SDA Sabbath School Lessons
June 1, 1996
#9 Born to Win
Read for this week's study:
Judges 13:3, KJV
Samson was a special deliverer, whom God chose before his birth. All who are privileged to be chosen by God have a responsibility to live holy lives.
Child of Promise. Infertility is a major problem today. Many couples spend thousands of dollars on medical procedures that increase their chances of having children. In many cases, of course, success by such means is not guaranteed.
In ancient times, couples were just as anxious to have children, but modern technology was not available to them. the kind of stress that could result from infertility is apparent in this exchange between Rachel and Jacob: Rachel "said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!' Jacob became angry with her and said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?' " (Gen. 30:1, 2).
Why did god allow Rachel to be childless? So that when she did have a child, she would recognize him to be a special gift from the Lord (Gen. 30:22, 23). Earlier, God had taught the same lesson to Sarah (Gen. 8:9-14; 21:1-7) and Rebekah (Gen. 25:21).
In the time of the "judges," Mrs. Manoah was infertile. But the Lord gave her a child who would grow up to become big and strong. Yes, strong indeed!
- Sunday May 26: Miracle Child (Judges 13:1-5).
- After the short career of Jephthah (Judges 12:7), followed by three minor judges (verses 8-15), the Israelites turned from God again. So He gave them to the Philistines for a long time: 40 years (Judges 13:1).
- There is no indication that the Israelites were repentant at this time. Neither was there a living deliverer. But in His great mercy, God had not given up on the Israelites. So He raised up a deliverer, giving him as a baby to faithful parents. Like the wives of the patriarchs, the wife of Manoah had been infertile. Thus, the baby announced was a miracle child, a special gift from God.
- What similarities were there between the circumstances of Samson's conception and birth and those surrounding special cases mentioned in the New Testament? Luke 1:5-22; Luke 1:26-38
- With regard to the circumstances of his birth, Samson had some illustrious company: Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ. The mothers of Isaac and John the Baptist were beyond childbearing age (Gen. 18:11; Luke 1:7, 36, 37). and the mother of Jesus was a virgin (Luke 1:27, 34, 35).
- Why would Samson only begin to deliver Israel?
Which of the following best answers the question?
- Because of the poor spiritual condition of the Israelites, God could do only a limited work for them.
- Samson would carry on a personal struggle with the Philistines rather than leading an army against them.
- The Philistines were an especially tough enemy.
- Samson's life would fall short of God's ideal for him.
- Another answer:
- All the above.
- Why should every child be valued as a gift from God? (See Ps. 127:3-5.)
- Monday May 27: Nazirite (Judges 13:4, 5, 7, 13, 14).
- Before his birth, Samson was designated by the Lord as a Nazirite, that is, a person dedicated or "separated" to God. As a physical sign of this dedication, he was never to have a haircut (Judges 13:5). His mother was not to drink "wine or strong drink" or to eat unclean meat (Judges 13:4, 7, 14).
- What was the relationship between Nazirites and priests, who were also dedicated to God? Numbers 6; compare Lev. 10:6-9; Lev. 21:1-15.
- While only priests were permitted to officiate in the sanctuary, any Israelite could consecrate himself to the Lord by becoming a Nazirite. Numbers 6 regulates Nazirites, whether men or women, who voluntarily dedicated themselves to God for limited periods of time. During a time of dedication, a Nazirite was to indicate outwardly his or her special, holy relationship with the Lord (verse 8) by abstaining from (1) wine, "strong drink," and all grape products (Numbers 6:3, 4), (2) haircuts (verse 5), and (3) corpse contamination (verses 6, 7).
- The restrictions for Nazirites were similar to those for priests, who were also holy to the Lord. See Lev. 10:6,9; 21:10, 11.
- Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were lifelong Nazirites. Samson and John the Baptist were designated as such by the Lord (Judges 13:5; Luke 1:15). Samuel, who was born to a barren mother in response to her prayer of faith, was dedicated to God by her (1 Sam. 1:11, 28).
- Have you dedicated your life to God in a special way? What connection does your lifestyle have to your inner commitment? Do you think that the Christian lifestyle should be in all respects identical for all believers?
Tuesday May 28: Responsible Parents
- The name of Manoah's wife is not given, but it was to her that the Angel of the Lord appeared (Judges 13:3). When Manoah prayed that the Lord would send the Angel to them again, He appeared a second time to the woman, who then brought her husband to talk to Him (verses 9-11).
- Why did the Angel appear primarily to Manoah's wife, rather than to Manoah? Judges 13:3, 9.
Which of the following best answers the above question?
- Manoah's wife had been infertile (verse 2). She needed special evidence to believe that she would have a child. (Compare Gen. 18:12--Sarah laughed.)
- Manoah's wife would nourish the baby during pregnancy. Also, after his birth and before he would be weaned, she was responsible for observing dietary restrictions in keeping with his Nazirite status (Judges 13:22, 23).
- Another answer:
- All the above.
- How seriously did Manoah and his wife take the words of the Angel? Judges 13:6-12
- Manoah's words make it clear that he believed the message of the Angel of the Lord as related by his wife. Unlike Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist, he did not ask for confirmation of the prediction that he would have a son (compare Luke 1:18), but rather for further instruction regarding the child's life and mission (Judges 13:8, 12).
- Do we take seriously enough our responsibility to safeguard the physical, moral, and spiritual well-being of our children? do we ask God for counsel in these matters? What is so important about diet? How do prenatal factors affect children?
- Wednesday May 29: His Name is Wonderful
- How did Manoah's wife describe the Angel of the Lord to her husband? Judges 13:6.
- Manoah and his wife did not know that the man they saw (verse 6, 10, 11) was "the angel of the Lord" Judges 13:16). Like Gideon, they offered Him food. The Angel said that He would not eat the food, but they could offer a burnt offering to the Lord.
- With aroused curiosity, Manoah asked the Angel who He was (verse 17). Without stating His name, the Angel described His name as "wonderful" (verse 18, RSV). The word translated "wonderful" here means something like "beyond human understanding." (Compare Psalm 139:6; see also NIV of Judges 13:18.)
- In an earlier lesson (lesson 5, Tuesday, on Judges 6:11-16), we identified "the angel of the Lord" with Christ. Further support for this identification can be found by comparing the description of the Angel's name as "wonderful" (Judges 13:18) with the description of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6.
- An important aspect of the Lord's "wonderfulness" is the fact that He performs wonders of deliverance on behalf of His people (Exodus 15:11; Psalms 77:14). The wonder that He performed before Manoah and his wife (Judges 13:19, 20) by ascending in the flame of the burnt-offering sacrifice pointed forward with amazing clarity to His greatest act of deliverance: the wondrous sacrifice of Himself on behalf of human beings (see John 1:29; compare John 20:17--"I have not yet ascended to the Father").
- Describe your feelings of awe when you contemplate what the Lord has done and is continuing to do for His people.
- Thursday May 30: Samson
(Judges 13:24, 25).
- God had high hopes for Samson, as shown by the marvelous way in which He had announced his birth. As the boy grew, the Lord blessed him, and when he was still young, "the Spirit of the Lord began to stir [impel] him" (Judges 13:25; compare Luke 1:15, 80; Luke 2:52).
- What did God want to do with Samson? Did he live up to the Lord's ideal for his life? Judges 13:5.
Which of the following best answers the above question?
- In spite of his failures, Samson did fulfill the prediction that he would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. It is not clear, however, whether the prediction expressed the full extent of God's ideal or reflected the reality of what God could do with him, given the constraints imposed by Samson's own failures.
- If he had lived a life of wholehearted devotion to God, Samson could have eliminated the Philistine threat.
- Had Samson been a spiritual man, in keeping with his special dedication to God, he could have been a great religious leader like Joshua, Samuel, and David. He could have led the Israelites to repentance and reformation, to love and respect the One whose name and works are wonderful (Judges 13:18, 19).
- Another answer:
- All of the above.
- Who were the Philistines, and who finally delivered Israel from them? 2 Sam. 5:17-25; 2 Sam. 8:1.
- The Philistines were a problem to the Israelites before the time of Samson (Judges 3:31; Judges 10:7) and continued to cause serious trouble until David overcame them. "They were, like the Hebrews, invaders and settlers in Palestine. Philistines, in limited numbers, were in the land as early as the time of Abraham (Gen. 21:32). But their major wave of migration into Palestine probably occurred at the beginning of the 12th century B.C. along with that of other non-Semitic tribes from Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 382.
- What is your part in avoiding Samson's failure and allowing God to achieve His ideal for your life?
- Friday May 31:
Further study: Read Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, "Samson," pp. 560-562.
- "He who will observe simplicity in all his habits, restricting the appetite and controlling the passions, may preserve his mental powers strong, active, and vigorous, quick to perceive everything which demands thought or action, keen to discriminate between the holy and the unholy, and ready to engage in every enterprise for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity."--Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, September 29, 1881.
- Discussion Questions:
- The Angel of the Lord called Samson through his parents,. Study the relationships between the various times and ways in which God communicated with His people during the period of the "judges":
- Angel of the Lord rebukes (Judges 2:1-5).
- prophetess called (Judges 4:4-7).
- prophet rebukes (Judges 6:7-10).
- Angel of the Lord calls (Judges 6:11-16).
- Lord rebukes (Judges 10:10-16).
- Angel of the Lord calls (Judges 13).
- What is the relationship between holiness and effectiveness in service for Christ? If Samson had been genuinely holy by virtue of fellowship with God, what difference would there have been in his effectiveness?
- Why was David ultimately more successful in subduing the Philistines than was Samson? Are solitary champions or group leaders more effective in God's work today?
Samson was a miracle child, announced by the "wonderful" Angel of the Lord Himself and born to a barren mother. His entire life, even before birth, was to be holy, dedicated to God. His mission was to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines. God chooses leaders whom He has carefully trained for the particular challenges with which they will be confronted.
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Last updated on May 22, 1996.