March 27

Read Judges 12 -- 14

In Today's Reading:

Jephthah's victory over the Ephraimites; Israel under Philistine control; Samson's Philistine wife in Timnath

In the area of Dan and Ephraim, the Israelites were oppressed by the Philistines for 40 years. During that time, Samson was born. Unlike Jephthah, Samson had a godly mother and father who desired that their son be fully dedicated to the Lord (Judges 13:3-21).

The Spirit of God came upon Samson and began to move (stir) him (Judges 13:25). Eventually, Samson ruled as a judge. However, early in life, we see his disregard for his holy calling. His first recorded act of unfaithfulness was friendship with the enemies of God. It seems that Samson was easily distracted with his own physical desires and satisfactions, as in Timnath, when he fell in love with a Philistine woman. He ignored Israel's Covenant relationship with the Lord and told his father and his mother . . . get her for me as a wife (14:1-4).

All of us are tempted by the lust of the flesh (I John 2:15-17) to gratify physical evils such as sexual sins, drugs, alcohol, gluttony, and similar sins. Every day that we continue in willful sin, Satan's hold becomes stronger, and our chances of deliverance become less likely. Perhaps the greatest deceptive sin is presuming that the long-suffering of God will continue indefinitely.

As a Nazarite, Samson was meant to be an example of loyal commitment to God before all Israel. Nothing is said about Samson seeking to get the people to turn to the Lord and worship Him.

In striking contrast, His contemporary Samuel, as a child, ministered unto the LORD before Eli. . . . And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him (I Samuel 3:1). Following the death of Eli, who had been the Judge, Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts to the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines. . . . And Samuel said, Gather all Isael to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you to the LORD. . . . and Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him (7:3,5,9). Samuel had spent his life in teaching the people of Israel that God was their King

We too are called upon to be separated from the world with a desire to fulfill the Lord's will. Flee also youthful lusts (passions): but follow righteousness, faith, charity (love), peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (II Timothy 2:22).

Word Studies:

12:6 could not frame = could not pronounce; 12:14 nephews = grandsons or other descendants; 13:6 terrible = awe-inspiring; 13:12 order the child = teach and train; 14:12 sheets = linen garments, like shirts.

Christ Portrayed:

By Samson, who, as a Nazarite, was to be separated or consecrated to God from the womb (birth) to the day of his death (Judges 13:7). Jesus was also set apart to God. Unlike Samson, who failed God, Jesus fulflled God's plan as He said: Lo, I come . . . to do Your will, O God (Hebrews 10:7).

Prayer Needs:

Country: St. Vincent and The Grenadines (120,000) in the Lesser Antilles of the eastern Caribbean · Major languages: English and French patois · Religious freedom · 50% Protestant; 17% Roman Catholic; 2% spiritist · Prayer Suggestion: Confess and forsake your sins that you may receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

Optional Reading: John 18

Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:17