This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.
Chapter fourteen reveals that Samson had at least three great weaknesses: women/sex, instant gratification, and anger. The chapter opens with Samson seeing a beautiful woman and demanding that his father arranges a marriage, even though she was a Philistine (Judges 14:1-4). Although his father resisted, Samson insisted that he should be allowed to marry her. Possibly he argued that, since it was not against his Nazirite vow and not against the Mosaic Law, he would not be in violation of anything. The writer notes that God allowed this and would use it to begin Samson’s war with Philistia.
When Manoah finally relented, Samson went to Timnah to meet with his wife-to-be (Judges 14:5-6). On the way, he was attacked by a young lion, but he easily overpowered it – our first indication of how God intended to use him. Later, passing that way again, he noticed bees making honey in the carcass and took some (Judges 14:7-9). This is the first record of his breaking the Nazirite vow – touching a dead animal. Additionally, he gave some to his parents to eat, causing them to be defiled as well, but he did not tell them where he got it.
The writer’s description of Samson intentionally shows him to be no better than anyone else in Israel at this time – she was “the right one in his eyes” (cf. Judges 17:6; 21:25). During the wedding feast (which most certainly involved beer and wine, against his Nazirite vow), Samson showed his penchant for showing off. In this case, he offered a riddle to the thirty men in his wedding party (Judges 14:10-20). If they could answer, he would give them thirty sets of clothes; if not, they would pay him the same. Threatening to burn her and her family, the men persuaded Samson’s wife to get the answer for them, so she nagged him until he finally told her. Receiving the answer, they went back to Samson and demanded their reward. Naturally, he knew what had happened, so he went to Ashkelon and killed thirty men to fulfill his bargain. In a moment of self-discipline, he then returned to his father’s home to cool down before seeing his wife again. Unbeknownst to him, she had been married off to his best man.