March 15: Day 74

Reading: Judges 13-15, Psalm 74 (ESV)

Judges 13

The Birth of Samson

1And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

2There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, "Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines." 6Then the woman came and told her husband, "A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, 7but he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'"

8Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born." 9And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, "Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me." 11And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, "Are you the man who spoke to this woman?" And he said, "I am." 12And Manoah said, "Now when your words come true, what is to be the child's manner of life, and what is his mission?" 13And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, "Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe."

15Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, "Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you." 16And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, "If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord." (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, "What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?" 18And the angel of the Lord said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" 19So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.

21The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22And Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God." 23But his wife said to him, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these." 24And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.


Judges 14

Samson's Marriage

1Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2Then he came up and told his father and mother, "I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife." 3But his father and mother said to him, "Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes."

4His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

5Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson's eyes.

8After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

10His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12And Samson said to them, "Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes." And they said to him, "Put your riddle, that we may hear it." 14And he said to them,


"Out of the eater came something to eat.

Out of the strong came something sweet."


And in three days they could not solve the riddle.

15On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?" 16And Samson's wife wept over him and said, "You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is." And he said to her, "Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?" 17She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,


"What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?"


And he said to them,


"If you had not plowed with my heifer,

you would not have found out my riddle."


19And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father's house. 20And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.


Judges 15

Samson Defeats the Philistines

1After some days, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a young goat. And he said, "I will go in to my wife in the chamber." But her father would not allow him to go in. 2And her father said, "I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead." 3And Samson said to them, "This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm." 4So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. 6Then the Philistines said, "Who has done this?" And they said, "Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion." And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. 7And Samson said to them, "If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit." 8And he struck them hip and thigh with a great blow, and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

9Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a raid on Lehi. 10And the men of Judah said, "Why have you come up against us?" They said, "We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us." 11Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?" And he said to them, "As they did to me, so have I done to them." 12And they said to him, "We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines." And Samson said to them, "Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves." 13They said to him, "No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

14When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 16And Samson said,


"With the jawbone of a donkey,

heaps upon heaps,

with the jawbone of a donkey

have I struck down a thousand men."


17As soon as he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand. And that place was called Ramath-lehi.

18And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the Lord and said, "You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" 19And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkore; it is at Lehi to this day. 20And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.


Psalm 74

Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause

A Maskil of Asaph.


1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?

Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?

2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,

which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!

Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.

3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;

the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;

they set up their own signs for signs.

5 They were like those who swing axes

in a forest of trees.

6 And all its carved wood

they broke down with hatchets and hammers.

7 They set your sanctuary on fire;

they profaned the dwelling place of your name,

bringing it down to the ground.

8 They said to themselves, "We will utterly subdue them";

they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

9 We do not see our signs;

there is no longer any prophet,

and there is none among us who knows how long.

10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?

Is the enemy to revile your name forever?

11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?

Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!

12 Yet God my King is from of old,

working salvation in the midst of the earth.

13 You divided the sea by your might;

you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.

14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;

you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

15 You split open springs and brooks;

you dried up ever-flowing streams.

16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;

you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.

17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;

you have made summer and winter.

18 Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs,

and a foolish people reviles your name.

19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;

do not forget the life of your poor forever.

20 Have regard for the covenant,

for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.

21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;

let the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;

remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!

23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,

the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!