And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. And his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said to his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. -- Judges 14:1-3
I think this is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Samson could have done so much for God, but he became a playboy instead. And for the record, I personally believe Samson was a little guy who looked like a wimp. If he'd have been one of those weightlifter-body builder types like he's pictured in children's Bible story books, people would not have been so curious about where his strength came from.
In relation to our current series on courtship and marriage, there are three points I want to make here.
1. Samson saw the woman he wanted and asked his father to get her for him. There was nothing wrong with him following this process. His father would probably not have objected if only Samson had picked an Israelite woman. So courtship, in the Bible, allowed for the man to pick his own bride rather than wait for the parents or matchmakers to choose for him. The parents still arranged everything, but the son was allowed to make his choice known.
2. Samson picked the wrong woman. He went to the world instead of to God's chosen people. Granted, this was all in the providence of God, and God planned to use this against the Philistines. But God's providence should never be an excuse for sin. Never, ever should a godly man pick a worldly woman and say that God will work it for good.
3. Samson failed to follow his father's advice. Manoah knew that the Philistine woman would not be good for his son. He cautioned Samson to look among God's people for a better bride. Samson would have none of them, and insisted on having the Philistine woman. He got his way. . .or did he? Read Judges 14 and 15 for yourself and find out.
Fast forward several thousand years to the Church age. What does the New Testament say about each of these three points?
1. Choosing your own bride: Sorry, but I could not find anything in the New Testament that specifically addresses whether there should be a matchmaker involved or not. The Lord speaks highly of marriage, however, and the epistles give plenty of principles to follow for choosing the right bride and how the marriage itself should function.
2. Choosing the right bride: What kind of woman should a man choose? First and foremost she should be a Christian. 2 Corinthians 6:14 makes this very clear: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. . ." If you want to know how to tell if a woman is truly converted, read 1 John.
She should have the fruit of the spirit in practice. That fruit may not be fully developed, but it should be at least growing. Read Galatians chapter five in order to get verses 22-23 in context. Then do your own study of just exactly what each of those words means. Simply looking them up in a concordance will show you a lot, but you can get deeper.
She should be trained specifically for the role of wife and mother. Read Titus 2:4-5. Other passages to study: 1 Timothy 3:11 (specifically about deacon's wives, but can--should?--apply to any woman serving the church), 1 Peter 3:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
3. Following godly advice, particularly that of godly parents: God gives older Christians insight that younger Christians would do well to follow. Titus 2, for example, lists things that Titus was to teach the younger men and things that older women were to teach younger women. Be teachable. Hebrews 13 speaks three times of those who have the rule over you. This can include parents, pastors, teachers, or even mentors. Verse 7 tells us to "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
A godly older person can look unromantically at a prospective bride and see more clearly her faults as well as those points in her favour. He or she can help the young man determine whether those faults should be remedied before considering her for marriage, or if they are things that will work themselves out with time. A young man can ask the older women in the prospective bride's life what they think of her. But don't expect perfection. Very few (if any) younger women have achieved the high standard set in Proverbs 31:10-31. In fact, most older women are still working on that!
The man who wants a good wife will do some careful examining of the young women available. He will not rush off to marry the first pretty girl (or good cook!) he meets. He will seek the counsel of others with regard to his choice. He will also PRAY much about the matter. He will wait for God's choice for him, regardless of how long that may take. My own husband waited ten years. (He says I was worth it, and I guess Proverbs 18:22 agrees. But, oh, that I might be a better "good thing"!)
This was going to be a shorter post! Oh, well. Ruth is next. Meanwhile, here's a hint for the young women. Do you want to be chosen by a godly man? Do your own study of all the passages mentioned in this post. How do you measure up?