Monday after the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Judges 14:1-20 (NKJV)
1 Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” 3 Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” 4 But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
5 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. 6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. 8 After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. 9 He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. 10 So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so.
11 And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 Then Samson said to them, “Let me pose a riddle to you. If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. 13 But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” And they said to him, “Pose your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 So he said to them: “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” Now for three days they could not explain the riddle.
15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us in order to take what is ours? Is that not so?” 16 Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” And he said to her, “Look, I have not explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?”
17 Now she had wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people. 18 So the men of the city said to 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 to them: “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!” 19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
In the Gradual for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity we sang the words of Psalm 79: “Provide atonement for our sins, O Lord. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Help us, O God of our salvation; for the glory of Your Name, deliver us.” Today’s reading from the book of Judges offers a connection to the Propers from Sunday’s liturgy. The connection is located in the riddle that Samson uses to question the Philistines: “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.”
We know from the narrative the answer to the riddle. Samson was referring to the lion he had encountered and killed with his bare hands. Upon his return he discovered that honey bees had taken up residence and formed honeycomb filled with honey in the lion’s corpse. The Early Church fathers likened this image of a lion giving honey to our Lord Jesus giving salvation to mankind.
Our Lord is known as the Lion of Judah. Honey in Scripture is likened to the Word of God—especially the good news of our Lord’s atonement for the sins of the whole world. With this view we can certainly see the similarities between this lion and the Lord. The Lord Jesus lays down His life so that He might give us the food of forgiveness, life and salvation in the Sacrament of the Altar. Through His holy Word the Church is established; new Christians are born. The Lord delivers us through His holy Gospel, the proclamation that our sins are forgiven for His sake, which is as sweet as honey to our ears.