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Samson's Riddle of the Bees and Honey

Posted March 12, 2012


Hi J____,

Thank you for your question. You ask what is the spiritual significance of the lion, the bees, and the honey of Samson's riddle.

Let's look at that riddle so we can see how it was presented to the Philistine guests at Samson's wedding to a Philistine woman who isn't even named.

Jdg 14:14 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.

We cannot understand this riddle until we understand what is the lesson in this story of Samson, which is the longest story in all of the book of Judges. After we see the lesson that is Samson, then this riddle, like Christ's parables, will no longer hide its meaning from our eyes, and it will no longer be a riddle. So we need to read the entire chapter in which this riddle appears.

Jdg 14:1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
Jdg 14:2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
Jdg 14:3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
Jdg 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.
Jdg 14:5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
Jdg 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
Jdg 14:7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
Jdg 14:8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
Jdg 14:9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
Jdg 14:10 So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
Jdg 14:11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
Jdg 14:12 And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find [it] out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
Jdg 14:13 But if ye cannot declare [it] me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
Jdg 14:14 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.
Jdg 14:15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? [is it] not [so]?
Jdg 14:16 And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told [it] me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told [it] my father nor my mother, and shall I tell [it] thee?
Jdg 14:17 And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
Jdg 14:18 And the men of the city said unto 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 unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
Jdg 14:19 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.
Jdg 14:20 But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.

Now we will consider what is the spiritual significance of the symbols of Samson's riddle for His Philistine guests at his wedding.

"What is stronger than a lion" was the answer to that part of Samson's riddle. A lion, like every word of God, has both a positive and a negative application in scripture, and always typifies one of two things, either Christ or the Adversary. For example:

Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

This particular lion had made the mistake of rising up against God's elect, who had not yet come to maturity. Like Pharaoh, who wanted Moses dead, and was destroy by the power of God, this lion too, was destroyed by that an instrument of God, which though he could not yet cross over the Jordan in a body of sinful flesh and blood, had done "many wonderful works in the name of Christ."

Deu 32:49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, [unto] mount Nebo, which [is] in the land of Moab, that [is] over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
Deu 32:50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
Deu 32:51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
Deu 32:52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

"Many wonderful works" before men is the very instrument that is used to deceive and mislead so very many.

Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

So the Adversary is strong, but Christ is stronger, and in the end there is no doubt who will win.

Jdg 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

What we need to learn from this riddle is that God is sovereign, even over our deception while we are in Babylon, married to Philistine women, or sleeping with Philistine prostitutes. When we are deceived, it is the Lord Himself who is deceiving us via the agency of false prophets.

Eze 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

1Sa 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
1Sa 16:15 And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

Like the lion, the bees, have both a negative and positive application in scripture. Here is their negative application.

Deu 1:44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.

Psa 118:10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
Psa 118:11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
Psa 118:12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.

Isa 7:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
Isa 7:19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.
Isa 7:20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, [namely], by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.

Syria and Assyria are Israel's mortal enemies. The nations compassed David "like bees", and Israel was "chased and destroyed" by bees. That is the negative application of bees. Yet it is through these very same bees which we must have in our lives, that God sees fit to feed us with sweet honey.

What is the honey that is produced by these bees? Honey in scripture is most often associated with milk. The land of promise is not the land of bread and wine or the land of strong meat. It is instead the "land of milk and honey."

Exo 3:8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

So, while the doctrine of universal salvation and the ability to overcome the giants in the land, may seem like strong meat to a newborn baby, it still is nothing more than milk for "carnal... babes in Christ."

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

There were no chapter breaks when this book was penned, and so it continues:

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

"This we will do, if God permit," does not mean that we will deny "the principles of the doctrine of Christ." What it means is we will not bother 'laying that already established foundation again and will instead go on into maturity.' What we need to note is that "eternal judgment" another way of saying 'universal salvation,' is one of those six listed milk doctrines.

Even where honey is mentioned apart from milk, it is still seen as a symbol of immaturity. For example, in both Ezekiel and Revelation, God's word is said to be sweet as honey in our mouths, but it is bitter in our bellies.

Eze 3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.
Eze 3:2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
Eze 3:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Rev 10:9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
Rev 10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Rev 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

It is one thing to learn what is God's Truth and to have it in our mind and in our mouth, but it is an entirely different experience to live with the consequence of sharing and witnessing to and "speaking to the house of Israel" about what is in God's "little book" He has given us. That is the "bitterness of the belly."

Samson's whole life is a perfect example of this spiritual truth, and Samson's story is our story. When we are listening to Christ's parables, we are still in Babylon. We are all so very much excited with the word of God, even as we lust after Philistine women. Until we have to live it out and become faithful to those words, they are sweet in our mouth. But when we finally are brought face to face with the seriousness of God's Words, and the soberness of our calling, we continue in our relationships with Philistine women. God's Word is sweet in our mouth, but it is bitter in our belly. Samson reveled as an immature child in the strength which God would give him "at times," when he would face a trial and was forced to fight those who were occupying the land. It seemed that God was with Him, because he seemed to never lose a battle. It actually appeared outwardly as if he were invincible, even if he had married a Philistine woman and was sleeping with various Philistine prostitutes.

Jdg 13:25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

This whole story is each of us as we prosper in Babylon, where God Himself is keeping us deceived "by the miracles" we, as Samson was, are given to perform in the sight of men."

Eze 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

We are both Samson and his parents, and as such we know when we are doing wrong, and we do it anyway, totally unaware that we are being set up for our own destruction, and totally unaware, at that time, that it is in our destruction that we are finally given by God to accomplish the job we were given to do.

This whole story is our story. At first, we all prefer a daughter of the uncircumcised Philistines over the daughters of Israel. Being in the promised land, yet seeing no need for that distasteful thing called circumcision, "the putting away of the flesh" or that messy bloody thing called "the cross". The Philistines typify our own walk among the orthodox churches of Christianity, who see no need to obey the doctrines of Christ.

It is not as if we are not God's elect, because we are. But as yet we are just like Saul of Tarsus before he becomes Paul. We despise the true daughters of Israel who should be our wife, and we love the daughters of the Philistines who cause us nothing but hardships and trials, because we are still Philistines ourselves within our own hearts. Here is what Samson was living and experiencing.

Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

But it is all "of the Lord, because the Lord is seeking an occasion against [our uncircumcised] Philistine" flesh.

Jdg 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.

As an aside, it is this chapter of God's Word that explains why God has chosen to release Satan out of the "bottomless pit" after one thousand years of rule over the kingdoms of this world with a rod of iron, by God's very elect. He will release Satan, and He will cause Satan to gather all that are on the earth to "compass the camp of the saints" simply because God is "seeking an occasion" to destroy all flesh upon the earth with "fire from heaven" so that he can destroy death. Death will never be destroyed so long as Adamic babies are being born. This chapter of Judges explains these verses of Revelation:

Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
Rev 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea.
Rev 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

I never could understand in the past why God put Satan in prison and then deliberately released him upon an unsuspecting world, until I was given the eyes to see what He was doing in the life of Samson. It is through the fire that comes down from heaven and destroys all flesh that the salvation of all men will begin in earnest.

Finally God has broken the cycle of death, and He can now bring all men to Himself in spiritual bodies which neither marry nor are given in marriage. Now He can begin the final harvest "in the years end"

Exo 23:16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

So what do we have in the very next verse of Revelation 20? We have the great WHITE throne judgment and the lake of fire, which will purify all who were not part of that "blessed and holy first resurrection" of Rev 20:6.

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

It is only through death that life comes to God's elect first at this time, and it is only through death that life comes to all others through "the second death.": It is only "through death that He might destroy...death."

Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

This is the point of the entire experience of Samson. It was through death that he finally overcame the Philistines, and what he accomplished in his death was more than he ever accomplished in his physical life.

Jdg 16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
Jdg 16:29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
Jdg 16:30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that [were] therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than [they] which he slew in his life.

"Let me die with the Philistines... for my two eyes", is the prayer of every man who comes to see how the doctrines and influences of modern day Philistines and Pharisees has robbed robbed us all of our "two eyes". It is only in our death that we gain our life.

Mat 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it

Now with all this in mind, let's look again at Samson's riddle and see what it really reveals.

Jdg 14:14 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.

The eater is those who would destroy Christ and His Christ, His elect. He is called "the eater" or the devourerer."

Mal 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

The "meat" that comes out of "the eater" is the good that God causes to come of evil. It is the light that God calls out of darkness.

Gen 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6 For these two years [hath] the famine [been] in the land: and yet [there are] five years, in the which [there shall] neither [be] earing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Gen 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.

God alone can and will cause all evil deeds that have ever been committed to eventually bring forth good for all men, and all generations of all time. That is "Out of the eater came forth meat" and that is also "out of the strong came forth sweetness."

I hope this answers your questions concerning the lion, the bees, and the honey of Samson's riddle. More than that I hope you see that we are Samson, and that it is only through our death to the things of this life that we will ever know the "meat" and the "sweetness" which are both an integral part of our walk in Christ.

Your brother in Christ,

Mike