[b]Lessons from the Life of Samson: The Lion and the Honey[/b]
by Eli Brayley
"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 existent. 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 subdued?
"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 and fiendish foe. How many Christians are overpowered and trampled upon day after day after day by the world, the flesh and the devil because they fail to be filled with the Holy Spirit of promise? 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...
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon