1. Judges 16:23 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What makes the praise and thanksgiving to Dagon so intriguing?

Judges 16:23 (ESV)

23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.”

Dagon’s devotees are on top of the world. They declare, Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand. This praise and thanksgiving to Dagon is fascinating, for a number of reasons. First, it is striking that after Samson’s earlier victory over the Philistines at Jawbone Hill, he never praised God (Judges 15:16); he praised himself: With the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down a thousand men. But here, after their victory over Samson, the Philistines are not taking any credit; they praise their false god.1 Apparently these heathen Philistines are more aware of their human limitations than Samson was. Second, they focus on Samson as the enemy, not Israel. For after all, the Philistines did not need to contend with Israel, since God’s people were content with being subject to the Philistines. But they did have to contend with Samson. Third, they saw the battle as not ultimately between Samson and the Philistines, but between their gods, between the Lord and Dagon! And so now from their perspective, the God of Israel had lost to Dagon. Yahweh was now in the hands of the enemy.