

17 So she kept on crying in front of him for the entire seven days of the wedding party. On the seventh day he told the solution to her because she nagged him, and then she told the solution to the riddle to her relatives.

18 Then the men of the city answered him just before sunset on the seventh day: “What’s sweeter than honey? What’s stronger than lions?” Samson responded, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer you wouldn’t have solved my riddle.”

19 Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, killed 30 men, took their belongings, and gave the garments to those who had told him the solution to the riddle. He remained furious, left for his father’s house,

20 and Samson’s wife went to the best man at his wedding.


So dominant were the Philistines in Israel, that the Israelites had decided to live with them peacefully rather than try to rise up in armed rebellion.
Usually, parents arranged marriages. Samson caused his parent’s shock when he wanted to marry an ‘unclean’ person. They considered the Philistines as if they were ‘dirty’. This was because the Philistines were ‘uncircumcised’.

Samson had other ideas. He thought that his marriage to a Philistine woman would give him the opportunity to do some harm to the enemy (verses 1-4).

Samson went to arrange the marriage. On the way, he killed a lion.

Because he was a Nazirite, he was not expected to touch a dead body. He probably did not think that the promise was important. He touched the body and he ate the honey. This meant that he did not obey the promise then.

In spite of Samson’s desire to help Israel, he had little respect for either his Nazirite vow or the Israelite law. He handled a dead lion, married a Philistine woman, and joined in the customary wine-drinking feasts of the Philistines (verse 5-10; compare Deut 7:1-3).

The wedding feast was organized at the bride’s house. This was unusual. It was usual to have it at the bridegroom’s house. It lasted 7 days. The bride and bridegroom would not usually have sex until after the meal had ended. In that way, they would make the marriage complete. The Philistines gave a group of 30 men to Samson. These men would be his companions during the meal. Also, they had to keep people out that the hosts had not invited.

His opportunity to harm the Philistines came quickly and unexpectedly during his wedding feast. Through the deceit of his wife, he lost a bet with thirty of her Philistine friends (verses 11-18).

The men did not know the answer to Samson’s difficult question. Then they said they intended to do something bad to Samson’s wife. They would do it if she did not persuade Samson to tell them the answer. Finally, after much difficulty and tears, she managed to persuade him. She told the men. Then the men came to Samson and they told him the answer. This was his reply. ‘If you had not plowed with my cow, you would not know the answer now.’ For ‘cow’, the writer uses the word ‘heifer’ (a young female cow). Usually, people did not use the female to plow. Samson was using a special description here. He meant that they had been asking his wife for the answer.

Samson lost the bet. But he took revenge by killing thirty other Philistines, whose valuables he used to pay off his lost bet. Then, with no more desire to go on with the marriage, he returned home (verses 19-20). The father of Samson’s wife did not want her to suffer shame. So he arranged to marry her to Samson’s best man.

🔷 Family ties and relations is a strong institution that must be upheld and encouraged to progress

🔷 God can decide to ride on your sins and turn things around for the better for you

🔷 We must choose carefully whom we want to marry, so we do not look only at physical beauty

🔷 Strength, power, authority, and victory come from God

💥 Pray for your marriage
💥 Ask God to direct your ways and choices

God used Samson to send a signal to the Philistines to end their dominion over the Israelites. Though Samson disobeyed the laws of his people, God mercifully gave him victory here.

In series Bright Morning Reflections