“Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” — Judges 14:14 (NASB)
One day, when Samson was on his way to marry a Philistine woman, a lion attacked him. By the Spirit of God, Samson killed the lion. On the way back home, he noticed that some bees had made honey in the carcass. He stopped to enjoy it. At the beginning of the wedding feast, he proposed a riddle based on the incident.
Let’s leave aside the fact that, as one living under the covenant of Moses, Samson had no business marrying a pagan. Let’s also leave aside the fact that, as someone under a Nazirite vow, he had no business approaching the lion’s corpse.The incident and the riddle teach some valuable lessons about how God works in our lives.
We live in a dangerous world. Most of us will not encounter lions as we go about our daily business, but we certainly encounter other dangers. Besides physical dangers, our world has always been fraught with emotional and spiritual dangers as well.
Samson killed the lion by the power of the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit resides within each Christian, and we can call upon that same power in time of need. Along with help in dangerous encounters, God brings blessings that could not have happened without them. Samson found honey in the lion’s dead body.
Does that last paragraph seem pat, sugary, unreal, and just religious? Here are illustrations I find in an issue of Guideposts (January 2010) that I picked up at random:
- A college student had to return home for a funeral. Travel arrangements didn’t give her enough time to catch up with friends. She had faced the twin dangers of death in the family and loneliness. Waiting for a connecting flight, she ran into a group from her home town church, whose flight back home had been delayed.
- An unemployed man and his wife virtually stopped talking to each other. Whenever they tried to talk, they fell into arguing about money. They found silence more comfortable than that. He accepted a temporary job in another city. As they spoke once a day on the phone, they recognized that they missed each other. Their conversations rekindled their affection for one another. What had threatened their marriage revitalized it.
- A woman whose family life was already in turmoil learned that a divorced son would be moving back home and bringing a dog. Instead of becoming yet another problem, as she feared, that dog became her greatest comfort.
- Widowed after a 54-year marriage, a woman wanted to die. She had loved to cook for her husband, but after his death the kitchen became the saddest room in her house. She found joy in her memories again after she started teaching cooking classes there.
That issue has more stories than I have room to describe. Each issue has more just like them. Other magazines besides Guideposts publish stories about ordinary people and how joy came from sorrow.
Not everyone who discovers blessing in dangerous or painful circumstances sends their stories to national magazines. People with eyes to see can find evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem our brushes with danger literally anywhere in the world.
Look again at Samson’s little poem. Taken by itself, it no longer appears as a riddle spoken by an irresponsible young man. It becomes a paraphrase of a well-known verse in the New Testament: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28 (NASB)