The Mystery of Christ in the Riddle of Samson
Jesus said that all of scripture speaks of Him in some way. The way to read the Old Testament scriptures so that they are life to you is to look for Jesus in the scriptures like He taught us to do. We read the scriptures not to find laws or rules to keep but to find another picture of Jesus that our faith in Him might be strengthened! (Luke 24:44-45)
The riddle of Samson (Judges 14:2-3) is an awesome picture of Jesus and His work in bringing righteousness to mankind through faith. The gift that was given to those who could solve the riddle were wedding garments for Samson’s wedding, a picture of the robes of righteousness which every believer receives when they believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of all sin.
Yes, the wedding gift for solving the riddle is the garment of righteousness!
But what is the answer to the riddle: Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet? In the story of Samson the answer in natural terms was: “Honey coming from the body of a dead lion.” What is stronger than a lion? What is sweeter than honey? They answered Samson with these words after finding the answer only from being told the answer (it must be revealed because it cannot be discovered otherwise).
In the spiritual I believe we can see the mystery or riddle of Christ in this story. Honey seems to speak of “mercy” in the scripture so what is the opposite of mercy? Justice! I say “opposite” because the heart of the riddle, which makes it a riddle, is that something completely opposite and unexpected happens. The eater, the lion, should have eaten and devoured Samson, but Samson ends up eating something
from within the dead lion, something “hidden” from plain sight: honey. Out of the eater, something to eat!
I see Samson as a type of Christ. His strength is a picture of the perfect righteousness of God. Only Christ could have faced the justice and wrath of God for us in the epoch battle which culminated in the cross. (I say “culminated” because the battle was on the moment He entered earth’s atmosphere on that night in Bethlehem.) We would have been eaten alive by the wrath of God (like a lion devouring his prey) because of His holiness, but His love for us and burning desire to be with us caused Him to take the wrath due us.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah was stronger than the lion of God’s justice and He prevailed because it was God Himself settling the score and declaring that He Himself is enough! So now out of the justice of God a strange thing is found, a riddle unfolds, and because of Samson (Christ and Him crucified), honey or mercy is given. That which would have eaten us (justice) has given us something to eat (mercy) because of Samson’s work, because of the finished work of Christ. And from the “strong” and unapproachable and unrelenting (justice) comes something “sweet” and approachable and and also unrelenting (mercy).
Behold the riddle of Christ and receive your wedding garments, your robes of righteousness, for the King has paid a great price for them and for you, and He is determined to have a party!
- James Barron