This Week’s Reading Schedule
Today’s (Thursday’s) Bible Reading is Judges 13-16
Friday, April 20: Judges 17-21
Next week we will read Ruth, then spend some time in Psalms and Proverbs.
The overall year’s plan is here.
Judges 13 begins the story of Samson, as unusual a judge as any we will read about. What makes him unusual is that there’s nothing about him that seems "holy" except his lifetime Nazarite vow (Num. 6). He didn’t drink wine, eat grapes, or cut his hair.
His mother also could not drink wine or beer or eat grapes. This may only have applied while she was pregnant with Samson (see v. 14, where only Samson’s mother, not his father, must follow these rules).
Once again we see that the Angel of the LORD is treated as divine. He receives sacrifices, and he ascends into heaven on the smoke of the sacrifice. Also note that he refuses to give a name to Manoah when he asks (v. 17-18). God doesn’t need a name. He is who he is. When he does use a name, it is for our benefit, to express some aspect of his nature to us. No name is adequate to encompass the nature of Almighty God, so there is no specific name that is "the Name."
Zorah and Eshtaol, where Samson was from, were west of Jerusalem and east of the major Philistine cities.
There is an excellent lesson in verse two about trusting God. Samson is not doing something righteous in being bent on marrying this Philistine woman. In fact, the whole wedding is a disaster, and he never ends up married to her at all.
Nonetheless, it was God who was guiding all this mess, and guiding this wild man named Samson, in order to bring about the overthrow of the Philistines.
It is good to seek the Lord and do his will. We can’t use Samson as an excuse to disobey God. However, when we find that things are out of control, we can turn to God and trust him to work all things for good for us if we love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:29). This is why it is so important to fight to live for the purposes of God. We want God fighting on our side, but that will only happen if we join what he’s doing. He is not going to join what we are doing.
But note that what God is doing always has a role for us, a role we were specifically made for. He is, after all, the Creator.
Finally, Timnah is west of Zorah, just on the edge of Philistine territory, still east of the major Philistine cities. (Those cities are Gaza, Gath, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron … see map; and this map has Timnah.)
Note that Samson is never concerned about delivering Israel. His actions against the Philistines are always motivated by anger and revenge.
That’s not something we’d expect God to bless. Again, we need to be humble in our confident conclusions about what God thinks. You can see from this chapter that God is not only with Samson, but he’s with him completely, even providing water for him miraculously in the wilderness.
There are few stories more famous than Samson and Delilah. For the second time, he is nagged into giving away a secret that will harm him, though this time it costs him his eyes, not just 30 sets of clothes.
Once again, Samson’s purpose in taking down the temple is revenge (v. 28), though the Lord’s purpose is the deliverance of Israel.
If giving you the geography is helping any, the Valley of Sorek is just north of Timnah.