Today's Readings: Judges 12-13 | Isaiah 37 | 1 Peter 3-5

Reading 1 - Jdg 13:24,25

"The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol" (Jdg 13:24,25).

"Over the low hills beyond [Zorah and Eshtaol] is Timnah where he [Samson] found his first love and killed the young lion. Beyond is the Philistine plain... the Philistine cities are but a day's march away, by easy roads. And so from these country ways to yonder plains and the highways of the great world -- from the pure home and the mother who talked with angels, to the heathen cities, their harlots and their prisons -- we see at one sweep of the eye the course in which this uncurbed strength, at first tumbling, and sporting with laughter like one of its native brooks, like them also ran to the flats and the mud, and, being darkened and befouled, was used by men to turn their mills" (GA Smith, "Historical Geography of the Holy Land").

Reading 2 - Isa 37:36

"Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning -- there were all the dead bodies!" (Isa 37:36)

The Destruction of Sennacherib's Host

Lord Byron, 1788-1824

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,

And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,

That host with their banners at sunset were seen.

Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,

That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown.

For the Angel of Death went forth on the blast,

And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd;

And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,

And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,

But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride;

And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,

And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,

With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;

And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,

The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,