Lord, I want to draw closer to You now as I come to read and study Your holy Word.
Read JUDGES 13:1-23
 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.  A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless.  The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.  Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,  because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”  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.  But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and give birth to 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 birth until the day of his death.'”  Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “O Lord, I beg you, 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.”  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.  The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!”  Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the one who talked to my wife?” “I am,” he said.  So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?”  The angel of the LORD answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her.  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.”  Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”  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.)  Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”  He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.”  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:  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.  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.  “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”  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.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was special about Samson’s birth?
The story of Samson begins like a fairy tale: a poor man and his wife, a prediction, and three promises. Remind you of anything? It’s funny, too, with the different reactions of Manoah and his wife. But this is not “Once upon a time.” It is eleventh century BC and no one’s laughing. We might be tempted to gloss over the opening lines (13:1) but this information is crucial. If things had not been so bad, God would not have needed judges like Samson. So, what was the evil that the Israelites had done? Read the background in Judges 2:10—3:6 to find out.
Despite Israel’s sin, there is hope. God can still find people who are in awe of him. Manoah’s fear of God (22) may seem naive to us, but as Dale Ralph Davis says: “We must wipe those patronizing smiles off our faces. Christians sometimes have a tendency to read passages like this with their condescending silent commentary, “Well, of course, Manoah was only an Old Testament believer and didn’t understand.” On the contrary, Manoah understood perfectly and trembled. We must allow Manoah to be our teacher” (Judges, Christian Focus, 2000).
Rewrite v. 25, as if it were your story: “The Lord’s power began to strengthen [your name] … in [place where you live].”
Lord, I want to always have a heart that holds You in awe and reverence just as Manoah did.
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