Friday, July 04, 2008

Judges 16:23–31

Judges 16:23–31: Samson dies (and takes a bunch of Philistines with him)

Synopsis

In the last passage, Samson was finally captured by the Philistines, after losing the strength given to him by the LORD. However, as we read at the end of the passage, after his capture, his hair began to grow again. In this passage, the Philistines decide to celebrate Samson’s capture, and offer a sacrifice to their god (Dagon), to thank him for enabling them to capture Samson. About three thousand of them gather in their temple, to do so.

While they are celebrating, and in “high spirits” (verse 25), they decide to bring Samson out, and he performs to entertain them. (I don’t know what he could possibly have done to entertain them; juggle? Tap dance?)

Because the Philistines have gouged out Samson’s eyes, he’s being led around by a servant. He asks the servant to lead him between the pillars that are supporting the temple. He then prays to the LORD for one more feat of strength:

Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (verse 28)

And the LORD apparently hears Samson’s prayer, because he pushes against the two pillars, and causes the temple to collapse, killing himself and the Philistines inside. (The passage doesn’t say if all of the Philistines are killed, but it does say in verse 30 that he killed many more of them in his death than he did in the rest of his life.)

His family then comes to get his body, to bring him back and bury him in his father’s tomb. In all, he’d led Israel twenty years.

Thoughts

Aside from the drama between Samson and Delilah, I think the strangest thing about Samson’s story is the part about his hair. When he shaves his hair he loses his strength, and when it starts to grow back, he starts to get his strength back. It makes the whole thing seem so magical, instead of seeming like the strength is coming from the LORD. I mean, the Bible specifically says that it’s the LORD giving Samson his strength, but the thing about the hair really does make it seem like magic, instead of the Holy Spirit.
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