Rev. Joseph Bianco
Our passage begins with a familiar story in the Bible, reminiscent of the barrenness of Sarah where God granted her Isaac. This story is also similar to the birth of Jesus, except that Mary was a virgin. In all of these stories we see God showing up, granting life, and the response is always worship. Here Manoah and his wife are moved to worship as, “they fell on their faces to the ground” (13:20). Not only does this passage illustrate the proper response towards God’s kindness, but gives us hope in the form of a child, set apart to be a Nazirite. Sadly, when this child is grown, he is anything but the hero the reader expected. Samson breaks every one of his Nazirite vows: Samson associates with the dead (14:6-9, 15:15), he cuts his hair (16:17,19), and most likely drinks during his wedding feast (14:10-20). Many children’s Bibles note that Samson was strong, but in reality, every time we see a feat of strength it is due to “Spirit of the Lord” (14:6). God makes it clear that he is using Samson for his purposes in spite of Samson’s failed leadership (14:4). God ultimately uses Samson’s mistake in marrying a philistine woman to cause the destruction of 1000 Philistines by Samson’s hand. God uses Samson’s death and captivity due to Delilah’s seduction to bring down 3000 additional philistines. Israel and their leadership continue to spiral downward, but God has not forgotten his covenant with them.
Reflect: The truth is that Samson was a horrible Judge, but God still used Samson to accomplish his purposes. God was still faithful to Israel. Samson was constantly faced with temptations because of the Nazirite vows which required his hair to remain uncut, the prohibition of alcohol, and to not associate with the dead. Take some time to reflect on your own temptations. Where are you tempted in your life to turn against God? Where have you seen him remain faithful to you regardless of how you acted? Second, take some time and pray for your leaders who are also imperfect. If they are not believers in Christ, pray that God would save them. If they are believers, pray that God would strengthen them to remain faithful.
Connect: 1 Timothy 2:1–6
 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.