Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Samson and the Gates of Gaza

Judges 14 to Judges 16

Samson married the daughter of one of the Philistines. Her father took her away from him, and, in revenge, he killed great numbers of them, and destroyed their crops and vineyards.

The Philistines then came out in great force against the men of Judah, and demanded that Samson should be given up to them. The men accordingly came to Samson, and said they must give him up to the enemy.

Samson let them bind him with strong cords, and take him to the Philistines. But at that moment God gave him strength to snap the cords and, snatching up the jaw-bone of a donkey, he killed one thousand of them!

After this, Samson went to Gaza, a city of the Philistines, and at night the people shut him in, saying to each other that they would kill him in the morning. But in the middle of the night he got up, tore down the gates of the city, and, throwing them upon his shoulders, carried them to the top of a hill. His enemies now saw that they could not overcome him by force, so they bribed a woman to get from him the secret of his strength.

Samson deceived both her and them several times, but at last told her the truth, that if his hair were cut off, he would not be stronger than any other man. When he was asleep, Delilah cut off his hair and then, calling the Philistines, they took him, blinded him and put him to work grinding corn.

As he toiled in prison, God gave his strength to him again. One day, when the great men of the Philistines were going to worship their false god Dagon, they made Samson entertain them. He begged the boy who led him in to let him rest against the pillars of the building where they were assembled.

Samson prayed to God that He would once more enable him to destroy his enemies. He held onto the pillars, and, bending forward with all his might, pulled the building down, crushing both himself and thousands of the Philistines. Thus it happened that he killed more in his death than in life.

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