When he (Samson) 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 it as he went.Judges 14:8-9
This story really seems insignificant on the surface, doesn’t it? A leisurely stroll. Some bees. Some honey. A snack on the way to visit your future bride. Seems very safe. Very serene. Almost inconsequential. Or is it? Is there something more at work here than just a hungry man’s desire to fill his natural appetite? In my opinion, this bit of scripture gives us a very clear picture of the way in which temptation works to entrap the child of God. There are at least 4 important points that bear some reflection on our part.
Samson turned aside from the initial path. When he first set off on his journey he had a destination, a predetermined path. He knew where he was going. And he knew how he was going to get there. But somewhere along the way Samson got off course. He strayed from the path. He turned aside and wandered into temptation. It’s really no different for any of us. Turn aside from God’s path and trouble is what you will find. Each of us need to adhere closely to the path that is set before us in the Word of God. Turn aside to other philosophies and pursuits and you set yourself up for disaster.
Samson ignored the potential pain. Me? There is absolutely no way am I sticking my hand into a bee hive. It just ain’t happening. But for Samson the potential pleasure outweighed any possible pain. Now, I’m not going to lie. There is a sense in which sin can be pleasurable. The Bible itself acknowledges that truth (see Hebrews 11:25). But the Bible also makes it clear that the pleasure of sin is only temporary. It passes quickly. And in the end it always brings forth death and destruction. There is always a price to be paid. Always a cost when we make the wrong choice. Foolish is the person who is willing to risk lasting pain for a moment of fleeting and unsatisfying pleasure.
Samson only saw something desirable. Samson saw only the honey. He didn’t really pay any attention to the carcass of the dead lion. He noticed it. But he didn’t take it into account. Otherwise, he would have never eaten the honey. Because of its connection to the carcass, the honey was ceremonially unclean. Samson’s Nazarite vow prevented him from eating anything unclean. That means he either forgot his vow or simply chose to ignore it. Why? Because he saw something desirable, something he wanted. Temptation is a distortion of desire. Nothing wrong with Samson’s hunger. Nothing wrong with honey itself. But in this case the honey was connected to something dead. The bottom line? God had said, “no.” But Samson allowed his own desires to overrule God’s word and will for his life.
Samson moved forward indifferent to his decision. Envision the closing scene. Samson is walking down the road, licking the “unclean” honey from his fingers. Yes, he’s moved back onto the right path. But he’s now taking his sin with him. I think all of us have been guilty of the same error at some point in our own lives. Rather than leaving our sin on the wayside we try to carry it forward with us. We convince ourselves that no one is perfect, that we’re not hurting anyone, that God is full of love and he understands our weaknesses. Samson thought he could sin and just go on living like nothing had ever happened. In time that attitude would prove to be his downfall. Leave your sin behind you. You can’t keep holding on to it.
Temptation is a part of life. You can’t avoid it. But you can prepare for it. We would all do well to evaluate our current spiritual journey in the light of Samson’s own mistakes. Have we strayed from the path of God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Have we chosen the temporary pleasures of sin over the lasting consequences that are sure to follow? Are we choosing our desires over His word and will? And finally, have we bought the lie that we can follow Christ and still hold fast to our sin? Certainly, they are all questions worth honestly considering. Samson should remind all of us that wanting the wrong things may indeed be a part of our human nature. But they don’t have to be the testimony of our lives.