‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’ (Judges 14:14)


Lyle’s Golden Syrup had long been a favourite treat of mine.  It is also probably the only food on sale with a Bible verse on the tin.  The flashy gold and green tin has an oval at its centre showing a lion surrounded by bees, underneath it reads ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness.’


This verse was part of a riddle set by Samson, the strong man of the Bible.  Samson is famous for having great strength providing his long hair was never cut.  Perhaps less well remembered is that he was a teller of riddles.  He set one for his Philistine enemies when he asked what was ‘Once so strong and mighty – now so sweet and tasty!’    The answer was, of course, a lion he had killed, in which the bees had made their honey producing home.


The recent swarms of bees in Crowhurst churchyard were not attracted by a passing lion, but made their homes on an old gravestone.  They obviously felt at home, which is not surprising since bees have long been favoured creatures by Christian writers. Father Brown, the clerical detective, complained that society is more interested in learning about the bad than the good; it is more interested in wasps than bees!


 Bees have certainly come in for a lot of positive comments. They are praised in the ancient hymns for producing wax for candles and honey is considered to be a blessing from God.  The Israelites looked forward to entering the land of milk and honey.  One or two of the saints are also heavily associated with bees today. St Ambrose of Milanis usually shown with a beehive, because it is said that his words were like honey to the hearer. St Bartholomew, the apostle, is patron saint of beekeepers, in many parts of England, because his feast day, the 24th August, was the traditional date for the gathering in of honey. The old St Bartholomew’s Fair, inLondon ,was famous for its honey-coated apples.

Bees have also been admired for apparently working so closely together. They have been seen as serving as a model of what a good community should be like. Bees go about quietly doing good, as they pollinate our plants, which is exactly what Christians should be doing in the world.  Like a bee we may have to stand and defend our corner, but we should also be pollinating the world with as much love as we can manage.


Father Michael


Posted By: valerie

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