Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 16 and Augustine's Confessions 4

Judges 16 Samson goes to Gaza and sees a prostitute he wants.  The men of Gaza lie in wait for him all night.  But he fools them by leaving in the middle of the night, taking the doors of the city gate with him to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron—another feat of strength.

Then comes the episode with Delilah.  Samson falls in love with her.  The lords of the Philistines come to Delilah and induce her to help them find out the secret of his strength, so he can be defeated. She cooperates and tries to get the truth from him.

Three times he deceives her: telling her he can be overcome by binding his arms with fresh bowstrings; then by binding him with new ropes; or by weaving the seven locks of his head with a web and making it tight with a pin.  Then, when she accuses him of not really loving her, he finally tells her that his strength lies in his uncut hair. 

Using this knowledge they manage to capture Samson, gouge out his eyes and bring him to Gaza.  They bind him with bronze shackles and make him grind at the mill in prison.  But his hair begins to grow back, and one day they bring him out to entertain them.  They put him between two pillars.  He prays one last time to God to give him strength for one more act of revenge that he “may pay back the Philistines for [his] two eyes.” And He does. He strengthens Samson to collapse the whole building, killing more at his death than were killed all during his life (16:30). But he dies too and is buried in the tomb of his father, having been a judge for 20 years.

Augustine (354-430 AD)
4 - What, then, are you, O my God— what, I ask, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? Or who is God save our God? Most high, most excellent, most potent, most omnipotent; most piteous and most just; most hidden and most near; most beauteous and most strong, stable, yet contained of none; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud and they know it not; always working, yet ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing; sustaining, pervading, and protecting; creating, nourishing, and developing; seeking, and yet possessing all things. You love, and burn not; You are jealous, yet free from care; You repent, and have no sorrow; You are angry, yet serene; You change Your ways, leaving unchanged Your plans; You recover what You find, having yet never lost; You are never in want, while You rejoice in gain; You are never covetous, though requiring usury. Matthew 25:27 That You may owe, more than enough is given to You; yet who has anything that is not Yours? You pay debts while owing nothing; and when You forgive debts, lose nothing. Yet, O my God, my life, my holy joy, what is this that I have said? And what says any man when He speaks of You? Yet woe to them that keep silence, seeing that even they who say most are as the dumb.

These words are amazing. My favorite phrases are “most hidden and most near” and “unchangeable, yet changing all things.” I really have nothing to add today.

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