These chapters chronicle the birth, life and death of Samson – who was the promised son of a barren mother, set apart for God’s holy purposes as a Nazarite to God, and of whom it was foretold that he would begin to save Israel. The choices he made during his life, however, showcase Samson’s straying from his Nazarite vows to pursue worldly things that ultimately lead him to a point of having the Spirit of God leave him completely. In his final moments he demonstrates a return to faith as he prays to be used by God to accomplish more in his final breaths than he did with his whole life as far as saving Israel in the way God intended.
The various stories of Samson’s feats and follies (and blatant sins) are among the more famous Bible stories. As I was reading these chapters what stood out most to me, though, was the faith demonstrated by his parents.
The Angel of the Lord appears to Samson’s mother who had been a barren woman likely for many years and tells her “you will bear a son” – which is an amazing promise from God! But there’s more, he will be a Nazarite. This special baby will lead a set-apart life for God’s purposes and the Angel of the Lord tells her that this baby will begin to save Israel.
I see so much faith and humility demonstrated by Samson’s parents that they don’t doubt God one bit, only offering up a simple prayer “come teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born”
This invites opportunity for further dialogue with the Angel of the Lord and in Judges 13:12 Samson’s father asks:
“Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?”
The clarity here is amazing. If we could all live our lives with the clarity that Samson’s father displays in this verse we would be so blessed. Our coworkers, friends, family, even random strangers that cross our path would be blessed.
First, the utter faith in God’s promise. I struggle all the time with believing in God’s promises. There’s a lot of doubt and a lot of sin that comes with that. Samson’s father didn’t doubt. He didn’t say “if your words come true”. He said ‘when’. What brings the most doubt sometimes is not knowing the ‘when’ and then losing faith in God’s timing not lining up with mine. The conviction the first part of that scripture brings!
But there’s more. Samson’s father wants to know “what is to be the child’s manner of life”? Since he was told his son would be set apart for God’s holy purposes, he’s concerned with making sure Samson lives up to God’s standard, and him in raising this child. To do that he needs to know what God’s standard is, teach that to his son and then follow through on living it out. I find that I quickly forget my manner of life ought to be drastically different from what I see lived out by the worldly people in my life. God is calling the members of his family higher – to return blessing for insult and injury, to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us. To be holy in a world that definitely isn’t, because the world shouldn’t be what we consider ‘home’. Again, the clarity in this verse is so nourishing!
We need to read God’s Word. For the clarity, nourishment and reminder. I think that’s why it’s so important to God that we read the Word everyday – because we will forget. In the last part of that verse, Samson’s father asks the Angel of the Lord “what is his mission?” He knew that someone set apart for God’s holy purposes would absolutely have a mission. I read that and was cut by so much conviction as I realized the extent to which I live a life disconnected from the mission Jesus Commissioned. Almost like I’ve forgotten. We need to enquire of the Lord “what is my mission?” Just like Samson’s father did. It’s just the barest basics of our faith, but healthy rhythms of prayer and the reading of God’s Word coupled with doing life alongside people who are also on mission will help us not forget and lose clarity in this crazy world.
As I’m reading these verses about the Angel of the Lord coming to tell Samson’s parents about their special baby, I can’t help but notice how it mirrors the story of Jesus’ birth. The promise of a special baby, set apart for God’s holy purposes who would save His people. But then far from straying from the Spirit of God, Jesus walked in step all the days of His life. And as He takes His final breaths, He accomplishes more miracles than He did during a lifetime of miracles – even now. Me writing these words is a miracle, even as you reading them are a miracle. The salvation from the consequences of our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross on our behalf, that we should be under curse but instead are blessed to have the Holy Spirit in our lives is an absolute miracle!
If you’re still reading at this point, I charge you today to not doubt God, but trust Him. Conduct your life in a manner worthy of your calling, and don’t forget your mission!
Go with God, and help me do the same!