You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” Judges 13:5
I recently had the opportunity to play Top Golf. It was great fun, but I learned very quickly that I’m not great at hitting the golf ball at the desired mark. In fact, I think I hit the golf ball every place it was not intended to go. I did not stress too much after the many times I missed the mark playing Top Golf; instead, I laughed it off. Thankfully there was no consequence missing my intended marks playing Top Golf. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to our sin. Sin, which can be defined as “missing the mark,” is exactly that. It is missing God’s standard of perfection, which we all have done. It is never fun to talk about our sin, but the good news is that when we recognize and acknowledge our sin, we can take steps in turning away from that sin and turning to God instead.
This week we are looking at the life of Samson, who made his fair share of mistakes yet is still listed in Hebrews 11 and commended for his faith. Samson was set apart by God from the very beginning of his life. Judges 13 tells us that before he was even born, God told Samson’s parents that he was to take a Nazirite vow. Taking this vow meant not cutting your hair, eating grapes, drinking alcohol, or eating any forbidden food (verses 5 and 7). Numbers 6:6-7 tells us that a person taking a Nazirite vow was not to touch a dead body either. Despite this calling from God, we quickly find in the book of Judges that Samson did not always follow these instructions. We find Samson breaking his vow to God throughout his life in the book of Judges. In Judges 14, Samson touched the dead body of a lion and ate honey that some bees had made on the lion’s dead body. This is only one instance we have of Samson breaking his vow and sinning. By sinning, he missed the mark, or the standard, God had clearly laid out for him.
The truth is, sin always takes us away from where we want to go and leads to devastating consequences, and we have all participated in it. The greater truth is, Scripture teaches us that God does not leave us alone in our sin, and He will always provide a way out of that sin if we will take it (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we want to walk away from it and leave sin behind, we have to understand just exactly what sin is and recognize how we are letting sin into our lives through our thoughts and actions. When this happens, we can finally realize the paths we take that we do not want to go and step away from them.
It’s time to take a few moments to evaluate our own lives. As you consider your life, what sins are you struggling with? Is there anything that God is bringing to your mind? Acknowledge it now and make a list of these sin struggles you are facing. As you make this list, turn on your favorite worship song and thank Jesus that He does not leave you alone in your sin.
Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.
In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’ ”
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”
God answered Manoah’s prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But her husband, Manoah, was not with her. So she quickly ran and told her husband, “The man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”
Manoah ran back with his wife and asked, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife the other day?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I am.”
So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”
The angel of the Lord replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”
Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.”
“I will stay,” the angel of the Lord replied, “but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the Lord.” (Manoah didn’t realize it was the angel of the Lord.)
Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord, “What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you.”
“Why do you ask my name?” the angel of the Lord replied. “It is too wonderful for you to understand.”
Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to the Lord. And as Manoah and his wife watched, the Lord did an amazing thing. As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the Lord ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground.
The angel did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, and he said to his wife, “We will certainly die, for we have seen God!”
But his wife said, “If the Lord were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.”
When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the Lord blessed him as he grew up. And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.
One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”
His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?”
But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.
As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her.
Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.