Judges 14:14, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
I rarely have time to watch TV, but we turn it on a little more lately to check out what is happening with the war in Afghanistan. There are many talk shows with people debating back and forth their point of view but it saddens me when I see women shouting down the men they are debating. It does not seem right. It’s not the place that God has chosen for them and it doesn’t become them as women. In fact, it spoils them.
Are we then meant to be weak as women? No. I believe God wants us to be strong, but it is a different kind of strength than that of men. The ‘virtuous’ woman in Proverbs 31:10 was a strong woman. The word ‘virtuous’ is the Hebrew word ‘chayil’, which means ‘valiant, strength of an army’. We are to be strong in standing for truth, strong in our convictions, strong in faithfulness to our marriage and motherhood, strong in commitment, strong in purity and morality, strong in faith, strong in sacrifice and strong in endurance. It is strength of character rather than dominance and dogmatism that epitomizes a woman. It takes a strong woman of faith to believe for her marriage when her husband is not walking in God’s ways. It takes strength to endure in difficult circumstances.
But how do we demonstrate this strength? Is it by loudness and harshness? Is it by demanding our own way? Is it by stubbornness, which is actually inverted strength? No. It is revealed by a sweet, serving spirit.
Let me tell you the story of today’s Scripture. Samson wanted to marry a Philistine woman (even though this was against the Hebrew law). On the way down to Timnah to visit her, a lion attacked him, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. Some time later when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion and noticed a swarm of bees inside the lion. It was filled with honey and he enjoyed eating the special treat.
It was the custom to tell riddles at weddings and so Samson put forth his riddle. “Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” Nobody could guess the riddle until Samson’s wife nagged him day after day to tell her.
Where did the sweetness come from? It came from strength. Sweetness without strength can be weak and sickly. Strength without sweetness can be harsh and hurtful. We need both. To demand our own way is weakness. Any three-year old can do that! Unyielding stubbornness can be weakness. However, it takes strength to speak kind and sweet words when you’d rather “fly off the handle.” It’s easy to react with sharp words. We need God’s strength to be loving and sweet.
I love the picture the bridegroom paints of his bride in Song of Songs 4:11, “Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue.” What does honey taste like? Sweet. What does milk speak of? Nourishment. What kinds of words drip from your mouth? Sweet, nourishing and life-giving words come forth from the strong woman because she is concerned for others rather than herself.
We see another picture of the strong and meek together in the picture of Jesus in Revelation 5:1-8. John wept because there was no one worthy to open and read the book until one of the elders proclaimed, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to open the scroll… And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne… stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” The heavenly elder announced Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but when John looked, it was a Lamb!
Strength and meekness flow together. Even motherhood has these two aspects – sweet tenderness but also strong protection that guards children with our life.
Nobody could guess Samson’s riddle. Maybe people cannot guess where your love and sweetness comes from when you are in the midst of a difficult marriage. They cannot understand your quiet endurance in the midst of trial and tribulation. They don’t know that it comes from the strength of your inner man, as you trust unwaveringly in the Lord. They don’t understand that true love comes from strength that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) This is the true strength of a woman. A sweet spirit will nourish and build up a marriage. A strong spirit that is not tampered with sweetness can destroy family life.
When Samson found the honey, he also took some to his parents and they enjoyed the sweetness too. Can others feed from the sweetness you offer from your life?
Love from NANCY CAMPBELL
“Oh Lord, strengthen me in my inner man by your Holy Spirit. I cannot be strong of myself. You are the one who makes me strong in trial and temptation. Lord, I cannot be sweet by myself either. My flesh has no sweetness in it. Please work in my heart by your Holy Spirit and pour into me your gentle, sweet spirit. Let it flow out from me at all times, in all situations, and especially in my home towards my husband and family. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”
Proverbs 16:21, “The sweetness of the lips increases learning.”