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We continue with Samson’s story to learn that the man was indeed endowed with superhuman strength. His wife deceives him in trying to learn the secret of his strength and when he loses a bet with his in-laws, he goes off in a huff, but when he returns he learns that his wife has been given away in marriage to another man. Bad move, Father-in-law!
Samson goes berserk and wreaks havoc, but in the aftermath, both wife and father-in-law are burned to death by their own people. Well, that is the first sad episode in Samson’s life, but it is said that Samson then goes on to become a leader of Israel, and serves in that capacity for twenty years following this incident.
But more bad things are in store for Samson, and soon we learn of his liaison with another young woman by the name of Delilah. Charmer that he is, Delilah is all over him, but like his wife, she too is curious to learn of Samson’s secret, and when she succeeds in learning it and betraying him to the Philistines, it is the beginning of the end for Samson. The secret, of course, is that his strength lay in his uncut hair, but when the hair is gone thanks to Delilah who cuts it by stealth, Samson is easily captured by the Philistines and is made into a punching bag. But it’s not over until it’s over.
And what we see here is a story of second-chances. Despite the many mistakes that Samson has made over his lifetime in running with the wrong crowd and loving the wrong women, his last plea to God for mercy is answered, and what we then see is Samson’s last superhuman feat: he pulls down the roof of the temple to which he had been blinded and tied. And thus ends Samson’s story. A flawed leader but one not too proud to beg for forgiveness at the very end, and one who is avenged by divine intervention.
Turning to our reading in the book of John, we find Jesus at the wedding in Cana. What happy imagery: the Lord partaking in the pleasures of one of the most fundamental cornerstones of human civilization—the institution and associated rituals of the state of matrimony! Jesus is attending the wedding celebrations of a friend and is approached by his own mother (who knows her son can surely help out!) with a request to replenish the wine jars.
At first it seems as if Jesus is reluctant to draw attention to himself by performing a miracle, but then he relents and instructs the people to fill the jars with water. Simple as that. Fill the jars with water, pour it out into a cup, and voila, you have the best wine that you’ve ever tasted! I believe that it happened just like that!
Next we find Jesus clearing the Temple courts. This is the only place where we find an account of something Jesus made with his hands: a whip made out of cords that he presumably used to chase all the vendors out of what looked more like a marketplace than a Temple.
And when asked by what authority he is doing this, Jesus simply replies, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” He is, of course, referring to his own body as the Temple, and it would be not just the disciples but even those very elders in the Temple who had posed that question to him who will clearly recall Jesus’ words much later.
Our Psalm for today is Psalm 103, a famous one that is often read as a benediction. I reproduce it here in its entirety in the King James Version (KJV) that I am most familiar with. It is not one that I have committed to memory, but it would certainly serve me in good stead to do it.
1Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs that I present as food for thought (also in the KJV):
17He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.