Reading 1 - Jdg 16:1
"One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her" (Jdg 16:1),
"Emboldened by these exploits, and by others, doubtless, Samson on a later occasion ventured right into Gaza, the great stronghold of the enemy, simply that he might indulge himself with the seductive pleasures of a harlot there.
"It has been distressing to the faithful of many generations since that day to read of the way in which Samson's zeal for the deliverance of his people was so vitiated by this weak streak in his character. To be sure, all men of God, whose lives and doings are recorded in Scripture, are revealed as men of weakness in some respect or another. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David -- the giants of Old Testament faith -- all had their periods of faithlessness. Moses came near to open blasphemy, Hezekiah indulged in the vainglory of politics, Noah shamed himself in drunkenness, and Lot in incest. The catalogue is almost endless. Only Joseph -- wonderful type of Christ -- has no blot against his name. Yet all these names are in the Book of Life. And so, too, is Samson (Heb 11:32), though not because of these sins of his, but in spite of them and by the grace of God. Those who wrestle despairingly against similar odds might take courage from the force of his example and so renew faith in their own ultimate victory" (Harry Whittaker, "Judges and Ruth").
Reading 2 - Isa 39
"Isa 39 concludes the first section of the prophecy. Significantly it contains 39 chapters: the same number as the books of the Old Testament. Isa 40 commences the new section, significantly with the voice of John Baptist, the forerunner of the Master. But in Isa 39, Hezekiah typifies the multitudinous Christ, and manifests the same characteristics which are captured in the final chapter of the Old Testament. He finds himself in the environment of sin, is rebuked by the prophet, and finds acceptance in the judgment meted out to him. The chapter has 4 sections:
Congratulations from Babylon: v 1.
Hezekiah's sad failure: v 2.
Isaiah's faithful rebuke: vv 3-7.
Hezekiah's humble acceptance of the rebuke, and his acknowledgement of divine righteousness: v 8.
What a glorious conclusion to a great and remarkable record! Though he compromised his standing when faced with the diplomatic approach of the Babylonians, Hezekiah makes a free and open confession of sin (v 4). In this he stands as typical of the believers, who ultimately will stand redeemed before the divine Judgment" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 3 - 2Pe 3:7
"By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2Pe 3:7).
The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but he must inform everyone that the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience thinks this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and they cheer uproariously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously: this is such great fun! At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and many of the pleasure-seekers perish.
"And so," concludes Kierkegaard, "I sometimes think our age will go down in fiery destruction, accompanied by the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators."
Other comments on this day's readings can be found