A fully updated edition of Spurgeon’s morning and evening devotional The Interpreter using the ESV.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Year One, July 14

He Will Send Them a Savior and Defender1
Israel sinned again. This time they fell under the control of the Philistines. But God did not forget his people. He raised up another champion to defend them. An angel appeared to Manoah and his wife, telling them they would have a son who would deliver Israel. In due time, his promise was fulfilled by the birth of Samson. We include some of the events of his life beginning with
Judges 14
1Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.”
The history of this strongest of men begins with an act of weakness. His whole life is damaged by the same fault rising up over and over. His unusually developed physical nature made him the easy victim of his passions. If any of us are as athletic as he was, we are probably enticed by the same temptations that captured him. His faith in God was clearly his strong point, but his physical strength carried an unguarded spot in his character, and that turned out to be his downfall.
3But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” (It must always grieve parents who have high spiritual standards to see their children marrying ungodly persons. No good can possibly come of it. It is very damaging to the soul, and usually leads to heart breaking experiences. Surely there are enough good people in the church of God without our looking to the synagogue of Satan for a spouse.) But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” (Too often, this is the only reason men will give or can give for the path they follow. It is the worst reason in the world. What pleases our flesh, usually hurts our spirit. Let us never be slaves to our physical nature. Instead, let us be controlled by clear thinking and spiritual understanding.)
4His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At the time the Philistines ruled over Israel.
They were not aware that God intended to use this incident to force Samson into a quarrel with the tormentors of his country.
5Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. (A supernatural power was given to Samson. The strong lion was no match for his unarmed strength. But he did not brag about it. He seems to have understood that his great strength was a gift from God and not for his own glory. This was a warm-up exercise for him. It was a good test of his strength before his great battles with the enemy. Like David, he learned to fight Philistines by first fighting animals.) 7Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes.
8After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. (Samson remembered the spot where he killed the lion and stopped to look at it and thank the Lord for delivering him. His memory brought about a reward, because that’s where he found the honey. It is good for us to look back on times when we have been in trouble and God has been merciful to us. It helps us learn how easily the Lord can turn our terrors into pleasures.
“Thus the lion yields us honey;
From the eater food is given.”2)
9He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion. (He did not say anything about what happened. Great doers are very often little talkers. Dr. Kitto very properly remarks:3 “The whole story of the lion is mentioned in the sacred history, not merely as an event, but because of the circumstances that grew out of it. Samson, doubtless, performed many mighty feats which are not recorded; the only ones mentioned are the ones that directly influenced the course of his history and brought him more or less into collision with the Philistines. No one would have thought that out of this slaughter of the lion, and finding a swarm of bees in the carcass—occurring, as it did, while the hero was engaged in forming friendly relations with the Philistines—would result in the act of his destroying energies being used against the oppressors of Israel. But so it came to pass. The most unlikely agents—lions, bees, honeycombs—may become the instruments of accomplishing the purposes of God, and of leading or driving a man to his appointed task, when he is not even thinking about it.”)
10His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. (These thirty men, who acted like they were his good friends, were probably spies sent to keep an eye on Samson. The friendship of Philistines should always be mistrusted.)  12And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14And he said to them,
“Out of the eater came something to eat.
   Out of the strong came something sweet.”
And in three days they could not solve the riddle.
15On the fourth4 day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us.” (The wedding festivities stirred up bitterness. How can we hope things will go well if we join the unregenerate5 on their level? Samson was acting very wrongly in all this, but God was intentionally using it to make him the opponent of the Philistines, and the champion of the Israelites.)
 16And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?”
17She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
And he said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
   you would not have found out my riddle.”
Here he began to learn that a heathen wife was not to be trusted. How could he expect that someone who worshipped a false god, would be true to him! How sad it was that he did not benefit from this experience.)
19And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. (These garments were the kind only wealthy people would have. Samson must have dealt the Philistines a heavy blow. The loss of thirty men of such high standing and influence would be great.) In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
God used Samson as his executioner of Philistines, but he himself was stung sharply for his thoughtless actions that led up to it. His foolish love affair brought him no happiness. He looked for love, but found deceit and desertion. It is very unsafe for anyone to let their weaker passions guide them. Sooner or later sinful joys will sour into miseries. Let us never take the risks that Samson did. Let his shipwrecked life be a warning signal to us. 
1 Isaiah 19:20
2 Author unknown. This poem appears in an article titled The Honeycomb dated 1866 by Rev. Cornelius Elven.
3 Dr. John Kitto (1801-1900) in Daily Bible Illustrations, Volume 2
4 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew seventh. Also seventh in King James Version
5 unregenerate - Unbelievers. Persons who are not born again.

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