commemorating the darkest day in world history, Jesus dead and buried.
This is perhaps the best song for the occasion.
Woke to 30 degrees and snow on the ground. This is the 3rd Saturday of Spring, but snow. Not to my liking, believe me.
A bit short of wise words today. As noted before, a former co-worker was killed in a wreck Thursday night in central Alabama. Took the wind out of a LOT of people's sails, believe me.
The Old Testament reading here is chapters 12, 13, and 14 of the book of the Judges. This will take us into the beginning of the account of Samson.
And a word about the term "judge" as in the title of this work. We tend to think of judges today as jurists, over-promoted lawyers sitting as a Probate Court judge, or Court of Common Pleas, or even Supreme Court or the like. That's not really what it means, here, and most of these judges, Samson certainly, weren't wearing judge robes and sitting in a courtroom hearing polite arguments in measured tones. When we lived in Arkansas, a number of years ago, they have what they call "county judges". I guess they do sit as sort of a mayor's court, for things like stop sign violations, etc., but what they are is something like county commissioners, and sometimes sit as a group for that purpose. Leaders, in other words, in regions where the more formal structures of mayors and city councils and such don't exist. They have actually a fair amount of latitude and authority, but don't have the power to, for example, have someone sent to state prison or hanged. And largely people follow their lead just because it's part of the custom of the area. It's not strictly equivalent to the "judges" shown in these passages, but it's a nod in that direction. OK?
And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.
And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?
Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.
And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.
And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.
And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.
Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.
And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.
And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.
And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.
And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.
And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
And the woman made haste, and ran, and showed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honor?
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.
And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.
So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?
And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion? and he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.
But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
The New Testament reading is verses 37-62 in Luke chapter 9
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.
And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.
And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.
And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.