« PreviousContinue »
As the child grew God's blessing was upon him, , and the Spirit of the Lord was seen to move and guide him. God gave Samson the gift of very great strength and power, more than any other man then living. One day he was going down to Timnath, and in the vineyards there came a young lion forth upon him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson, so that although he had no weapon of any sort in his hand, he killed the lion as he might have done a kid. Samson did not tell any one what he had done. After a time he came back the same way, and he went to look for the lion's
And, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. Then Samson took some of the honey and ate it, and he gave some to his father and mother, but still he did not tell them whence it came.
Now Samson had found a wife at Timnath, and during the wedding feast he asked a riddle of the men of that city, saying, “ If ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then will I give you thirty sheets, and thirty changes of garments ; but if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty changes of
garments.” They accepted the challenge, so Sam
son put forth his riddle. It was this: “ Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
The seven days were almost over, and no one had been able to find out the riddle. Then the neighbours went to Samson's wife, and threatened that unless she would entice her husband to tell her the answer, they would burn her father's house. So she wept, and intreated Samson, till at last he could withstand her no longer, and he told her, and she told the men of her city. Then they came at the time fixed, before the sun went down, and answered, “What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion ?" Samson was angry, and reproached them with the unfair way in which they had found out his riddle, but still he paid them the promised things.
Samson went back to his own country in his wrath, and when he returned to Timnath, he found that his wife's father had given her to another husband. Then he was very angry, and he went and caught three hundred foxes, and tied them two and two together, with a burning firebrand between their tails, and turned them into the Philistines' standing corn; and it was all burnt, as well as the olives and vine
yards. The Philistines, in revenge, burnt Samson's father-in-law and his wife, and their house. Then Samson slew them with a great slaughter, and afterwards he went and dwelt on the top of a rock called Etam.
The Philistines came up into Judah to take Samson prisoner; and the men of Judah, who were subject to the Philistines, and afraid of them, went to Samson, saying, “ Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us?” Samson answered, “ As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.”
The men of Judah wanted to bind Samson, and deliver him over to the Philistines, hoping by doing so to escape their vengeance. Samson allowed them to bind him with strong new cords ; but when he came to Lehi, and the Philistines shouted against him, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found for a weapon the jawbone of an ass, and with that, instead of sword or spear, he slew a thousand men, and delivered Judah from the Philistines. But when the battle was over, and Samson had
away the jawbone, he was quite overcome with thirst.
Then he called upon the LORD, and said, “Thou hast given this great de
“ liverance into the hand of Thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised ?” Then God turned the ass's jawbone into a fountain of water, and Samson drank, and he revived, and his spirit came again.
Another time he went to the town of Gaza, and carried away the gates of the city, taking them up to the top of a hill by Hebron.
But Samson's days of greatness were coming to an end. There was a Philistine woman named Delilah whom Samson loved, and through her his enemies tried to get the mastery over him. They came to her and said, “Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him that we may bind him to afflict him, and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver."
Then Delilah asked Samson to tell her wherein his great strength lay, and how he might be bound ? He made answer, that if they bound him with seven green withs that had never been dried, he should be weak like any other man.
So Delilah got the green withs and bound Samson, having hid several men ready to seize him. Then she called out, saying, “ The Philistines be upon thee, Samson ;” and he sprang up and burst the witbs, as a thread of tow is broken when it touches fire. Delilah said he had mocked her, and she begged him really to tell ber what bonds would be strong enough to hold him. This time Samson told her that if he were bound with new ropes which had never been used, he should be weak like any other man; but when Delilah tried them, he broke through the new ropes as he had done before. Again Delilah reproached him, and he told her that if the seven locks of his hair were woven with a web, he would be helpless. So she fastened his hair into the weaver's web while Samson was asleep, and when he was roused he went forth, carrying the web and the weaver's pin with him.
Delilah said to him, “How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? Thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.” And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him so that his soul was vexed unto death, that he