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Thoughts and Reflection

In today’s reading, we see that Samson is taken by his passions. He lets his desires and emotions rule him. Delilah asks him about the secret of his strength. He lies to her for the first three times. He finally tells her the truth and there was no reason to lie to her. It is not unusual for God to work through broken people like Samson.

We also see the story of Micah and the Levite. Michah sets up an idol shrine so he and his neighbors can worship it. He later finds a Levite but one that is a priest for hire.

How have you turned away from the Lord?

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Judges 16

1 Samson then went to Gaza and, seeing a prostitute there, went in to her.

2 The men of Gaza being told, ‘Samson has arrived,’ surrounded the place and kept watch for him the whole night at the town gate. All that night they were going to make no move, thinking, ‘Let us wait until daybreak, and then kill him.’

3 Till midnight, however, Samson stayed in bed, and then at midnight he got up, seized the doors of the town gate and the two posts as well; he tore them up, bar and all, hoisted them on to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill overlooking Hebron.

4 After this, he fell in love with a woman in the Vale of Sorek; she was called Delilah.

5 The Philistine chiefs visited her and said, ‘Cajole him and find out where his great strength comes from, and how we can master him, so that we can bind him and subdue him. In return we shall each give you eleven hundred silver shekels.’

6 Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength comes from, and what would be needed to bind and subdue you.’

7 Samson replied, ‘If I were bound with seven new bowstrings which had not yet been dried, I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’

8 The Philistine chiefs brought Delilah seven new bowstrings which had not yet been dried and she took them and bound him with them.

9 She had men concealed in her room, and she shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ Then he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of tow snaps at a touch of the fire. So the secret of his strength remained unknown.

10 Delilah then said to Samson, ‘You have been laughing at me and telling me lies. But now please tell me what would be needed to bind you.’

11 He replied, ‘If I were bound tightly with new ropes which have never been used, I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’

12 Delilah then took new ropes and bound him with them, and she shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ She had men concealed in her room, but he snapped the ropes round his arms like thread.

13 Delilah then said to Samson, ‘Up to now you have been laughing at me and telling me lies. Tell me what would be needed to bind you.’ He replied, ‘If you wove the seven locks of my hair into the warp of a cloth and beat them together tight with the reed, I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’

14 She lulled him to sleep, then wove the seven locks of his hair into the warp, beat them together tight with the reed and shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ He woke from his sleep and pulled out both reed and warp. So the secret of his strength remained unknown.

15 Delilah said to him, ‘How can you say that you love me, when your heart is not with me? Three times now you have laughed at me and have not told me where your great strength comes from.’

16 And day after day she pestered him with her talk, nagging him till he grew sick to death of it.

17 At last he confided everything to her; he said to her, ‘A razor has never touched my head, because I have been God’s nazirite from my mother’s womb. If my head were shorn, then my power would leave me and I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’

18 Delilah then realized that he had really confided in her; she sent for the Philistine princes with the message, ‘Come just once more: he has confided everything to me.’ And the Philistine chiefs came to her with the money in their hands.

19 She lulled Samson to sleep in her lap, summoned a man and had him shear off the seven locks from his head. Thus for the first timeshe got control over him, and his strength left him.

20 She cried, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ He awoke from sleep, thinking, ‘I shall break free as I have done time after time and shake myself clear.’ But he did not know that Yahweh had left him.

21 The Philistines seized him, put out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. They fettered him with a double chain of bronze and he spent his time turning the mill in the prison.

22 But his hair began to grow again when it had been cut off.

23 The Philistine chiefs assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god. And amid their festivities they said: Into our hands our god has delivered Samson our enemy.

24 And as soon as the people saw their god, they acclaimed him, shouting his praises: Into our hands our god has delivered Samson our enemy, the man who laid our country waste and killed so many of us.

25 And as their hearts were full of joy, they shouted, ‘Summon Samson out to amuse us.’ So Samson was summoned from prison, and he performed feats in front of them; then he was put to stand between the pillars.

26 Samson then said to the boy who was leading him by the hand, ‘Lead me where I can touch the pillars supporting the building, so that I can lean against them.’

27 Now the building was crowded with men and women. All the Philistine chiefs were there, while about three thousand men and women were watching Samson’s feats from the terrace.

28 Samson called on Yahweh and cried out, ‘Lord Yahweh, I beg you, remember me; give me strength again this once, O God, and let me be revenged on the Philistines at one blow for my two eyes.’

29 And Samson took hold of the two central pillars supporting the building, and braced himself with his right arm round one and his left round the other;

30 and he shouted, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ He then heaved with all his might, and the building fell on the chiefs and on all the people there. Those whom he brought to their death by his death outnumbered those whom he had done to death during his life.

31 His brothers and the whole of his father’s family came down and carried him away. They took him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel for twenty years.

Judges 17

1 In the highlands of Ephraim there was a man called Micayehu.

2 He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred silver shekels which were taken from you and concerning which you uttered a curse, having said in my hearing . . . Look, I have got that silver. I was the one who took it.’ His mother said, ‘May Yahweh bless my boy!’

3 He gave the eleven hundred shekels back to his mother, who said, ‘I have indeed vowed to give this silver to Yahweh for my son, to have a statue carved and an idol cast in metal, but now I should like to give it back to you.’ He, however, returned the money to his mother.

4 His mother then took two hundred silver shekels and gave them to the metalworker. With them, he carved a statue (and cast an idol in metal) which was put in Micayehu’s house.

5 This man Micah owned a shrine; he made an ephod and some domestic images, and installed one of his sons to be his priest.

6 In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit.

7 There was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah, who was a Levite and resided there as a stranger.

8 This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to settle wherever he could find a home. On his travels he came to the highlands of Ephraim and to Micah’s house.

9 Micah asked him, ‘Where do you come from?’ The other replied, ‘I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I am travelling, and am going to settle wherever I can find a home.’

10 Micah said to him, ‘Stay here with me; be my father and priest and I shall give you ten silver shekels a year, and clothing and food.’

11 The Levite agreed to remain in the man’s house, and the young man became like one of his sons to him.

12 Micah installed the Levite; the young man became Micah’s priest and stayed in his house.

13 And Micah said, ‘Now I know that Yahweh will treat me well, since I have this Levite as priest.’

Judges 18

1 In those days there was no king in Israel. Now in those days the tribe of Dan was in search of a territory to live in, for until then no territory had fallen to them among the tribes of Israel.

2 From their clan the Danites sent five brave men from Zorah and Eshtaol to reconnoitre the country and explore it. They said to them, ‘Go and explore the country.’ The five men came to the highlands of Ephraim, as far as Micah’s house, and spent the night there.

3 When they were near Micah’s house, they recognised the voice of the young Levite and, going nearer, said to him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing here? What is keeping you here?’

4 He replied, ‘Micah has made certain arrangements with me. He pays me a wage and I act as his priest.’

5 They replied, ‘Then consult God, so that we may know whether the journey we are on will lead to success.’

6 The priest replied, ‘Go in peace; Yahweh is watching over your journey.’

7 The five men then left and, arriving at Laish, saw that the people living there had an untroubled existence, according to the customs of the Sidonians, peaceful and trusting, that there was no lack or shortage of any sort in the territory, that they were a long way away from the Sidonians and that they had no contact with the Aramaeans.

8 They then went back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol and, when the latter asked them, ‘What have you to report?’

9 they said, ‘Up! we must go against them, since we have looked at the country and it is excellent, though you take no action! Waste no time in setting out and taking possession of the country.

10 When you get there, you will find a trusting people. The country is wide, and God has put it at your mercy. It is a place where there is no lack of anything on earth.’

11 From these places, consequently, from the clan of Danites at Zorah and Eshtaol, six hundred men set out equipped for war.

12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-Jearim in Judah; and for this reason the place is still called the Camp of Dan today. It lies to the west of Kiriath-Jearim.

13 From there they entered the highlands of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.

14 The five men who had been to reconnoitre the country then spoke to their brothers. ‘Do you know’, they said, ‘that in these houses there is an ephod, some domestic images, a carved statue and an idol cast in metal? So now work out what you have got to do!

15 So, turning off the road, they went to the young Levite’s dwelling, to Micah’s house, and greeted him peacefully.

16 While the six hundred men of the Danites, equipped for war, stood at the threshold of the gate,

17 the five who had been to reconnoitre the country went on into the house and took the carved statue, the ephod, the domestic images and the idol cast in metal; meanwhile the priest remained at the threshold of the gate with the six hundred men equipped for war.

18 These men, having entered Micah’s house, took the carved statue, the ephod, the domestic images and the idol cast in metal. The priest, however, said, ‘What are you doing?’

19 ‘Be quiet,’ they replied. ‘Put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and become our father and priest. Are you better off as domestic priest to one man, or as priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?’

20 The priest was delighted; he took the ephod, the domestic images and the carved statue, and went off among the people.

21 Resuming their original line of march, they set off, having put the women, children, livestock and baggage out in front.

22 They had gone some distance from Micah’s house, when the people living in the houses near Micah’s house raised the alarm and set off in pursuit of the Danites.

23 As they shouted after the Danites, the latter, turning about, said to Micah, ‘What is the matter with you, that you are shouting like this?’

24 He replied, ‘You have taken away my god, which I have had made, and the priest as well. You are going away, and what have I got left? And now you ask me, “What is the matter?” ‘

25 The Danites said, ‘Let us hear no more from you, or quick-tempered men may set about you, and this might cost you your life and the lives of your family!’

26 So the Danites went on their way; and Micah, seeing that they were the stronger, turned and went home.

27 So, having taken the god made by Micah, and the priest who had been his, the Danites marched on Laish, on a peaceful and trusting people. They put it to the sword and they burned down the town.

28 There was no one to come to the rescue, since it was a long way from Sidon and had no contact with the Aramaeans. It lay in the valley running towards Beth-Rehob. They rebuilt the town and settled in it

29 and called it Dan, from the name of Dan their ancestor who had been born to Israel; originally, however, the town had been called Laish.

30 The Danites erected the carved statue for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons after him were priests for the tribe of Dan till the day when the inhabitants of the country were carried away into exile.

31 The carved statue made by Micah they installed for their own use, and there it stayed as long as the house of God remained at Shiloh.

Psalm 147

1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh — it is good to sing psalms to our God — how pleasant to praise him.

2 Yahweh, Builder of Jerusalem! He gathers together the exiles of Israel,

3 healing the broken-hearted and binding up their wounds;

4 he counts out the number of the stars, and gives each one of them a name.

5 Our Lord is great, all-powerful, his wisdom beyond all telling.

6 Yahweh sustains the poor, and humbles the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to Yahweh in thanksgiving, play the harp for our God.

8 He veils the sky with clouds, and provides the earth with rain, makes grass grow on the hills and plants for people to use,

9 gives fodder to cattle and to young ravens when they cry.

10 He takes no delight in the power of horses, no pleasure in human sturdiness;

11 his pleasure is in those who fear him, in those who hope in his faithful love.

12 Praise Yahweh, Jerusalem, Zion, praise your God.

13 For he gives strength to the bars of your gates, he blesses your children within you,

14 he maintains the peace of your frontiers, gives you your fill of finest wheat.

15 He sends his word to the earth, his command runs quickly,

16 he spreads the snow like flax, strews hoarfrost like ashes,

17 he sends ice-crystals like breadcrumbs, and who can withstand that cold?

18 When he sends his word it thaws them, when he makes his wind blow, the waters are unstopped.

19 He reveals his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.

20 For no other nation has he done this, no other has known his judgements.

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