Epitaph

The chains rattled on the cold stone. The fetters cut into his flesh. His world was dark. Where his eyes were suppose to be, were just hollow holes, devoid of light, unable to see.
He rested his head on the cold stone wall. He was a failure. His people no longer had someone to stand up for them. “God! Forgive me!” He smites his breast. The chains rattle. “I should never have said anything. Now I’m useless. Just a corpse, rotting away in the prison of these dogs who oppress my country.” The gloom of the tiny room he is trapped in decends upon his soul.
The days of glory are gone; they disappeared in a moment of weakness. Now it was the cold reality of the consequences. The burden of a mission unaccomplished, of potential unharnessed.
He longed to be able to break free, to strike once more into the heart of his people’s enemy. No longer was this battle just for his country. This battle now was personal. No longer was he unaffected. He was now one of the victims. What irony, that the rescuer would become the enslaved.
Long filthy strands of hair hung on his shoulders. He could feel them move against his pale sickly back. A faint fire was flickering his heart, an obscure hope of a better day. A faith that couldn’t be quenched. The chance to perhaps atone for his blunder. It drove him on, day after day.
He could feel his heart bleeding. Invisible blood, flooding his chest, rushing from an irreparable tear. The wound of a mission uncompleted. A dark pit into which he had plunged, with no way out. Darkness that never ends.
“God, I have failed.” The darkness sinks upon him.
The kings of the land had called a day of celebration. Thousands of people flocked to the theatre. Meat was roasted and wine flowed liberally for all. They praised their god, Dagon, for success. Dagon, their god of stone with the body of a fish.
The people celebrated like they had never done in the years before. Over three thousand crowded onto the huge flat roof, gorging themselves with meat and wine. The stone pillars of the theatre shook under the weight of their bodies. The huge beams of seasoned timber heaved under the immense weight thrust upon them.
The drunken people lurched into each other. The smell of wine filled the air. Patrons vomited in the alleys surrounding the huge theatre.
A powerful chant now filled the air, “Bring out Samson! We want Samson!” The walls of the building shook and vibrated. The rulers called for the guard. “Bring out Samson!” They commanded.
The guards dashed off to the prison cells to bring forth the once formidable warrior, their archenemy.
Inside his cell, Samson could feel the walls vibrate with the shouts of the people. He could hear his name being chanted. They wanted him. No doubt to humiliate him even more. He clenched his fists. The muscles pushed against the fetters that held him fast. If only God would use him once more, just once more.
He could hear the door scrape open, the footsteps of the soldiers, the mockery in their voices. His blood was boiling. If only he had never done what he did, these men would be corpses on the ground: carrion for the animals to eat.
Rough hands took hold of his withered arms and hauled him to his feet. They dragged him out. Even with no sight he could sense the sunlight on his face. Inside his mind he kept whispering it, “God, just this once.” For this opportunity might be the last he would have to strike one last blow for his country.
He felt a small hand take his arm. Some little lad granted the honor of leading this man who use to terrorize the countryside. The stones cut his feet. He staggered after the lad. The noise was deafening now. Thousands of people screaming insults at him. Something slimy hit his bare chest. On and on they went, deeper and deeper into the huge theatre.
A sudden thought came to him, the glimpse of a chance to strike one last blow to the enemy, to avenge his two eyes, to leave a dent in the pride of the Philistines.
“Take me to the two pillars upon which this house is built so that I can rest on them.”
He felt the lad change course. More stuff was being thrown at him. The drunken mob was screaming insults and jeering. Silently he breathed a prayer to the Father of Eternity: “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. ”
He felt the lad’s hands direct his arm to a pillar. He swung his other arm about to find the other post. He leaned on them, breathing heavily. Now, to leap into the unknown. He pushed lightly against the pillars, but no strength surged through him like times before. He took a deep breath. Would they actually give way? Would God listen to him? Would he have one last chance at redemption?
Though blind, he could feel the thousands of eyes glaring at him. His ears were deafened by the jeering crowd, the reeking smell of sweat and wine was filling his nostrils. His arms were stretched out, gripping the pillars.
He steadied his feel on the pillars, the locks of his hair shook against his bare back. Deep inside he could feel something, the spirit of his God. Every fiber of those wasted muscles strained against the pillars. He bared his teeth as he strained to push down those pillars.
A silence fell over the crowd as he strained at the posts. Then someone from the crowd jeered, “Our enemy has no power!” followed by another, then another.
He felt so forsaken. It hadn’t happened. He was a failure. He had failed himself, his country, and his God. Something inside him, however, refused to give in. He knew it would happen. He summoned every last shred of energy in his weary body, and gave one last heave.
Suddenly, from deep inside his body, he felt it, that rush of strength. It surged through him, into those wasted muscles. He felt his body become possessed by that immense power of his God. He gave one last push. He felt the power surge into his arms as he cried, “Let me die with the Philistines!”
A terrible cracking sound pierced through the air. The mortar of the pillars cracked, as the jeers turned into screams of terror. He continued stretching out his hands into the pillars, feeling the rocks give way to the unfathomable strength that was flowing into him. The pillars broke in half, burying him underneath, crushing him to death. His soul drifted away to its maker. The great beams of wood above snapped, showering splinters upon the earth.
People ran screaming over each other, trying to get out. The roof, laden down with so many people, came crashing down, crushing to death the thousands below it. The rulers of the land watched in shock as the ceiling caved in on them, crushing their bodies into the white stone, turning it red. Rivers of blood would flow from the temple of Dagon. Dagon had no power to protect his worshippers, for he was just a piece of stone.
The dust from the mortar rose into the air as the whole theatre crumpled down. The inhabitants who remained now walked over the ruins, dragging out the dead and wounded. The white stone now was a bright red, splattered with the blood of thousands. Women were wailing in the street, while men sat on the ground, stunned and totally unsure what to do. There were so many dead bodies. Huge piles of them littered the surrounding area, covered in maggots and flies.
Samson was no more, but in leaving, he had struck one last blow into the heart of the enemies of God’s people. Never would the Philistines fully recover from the blow he gave them. Never again would they feel safe. For as long as they lived, they would speak in whispers of the man called Samson. The Israelite with long hair who tormented them. The man who, withered and blind, killed over five thousand of them, including their rulers. The man who had a God like no other god.
Many kilometres away, some days after the great disaster, was a fresh grave. Here was the final resting place of Samson, a hero of the faith. Beside him, the grave of his father. This epitaph would be given to him and would be seen by thousands of all different languages and read by the tongues of all different countries: So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

A word from the author:

This short story is a dramatization of the story of Samson. Samson was an incredible man. He finds himself mentioned among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. My goal in writing this short story was to emphasize, and perhaps drive home, the immense faith Samson must have had. Imagine how he must have felt after breaking his vow! Imagine the incredible leap of faith that he took when he pushed against those pillars! Imagine what a fool he would have looked! Imagine what would have happened if God didn’t move!
Much too often we read the Scriptures and they fail to strike home to us. The stories we read are often far removed, people from another planet. The Bible Alive series are all aimed at getting us to see, and maybe feel, what it was probably like, to make the Bible come alive.

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