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
Timnah was about 5 miles east of Ekron in Philistine territory in the hill country of Judea. It was not uncommon at that time for Israelites to intermarry with foreigners even though God had commanded them not to do so. But in this case, God had moved Samson to do this. More on this in a moment.Judges 14:5-6
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.
Lions of Judea were particularly savage creatures and not many who encountered them survived the meeting. Note that Scripture doesn't say that Samson was of great stature like Goliath, it just says that he was incredibly strong. He may not have looked much different than anyone else.Judges 14:7-9
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.
This is un usual in that the bees would build a hive and honeycomb in the carcass of the lion, as honeybees do not consume animal proteins like related species such as yellow jackets do.Judges 14:10-13
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."
Remember, back then clothing was all hand woven and hand made and was quite expensive, especially
linen which required fine weaving. So what Samson was proposing was a very expensive wager!
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.
One has to wonder in that Samson's betrothed didn't go to him with the threat made against her family.
But she eventually wrung the secret from him, and Samson, not having expected to pay the debt of the
riddle killed 30 men and gave their clothing to the thirty men at the party.
To keep Samson from sinning, God didn't allow the marriage to be consummated as this would have been a violation of His commandments concerning marrying foreigners. But in this way, God was able to start using Samson against the Philistines.