You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nizirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
Judges 13:5 (NIV)
Read: Judges 13:1-25
Consider: The Israelites’ history is one of cyclical dedication to God, followed by a period when the nation chose not to follow God. Following one such period of wandering away from God, they fell into the hands of the Philistines for forty years (Judges 13:1). At this point in their history God promised Manoah’s wife that she would become pregnant and the boy to be born was to be a Nazirite. You are probably thinking: What is a Nazirite? The word Nazirite means ‘one consecrated’ and ‘set apart’ and refers to someone who makes a vow with God to serve him all their life, or perhaps for a limited time. Once the vow was made, the person was not to drink wine, have their hair cut, nor were they to have any contact with a dead body. Samuel would have been a Nazirite (1 Samuel 1:11), as was John the Baptist (Luke 1:15). For more information on the Nazirite vow see Numbers 6:1-21.
Returning to today’s reading we are told what role this person was to fulfil. We read :He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). Who would you choose to fulfil this task? Perhaps you would choose a soldier, or a charismatic leader as they might possess the necessary skill set for the task in hand.
Only at the end of the chapter do we discover the identity of the baby that was to be born to Manoah and his wife. 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 (Judges 13:24-25).
If I was to ask you what you know about Samson, you would probably know that he married a Philistine girl, he killed a lion with his bare hands, was infatuated with Delilah, lost his strength when his hair was cut off, was captured by the Philistines and was blinded by them, and when his strength returned he brought the roof of the temple of Dagon down on the Philistines. Samson’s lifestyle was such that we would be unlikely to pick him to do God’s work today. Yet despite being such a flawed human being, God chose him and blessed him. In Judges 15:20 and 18:31 we read that he led Israel for twenty years.
Our reaction might be to question God’s choice of Samson to achieve his will. Does God demand perfection in those he calls to serve him, or is it the fact that they are weak individuals that gives the opportunity for God to display his strength? Paul knew this and when faced with his own human frailty, he could repeat what the Lord had said to him: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Thankfully God sees the potential in each of us, even though we are frail human beings. He knows what we were before we submitted to Jesus; he also knows what we have become in Christ.
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Pray: Father, we acknowledge our frailty and weakness. We submit our lives to you, so that your strength might be displayed in our lives. Amen