Judges 14:4
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.
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(4) That it was of the Lord.—All that can be meant is that in this marriage God was overruling the course of events to the furtherance of His own designs. He makes even the weakness and the fierceness of man redound to His praise. (Comp. Joshua 11:10; 2Chronicles 25:20.) See the same phrase in the story of Rehoboam’s folly (1Kings 12:15). “Behold this evil is of the Lord,” says Elisha in 2Kings 6:33. It is the strong sense of the Divine rule which we find even in heathen writers, so that in the very opening lines of Homer we find the poet saying, “that amid all the crimes and passions of men the counsel of Zeus was being accomplished.”

“Achilles’ wrath, to Greece the direful spring

Of woes unnumbered, heavenly goddess sing:

That wrath which hurled to Pluto’s gloomy reign

The souls of mighty chiefs unnumbered slain,

Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore,

Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore,

Since great Achilles and Atrides strove,—

Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!.”

That he sought an occasion.—Some commentators explain “he” to mean Jehovah, which seems most unlikely. The word rendered “an occasion” is rather, “a quarrel” (LXX., “retribution,” or “vengeance”).

14:1-4 As far as Samson's marriage was a common case, it was weak and foolish of him to set his affections upon a daughter of the Philistines. Shall one, not only an Israelite, but a Nazarite, devoted to the Lord, covet to become one with a worshipper of Dagon? It does not appear that he had any reason to think her wise or virtuous, or any way likely to be a help meet for him; but he saw something in her agreeable to his fancy. He that, in the choice of a wife, is only guided by his eye, and governed by his fancy, must afterwards thank himself if he find a Philistine in his arms. Yet it was well done not to proceed till Samson had made his parents acquainted with the matter. Children ought not to marry, nor to move towards it, without the advice and consent of their parents. Samson's parents did well to dissuade him from yoking himself unequally with unbelievers. It seems that it pleased God to leave Samson to follow his own inclinations, intending to bring out good from his conduct; and his parents consented, because he was bent upon it. However, his example is not recorded for us to do likewise.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 of destruction to the Philistines. Compare the marginal references for similar statements. 3, 4. Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren—that is, "of thine own tribe"—a Danite woman.

Samson said … Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well—literally, "she is right in mine eyes"; not by her beautiful countenance or handsome figure, but right or fit for his purpose. And this throws light on the historian's remark in reference to the resistance of his parents: they "knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines"—rather, "from the Philistines"—originating on their side. The Lord, by a course of retributive proceedings, was about to destroy the Philistine 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 to hostilities could only spring out of a private quarrel, and this marriage scheme was doubtless suggested by the secret influence of the Spirit as the best way of accomplishing the intended result.

He sought an occasion against the Philistines; which he knew by very probable conjecture, if not by particular inspiration, that marriage would give him many ways.

And his father and mother knew not that it was of the Lord,.... That he should marry this uncircumcised Philistine; Samson knew it was, and that his desire of having her in marriage did not arise from carnal affection to her merely, being captivated with her beauty and external form, for she was not so very fair, her younger sister was fairer than she, Judges 15:2 but he perceived it was the mind and will of God that he should take such a person to wife, by the impulse of the Spirit of God upon him, pointing it, unto him, inclining and urging him to it, suggesting the end and design of it, and the opportunity it would give him of quarrelling with the Philistines, and taking vengeance on them; but this his parents were ignorant of, nor did he let them know that this was of God:

that he sought an occasion against the Philistines; in this way, by this means; they might know he sought to get an opportunity to be avenged on them for their oppression, and to attempt the deliverance of Israel; but they knew not that it was the will of God that a way should be opened for it by this means. Samson might be directed by the Lord to reason thus in his mind, that if he proposed to the Philistines to marry one of their daughters, and they should reject his proposal, this would give him a reason to fall out with them, and fall upon 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, being in alliance with them, or he should resent it, and take occasion from hence to come to a quarrel with them:

for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel; had invaded their country, and dwelt in their cities, and made them tributary to them, and used them ill; which Samson observing, was provoked to seek an opportunity of avenging the injuries done them, and of delivering them, and he was directed to it this way.

But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the {b} Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

(b) To fight against them for the deliverance of Israel.

4. It is not actually said that Manoah refused, but the sequel (Jdg 14:5-7) in its original form implies that he did.

he sought an occasion] The subject is Jehovah, cf. Joshua 11:20; an occasion, i.e. for a quarrel, cf. 2 Kings 5:7. The Philistines had always been the aggressors; an act of retaliation was justifiable.

over Israel] Israel as a whole did not yet exist. The generalized statement probably comes from the editor; cf. Jdg 13:1.

Verse 4. - It was of or from the Lord. It was the method decreed by God's providence for bringing about a rupture with the Philistines. That he sought. Rather, because he sought. The writer explains the purpose of the providence. It is doubtful whether "he" refers to Samson or to the Lord. Most commentators refer it to Samson; but it is contrary to the whole tenor of Samson's impetuous course, and to all probability, that he should have asked for the Timnathite damsel merely for the sake of quarreling with the Philistines; whereas the statement that Samson s obstinate determination to take a Philistine wife was the means which God's secret purpose had fixed upon for bringing about the eventual overthrow of the Philistine dominion is in exact accordance with other declarations of Holy Scripture (cf. e.g. Exodus 7:3, 4; Joshua 11:20; 1 Samuel 2:25; 1 Kings 12:15; 2 Chronicles 10:15; 2 Chronicles 22:7; 2 Chronicles 25:20). An occasion. The noun only occurs here; but the verb, in its several conjugations, means, to happen at the right time; to bring a person or thing at the right time (Exodus 21:13, deliver, A.V.); to be brought at the right time (Proverbs 12:21, happen, A.V.); to seek the right time for injuring any one (2 Kings 5:7, seeketh a quarrel, A.V. ). Judges 14:4His parents expressed their astonishment at the choice, and asked him whether there was not a woman among the daughters of his brethren (i.e., the members of his own tribe), or among all his people, that he should want to fetch one from the Philistines, the uncircumcised. But Samson repeated his request, because the daughter of the Philistines pleased him. The aversion of his parents to the marriage was well founded, as such a marriage was not in accordance with the law. It is true that the only marriages expressly prohibited in Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4, are marriages with Canaanitish women; but the reason assigned for this prohibition was equally applicable to marriages with daughters of the Philistines. In fact, the Philistines are reckoned among the Canaanites in Joshua 13:3 upon the very same ground. But Samson was acting under a higher impulse, whereas his parents did not know that it was from Jehovah, i.e., that Jehovah had so planned it; "for Samson was seeking an opportunity on account of the Philistines," i.e., an occasion to quarrel with them, because, as is afterwards added in the form of an explanatory circumstantial clause, the Philistines had dominion over Israel at that time. תּאנה, ἁπ. λεγ., an opportunity (cf. התאנּה, 2 Kings 5:7).
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