Samson went down to Timnah. There in Timnah a woman caught his eye, a Philistine girl.
He came back and told his father and mother, "I saw a woman in Timnah, a Philistine girl; get her for me as my wife."
His parents said to him, "Isn't there a woman among the girls in the neighborhood of our people? Do you have to go get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the one I want - she's the right one."
(His father and mother had no idea that God was behind this, that he was arranging an opportunity against the Philistines. At the time the Philistines lorded it over Israel.)
Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother. When he got to the vineyards of Timnah, a young lion came at him, roaring.
The Spirit of God came on him powerfully and he ripped it open barehanded, like tearing a young goat. But he didn't tell his parents what he had done.
Then he went on down and spoke to the woman. In Samson's eyes, she was the one.
Some days later when he came back to get her, he made a little detour to look at what was left of the lion. And there a wonder: a swarm of bees in the lion's carcass - and honey!
He scooped it up in his hands and kept going, eating as he went. He rejoined his father and mother and gave some to them and they ate. But he didn't tell them that he had scooped out the honey from the lion's carcass.
His father went on down to make arrangements with the woman, while Samson prepared a feast there. That's what the young men did in those days.
Because the people were wary of him, they arranged for thirty friends to mingle with him.
Samson said to them: "Let me put a riddle to you. If you can figure it out during the seven days of the feast, I'll give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of fine clothing.
But if you can't figure it out then you'll give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of fine clothing."
So he said, From the eater came something to eat, From the strong came something sweet.
On the fourth day they said to Samson's bride, "Worm the answer out of your husband or we'll burn you and your father's household. Have you invited us here to bankrupt us?"
So Samson's bride turned on the tears, saying to him, "You hate me. You don't love me. You've told a riddle to my people but you won't even tell me the answer." He said, "I haven't told my own parents - why would I tell you?"
But she turned on the tears all the seven days of the feast. On the seventh day, worn out by her nagging, he told her. Then she went and told it to her people.
The men of the town came to him on the seventh day, just before sunset and said, What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? And Samson said, If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, You wouldn't have found out my riddle.
Then the Spirit of God came powerfully on him. He went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, stripped them, and gave their clothing to those who had solved the riddle. Stalking out, smoking with anger, he went home to his father's house.
Samson's bride became the wife of the best man at his wedding.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)