SAMSON’S RIDDLE

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Samson was on his way to meet with the woman from Timnah when a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came on him mightily and he killed the lion with his bare hands. Samson told no one what he had done and proceeded on to meet with the woman from Timnah. After a while he returned and found the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees living in it. He reached in and scraped out some of the honey and ate it. He gave some of the honey to his mother and father, but he still didn’t tell anyone where it came from.

Samson and his father threw a big feast as was customarily done. There were thirty other companions at this feast and Samson took the occasion to propound a riddle. He said if anyone can give me the meaning of the riddle within seven days, I will give him thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. But if not you will owe me the same. They said, tell us the riddle. So Samson said to them,

“Out of the eater came something to eat,

And out of the strong came something sweet.”

But they couldn’t tell the answer in three days.

Then on the fourth day they came to his wife and pressured her to find out the answer. She wept and fussed until Samson couldn’t stand to hear it any more so he told her the answer. The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down.

“What is sweeter than honey?

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And 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.”

Now what in the world does this really mean to you and me? The Old Testament scriptures are pointing toward the coming Christ. Sometimes there are characters found there that are symbols or types of Christ. I think if we look close enough at Samson we will find a few examples or hints of things that will tell us about Christ.

His birth was announced to his mother by an Angel. Just as Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary, the angel told Samson’s mother “He would begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Of course Gabriel said Jesus would “Save his people from their sins.” These are just a couple of the similarities between Samson and Jesus. The rest of what I am about to say may be a little more hidden at first glance, but stay with me, and I hope the Holy Spirit will enable you to see it.

The part of the story with the roaring lion is what I would like to focus on now. The words roaring lion immediately make me think of something Peter said. “The adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” With the thought that Samson is a Messiah figure, and the lion is the adversary figure, we can come to some very interesting conclusions about this event.

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Jesus came here to receive for himself a bride. Samson was on his way to meet with his future bride. During the process they both were confronted with a roaring lion. Samson and Jesus both were involved in a great struggle against a lion. There is yet another parallel, Samson was in a vineyard and Jesus was in a garden called Gethsemane, which means oil press. Of course they both have to do with grapes and or wine. It alludes to a process of crushing or squeezing necessary in order to quench thirst, get pleasure or give life. The analogy doesn’t stop there. If you notice Samson came back to find honey bees living in the carcass of the lion. I think this implies that out of the defeat of the adversary, Samson found sweet pleasure and life not only for him but for others as well because he shared it with his parents. The same happens when we discover that our adversary has been defeated by Christ. We partake of the sweetness that comes from the good news of Christ’s victory and share it with others.

This story is just another in a long line of stories that show us the truth of God’s Word. Only God can take such opposites in life, like a lion and honey bees, and tell us such a wonderful thing as life coming out of death. Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Hence, we have unraveled one of life’s greatest riddles. Life comes out of death and just as Paul said “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” We are to reckon ourselves having been crucified, buried and resurrected with Christ. The Word tells us “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

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Although death is a formidable foe, it isn’t for we that have been placed in Christ. Just as life in the form of bees and honey came from the carcass of the lion Samson killed, Jesus, our life came out of the place of death, the grave. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Jesus defeated the roaring lion by taking on death itself, and coming out the other side, therefore obtaining victory for us as well.

Written by Louie

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