Q. In Judges 14:4 it says, in effect, that God somehow brought about Samson’s marriage to the young Philistine woman. What do you make of this? Did God make Samson sin?
Thanks for the question.
I think we should begin by noting that Samson had to know that such a marriage would be wrong (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). If for no other reason, it was wrong because his parents warned him not to do so (Judges 14:3). Samson disobeyed both his parents and God. His parents were right in warning Samson not to marry this Philistine woman, but they did not realize that God intended to use his sin to further His purposes.
We can see the same thing when we recall Joseph’s suffering at the hands of his brothers (Genesis 37ff.). And yet Joseph summed it up just as he should when he said:
As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph’s brothers sinned in the way they treated him, but God purposed to use this to achieve His good purposes. Their attempts to “destroy” Joseph resulted in God’s “saving” the small and fragile beginnings of a great nation.
Let me illustrate how God works with a human analogy. The police sometimes will orchestrate a “sting” operation. In order to catch a ring of burglars they might set up a phony fence operation, buying stolen goods. When the guilty parties clearly established their guilt, the police could then arrest them. If the police made the thieves steal, or sell their stolen goods, that would be entrapment. But when they merely create a setting which reveals the character and conduct of these thieves, they can be arrested. The sting operation merely served to reveal what these sinful people were – thieves. God may work in a similar way, creating situations where man’s sinful character and conduct will be revealed, but in a way that does not make Him guilty of the wrongdoing.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. 15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).