Samson’s rogue wedding companions solved his riddle by guile and he would have to pay the price. His disdain for their methods of extraction is obvious from his retort but what isn’t so clear is Samson’s own thinking on how he would obtain the fine linen.
This conundrum is taken out of his hands as we see God take control of the situation. The spirit of the Lord drives Samson to the Philistine town of Ashkelon where he would find his bounty by bloody and violent means.
God is beginning to deliver his people, despite their weakness – even using their weakness. In a condemned relationship gone wrong, through a frustrated, angry man God starts to save the children of Israel from their enemy.
…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. Judges 14:19
We are given very little detail to Samson’s assault upon Ashkelon. Did he pick off the Philistines one by one? If so, we can only begin to imagine the terror that would ensue in that city. How would the public react in your town to a seemingly crazed foreigner killing residents and stealing their clothes?
Or maybe Samson disturbed a Philistine wedding, killing 30 wedding guests for their finery? An eye for an eye and a wedding ruined for a wedding ruined. Whatever his method, Samson’s attack would have been brutal.
Would Samson have gone to Ashkelon if the Spirit had not rushed upon him?
Or was its sole purpose to give him the strength to strike down 30 men? The Spirit is working on Samson in the same way that it worked upon King Saul when he defeated the Ammonites:
And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 1 Samuel 11:6
We don’t expect to read about the Spirit of God fuelling someone’s anger. It would appear that Samson is kindled in a very similar way; this is supported further when we come to consider Samson’s seemingly regretful reference to these events later on.
All is not well for Samson; he is experiencing the consequences of disobeying God. He did not honour his parent’s wishes. And as one of the Ten Commandments states, his days would not be long in the land. Warnings of disobedience recorded in Deuteronomy seem to have been especially written for Samson:
You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. Deuteronomy 28:30
We are beginning to unravel the riddle of Samson. We will be further challenged by his behaviour. We leave him today with a broken relationship and in a state of fury.
Yet God has delivered him from ‘the hands of the Philistines’ (Judges 15:12), from one in particular who had bewitched him with her beauty.
It may be that we find ourselves broken, fallen or furious. Yet the God of grace is still working with us, to bring us into His arms. We, like Samson was, are being brought back to our Father’s house (John 14:2).