March 23, 2007
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- And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
- And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
- And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
- Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
- For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
- Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
- But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
- Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
- And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
- And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
- And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
- And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
- And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
- She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.
- And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
- And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.
- And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?
- And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
- So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
- For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
- But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
- And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
- But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
- And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
- And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
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- And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
- And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
- Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
- But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
- Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
- And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
- And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
- And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
- And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
- So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
- And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
- And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
- But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
- And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
- And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?
- And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
- And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
- And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
- And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.
- But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
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- But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.
- And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.
- And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
- And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
- And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.
- Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.
- And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
- And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
- Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
- And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.
- Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.
- And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.
- And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.
- And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
- And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
- And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
- And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi.
- And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
- But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.
- And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
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Thought for the day:
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Samson is a puzzling figure in the Old Testament. He was used mightily by God in beginning the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines (
13:5), and he led Israel as a judge for twenty years (
15:20). Yet throughout his life we see evidences of carnality and worldliness. Since the Scriptures serve not only as a historical record, but also as a lesson and example (
II Tim. 3:16,
I Cor. 10:11), it behooves us to see what we can learn from his life.
The first thing that we can see in Samson is that God overrules in the affairs of a man's life. In other words, God can use the wrath of man to praise His name (
Psalm 76:10). Though dedicated to God from the womb, and undoubtedly taught Biblical principles by his godly parents, Samson still chose to make rebellious decisions. In
Judges 14:2 Samson decides that he wants to marry a Philistine girl. His parents protested because this was clearly a violation of
Deuteronomy 7:1-4, which forbade intermarriages with the heathen. Yet Samson insisted, and his parents reluctantly agreed. Interestingly, the Bible tells us in
14:4 that this whole episode was "of the Lord", because God was going to use Samson against the Philistines. I do not believe that it was God's plan for Samson to violate the Law, for the Bible tells us that God never tempts any man (
James 1:13). However, when people do choose to rebel against God, in His sovereignty and omnipotence He can use their rebellion to get His will accomplished. This does not mean that He encourages or sanctions their sin; it simply means that He is capable of using it for His glory and ultimate purpose. This does not speak so much to the ability of man as it does to the greatness of God. Imagine, if the Lord can accomplish His will with a rebel, what can He accomplish with someone who dedicates himself completely to fulfilling the will of God?
Second, we see that a person can accomplish things for God in spite of his carnality. While we don't like to think that way, it is none the less true. Samson married wrong, violated his Nazarite vow (
Judges 14:8-9), and fornicated with a harlot (
Judges 16:1), yet he still helped to free Israel from captivity. According to
II Timothy 2:20-21, in a great house there are both honorable and dishonorable vessels. While Christians are encouraged to purge themselves from sins so that they can "be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work", it is obvious that even vessels without honor can be used by the master for certain things if He so chooses. Both their effectiveness and potential are limited, but they can serve a purpose. This is in no way intended to be a justification for carnality, and the backslidden Christian will never be used to his full spiritual capability, and will ultimately be judged for his sinful actions. However, since God's Word never returns void (
Isaiah 55:11), even a worldly preacher can see other men come to Christ. Since the gifts of God are without repentance (
Romans 11:29), even a carnal Christian can see his spiritual gift used by God in a way that edifies another believer. The bottom line here is this: just because something good is happening doesn't mean that the men involved are spiritual, or in a right relationship with God. Many "successful" pastors of large, growing congregations have been caught in immoral and/or illegal behavior. Some have been caught in doctrinal error. Success is not the indicator of spirituality. Adherence to the Scriptures coupled with producing Biblical evidence of the fruits of the Spirit are the only true measure.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery