Samson and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah


Before we start our study about Samson and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah it is most important to remember that all stories in the Bible were written about Jesus and by Jesus through His prophets (I Peter 1:10-12). All stories in the Bible are part of the Word of God who came in the flesh to bless and save mankind (John 1:1-3, 14). We must also remember that Jesus is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Jesus does not play favorites and He died to save all men (I Timothy 2:4; John 3:16) including the Philistines and all the Gentiles of the entire world. We must protect ourselves against the thought that the gospel was not present in the times before Christ. But ever since there was a sinner, a lost sheep, Jesus has been looking for them to redeem them and bring them back into a right relationship with Himself. So when reading the stories of Samson please remember that all of these stories are about Jesus in one way or another for His gospel is an everlasting gospel (Genesis 3:15-21; Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:8; Hebrews 4:1-2).


Now that we have the housekeeping out of the way lets proceed with the story. In Judges 14:5 we find that Samson is on his way to see his girlfriend, the girl of Timnath of the Philistines. On his way Samson sees a lion approaching him and the lion roars against him. This is a good place to examine another Bible study issue. When we see a lion coming towards Samson we have a variety of issues involving interpretation. We can understand that the lion is simply that a four legged beast that roars and seeks to kill whatever it is in front of him. That would be the most straightforward interpretation of this text. Samson sees a lion and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (verse 6) Samson is empowered to kill this literal animal with his bare hands. That interpretation would lead us to the conclusion that God wants to allow us to see the power He has given to Samson and to protect him from this carnivorous animal.


Another perspective when reading the word lion is that this lion is a symbol of Satan for Satan is referred to as a lion in I Peter 5:8 and II Timothy 4:17. If we use that interpretation we would have a story of the servant of God destroying the symbol of Satan.


If we were to use another interpretation we could see the lion as a symbol of God’s judgment like the lion He sent against the unnamed prophet in I Kings 13:1-32. This would indicate that perhaps God was trying to warn Samson against his desire to violate the commandments of God. In this context the “roaring” of the lion would be a warning to turn back. Roaring is used in Revelation 10:3 to communicate a message from Jesus and to let all the world know about it.


We also know that the lion can be used as a prophetic symbol for either Babylon as in Daniel 7:1-4 or for Jesus Himself in Revelation 5:5 as in the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, or even the remnant of Israel as in Micah 5:8.


So when we read the Bible we must be open to all avenues of thought and then pray to God for His guidance as we read His stories and to receive all of the thoughts that He wants to give us.


So with the above stated it is my opinion, each of you will have to study this for yourselves, that the lion that roared against Samson was a literal animal and that it was also a symbol of Christ – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and that He was warning Samson to repent and turn back from the foolish task that Samson had appointed for himself.


Now one could ask why would the Spirit of God come upon Samson to kill the lion. We know of course that this act would at least settle the issue of where Samson’s power came from for it came from God. We could also say that the Spirit of God came upon Samson and that Samson misapplied the power and instead of repenting in the presence of Jesus that he killed instead not understanding the message from God. This would be similar in some ways to the appeals of Jesus to the people of Israel when He came to them and they understood not that they were killing the Creator of the world, and the founder of Israel. This would be one explanation of why Jesus asked His Father to forgive them for they understood not what they were doing (Luke 23:34).


Shortly after the death of the lion Samson was coming home from another visit to Timnath and he decided to stop by and see the results of his conquest. He could see clearly the body of the lion but he noticed that there were bees coming out of the lion. Somehow a swarm of bees had taken residence in the dead body of the lion and that it had produced honey and stored the honey in the lion. This is a most unusual display of behavior of bees, and would indicate that God’s hand was upon this act as well.


When Samson saw the bees and the honey he took of the honey and began to eat, and took some to his parents as well, but did not tell them where he got the honey from lest they feel bad that it had touched a dead animal and was thus ceremonially unclean. So Samson ate honey out of the dead body of the lion.


Now if we were to look at this through gospel eyes we might see something unusual. The death of the lion produced honey and that this honey was available through the death of the lion. This almost has the “flavor” of the gospel coming out of the death of Jesus on Calvary.


In the Bible honey is, of course, the sweet substance produced by bees of which mankind has been blessed by God. But another definition of honey is the Word of God. In Exodus 16:31 manna tasted like honey and we know that manna was a symbol of Christ (John 6:26-35) the bread of life. We also know that in Psalms 19:10 that the honey was  a symbol of the laws of God. And then for our third witness (II Corinthians 13:1) we know that God uses his prophecies and when the prophets ate them they tasted like honey to them (Ezekiel 2:9-3:3; Revelation 10:8-11). So when the concept of honey is present we must pray study and try various ideas like we did with the word “lion”.


We clearly know the most literal interpretation of the above material is that Samson was attacked by a lion, he killed it, and then he found honey in it and went on his way. It is my opinion that a spiritual understanding of this same passage indicates that Jesus had a higher goal in mind to allow us to see the gospel in this story and to see that simple stories can have deeper meanings to the gospel seeking mind. In either case you will have to study this out to seek the approval of Jesus in your study for angels desire to look into these things so we know that there are deep issues in this stories. We will see if these concepts show up again in the story and see if it can tell us more about Samson and the purposes of God. We will talk more about how this applies when we get to the use of Samson’s parable/riddle.