Samson was born and raised as a Nazarite. He was a man of covenant with the Lord, who had been blessed with spiritual gifts in order to begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. The story of Samson continues in this chapter as follows:
1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
Samson had grown up and at one point traveled to Timnath, where he saw one of the Philistine women, who he wanted for a wife. His parents pleaded with him to choose a wife from the Israelites, who were the covenant people, but Samson wanted her. According to verse 4, the Lord had allowed Samson to become interested in the daughter of the Philistines, in order to use it against the Philistines. I think this verse could also be interpreted that Samson felt it was his duty to become closer to the Philistines which ruled over the Israelites, in order to fulfill the purposes of the Lord. Up to this point, there is nothing to go against the idea that Samson was living according to his covenants and that indeed, the spirit was persuading him to choose this woman for his wife because it would mean the eventual deliverance of Israel. The only issue, is that in seeking after a Philistine woman, he was preparing to go against his own covenants as a Nazarite.
5 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.
6 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.
7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
Samson and his parents, traveled to Timnath, where a young lion came against Samson. Samson was blessed by the spirit, with great strength to kill the lion with his bare hands. He told his parents what had happened. Then, he went and talked to the woman whom he desired to marry.
I don’t think I have ever thought of physical strength as a gift of the spirit, but in this case it was. Gifts of the spirit can be either of a physical nature or a spiritual nature. For example, a physical gift of the spirit is a talent to play beautiful music, where a gift of the spirit would be something like the gift of discernment. His gift needed to be a physical strength, so that he would be able to help deliver Israel from a physical bondage.
8 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.
9 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.
Some time passed, and he returned to Timnath to take her to be his wife. He went to see the carcass of the lion he had previously killed, and saw a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass. Samson ate of the honey and took some to his parents to eat. He did not tell his parents where the honey had come from. This was another example of Samson going against the covenants of a nazarite. They were not to touch any carcass, not even if it was a member of his own family. He broke his covenant with this choice.
10 So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
Manoah, the father of Samson, went to get the woman. Samson had a feast, which was the tradition. 30 men of the philistines, were brought to him, to be companions of Samson.
12 And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
13 But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
14 And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?
16 And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
17 And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
18 And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
Samson told the men a riddle and challenged them, that if they could answer it correctly in seven days of the feast, he would give them garments. If they could not answer it, he told them they were to give him garments. I think this was like placing a bet with these men. He gave them his riddle and after three days they had not been able to answer it. By the seventh day, they went to Samson’s new wife and threatened her to use her power of persuasion with him to learn the answer, or they would burn her home and her father’s home. She went to Samsom and cried to him, that if he loved her he would have told her the answer to his riddle. Samson told her that he had told no one the answer, not even his own parents. She begged him for the remainder of the days of feasting, and he eventually gave in and told her the answer. She told the men the answer. Then just before the challenge was lost by the Philistines, they answered the riddle, and Samson knew it was because he had been deceived by his wife.
19 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.
20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
Because he was deceived, Samson used the gift of strength that came upon him by the spirit, went to the placed called Ashkelon, and killed 30 Philistines, taking spoil from them. He gave the garments to those that had answered the riddle. He was angry and left to return to his father’s house. His wife was then given to his companion and friend.
Again, Samson broke his covenant as a Nazarite, by seeking revenge against those who had wronged him. He was not using his God-given gift of strength to do good. When we are blessed with gifts from the spirit, in the form of physical or spiritual gifts, we are being given the opportunity to do greater things. These gifts can help us to further the work of the Lord on the earth, if we choose to develop and use them in this way. Samson may have been blessed by God with his strength, but he was not following the counsel of the angel who visited his parents before they conceived him. His choices would not lead to good things for him. Likewise, if we fail to use our own gifts for good, they will not bring us blessings. If we use and develop them as God would want us to, we will be able to bless our own lives, as well as the lives of those around us.