But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, according to the Arabic Version, they applied fire to them
the strongest they could find, and the most painful to the wearer;
The great champion was degraded to do a woman’s work, work which when performed for others was considered to be the meanest servitude. Milton pictures the fallen hero as describing himself thus—
“Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this Heaven-gifted strength. O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a beast, debased
Lower than bond slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.”)
God’s grace casts not off his servants: grace though reduced to the lowest ebb returns again, even as Samson’s hair grew, and his strength returned. It is one of the wonders of divine love that it holds on to its object even when he proves unworthy of it.
Thus they blasphemed Jehovah by magnifying Baal. They do, however, teach us one lesson, too often forgotten, namely, to ascribe all our victories to God.
The poor blind prisoner made rare mirth for the assembled lords, and they could do no other than let him rest a while, while they refilled their cups, and meditated fresh insults.
How touching is that sweetest of prayers, “Remember me,” whether it be Samson or the dying thief who uses it. The Lord indeed did remember him.
Milton shall again expound for us—
“Those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugg’d, he shook, till down they came and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellers, or priests
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round.
O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying thou hast fulfill’d
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly’st victorious
Among thy slain, self-killed
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin’d
Thee with thy slaughter’d foes.”
Thus the Lord God of Israel silenced the boastings of his enemies, as he will do in the last great day.