Samson’s First Love [Judges 14.1-14.4]
Scripture (KJV) Judges 14.1-4
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 was a riddle, an absurdity of a man, and he did that which was really great and good; but after that, it didn’t take long for him to do something that was apparently weak and evil; because he was not designed to be a pattern for us to follow (who must walk by rule, not by example—or as stated in scripture “must walk by faith, and not by sight”). He was a type of Him who, though He knew no sin, was made sin for us, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might condemn and destroy sin in the flesh, Romans 8:3. It is amazing that the Spirit of God would come upon a man like this. But it is obvious that God moved through him. I feel that he was a sissy in every department of his life, and in chapter 14 we begin to see it.
1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.—Judges 14.1 (KJV)
1 One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye.—Judges 14.1 (NLT)
And Samson went down to Timnath…After he came to a mature age. Timnath was a city which by lot fell to the tribe of Judah, but was afterwards given to the tribe of Dan, and at this time it is in the hands of the Philistines, (Joshua 15:20, 57) (Joshua 19:40-43). Judah is said to have gone up to it, because the place where he lived lay below it, (Genesis 38:13), but Samson is said to go down to it, because he lived above it.The words “went down” and “came up” refer to the respective altitudes of the two places. It was an hour’s journey for Samson to walk from Zorah to Timnath, (Joshua 15:10).
The city of Timnah was once an Israelite city, or, at least it seems so from Josh. 15:10, but at this time the Philistines had control of most of Israel. "Archaeological remains point to an extended period of social contact and trade between the two peoples (Philistines and Israelites) from about 1150 B.C., which corresponds exactly with the date Boling determined for Judges."
At Tibnath, the present Tibne, to which Samson had gone down from Zorea or Mahaneh-dan, he saw a daughter of the Philistines who pleased him; and on his return he asked his parents to take her for him as a wife (as in Exodus 21:9).
and saw a woman in Timnath, of the daughters of the Philistines;…who at this time dwelt there and were in control. I am sure he saw many other women besides her, but he took special notice of her, and as so often happens, he immediately felt particular affection for her; or, in other words, it was “Love at first sight.”
Here was the first of many foolish mistakes this hero made. He chose a wife, contrary to the Word of God, contrary to the pleadings of his father and mother, and did so solely upon the basis of seeing a woman, with whom he had never even had a conversation! He acted foolishly for several reasons:
1. Deuteronomy 7:3-4, forbade the Israelites to intermarry with the Canaanites. "But the reasons assigned for that prohibition were equally applicable to marriage with the daughters of the Philistines."
2. Also, "The uncircumcised Philistines were despised by the Israelites."
3. It would have been impossible for Samson to have brought such a wife into his father's house, and therefore, "The marriage was of the type in which the wife resided in her father's house."
4. Such a marriage was courageously opposed by Samson's parents, but in spite of all these reasons against it, Samson had only one word -- "Get her for me; she pleaseth me well."
__________Verse 1 notes____________
TIMNAH, Tim'nah, means portion or forbidding.—Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
A frontier town of the Philistines situated in the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:10), but later given to the tribe of Dan; 19:43. David took the place from the Philistines; but they got possession of it again during the reign of Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 28:18. It was about 20 miles west of Jerusalem. And has been identified with Timnatha of Dan (Jos 19:43), and also with Timnath (Jdg 14:1, 5). Timnah was one of the daughter cities of the Philistine city of Ekron, located four miles west of Zorah, Samson’s birthplace. It formed one of the landmarks on the north boundary of the allotment of Judah. Josh 15:10. It was below Zorah, Judges 13:2, and about three miles S. W. of it. It is probably identical with the Thimnathah of Josh 19:43 and also with the Timnath, or, more accurately, Timnathah, of Samson Judg 14:1, 2, 5 and the Thamnatha of the Maccabees. The modern representative of all these various forms of the same name is probably Tibneh, a village about two miles west of Ain Shems (Beth-shemesh). In the later history of the Jews, Timnah must have been a prominent place. It was fortified by Bacchides and was one of the most important military posts of Judea. 1 Macc 9:50.—Smith's Bible Dictionary
(Joshua 15:20, 57; KJV) This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families…Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.
(Joshua 19:40-43; KJV) And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh, And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah, And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,
(Genesis 38:13; NLT) Someone told Tamar, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”
(Joshua 15:10; ASV) and the border turned about from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim on the north (the same is Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed along by Timnah;
(Exodus 21:9; KJV) And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
(Deuteronomy 7:3-4; ASV) neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and he will destroy thee quickly.
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.—Judges 14.2 (KJV)
2 When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”—Judges 14.2 (NLV)
And he came up, and told his father and his mother…of his love for the beautiful Philistine woman he observed while in Timnath. We should not be surprised that the first thing Samson did after finding a woman he desired for his wife was to tell his parents about her. That was the custom of the Jews, at that time; but seeing that he was a dutiful son, he surely wanted their approval and consent. My personal experience was similar to his; I knew soon after meeting Sierra, my beautiful wife of forty-six years that I must marry her; my mother and father were the first ones I told, and I was happy that they accepted and loved her. It is my opinion that it is good and proper for all children to advise their parents when they plan to marry, and seek their opinion and consent before they “pop-the-question”, and perhaps even before beginning courtship.
I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines;…It is certain, he liked her and felt a strong attraction to her. He is very open and candid in what he tells his parents. It should be noted that he doesn’t hide anything from his parents; he doesn’t try to color things over, or conceal her ancestry, but he frankly tells them she was a Philistine woman, which he knew would immediately elicit an objection against her, from his mother and father.
The next clause says; now therefore get her for me to wife. He sounds like a spoiled child asking for a pet or toy.
The fifth commandment can be applied here; children ought not to marry, or move towards marrying, without the advice and consent of their parents; those that do (as Bishop Hall expresses it) willfully unchild themselves, and exchange natural affections for violent. Parents have a possession in their children as a part of themselves. In marriage this possession is transferred; since that is the law of the relationship applied to a man and a woman; that a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife. It is therefore not only unkind and ungrateful, but very unjust, to alienate ones’ parents by planning to marry without their agreement—whoso thus robbeth his father or mother, stealing himself from them, who is nearer and dearer to them than their possessions, and yet saith, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer,
now therefore get her for me to wife:…In the East, when a young man found a woman he liked, his parents did, and still do in many cases, negotiate the marriage covenant for their sons. During their period of ascendency, the Philistine invaders had settled in the towns; and the interaction between them and the Israelites was often of a friendly and familiar nature with regard to matrimonial dealings. Moreover, the Philistines were not one of the seven nations of Canaan  [De 7:1-3]—with whom the law forbade them to marry.
The negotiations for a wife for Samson may have been in accord with the traditions of the day; but I submit to you that only a sissy would do a thing like that! Why didn’t he go and talk to the woman and tell her that he loved her and wanted to marry her? Why didn’t he go and talk to her father? In those days some sort of a business arrangement was always made when it came to marriage. Why didn’t he take care of that himself? Well, he is a sissy, and mamma and papa had to arrange the marriage for him. This is Samson, in my humble opinion.
My friend, if we are willing to accept the premise that the negotiation of Samson's marriage was a common case, we may observe, that for him to set his affections upon a daughter of the Philistines was a weak and foolish thing for him to do; and the thing appeared very improper. It begs the question: “Should a man that is not only an Israelite, but a Nazarite, and devoted to the Lord, desire to marry one who is a worshipper of Dagon? Should one marked for a patriot of his country have friendly, even loving, associations with those that are his nation’s sworn enemies?” He saw this woman, and she pleased him well. There is no evidence that Samson spoke with her, or even made some inquiries about her and her family. If that is true, what reason did he have to think she was wise or virtuous, or in any way likely to be a help-meet for him. But he saw something in her face that he liked, so she was probably very beautiful; and therefore, nothing will satisfy him except she becomes his wife. Note: The man that is only guided by his eye and governed by his desires has no one to blame but himself, if he finds himself in the arms of a Philistine.
Get her for me - namely, by paying the required dowry and giving gifts to relatives. Hence, there is the frequent mention of parents taking wives for their sons (Exodus 34:16, Nehemiah 10:30), because the parents of the bridegroom conducted the negotiation, and paid the dowry to the parents of the bride.
_________________verse 2 notes_________________
(Deuteronomy 7:1-3; NLT) When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are about to enter and occupy, he will clear away many nations ahead of you: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These seven nations are greater and more numerous than you. When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy. You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters, Neither shalt thou make marriages, etc.—The heart being naturally inclined to evil, there is more likelihood that the idolatrous wife should draw aside the believing husband, than that the believing husband should be able to bring over his idolatrous wife to the true faith.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
 (Exodus 34:16; ASV) and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their gods, and make thy sons play the harlot after their gods.
 (Nehemiah 10:30; KJV) And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: Not give our daughters—Make no affinity with the people of the land.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
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.—Judges 14.3 (KJV)
3 His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.”—Judges 14.3 (NLT)
Then his father and his mother said unto him…They said what he might expect they would say, and there is no doubt he did expect them to respond with negative comments.
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?...Allow me to clarify what they said: “Can’t you take a wife from our own family, or within the tribe of Dan (a Danite woman), or among the whole nation of Israel: Why must you go among the uncircumcised Philistines.” Although they were not one of the seven nations of the Canaanites, with whom marriage was forbidden, yet they not only lived where the Israelites should have lived, but they were a threat to Israel, because they were idolaters and impure persons, and therefore friendship with them should be avoided, since there would be a dangerous consequence; they might enticed the Israelites to practice idolatry. But the reason assigned for this prohibition against marrying a Canaanite woman was equally applicable to marriages with the daughters of the Philistines. In fact, the Philistines are reckoned among the Canaanites in Joshua 13:3; living upon the very same ground. But Samson was acting under a greater influence; his parents did not know that it was from Jehovah, that is, that Jehovah had planned it, and He will make it happen; and that is the reason "Samson was seeking an opportunity on account of the Philistines," that is, an occasion to quarrel with them, because, he would soon begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. He would use his marriage as a ruse to pick a fight with them.
Ben Gersom observes and Abarbinel agrees with him, that their Rabbis say he made her a proselyte before he talked to his parents about her, though he did not let his parents know it; but this version does not seem likely, for, if this had been the case, he would have had a positive and quick reply to their objection of this woman. Note: Though his parents were justified to take him to task, yet it appears that this was the secret work of the Lord.
For Samson to marry any woman that was not from Israelite stock, was contrary to the law, Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3. But this marriage of Samson was said to be of the Lord; that is, God permitted it, for in no other sense can we understand that it might be a means of bringing about the deliverance of Israel.
and Samson said unto his father, get her for me, for she pleaseth me well;…or "is right in my eyes." Not only was he taken with her beauty, but it was right in his sight (in his judgment), to marry her. The Spirit of God placed an impulse upon his mind to do it, although he did not let his parents know it, but left them to conclude that the idea sprung from his strong affection for her. Abarbinel observes that he only spoke with his father, and not his mother, since she was most fervently against the marriage, and she expressed more uneasiness about it than his father did; but it is most likely that he mainly addressed his father, because he was the proper person to negotiate this affair for him.
The resistance of his parents is understandable when you realize they did not know that the Lord was behind his efforts to stir up the Philistines. The Lord was about to destroy the Philistine’s power, and the means which He meant to employ was not the forces of a numerous army, as in the case of the preceding judges, but the miraculous prowess of the single-handed champion of Israel. In these circumstances, the provocation for hostilities could only spring out of a private quarrel, and this marriage scheme was almost certainly suggested by the secret influence of the Spirit of God, as the best way of accomplishing the intended result.
she pleaseth me well is supposed to be a sufficient reason to justify either a man or a woman in their random choice of a wife or husband; the saying is the same with that of the poet:-
"Thou hast no fault, or I no fault can spy;
Thou art all beauty or all blindness I."
When the will has sufficient power, its determinations are its own rule of what is right. That will should be pure and well directed that says, It will be so, because I WILL it should be so. I have seen a similar motto on the brass ordinance of Lewis XIV., ULTIMA RATIO REGUM, the sum of regal logic; i.e., "My will, backed by these instruments of destruction, shall be the rule of right and wrong." The rules and principles of this logic are now suspect; and it is not likely to be generally received again without being accompanied by a violent demonstration.
This incident happened very early in Samson's career, but his character is revealed in this single sentence; get her for me, for she pleaseth me well. Nothing else, but this simple sentence could epitomizes the kind of man Samson was. How ironic were Samson's words to his parents that he had seen a woman that looked good to him, when those very eyes would be put out because of the betrayal of another eye-pleasing woman.
_______verse 3 notes___________
(Joshua 13:3; ASV) 3 from the Shihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the border of Ekron northward, which is reckoned to the Canaanites; the five lords of the Philistines; the Gazites, and the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avvim.
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.—Judges 14.4 (KJV)
4 His father and mother didn’t realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.—Judges 14.4 (NLT)
And his father and mother knew not that it was of the Lord,...That he should marry this Philistine woman; but Samson knew it was, and he also knew that his desire to marry her did not arise from carnal lust that originated with her beauty and exquisite figure. Oh, she was beautiful, all right, but her younger sister was even more attractive (Judges 15:2), but he perceived it was the mind and the will of God that he should take this woman for his wife. It was through the influence of the Spirit of God acting upon him, by pointing her out, and urging him to do it, suggesting the opportunity it would give him for quarrelling with the Philistines, and taking vengeance on them; but his parents were ignorant of this, and he didn’t let them know that this was of God.
Such marriages were forbidden to the Israelites, and the reason was to keep them separate from the idolatrous nations. His father and mother very properly opposed Samson's marriage with a Pagan woman, the daughter of the oppressors of his race. But they could not prevail, because it was the secret purpose of God by these means to "seek occasion" against the Philistines; i. e. to make the misconduct of the father of Samson's wife, which He foresaw, the occasion for the destruction to the Philistines.
This does not mean that God approved of Samson's sinful marriage, but that God, before long, overruled Samson's strong-headed determination to marry a Philistine woman and turned it into an occasion for God to show his displeasure with the Philistines. It was said (Judges 13:25) that the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times, and we have reason to think he himself perceived that Spirit moving him at this time, when he made this choice, and that otherwise he would have yielded to his parents' persuasiveness, nor would they have consented at last if he had not convinced them it was of the Lord. This would bring him into a position where he made acquaintance with the Philistines, and could converse with them, which presented him with opportunities to annoy and infuriate them; otherwise he could not have done it. It appears that the way in which the Philistines oppressed Israel was, not by great armies, but by the secret incursions of their giants and small parties of their plunderers. In the same way therefore Samson must deal with them; let him, by this marriage move among them, and he would be a thorn in their sides. Jesus Christ, having to deliver us from this present evil world, and to cast out the prince of it, did himself visit it, though it was full of pollution and hostility, and, by assuming a human body, did in some sense join in empathy with all sorts of people, good and bad.
that he sought an occasion against the Philistines;…in this way, they might learn he wanted an opportunity to get revenge for their oppression against his nation, and to attempt the deliverance of Israel; but they didn’t know that he was empowered by the will of God, who would see to it that it happened. Samson might be directed by the Lord to reason thus in his mind—that if he proposed to the Philistines that he wanted to marry one of their daughters, and they responded by rejecting his proposal, this would give him a reason to come to blows with them; and if they should agree to such a match, he might expect they would be kind to him, and to his people for his sake, and this might develop into an alliance with them (where the advantages were all with the Philistines), which he would resent, and use for an occasion to start a fight with them:
for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel;…They had invaded their country, and moved into their cities, and made them contribute their assets to them, and mistreated them; which when Samson saw it, he was provoked to seek an opportunity to avenge the injuries done to them, and then to begin to deliver his people.
_________verse 4 notes_________
(Judges 15:2; NLT) “I truly thought you must hate her,” her father explained, “so I gave her in marriage to your best man. But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.” -- This allegation was a mere sham, a flimsy pretext to excuse his refusal of admittance. The proposal he made of a marriage with her younger sister was but an insult to Samson, and one which it was unlawful for an Israelite to accept (Lev. 18:18).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
(Judges 13:25; ASV) And the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. He felt the degrading bondage of his countrymen, and a strong desire to accomplish something for their deliverance. These feelings and emotions he had from the Divine Spirit—Adam Clarke's Commentary