Be still and rest in the Lord.
Judges 16:23-31 (NRSV)
Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, and let him entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars; and Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.” Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed.
Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “Lord GOD, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.
Talk about bringing down the house! Samson invoked God’s help to exact revenge on the Philistines who had blinded him and reduced him to menial labor and base entertainment. In taking vengeance, he also perished.
I love these pre-new covenant stories of the “heroes” of the Bible whom God loved despite their flaws. (They give me hope!) This story, in particular, speaks to me. I pray that today, instead of helping me to wreak havoc on my opponents, God will help me to see clearly. I pray for the ability to have my eyes opened to my political, social, and workplace “enemies,” forgetting about the ideological wounds they have inflicted on me, reaching deep into the reservoir of God’s grace to try to see their points and to acknowledge their rights to their opinions. Wishing to see them and their ideas crushed, which this story illustrates, may bring about self-harm. May we find a way to co-exist peacefully and build a brighter future together.
Helping God, grant us the eyes to see more clearly that vengeance is not ours. Help us to forgive our enemies and strive to understand them and even learn to love them. In the name and likeness of Jesus who did these very things we pray. Amen.
Go with God.