How Not to Start a Marriage
Samson has to be one of the most intriguing men in the Bible. He is stronger than an ox. His abilities in battle are spectacular. He makes Olympic weightlifters look as wimpy as me. He is unbelievable! And yet, it sometimes seems that his head is filled with muscles instead of brains. If ever there is a time for a man or woman to use his brains, it is as they plan for marriage. A good start to a marriage pays long term dividends. That is why premarital counseling should be required. We need to do everything we can to help marriages get off to a good start. I once spoke to a man who asked me about performing his wedding ceremony with his wife-to-be. I told him that one of the requirements I had for performing a wedding was to do pre-marital counseling. “Oh,” he said, “I won’t need that. I’ve already been married several times.” Hmmm…I wonder if there might be some misunderstanding here? Strong marriages are built on strong foundations. Weak marriages are built on flimsy foundations. Samson is kind enough to show us in Judges 14 how not to start a marriage.
Judges 14:1-20 NASB
Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So he came back and told his father and mother, "I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife." Then his father and his mother said to him, "Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me." However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel. Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. So he went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson. When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion. So he scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion. Then his father went down to the woman; and Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this. When they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. Then Samson said to them, "Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes." And they said to him, "Propound your riddle, that we may hear it." So he said to them, "Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet." But they could not tell the riddle in three days. Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?" Samson's wife wept before him and said, "You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me." And he said to her, "Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?" However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people. So the men of the city said to 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 to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have found out my riddle." Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father's house. But Samson's wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.
I. Shallow People Build Shallow Relationships (vv. 1-2, 7) The basis Samson’s relationship with his intended wife is external rather than internal. We get the impression that he has seen the woman but hasn’t really spoken to her. Samson is immature. He is demanding of his parents, hasty in his decisions, and weak in his faith. Not surprisingly, he finds himself wanting to marry a woman who is willing to whine, deceive, and undermine. One immature person is drawn to another. a. Healthy relationships aren’t built on external factors like beauty and wealth (v. 2) i. Verse two is fascinating. ii. Samson say to his parents, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; not get her for me as my wife.” iii. Apparently, Samson bases his need to marry the woman on the fact that he has seen her and he life’s what he sees. iv. What a shallow basis for a marriage. v. External factors are the most unstable sort of foundation for a lasting relationship. b. Healthy relationships are built on internal commitments like honesty and trustworthiness (v. 7, 16-17) i. First Samuel 16:7 tells us, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1. Beauty and wealth will fade. 2. Relationships are to be based on who we are on the inside. 3. The lack of internal commitment becomes quickly evident in the relationship between Samson and his unnamed girlfriend. ii. Olivia and I have been married for close to twenty years now. 1. I am starting to get white hairs and less muscled than I was when we married. 2. I am so glad she married me for who I am on the inside and not what I look like on the outside!
II. Strong Relationships Build on a Foundation of Faith (v. 3) Samson’s parents were deeply concerned that he would marry someone who did not worship the Lord God. Can I tell you one of the most unpopular verses in the bible? 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers.” Yet this verse gets to the heart of the importance of faith in building a strong marriage. a. A common faith leads to: i. Common values 1. Faith is the basis of our common values in marriage or any family relationship. 2. Our love for our family is a commitment we make based in our faith in God’s love. 3. Our common faith leads us to common values like love, commitment and integrity. ii. Common commitments 1. Faith leads a husband and wife to a common commitment to marriage. 2. We sometimes say, “Divorce is not an option – murder maybe – but not divorce!” iii. Common goals 1. With a common faith, we work towards the same goal of honoring the Lord with our marriage and our family. 2. Our goal in life should be to honor the Lord. 3. We are to love Him supremely and love others as we love ourselves. 4. This becomes the goal of our lives as Christians and of our marriages as we serve the Lord together. b. A compromise of faith leads to: i. Compromise of moral standards 1. Samson’s compromise of faith led to deception and exasperation (vv. 15-17). 2. Both Samson and his hoped-for-bride are willing to compromise God’s standards of holiness and honesty. ii. Compromise of spiritual responsibilities 1. Samson was called to be a judge – a leader – in Israel. 2. Yet his compromises of faith kept him from fulfilling his leadership responsibilities. 3. Perhaps the reason divorce is so common inour country is that we are unwilling to face our marriage responsibilities. 4. Compromising those responsibilities seems to be the easy way out. iii. Compromise of personal potential 1. Samson was filled with potential. 2. He could have been a great leader. 3. But his compromise of faith kept him from being the man God called him to be.
You are preparing for your future every day. For those of you who will contemplate marriage one day, God wants to begin to prepare you right now for the kind of husband or wife you need to be. Deepen your own faith right now. Grow in your commitment to the Lord and His purposes and plans for you and for your future. Become the kind of person your future marriage partner will need to be. Make some wedding plans right now and let those plans be to become all that God wants you to become. If you are already married like myself, it is never too late to get it right and the Lord is there to help you, if you will let him.