And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.…
This incident in the life of Samson has a universal human interest. He no sooner comes to manhood than his destiny begins to determine itself. He sees a woman of the Philistines, and at once his fancy is captivated, and the strong natural desires of the young man overleap all the traditional restraints of God's people. He manufactures a law for himself; "she pleaseth me well" may mean, "it is pleasing, or right, in my own eyes." The perplexity and distress of the parents, unaware of the meaning of this strange freak, so opposed to the future they had been led to imagine for their son. Notice -
I. THE FATALITY OF DESIRE. A sudden, unreasoning, and unreasonable passion is scarcely the augury one would expect for the career of a promised deliverer. A crisis in his moral history, a pivot upon which his whole subsequent life must turn. Sexual attachments are amongst the determining factors of human character and life, and the bases of society. Yet there are no circumstances of our life so independent of mere reason, and the power of the subjects of them. Still as a rule the outward realisation of such attachments is within the control of the individual. Recognition should be made of God's share in producing them, and the matter should be laid before him. He has been blamed for "heavily loading the dice" in this matter for his own universal ends, and for wantonly subjecting the subject of passion to misery and disadvantage. Moral and intellectual progress are thus, it is said, indefinitely hindered. If it could be written, how full of light upon the moral and intellectual history of the race would be an account of the intermarriages of nations, the mesalliances of individuals! etc.
II. THE ENTANGLEMENT AND PERPLEXITY IT OCCASIONS. Here it meant connection with the idolatrous and sensual life of the Philistines. The relatives on both sides could not be cordial. A relaxation of moral principles must ensue. Children would bring a fresh discord. How could a man so related lift up his hand against the Philistines? An instance like this throws strong light upon the traditional objection of God's chosen people to intermarriage with neighbouring tribes and nations. It is not for nothing that it is written of Noah and of one and, another beside, "And he was perfect in his generation. The daughters of Heth" are ineligible in the eyes of the patriarch's wife for other than mere social reasons. There can be no doubt but that the same caution ought to characterise Christian parents in the alliances they encourage their children to make.
III. THE FURTHER AND HIGHER MINISTRY OF DESIRE. Behind and beyond all this sinister appearance was the Divine purpose, - "For he (Jehovah) sought an occasion from the Philistines. God's will is fulfilled in many ways, and by alternatives. When sin refuses to be put under then it can be utilised; and the end more completely served, albeit not to the immediate happiness or advantage of the guilty agent. How often by a way they knew not" have the sons of men been led by an unseen providence to gracious ends. An ill-assorted marriage is a great calamity, but it may be the determining cause of important spiritual results, and by arranging a new relationship and set of conditions, prepare for a higher and nobler, though less immediately happy, development, of inward character. Thus the whole question of the determining force of sexual desire, which has been a matter of grief and despair to the pessimist, is capable of another interpretation. The past history of our race shows that "where sin abounded, there did grace much more abound." Let us not therefore despair before these mysterious fatalities and complications, but commit the way of ourselves and children into the hands of him "who seeth the end from the beginning," and who makes "all things work together for good" to them that love him. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.