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I thought that part 2 would be the final blog on Samson, but I need to share more about the role that the feast days played in his story.
God Picks a Fight
Judges 14:1-3 says,
1 Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her to me as a wife.” 3 Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”
Samson lived with his parents in the settlement of Zorah on the ridge overlooking the plain that was occupied by the Philistines. Some of the plain had been allotted to the tribe of Dan, Samson’s tribe, but the men of Dan had been unable to take the territory for themselves. So the families of Dan were limited to the hills overlooking the plain.
Timnah was easily visible from Zorah, and it appears that Samson had some friends there. Apparently, he had no interest in Israelite girls, and all of the biblical stories about Samson take place in Philistine territory, other than when he was home in Zorah.
Samson and Samuel were contemporaries, and Samuel wrote the book of Judges, so there is no doubt that they knew each other well. Perhaps Samuel told his friend about Eli’s two sons who were corrupt, and perhaps this explains why Samson had no interest in the tabernacle at Shiloh but instead turned his attention to the Philistines.
Judges 14:4 continues,
4 However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time, the Philistines were ruling over Israel.
All of Israel’s captivities, including this one, came about when Israel became lawless. So we read in Judges 13:1,
1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.
Both Samson and Samuel were born at the beginning of this 40-year captivity. Samson died toward the end of the captivity after judging Israel 20 years. Samson’s desire to marry the Philistine girl occurred at the beginning of Samson’s ministry as a Judge halfway through the captivity. In fact, it appears that God sought an occasion against the Philistines in order to jumpstart Samson’s calling as a Judge.
We are not told precisely why God sought legal cause to bring judgment on the Philistines when they were only halfway through their allotted time. Nonetheless, God was picking a fight with the Philistines.
Marriages were normally preceded by a wedding feast that lasted a week. During that time, the bride made herself ready while the groom partied with his friends. At the end of the week, the groom claimed his wife in a brief ceremony, and (hopefully) they lived happily ever after.
In Samson’s case, he partied with thirty Philistine friends (Judges 14:10, 11). Samson then posed a riddle for them, and if they could answer it within seven days, he would give each of them a new suit of clothes. If they failed, then each of them would have to give Samson a new suit of clothes (Judges 14:12, 13). They accepted the challenge.
In Judges 14:14, Samson gave them the riddle:
14 So he said to them,
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
and out of the strong came something sweet.”
This riddle was about the lion which Samson had recently killed as he went to Timnah to talk to his fiancé after the betrothal (Judges 14:6, 7). Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he discovered that a swarm of bees had turned the lion’s carcass into a hive, and he was able to eat some of the honey.
Samson’s riddle referenced this dead lion as “the eater” that provided something sweet to eat. This is, of course, prophetic of Christ Himself— “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5)—whose death would establish the Kingdom, described in Numbers 14:8 as “a land which flows with milk and honey.”
From a prophetic standpoint, this was a salvation riddle. Could the Philistines, with their carnal mindset, discover the secret of salvation (Yeshua)? As it turned out, they did make that discovery, but they did so in an unlawful manner. They threatened Samson’s fiancé, telling her, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire” (Judges 14:15).
She then begged Samson to tell her the answer to the riddle. He finally did so, and she told those who had threatened her. They learned the meaning of the riddle, saying, “What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?” (Judges 14:18). So Samson owed them each a new suit of clothes. Samson then killed 30 Philistines from Ashkelon, took their clothes, and paid his debt.
The main lesson in this incident is that it is prophetic of the carnally-minded church, which learns the secret of salvation by threats of fire and hell. They do indeed get their reward, but not in a lawful manner. The gospel is good news, not bad news. The Philistine mindset coerces men by fear of a fiery pit in hell, but Paul says that “the love of God constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14 KJV). These are entirely different motives to follow Christ.
Samson’s riddle clearly brings out this distinction. A fear motive leaves believers as spiritual Philistines, who represent the carnal mind. There are many carnal believers who remain in a state of fear even after turning to Christ. Hopefully, as they read the word and come to an understanding of the restoration of all things, carnal believers will replace fear with love.
1 John 4:18, 19 says,
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment [“torment” KJV], and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.
So this strange story of the dead lion and the honey is prophetic of Christ’s death on the cross at the time of Passover. The 7 days of the riddle, then, represent the 7 days of the feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6), which begins with Passover. This suggests that the main purpose of the feast of Unleavened Bread is to give people a week to contemplate the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross and to learn the meaning of salvation.
Scripture does not tell us precisely when Samson’s wedding feast occurred, but it was certainly in the Passover season. We know that he became angry and did not claim his wife. But later, when he had calmed down, he returned with a gift, only to find that she had been given to the best man (Judges 14:20).
Samson then “released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain” (Judges 15:5). In other words, he burned the wheat that was being harvested. Some of it was already in “shocks,” but some of it was still “standing grain.” This indicates that it was the time of the feast of Weeks (or Pentecost), the time of “wheat harvest” (1 Samuel 12:17).
Exodus 34:22 says, “You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks; that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest.” The first fruits of the wheat harvest were two loaves of bread “baked with leaven” (Leviticus 23:17). The leaven was killed in the fire during the baking process. All of this symbolized the baptism of fire that was sent on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:3, designed to purify the disciples by burning up the chaff in their lives (Matthew 3:11, 12).
When Samson burned the wheat of the Philistines, he showed that this was a Pentecostal story, complete with fire upon the wheat. This must have occurred about 7 weeks after the failed wedding feast at the time of Unleavened Bread. It also establishes Samson as an Old Testament Pentecostal.
As for the Philistines, they “came up and burned her and her father with fire” (Judges 15:6). Apparently, they did not appreciate Samson’s feast of Pentecost, nor did they want their chaff burned with fire. Meanwhile, Samson escaped to the rock of Etam, a cave on the side of a mountain that was accessible only by a narrow rock path that was easily defendable.
The Philistines found Samson and demanded that the men of Judah turn him over to them. Samson agreed to be bound by them, but when they handed him over to the Philistines, he broke the ropes and killed 1,000 Philistines with “a fresh jawbone of a donkey” (Judges 15:15). He then became very thirsty, and when he prayed, “God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, so that water came out of it… and he revived” (Judges 15:18). Here we see that the story foreshadows a Pentecostal revival.
In Scripture, donkeys represent Pentecostals. (See my book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost.) Whenever donkeys are pictured in a biblical story, it always points to Pentecost in some way. When Samson killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, it speaks of the gift of tongues that is designed to kill the flesh.
Furthermore, this event occurred at Lehi, which means “jaw.” It appears that Samson “named that place Ramath-lehi” (Judges 15:17), or Jawbone Heights.
So we see that Samson’s exploits prophesied of Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost. However, after that, his weakness began to show, and so he failed to manifest the feast of Tabernacles. This suggests that he was a type of the church which has some understanding of Passover and Pentecost, but Tabernacles is the lost feast.