BLESSING FROM BARRENNESS
Lord, teach us to appreciate the potential in every newborn.
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.[a]” 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.
- Judges 13:18 Or is wonderful
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Give thanks to God for the miracle that is the birth of each baby.
Israel has begun a new cycle of disobedience. This time the Lord uses the Philistines from the south-west to discipline his rebellious people. A deliverer-judge is needed and divine intervention is required since, like other significant biblical characters, (eg., Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth) Samson’s mother seems unable to conceive. When Samson is born, his life seems full of promise. Can you find parallels between his conception and birth and that of Jesus in Luke 1:26–38 and Matthew 1:18–25?
The significance of the Nazarite vow (4,5,7) will become clear as we encounter Samson’s apparent indifference to it. Samson is recorded as praying twice: once when he is thirsty (15:18) and once to ask that he may regain enough of his strength to kill both the Philistines and himself (16:28,30). This suicide prayer is the only time in chapters 13 to 16 that a character in the narrative uses God’s personal name, ‘Lord’, though the name is used by the narrator. This suggests that the Israelites at this time have faith in a distant God rather than a close relationship with the Lord their God. This is true even of Samson’s parents, who have good intentions, wanting the ‘man of God … to teach us how to bring up the boy’ (8). There are parallels with post-Christian Western Europe in the twenty-first century.
In spite of this discouraging scenario and Samson’s own failure to live up to his calling, God will use him to ‘deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines’ (see 5), though this will not take place in the way expected, and it will be incomplete (See 1 Sam 17, 2 Sam 5:25 and 2 Kings 18:5–8 for later conflicts with Philistines) We can believe that God has not forgotten us and can intervene with new life and deliverance in our individual lives and those of our nations and churches.
Pray for God to bring blessing in situations known to you which seem to be barren.
Lord, bless our children the way You blessed Samson, and keep them on the straight and narrow.