I have been using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study for almost a year. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I started writing this blog because the only way I can get myself to read the Bible everyday is to pretend that I am teaching someone about what it says to me. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.
Today’s passage tells us that the Israelites once more did evil in God’s sight and He turned them over to the Philistines. The Philistines oppressed the Israelites for forty years. In those days there was a man named Manoah whose wife was unable to become pregnant and they had no children. God sent a messenger to his wife to tell her that she must avoid alcoholic beverages and forbidden foods because she was about to become pregnant. The messenger told her that she would bear a son who should never have his hair cut because he would be dedicated to God from birth as a Nazirite. God would use him to rescue Israel from the Philistines.
When she told her husband, Manoah, what the messenger had said, he prayed to God that He send the messenger to them once more to give them more detailed instructions on how they should raise their son. Once again the messenger from God appeared to Manoah’s wife. This time she ran and got Manoah. He returned and asked for further instructions. When Manoah asked him what rules should govern the way they raised the son the messenger prophecied, the messenger told him once more that his wife should not consume any alcoholic beverages nor any forbidden foods. Manoah offered the messenger a meal, but the messenger declined. Instead stating that he would stay while Manoah prepared a burnt offering. Manoah prepared the offering and laid it out on a stone. While the flames shot up from the offering towards the sky, the messenger ascended to heaven in the fire. Manoah and his wife fell on their faces and worshiped God. In due time Manoah’s wife gave birth and named her son Samson.
When Samson was a young man, he demanded that his father get him a particular Philistine woman as his wife. His father tried to convince Samson to chose an Israelite girl, but Samson insisted. While Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, the city where she lived, a young lion attacked Samson. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands, apparently quickly and without being injured since the passage tells us that he did not tell his parents. Once the marriage was arranged, Samson returned for the wedding. On the way he went aside to look at the carcass of the lion. He discovered that some bees had made their hive in the carcass. Samson removed some honey from the carcass and ate some of it as he went on. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some of the honey as well, but he did not tell them where the honey came from.
According to the traditions of the time, Samson threw a feast. The people of Timnah chose thirty young men to be his companions. Samson made a bet with these young men that they would not be able to solve his riddle. The young men agreed that if they failed to solve Samson’s riddle, they would each give him an outfit. Samson agreed that if they did solve it, he would give each of them an outfit. Samson gave them a riddle about finding honey in the carcass of the lion he killed. Since no one aside from Samson knew about the lion and that he got honey from it, the young men were unable to solve the riddle. After three days of being unable to solve the riddle, they approached Samson’s new bride and asked her to coax Samson to tell her the answer, threatening to kill her and her father’s family if she did not get the answer for them.
She went to Samson and begged him to tell her the answer, accusing him of not loving her for not telling her the answer already. Samson responded that he had not told anyone the answer, not even his parents. However, she started to cry when he would not tell her and continued crying for the rest of the wedding feast. Finally on the seventh day of the wedding feast, Samson gave in and told her the answer. She promptly went and told the young men who had made the bet with Samson. Samson knew where they had learned the answer and was furious. He promptly went and killed thirty other Philistines in another city and gave their clothes to his companions. He then went home to his parents house.
This passage shows several personality and relationship flaws that can get people into trouble. The first is that Samson was impulsive. He saw this young woman and decided that she had to be his wife and would take no advice to that suggested this would be a bad decision. Then when he felt betrayed by his new wife, he threw a temper tantrum and killed a bunch of people who were only peripherally involved with the situation and abandoned his wife for a period of time. Samson should have talked to his wife and found out why she had “betrayed” him. Which brings us to her, when the young men that her father had chosen as companions to Samson for the wedding feast threatened her father and his family if she did not get information from her new husband, she did not confide in him and request his help. He could then have decided to either defend her father’s family or give her the answer. Once again this problem occurred because she did not trust her husband. There are other lessons to be learned from this passage, but the two I see today are the importance of choosing a marriage partner wisely, something Samson failed to do, and communicating with and trusting one’s spouse, something both Samson and his wife failed to do.
The day after he responded to questions about who he was by saying that one greater than himself would follow him, John the Baptist pointed out Jesus coming towards him and said that He was the Lamb of God and the one he had referred to. John told those around him that he would testify that Jesus was the Chosen One of God. On the day after that, John was walking with two of his disciples when he saw Jesus. He told his disciples that Jesus was the Lamb of God. The two disciples started to follow Jesus.
When Jesus noticed them following Him, He asked them what they wanted. They replied by asking Him where He was staying. He invited them to come and see. They spent the rest of the day with Him. One of them, Andrew, went and got his brother Simon. When Simon met Jesus, Jesus promptly named him Peter (or Rock). The following day when Jesus decided to return to Galilee He found Philip and asked him to follow Him. Philip went and found Nathanael. When Philip told Nathanael that they had found the Messiah and that He was Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael responded by asking if anything good could come out of Nazareth. Philip invited him to come and see for himself. When Nathanael approached Jesus, Jesus said that he was a true and honest Israelite. Nathanael thought he was being flattered dishonestly, but when Jesus told him what he was doing when Philip found him, he believed.
Nathanael gives us an important lesson. When Jesus said something flattering about him that he almost certainly wanted to believe about himself, he did not just accept it. Nathanael challenged Jesus. We should not accept someone as a teacher to be respected just because they say things about us that we like to hear.
Today’s psalm is a heartfelt cry to God for assistance. The psalmist tells us that he is in great distress, yet nevertheless he has faith in God and praises God above all others. When times are bad (and when they are good), I will call out with the psalmist:
Listen to my plea!
But even in the worst of my trials I will also proclaim:
He will not reject their pleas.
Well today’s proverb is as relevant today as the day it was written. “Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!” Let us carefully consider the source when we hear something, even if it is something that supports what we already believe. Let us follow the advice of the second proverb and be cautious. Let us be careful what we believe and not rush ahead to spread a story that supports the arguments we make. IF later the story turns out to be false, we will be shown to be a fool and others will ignore our arguments, even if they are good.