Monday, June 17, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 14 and Augustine's Confessions 2

Judges 14 – Samson, now grown and imbued with God’s spirit (13:25), falls in love with a Philistine woman and asks his parents to get her for him to be his wife.  They remonstrate with him a bit, but do his bidding after all. The writer implies that God was using Samson’s weakness here to foment a crisis with the Philistines that would lead to their liberation, but we must wait and see the story play out (14:4).

Going down to Timnah to see about the woman, Samson encounters a lion. “The spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart. . .But he did not tell his father or his mother. . .” (14:6). He arranges the marriage. 

The next time he comes along this way (on his way to marry her), he sees the dead lion with a swarm of bees in its carcass—and honey.  He shares it with his parents, but does not tell them where it came from. While his father is gone “to the woman,” Samson has a feast with 30 companions (he calls them companions but they must be young people who are close to the bride’s family, people he is not really friends with but from whom he might expect gifts), and he asks them a riddle. “If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.  But if you cannot. . .then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments” (14:11-13). The riddle is this: “Out of the eater came something to eat.  Out of the strong came something sweet” (14:14).

They cannot guess, so they try to get Samson’s woman to help them find out the answer.  They are angry, thinking Samson is with his riddle working to impoverish them. She first tries to get him to tell her the answer by manipulating him—weeping, nagging, etc.  He finally tells her and she passes on the answer.  When they guess, he becomes enraged and charges them with having found the answer by “plow[ing] with [his] heifer” (14:18). “Then the spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he went down to Ashkelon [and] killed thirty men of the town, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments to those who had explained the riddle” (14:19). Not something you would think God’s spirit would inspire him to do! Are the men of Ashkelon innocent by-standers? The woman who is his wife does not come back with him to his father’s house, but is given to his “best man.”

Augustine (354-430 AD)
2 - And how shall I call upon my God— my God and my Lord? For when I call on Him I ask Him to come into me. And what place is there in me into which my God can come— into which God can come, even He who made heaven and earth? Is there anything in me, O Lord my God that can contain you? Do indeed the very heaven and the earth, which you have made, and in which you have made me, contain you? Or, as nothing could exist without you, does whatever exists contain you? Why, then, do I ask you to come into me, since I indeed exist, and could not exist if you were not in me? Because I am not yet in hell, though you are even there; for "if I go down into hell you are there." I could not therefore exist, could not exist at all, O my God, unless you were in me. Or should I not rather say, that I could not exist unless I were in you from whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things? [Romans 11:36] Even so, Lord; even so. Where do I call you to, since you are in me, or whence canst Thou come into me? For where outside heaven and earth can I go that from thence my God may come into me who has said, I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:24

How do I call upon you? Where do I see you? Where have I found you? “Is there anything in me . . . that can contain you?” I do not often call upon you in formal prayer. My whole being “calls” to you – my eyes that see your glory in everything around me; my ears that hear the life that is so cadent, so interconnected. It feels like my heart and mind are constantly reaching out for you. Did I get this way as an infant – seeking to know the world outside the dark and watery space I came from? But I still look out and feel out seeking that which brought me forth and has given me direction all my life. God is everywhere, but while He is in me and all around me, there is the me that is not completely God-filled. I feel the gap. I appreciate the liberty God has given me. And I have had years when I would not have called the . . . . . . out there I reached my arms out to “God” but “He” is “I Am Who Am.” Can I “know” Him? I can yearn for Him, I can feel Him near, I can see Him in the very complex “order” of all that is.

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