Judges 16:23-27

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 17, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, 'Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.'
When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
'Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.'
While they were in high spirits, they shouted, 'Bring out Samson to entertain us.' So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, 'Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.' Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.” (Judges 16:23-27)

If you want to catch up on what’s going on here, check out last week’s post. The short version is that Samson has been captured by the Philistines, thanks to him telling Delilah the truth about cutting his hair so that he would lose his strength. The Philistines have gouged out his eyes, imprisoned him, and humiliated him.

The Philistines attributed their capture of Samson to their god, Dagon, which is curious since it was clearly Delilah who helped them. But who is this Dagon?

Dagon was a Philistine idol, and his name means “little fish” or “fish god.” He has the body of a fish and the head and hands of a man, sort of like a mer-man. This image is one depiction of Dagon. Dagon was introduced to the Philistines from the Assyrians and Babylonians. The most famous temples of him are at Gaza (as here in today’s passage) and at Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:1-7).

Dagon was also noted as being the god of grain. This is pretty significant if you’ve been following Samson’s story. Remember the retaliation and revenge that occurred between Samson and the Philistines in Judges 15:1-8? One of the ways Samson wreaked havoc on the Philistines was to burn their fields of grain. Samson had dishonored Dagon, the grain god, in this act. It’s likely that the Philistines would have believed that this angered Dagon, therefore Dagon would have been out to catch Samson as well, which is why they praised Dagon for this capture.

Even though 20 years or so had passed, the Philistines still remembered what Samson did to them. All the things they did to Samson were to further mock and humiliate him. Even this festival was humiliating to Samson, since he was put on display to the 3000+ Philistines in attendance, and because it looked like Samson’s God had abandoned him.

At this moment in the story, things are looking pretty bad for Samson. He’s completely humiliated and both he and his God are being mocked. It looks like there’s no way Samson can be victorious over the Philistines now… or is there? Samson asks a servant to help him so he’s near the main pillars of the building, setting the stage for what is to come. Stay tuned next week (or read ahead in the chapter) to find out!

So what does all this have to do with today? Are you in a situation where perhaps it feels like all is lost? Are things going from bad to worse, with seemingly no way out? It can be hard when we don’t see the end of the story just yet. Wherever you’re at in life, and whether you realize it or not, God knows how this chapter will end for you. It may be the outcome you want or it may not be, but that’s not what’s important; what’s important is that God gets the glory.

In Samson’s life, God was not yet getting the glory at this moment, and the thousands around him were praising Dagon. While those around you likely don’t have a physical idol image that they worship, people are often falling into sin by worshiping things other than God. What is God inviting you to do about that? Near the end of today’s passage, we see Samson setting the stage for what God is about to do. He wasn’t just going to sit idly by and watch all of this Dagon worship; he was ready to do something about it, even if it came at great price. Even when all seems lost, God will still come out victorious, both in Samson’s life and in yours.

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