How great we are!
The Five Philistine kings said to each other. And so they put on a great feast to celebrate their victory over Samson.
They poured too much wine and ate too much food.
"Our God Dagon has given us great victory over our enemy Samson!" they prayed.
Of course, their god Dagon had nothing to do with it. There is no god Dagon at all. It was the one and only God who brought Samson to the Philistines. And it wasn't going to be a victory for them.
"Let's bring Samson out here, so we can have some fun!" the kings said, thinking they were so powerful, and Samson was blind and weak.
They made Samson stand by the columns of the great temple they were feasting in.
But Samson's hair had grown back.
"Let me touch the columns that hold up the temple, so I can lean against them," Samson whispered to the boy who was leading him.
The temple was crowded with over three thousand men and women, and they were all having a great time, making fun of Samson and his God.
But Samson was quietly praying.
"Dear Lord, my King," he prayed, "please remember me, your servant. Give me strength just one more time."
And then Samson put his hands on the columns, one on each side.
He pushed with all his might.
The pillars gave way, and the great stones of the building came crashing down in a thundering roar and cloud of dust. It all came tumbling down on the five evil kings and all the evil people who were celebrating there.
It was Samson's victory after all.
But it doesn't seem ...
... like much of a victory, does it? Samson died too.
But this is a powerful story.
In many ways the story of Samson is a picture for us of Jesus. It is a picture to help us understand what Jesus did for us.
An angel told of Samson's birth - just like the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told of the birth of Jesus.
Samson was dedicated to God. His uncut hair was sign that he was set apart for God. He was like the spotless lambs the Jews would set aside as an offering to God in payment for their sins. John the Baptist called Jesus "The Lamb of God." Jesus came to be a spotless offering for our sins.
God was with Samson in a mighty way. He did mighty things - just like Jesus did mighty things when he turned water into wine and made the blind see.
And then Samson was betrayed by someone he loved when Delilah tricked him into telling him the secret of his strength. All for some pieces of silver - just like Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends for 30 pieces of silver.
Samson was beaten and mocked - just like Jesus was beaten and mocked.
And then Samson destroyed the temple to free his people from the ones who were making their lives so miserable.
Samson gave his life to save his people.
Just think, when Samson put his hands on those pillars, his arms were stretched out just like Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross. Samson pushed with all his might, and he brought the whole weight of that temple of evil down upon himself.
Jesus stretched out his arms, and took all the evil of the world upon himself. Jesus gave his life to free us from the power of evil.
Jesus gave his life to save us.
But, when Jesus died on the cross, that wasn't the end of the story.
Three days later, he rose from the grave. He was alive again. He had defeated death itself.
And all who believe in him will share in his victory.
Now, THAT is something to celebrate!