April 2, 2015

Judges 15-16 -  Later on—it was during the wheat harvest—Samson visited his bride... But her father wouldn’t let him in. He said, “I concluded that by now you hated her with a passion, so I gave her to your best man. But her little sister is even more beautiful. Why not take her instead?”  Samson said, “That does it. This time when I wreak havoc on the Philistines, I’m blameless.”
Samson then went out and caught three hundred jackals. He lashed the jackals’ tails together in pairs and tied a torch between each pair of tails. He then set fire to the torches and let them loose in the Philistine fields of ripe grain. Everything burned, both stacked and standing grain, vineyards and olive orchards—everything...

The Philistines went up and burned both Samson’s bride and her father to death.  Samson then said, “If this is the way you’re going to act, I swear I’ll get even with you. And I’m not quitting till the job’s done!”  With that he tore into them, ripping them limb from limb—a huge slaughter. Then he went down and stayed in a cave at Etam Rock....

Three companies of men from Judah went down to the cave at Etam Rock and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines already bully and lord it over us? So what’s going on with you, making things even worse?” He said, “It was tit for tat. I only did to them what they did to me.”... As Samson approached Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him, shouting in triumph. And then the Spirit of God came on him with great power. The ropes on his arms fell apart like flax on fire; the thongs slipped off his hands. He spotted a fresh donkey jawbone, reached down and grabbed it, and with it killed the whole company....

Now he was suddenly very thirsty. He called out to God, “You have given your servant this great victory. Are you going to abandon me to die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” So God split open the rock basin in Lehi; water gushed out and Samson drank. His spirit revived—he was alive again! ... 

Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute. He went to her...Samson was in bed with the woman until midnight. Then he got up, seized the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts, bolts and all, hefted them on his shoulder, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
Some time later he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek (Grapes). Her name was Delilah. The Philistine tyrants approached her and said, “Seduce him. Discover what’s behind his great strength and how we can tie him up and humble him. Each man’s company will give you a hundred shekels of silver.”  So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me, dear, the secret of your great strength, and how you can be tied up and humbled.”

Samson told her, “If they were to tie me up with seven bowstrings—the kind made from fresh animal tendons, not dried out—then I would become weak, just like anyone else....Delilah said, “Come now, Samson—you’re playing with me, making up stories. Be serious; tell me how you can be tied up.” He told her, “If you were to tie me up tight with new ropes, ropes never used for work, then I would be helpless, just like anybody else.”... Delilah said to Samson, “You’re still playing games with me, teasing me with lies. Tell me how you can be tied up.”  He said to her, “If you wove the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on the loom and drew it tight, then I would be as helpless as any other mortal.”...She said, “How can you say ‘I love you’ when you won’t even trust me? Three times now you’ve toyed with me, like a cat with a mouse, refusing to tell me the secret of your great strength.”

Delilah kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up—he couldn’t take another minute of it. He spilled it.  He told her, “A razor has never touched my head. I’ve been God’s Nazirite from conception. If I were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would be as helpless as any other mortal.”...When she got him to sleep, his head on her lap, she motioned to a man to cut off the seven braids of his hair. Immediately he began to grow weak. His strength drained from him....

The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. They shackled him in irons and put him to the work of grinding in the prison. But his hair, though cut off, began to grow again.  The Philistine tyrants got together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon.... Everyone was feeling high and someone said, “Get Samson! Let him show us his stuff!” They got Samson from the prison and he put on a show for them.

They had him standing between the pillars. Samson said to the young man who was acting as his guide, “Put me where I can touch the pillars that hold up the temple so I can rest against them.” The building was packed with men and women, including all the Philistine tyrants. And there were at least three thousand in the stands watching Samson’s performance.

And Samson cried out to God: Master, God!  Oh, please, look on me again, Oh, please, give strength yet once more.God! With one avenging blow let me be avenged  on the Philistines for my two eyes!

Then Samson reached out to the two central pillars that held up the building and pushed against them, one with his right arm, the other with his left. Saying, “Let me die with the Philistines,” Samson pushed hard with all his might. The building crashed on the tyrants and all the people in it. He killed more people in his death than he had killed in his life.

His brothers and all his relatives went down to get his body. They carried him back and buried him in the tomb of Manoah his father, between Zorah and Eshtaol.  He judged Israel for twenty years.

Mark - 10:35-10:52 -  James and John came up to Jesus and asked him if he would do something for them.  “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest place of honor in your glory---one of us on your right and the other at your left.”  Jesus said, “You have no idea what you are asking.  Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink...”  
“Sure” they said, “why not?”  Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink....but as to awarding you a place of honor, that’s is not my business.  There are other arrangements for that.  

When the other 10 heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John.  Jesus got them together to settle things down....”When people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads.  It is not going to be that way with you.  Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.  That is what the Son of Man has done.  He came to serve not to be served-- and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

They spent some time in Jericho.  As Jesus was leaving, a blind beggar, Bartimaceus, was sitting alongside the road.  When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus!  Mercy, have mercy on me!”  Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder... Jesus stopped in his tracks.  “Call him over.”  then asked what he could do for him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  “On your way,” said Jesus.  “Your faith has saved and healed you.”  In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.