And he said to them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness…
The first intention of Samson's riddle is plainly, as he shows in the interpretation, to wrap up in mystery a simple event of his own experience. But, with the Eastern instinct for imagery, Samson may well be supposed to intend also to set forth general principles which he sees illustrated in that event. The words seem to suggest the beautiful truth that things harsh and destructive may be found to contain within them sources of happiness and life.
I. SOURCES OF LIFE MAY BE FOUND IN POWERS OF DESTRUCTION. Out of the destroyer came forth food.
1. The destroying agencies of nature prepare the way for fresh life. Geological catastrophes renew the face of the old earth with virgin fields of fertility. The products of decay are the food of new life; the rotting leaves of autumn nourishing the blooming flowers of spring.
2. National revolutions sometimes introduce a better order. Out of the corruption and disintegration of the Roman empire the separate nationalities of modern Europe sprang into being.
3. Religious destructive agencies prepare the way for new religious institutions. The work of the Hebrew prophets, of Christ and his apostles, - especially St. Paul, - of the leaders of the Reformation, was largely destructive, and only after a certain amount of ruthless breaking up of old revered habits and doctrines was it possible to introduce the good things they were ultimately destined to establish. We may be too fearful of needful but painful destroying agencies, and by joining the new cloth to the old garment may only increase the final rent.
4. Destructive influences in private life are overruled by God's providence to produce fruitful issues. Our cherished hope is dashed to the ground; for the moment we are in despair. But in time out of the grave of the past God makes a purer, nobler hope to spring.
5. The death of Christ is the source of the Christian's life. In his broken body we see our bread of life (1 Corinthians 11:24).
II. SOURCES OF QUIET BLESSEDNESS MAY BE FOUND IN MOVEMENTS OF VIOLENT STRENGTH. Out of the strong comes forth sweetness.
1. It is only in strength that we can find true gentleness. While gentleness makes us great, greatness is necessary to the perfection of gentleness. Soft weakness is not gentleness. Self-control, forbearance, quiet work in the midst of difficulty are signs of gentleness, and they all imply great, strength of soul. Christ's shadow shelters us because he is a great rock (Isaiah 32:2).
2. Violent exercises of strength are sometimes required to remove an unsettled, restless condition of things, to establish an equilibrium, and so secure more peace. Storms clear the air and bring about a more stable calm than that which preceded them. The troubles of life subdue our passions, rebuke our wilfulness, chasten our affections, and thus prepare us to receive the peace of God.
3. A healthy exercise of strength is the means of bringing happiness to others. Sentimental sympathy is of little use. If we wish to sweeten the lot of the most miserable classes of men, we must be prepared for active measures of improvement.
4. In proportion to the violence of earthly trials will be the sweetness of the heavenly rest. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.