Judges 14, Acts 18, Jeremiah 27, Mark 13

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Judges 14, Acts 18, Jeremiah 27, Mark 13. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Judges 14.

After a great start as parents to Samson, things go wrong here in Judges 14. Old enough to marry now, Samson chooses a bride based completely on her looks. Note that he “saw” her in verse 1 but didn’t talk with her until verse 7. So his decision was based on attraction alone. Being attracted to your spouse is a good thing, but if that’s your only reason for marrying him or her, you are taking a great risk (see Prov 31:30). 

Beyond the shallow basis for Solomon’s desire to marry her, marrying a non-Israelite was forbidden in the Old Testament law (Deut 7:3). Samson’s parents may have known that or they may not have. It is hard to know how well the law had been taught to the people during the dark days of the judges. Their response in verse 3 shows that they at least knew it was not wise; yet it was Manoah’s responsibility to secure a wife for Samson. He could have put his foot down and refused Samson’s command, “Get her for me.” Why didn’t he? Perhaps the prophecy he and his wife had received about Samson and the fact that “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him” (Judges 13:24) when he was young man caused Manoah to defer to Samson when he was young. Regardless of why, this passage shows that the early concern Manoah and his wife had for raising Samson according to the Lord’s commands that we saw yesterday in Judges 13 was not sustained into Samson’s young adulthood. Since Samson was an adult, he probably could have overridden his parents’ wishes and married her anyway, but it still would have been right for Manoah to encourage Samson to live by God’s word. It would also have been best for him to stand by his convictions and not cave to his son’s foolish desires.

As we’ve seen recently, God can use the sinful desires of people to work his will; that’s what Judges 14:4 is showing us. Although Samson was living in violation of God’s commands, God was using his sinful choices to accomplish his will and start the liberation of the Israelites from the Philistines. So although Samson’s great start before he was born and as a young child did not produce a young adult who was strong for God, he still was used by God to accomplish God’s will for Israel. 

What strikes me in this passage is how a great start in following the Lord can be easily disrupted through sin. Samson had every advantage a spiritual leader could need. He could have been a man after God’s own heart years before David was even born. But instead of developing into the man he could have been based on all the grace God had poured into his life, Samson settled for positional leadership and leaned on his miraculous physical strength instead of developing strength of character. He became a successful military leader, yes, but not a godly man or a spiritual leader for Israel. 

It’s easy to start coasting in our Christian life, isn’t it? We see how much God has blessed us and grown us by his grace and we start living by what seems right in our own eyes rather than how God has commanded us to live. Even before his marriage week ended, Samson was paying the price for his foolish decisions (vv. 10-19). His “marriage” was over faster than many of the celebrity marriages we’ve heard about that last a year or less (v. 20). The seeds of his own moral destruction were being sown, but he was blind to it. Later in his life, decisions like this would lead to him literally becoming blind as well as limiting his effectiveness as a servant of the Lord. The message to me is, don’t coast on the grace the Lord has given in the past. Recognize how easily we fool ourselves and be diligent, by the grace of God, to follow his word day by day.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.