Read Judges 13
The Birth of Samson
13 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 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 Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?”
“I am,” he said.
12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?”
13 The angel of the Lord answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.”
15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”
16 The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”
18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 21 When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.
22 “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”
23 But his wife answered, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.”
24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
As is all too common throughout the book of Judges, this chapter begins with Israel doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and, as a consequence, being delivered into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years. In Judges 13, while in the midst of Israel’s suffering, an angel of the Lord appears to a barren woman promising a child that will deliver Israel from the hands of its enemies. In verses 3-5, the angel said that the woman would have a child and prescribed certain instructions she should follow that her and her son would be set apart.
Often we believe that something we do merits the blessings God brings upon us or our children. The reality is that God chooses to use us because of who we are in Him, and then asks us to set ourselves apart. We are not told in this passage why God wanted to use Manoah and his wife, but we can tell from this text that they responded to this news in faith that God was going to deliver on this promise.
It is not because we are good that God gives us good things. Romans 3:23 and 6:23 say that we have all sinned and that sin is deserving of death. Instead, a good God gives us good things, and we are able to do good with it. Exodus 34:6 says that the Lord is “abounding in goodness and truth” and 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength of God so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” God uses flawed, sinful people to accomplish His purposes time and time again throughout scripture (and today, as well).
Lastly, the angel’s commands to the woman are not to be glossed over. We are to be set apart from the world (2 Timothy 2:21) to be “vessels for honorable use.” Once God chooses us, we are called to live differently that the rest of the world. In the Old Testament this was because it was important to not become physically or spiritually “unclean” (v. 4, 14). However, after the cleansing work of Christ, our actions are to be different so that we can be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14).
- What other Old Testament stories does this passage remind you of? Why?
- How did Manoah and his wife respond in faith?
- How can you prepare yourself to be used by God today? How can you live in a manner that is set apart so you can be a light in a dark world?
Thank you for Your good gifts in my life that I often take for granted. I acknowledge that You have given them to me for Your glory and not my success or comfort. Help me to trust that what I intend for harm You know how to use for good. Help me to be mindful every day of the good gifts You have given me and how I can use them for Your glory. Don’t let me grow complacent letting my gifts waste away in timidity, but in boldness use them to serve others and further Your kingdom. Thank you that it’s not what I do, but what Jesus has already done that saves me. I pray all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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