<< SAMSON'S RIDDLE. >>
Then went Samson down ... to Timnath, ... and behold, a young lion roared against him, And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and he rent him [the lion]' as he would have rent a kid.. ! And after a time he returned ... and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion....And Samson said, . . . I will now put forth a riddle unto you: . . . Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.-JUDGES xiv. 5, 6, 8, 12, 14·
RESISTING temptation, with the Divine help, we overcome the power of evil, and attain the strength and sweetness of regeneration.
As a Nazarite, Samson represented the natural humanity of the Lord, Jesus Christ, which, armed with the Divine Truth, battled with the hells, and overcame them. Samson's power is said to have been in his long hair. The hair, growing from the skin, and on the outside of the body, represents the ultimates, the externals, the things of the natural mind, and of the natural life. And, in a special sense, the hair represents the letter of the Divine Word, which is its outward sense.
Truth is strong and effective when it is brought out, and applied directly to the doings of our outward life, as is done by the commandments of the Decalogue. For instance, when we think on the subject of honesty, we may have many theories as to what may be allowable; but, when we consult the Ten Commandments, the truth confronts us in the plain practical form of self-denial: "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not bear false witness," etc., etc. And no ingenious argument can break the practical force of these laws of conduct, which embody our intentions.
The power of literal truth is represented by the hair. And hence some of the prophets and representative men were particularly mentioned as "hairy men," as Esau, and Elijah, and John the Baptist, and Samson.
The natural humanity of Jesus, represented by Samson, inherited from his mother all the natural tendencies to evil which then existed in the Jewish race. And that natural humanity needed to be purified, glorified, and united with the indwelling Divinity, so that the Father could dwell in the Son ; by which is meant that the Divine Love could enter into the Divine Truth, in the mind of Jesus, and could fill that truth with all the life and power of the Divine Love; and thus could fill the humanity of Jesus with all the Divine qualities, and all the Divine Power; and thus that the Divinity could dwell in the Divine Humanity, in fulness. This was the process of glorifying the humanity, and of making it to be the Divine Humanity, the external of God, in whom God dwelt in fulness, so that Father and the Son were one, in a trinity of attributes of the Divine Character, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, meaning the Divine Love, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Power, all present in the Divine Humanity of the one God, in one person, the Lord; Jesus Christ.
Part of the work of glorification, by which the humanity became one with the Divinity, was represented by Samson tearing the lion
Representatives are used sometimes in a good sense, and sometimes in a perverted sense, when things are in disorder. In a good sense, a lion, as the "king of beasts," and as a beast of great power, represents power, especially the power of truth, fighting against falsity and evil; and most especially the power of the letter of the Divine Word, because the lion is especially a hairy animal. In this good sense, our Lord was called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." But, when the lion is used in a bad sense, it represents the power of truth perverted, and thus turned into the power of falsity, which, in the unregenerate mind, wages war against the spirit of the Divine Truth, and against goodness in the practical life.
As a natural man, Jesus was born into a natural tendency to falsify the Divine Truth which he had learned. And when the interior and Divine part of his nature sought to bring his whole manhood into good order, this merely natural tendency to falsify truth opposed such a change in his natural mind, and resisted the process of glorification. This natural tendency to falsify truth is the lion in our text. This lion, roaring at Samson, thus represented a mental lion, in the natural mind of Jesus.
Such lions are often mentioned in the Scriptures as for instance, in Psalm xxii. 13, "They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion;" and in Psalm lvii. 4, "My soul is among lions." But when, in Jesus, the Divine nature overcame the hereditary tendency to falsify truth, because the humanity exerted itself to resist such a tendency, and to do the Divine will, then this action was represented by Samson tearing the lion. And the Divine promise to the assumed humanity, and also to each of us, in our humanity, is represented in the words in Psalm xci. 13, " Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."
THE LION'S ATTACK.
The great power of evil and of falsity was not merely in the natural tendencies of the Jewish race, in the assumed humanity of Jesus, but also because these tendencies to evils and falsities formed a standing-ground, in his natural mind, on which all the hells could stand, to wage war against the Divine nature in Jesus, which was seeking to possess his whole manhood, and to glorify his humanity. And, as the glorification would be for goodness, and against all evils, therefore the evil spirits in all the hells sought to prevent this glorification. And hence they combined all their power to induce the humanity of Jesus to fall into sin. And their attack is represerited by the attack of the lion. And, on the other hand, the great power of Samson against the lion was not merely because of his unusual muscular strength, but because of the help of the Lord, by the ministrations of angels. As our text declares, " And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him."
A large part of the work of Jesus Christ, as a Redeemer, was in conquering the hells, which had been holding men down, in evil, falsity and sin. But, in order to do this work for men in general, Jesus had to do the same kind of work, in his own natural mind. He met the devils on the ground of his own natural tendencies to evil; and, by defeating them there, He rescued men from their infernal power. And Samson's doings often represented this work of Jesus Christ. As the Divine Father dwelt within the assumed humanity of Jesus Christ, and directed and strengthened the natural manhood of Jesus, in his contest against the hells, so Jesus Christ, now as the one God of heaven and earth, dwells within us; and, if we are willing, He teaches, directs, and sustains us, in our fight with the hells.
You remember that, when Jesus sent out the seventy disciples, to preach the gospel, "the seventy returned again, with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us, through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy : and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke x. 17-19.)
"Out of the eater carne forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
"The eater, or devourer, or destroyer, was the lion; and the lion here represented the power of false principles, working in man's natural mind, and seeking to destroy all goodness, and all spirituality, in the man. Personally, such lions represent evil and false spirits, in the spiritual world, who are always mentally associated with men's evil tendencies, and always working upon these tendencies, to arouse and increase them, and thus to destroy men, spiritually. But Samson had killed the lion, thus representing the Lord, in His humanity, operating against evil and false spirits, and opposing their influence, not only in His assumed natural humanity, but also in the minds of all men who are willing to be regenerated, and who are ready to resist their own evil inclinations, and to do good, in the name of the Lord; i.e., in accordance with His principles.
Men's natural tendencies to evil and falsity are full of terrible power for evil, because men fell into evil, ages ago, and they have gone on in evil, constantly increasing their tendencies to evil. And so, man's external nature is now born into sympathy with the evil influences of the hells. But the work of Jesus Christ, as a Redeemer, broke the force of such evil power, as is represented in our text by Samson killing the lion. The dead lion had lost his terrible power; i.e., in each regenerate man, the evil and false nature had been overcome by the Divine influence, made efficient, in each case, by the man's cooperation. When a man remains unregenerate, all his natural mental powers are working on the side of evil. And then they possess a terrible power for evil.
But, in the regeneration, those powers are changed in their quality, their spiritual character; and then. they are no longer working for evil, but the ravenous lion In them is dead. Regeneration separates men's hearts from the hells, and unites them with the Lord, in spiritual sweetness of character. Thus, "out of the eater came forth meat," because the quality of man's mental strength was changed, and the new quality is not destructive, spiritually; but, on the contrary, it affords spiritual meat, which is food for man's soul. And "out of the strong came forth sweetness," because the power of the mind was regenerated, and its strength turned to spiritual sweetness; which is goodness, from the heart and in the life. This mental sweetness, meaning good natural affections, operating in good outward conduct, is represented by the honey, which is characterized by great sweetness.
THE PERSONAL APPLICATION.
This riddle of Samson holds before each of us a mirror of symbols, in which we can read our own conclitions and possibilities. We are all born with tendencies to evil, falsity and sin. And these things in our external nature, are as a roaring lion, ready to devour everything in us that is good or true. And if this process of spiritual devouring continues, without resistance, we shall be formed into evil characters, devils at heart and in life. But no one is left in this condition, helpless to contend against evil influences. But our Lord, in His infinite providence, provides that each man shall hear the truth taught, and that the truth shall be kept before him, from the time he is old enough to begin to comprehend its meaning. And even before that time, the Lord provides that the truth, as a rule of action, shall be brought to the attention of every man, so that he may know what things should be done, and what other things should not be done, and why it should be so, in each case. And thus, light is given to everyone, so that he may not be left helpless. And then power comes to everyone, from the Lord, in and by the truth. And everyone may use the truth, and may gain power in a practical way, so that he can live by the truth. And when we exert our power, as if it were our own strength, and yet with the acknowledgment that it is the Lord's power, working in us, and through us, to conquer our evil tendencies, we kill the lions of our disorderly nature. And then their terrible power for evil is destroyed; i.e., the evil is then destroyed.
AFFECTION NOT LOST, BUT CHANGED.
For regeneration does not kill a man's natural mind, nor does it take away from him anything that belongs to his life. But it takes away the evil, by changing the quality of the man's affections, from evil to good. The affections remain, but their quality, or character, changes. Observe that, when the Lord calls upon men to become regenerate, He does not ask them to give up their affections, but to place their affections upon good and true objects. "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well." (Isaiah i. 16, 17.)
During temptation, while the prospect seems dark, we often feel that, if we give up our natural desires, we shall lose all things which make life worth living. And yet, after we have put down our evil tendencies, we find that we have not lost anything, and that our affections remain, but that they have been purified, regenerated, sweetened, by the reception into them of the spirit of heavenly love. Here, then, "out of the eater came forth meat," food for our spiritual life; and those natural affections, which seemed to be strong against our salvation, now, when cleansed and purified, afford us the sweetness of regenerate life, when we are allowed full freedom, because we have no desire for evil. And thus, "out of the strong came forth sweetness," spiritually.
A GREAT TRUTH.
This is a great truth, which it is very hard to teach to the natural-minded man ; i.e., that the real sweetness, and the sustaining spiritual food of human life, practically begin only when we have conquered our natural tendencies to evil; only when, in us, Samson has slain the lion. We are placed in this world to learn how to live, by learning what true life is, and whence and how it comes to us, and how it is to be sustained in its power,and in its sweetness. Our life must continue to be a struggle, until we have learned to slay our ravenous lion, with the great strength with which our Lord will fill all our sincere and earnest efforts for regeneration.
Every known truth is a mental way, or path, on which we are called upon to walk, in daily life. And, in the beginning, on every such pathway a roaring lion will confront us. But, in every case, our Lord is ready, beside us, and within us, like Samson, to rend our lion. And in due progress, the spiritual bees of our mind will make their honey. And then we shall hear the Word of our Lord, speaking of the path of our daily life:"No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast go up thereon; it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah xxxv. 9, 10.)
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903