Sunday School Lesson

June 25

Lesson 4

Samson

Devotional Reading: Judges 13:19-23

Background Scripture: Judges 13-16

Judges 13:1-7, 24, 25

1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:

7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.

25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Key Verse

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. —Judges 13:5

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. List factors and conditions intended to shape Samson’s spiritual development.

2. Evaluate how expectations may have shaped Samson’s attitudes and actions as he grew up.

3. Describe a parental or community expectation that has shaped his or her life in a positive way.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Childhood Memories

B. Lesson Background

I. Childless Couple (Judges 13:1-3)

A. Dark Days (v. 1)

Embracing Evil ... Again?!

B. Brighter Tomorrow (vv. 2, 3)

II. Conditions Given (Judges 13:4-7)

A. Child Set Apart (vv. 4, 5)

Self-Denial or Self-Indulgence?

B. Parents United (vv. 6, 7)

III. Blessings Bestowed (Judges 13:24, 25)

A. For Manoah’s Wife (v. 24)

B. For Israel (v. 25)

Conclusion

A. Parenting Manual

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

 

A. Childhood Memories

When you reflect on your childhood, what memories come to mind? Is it that family outing to the beach during which you were first taught to swim? Is it the aroma of your favorite meal being lovingly prepared? Is it a favorite family tradition that was always practiced during holiday times?

But maybe it is a curfew that you had to follow that was an hour earlier than the curfew of your friends. Perhaps it is your parents’ insistence that you not go to a movie that everyone was talking about, because it celebrated ungodly behavior. Possibly it is going to church every Sunday, even when you didn’t want to!

Good parents make a real difference in the lives of children. Some parental actions are pleasant and affirming. But some will seem unpleasant and even unreasonable in the mind of a child. Yet both are necessary to bring a youngster to maturity. Today we will conclude our look at some famous judges of Israel, not by looking at the judge himself, but at this judge’s parents.

B. Lesson Background

This is the last of the studies on four delivering judges in the book of Judges, the seventh book of the Old Testament. There were two other major judges (Othniel and Ehud) and six judges who seem only to have served as magistrates in different parts of Israel.

In the previous lesson Jephthah defeated the Ammonites that had oppressed the central portions of the land for 18 years. Judges 12 gives the details on another problem that confronted Jephthah: Ephraimites from the western side of the Jordan came to complain that he had not called them when he led the battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah’s reply was that he had called them and they had not come (Judges 12:2, 3). It could be surmised that after Jephthah’s situation with his daughter (see last week’s lesson), he did not feel like trying to appease men who wait until the battle is over before they choose sides.

The outcome was a battle between two groups of Israelites. Jephthah and his Gileadites defeated the Ephraimites from the western side of the Jordan (toward the Mediterranean Sea).

As the Ephraimites retreated, Jephthah’s men gained control of the fords where the Ephraimites would cross the Jordan River. Each Ephraimite who attempted to cross the Jordan was asked to say a certain word. Anyone who pronounced the word a certain way was recognized as being an Ephraimite and therefore executed (Judges 12:6). Tribes had conquered the promised land some 300 years previously (11:26), which provided time for regional dialects to develop.

The last verses of Judges 12 give basic facts of three men who seem to have served only as magistrates in their areas: one in the south, one in the north, and one in the middle section of Israel.

I. Childless Couple

                                                                (Judges 13:1-3)

 

A. Dark Days (v. 1)

1. And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

Each generation of God’s people seems to have been determined to make its own mistakes, especially as it involved doing evil. To do evil is defined in Judges 10:6 as serving the gods of five nations that bordered parts of Israel.

The result of this idolatry is given in Judges 10:7: the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines and the Ammonites. The Ammonite oppression lasted for 18 years. It was the subject of the previous lesson. The Ammonites had come from the east, and they spread across the Jordan River into Judah and Benjamin (Judges 10:9). Jephthah was selected to crush the Ammonites, and he did so.

The Philistine oppression of forty years is the longest of any in the book of Judges. Both Abraham and Isaac had dealings with individuals who were Philistines (Genesis 21 and 26), but they were not a threat at that time. They are not mentioned as one of the nations that the Israelites were to drive from Canaan.

It is generally thought that they came from islands in the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea. Overpopulation may have contributed to their migrating in larger numbers and, finally, settling along the coast of Canaan about 1200 BC. One of the early judges had a conflict with them (Shamgar in Judges 3:31). Soon they became a major factor in oppressing Israel. The ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines in the days of Eli (a mentor for Samuel). Conflicts continued into the days of Samuel, Saul, and David.

The 40-year oppression has been dated as starting at approximately 1115 BC. This may be about the time that Samson is born. In the middle of that oppression, Samson will become a one-man army who regularly embarrasses the Philistines with his physical strength.

Embracing Evil ... Again?!

Addictions to alcohol and drugs involve millions of people. But there are addictive behaviors as well as addictive substances. For example, involvement in social media is becoming increasingly common as an obsessive-compulsive behavior. A similarly addictive behavior is computer gaming. This compulsion may take the form of competing with one’s self, always trying for a higher score or lower time of completion.

The declaration of today’s text that “Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord” is evidence that the nation was addicted to sin in general and idolatry in particular. But this isn’t just dusty history of a bygone era! No, it is “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Psychologist Dr. Phil has said, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” We prove we have learned from history when we do not repeat it. —C. R. B.

What Do You Think?

What are some things we can do to resist joining the larger culture in its pursuit of evil?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In terms of accountability practices

In terms of environments we put ourselves in

In terms of which Scripture passages to memorize for instant guidance

Other

B. Brighter Tomorrow (vv. 2, 3)

2. And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

There is a very special announcement for a couple in Israel who are Danites. The tribal territory for Dan is immediately to the north of the areas where the Philistines had settled. This proximity provides us geographical context for Samson’s temptations, his feats of strength, and his death.

Manoah is the name of the husband; the name of his wife is not given. They have not been able to have children, but that is about to change. They live in the town of Zorah, some 14 or 15 miles west of Jerusalem, near the border between Dan and Judah. The town of Zorah is mentioned as being involved in a Danite migration to a region north of the Sea of Galilee (see Judges 18:1-29). The tribal members who moved gave the name Dan to the leading town of the region. This is a tribute to their progenitor, Dan, one of the 12 sons of Jacob.

Other couples in the Bible are described as being childless, and special announcements from the Lord promised that they would have sons. These included Abraham and Sarah, who became the parents of Isaac (Genesis 21:1-3) when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (17:17).

Isaac married Rebekah when he was 40 years old (Genesis 25:20). The first 20 years of this marriage did not produce an heir. When Isaac was 60 (25:26), Rebekah gave birth to twins Esau and Jacob.

Another special birth involved Hannah. A priest named Eli stated his hope that the Lord grant Hannah her desire, and the Lord did so (1 Samuel 1:9-20). Angelic announcements preceded the births of John the Baptist (Luke 1:8-25) and Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).

3. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

The angel of the Lord seems to appear suddenly. He wastes no time in getting to the point, just as when he spoke to Gideon (Judges 6:12).

This unexpected event makes a vivid impression on Manoah’s wife. In verse 6 the appearance of the heavenly messenger is described as creating awe or terror. The other factor is the declaration itself. The angel of the Lord knows all about her status of being barren.

Through the years she has probably tried to be with child by using every remedy that anyone suggests. All to no avail. Now a total stranger factually announces that her hopes will be fulfilled, and she will bear a son of her own!

What Do You Think?

How should you respond if a fellow believer claims to have received an angelic visitation?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding the purpose of the claimed visitation

Regarding witnesses to the claimed visitation

In light of Hebrews 1:1, 2

Other

II. Conditions Given

                                                                      (Judges 13:4-7)

 

A. Child Set Apart (vv. 4, 5)

4, 5a. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb.

The next statement introduces a caution. She is to be on guard and not drink wine or other beverage that is known to cause drunkenness. The reason for this is that the one to be born is to be a Nazarite unto God from the womb. In this situation it may be that the restrictions that are on a Nazarite are also to be on the mother from the time of conception, for she is supplying the nutrition to the son.

The word Nazarite means “consecrated,” or “dedicated.” The guidelines for a Nazarite are given in Numbers 6:1-8. Any Israelite, male or female, can be a Nazarite for any length of time. Samson is to be a perpetual Nazarite. Such a person is to have no wine, strong drink, grape juice, fresh grapes, dried grapes, grape seeds, or grape skins—nothing from a grapevine. Grapes have sugar, and they are highly desired. It will be a challenge for a Nazarite to watch others eat things that he or she cannot have.

Samson’s mother not only receives restrictions on what she may drink but also on what she may eat. Mrs. Manoah lived during the Mosaic dispensation, so clean foods for her are to conform to the guidelines that Moses gave in the law. In Leviticus 11 (see also Deuteronomy 14) the details are provided for what an Israelite is permitted to eat. Four categories are given:

1. Quadrupeds must have a hoof that is split and must chew the cud.

2. Animals in the water must have fins and scales.

3. Birds that are carnivorous or eat carrion are forbidden; others are permitted.

4. Insects must have four jointed legs for jumping—primarily various kinds of locusts (similar to grasshoppers).

How to Say It

Aegean Uh-jee-un.

Ammonites Am-un-ites.

Canaan Kay-nun.

Eli Ee-lye.

Ephraimites Ee-fray-im-ites.

Esau Ee-saw.

Eshtaol Esh-tuh-oll.

Gaza Gay-zuh.

Gileadites Gil-ee-uhd-ites (G as in get).

Isaac Eye-zuk.

Jephthah Jef-thuh (th as in thin).

Mahanehdan May-hah-neh-dan.

Manoah Muh-no-uh.

Mediterranean Med-uh-tuh-ray-nee-un.

Nazarite Naz-uh-rite.

Othniel Oth-ni-el.

Philistines Fuh-liss-teenz or Fill-us-teenz.

Shamgar Sham-gar.

Zacharias Zack-uh-rye-us.

Zorah Zo-ruh.

The ordinary restrictions prohibit anything from grapes, cutting the hair, or going near a dead person. Samson’s physical appearance to others must have been frightening with his long hair and long beard.

Samson is the only person in the Bible who is actually said to be a Nazarite. Samuel is thought to have been a Nazarite, because his mother vowed that no razor would come on his head (1 Samuel 1:11). The same conclusion is made about John the Baptist, but for a different reason. The angel who appears to Zacharias says that his son is not to drink wine or strong drink (Luke 1:15).

Self-Denial or Self-Indulgence?

The Nazarite vow that God commanded for Samson’s mother—and ultimately for Samson himself—involved abstaining from things that were part of an Israelite’s normal life. Even today we may choose to give up something such as eating chocolate or watching TV as temporary self-denial. Self-denial reminds the participant that the Son of God gave up much more to make salvation possible.

The call to self-denial is a difficult one to hear in a self-indulgent culture. Missionaries report that self-denial is accepted more readily in parts of the world with lower standards of living. Perhaps the higher one’s standard of living, the more one realizes how much self-denial really costs.

But consider the one who had the highest standard of living imaginable, the one who gave it all up for us: Jesus. Philippians 2:7, 8 bears frequent reading: “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” —C. R. B.

5b. And he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

The final revelation of the heavenly messenger perhaps gives Manoah’s wife the idea that Samson will be like others in the past who led armies against the enemies of God’s people. That will not be the case.

Visual for Lesson 4. Point to this visual as you ask, “In what ways does God make His faithfulness known to our generation today?”

Instead, Samson will act more as a free agent than a team leader of thousands. Feats of strength such as killing a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5, 6), killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (15:15), and lifting the city gates of Gaza and carrying them toward Hebron (16:3) will be done without assistance.

His task is to use his great strength to keep the Philistines off balance, to keep them concerned and confused, and to do things that cause them to realize that their gods are nothing. The judges that led organized armies against enemies include Deborah in accompanying Barak (lesson 1), Gideon (lesson 2), and Jephthah (lesson 3). Samson’s role is different.

B. Parents United (vv. 6, 7)

6. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name.

The words in the biblical text say nothing about the manner by which the woman tells her husband what she has just experienced. But we imagine that it is with great excitement. She first describes her special visitor as a man of God. This was the ordinary way to refer to a special servant of the Lord (see Joshua 14:6; 1 Samuel 2:27; 9:6, 7).

She is very perceptive, however, for she continues the description by saying that the appearance of this special guest was like an angel of God, for his terrible presence has caused feelings of terror or awe. One of the first things to be done for a visitor is to ask where he is from. But she had not done so, perhaps due to being speechless. Nor did he tell her his name (contrast Genesis 32:29).

Each statement by the angel is that of a bold, if not shocking, promise. Manoah’s wife is overwhelmed. This is so much the case that she had not thought to attend to the common courtesies of the day.

What Do You Think?

Under what circumstances should we seek the input of others on spiritual matters? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Circumstances when input of family members is wise or not wise

Circumstances when input of non-family members is wise or not wise

7. But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

Manoah’s wife faithfully repeats the instructions that were given to her by the angel of the Lord. But she makes two changes. First, she adds to the day of his death as the extent of the Nazarite requirement; it is possible that the angel actually said this. Second, she does not mention that the son will begin delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Again, she may have relayed it to her husband, but that is not recorded.

III. Blessings Bestowed

                                                                 (Judges 13:24, 25)

 

A. For Manoah’s Wife (v. 24)

24. And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.

In the verses between the ones designated for this lesson, Manoah prays for the Lord to let the man of God return. He wants to know what they should do for this special son. Manoah is to be commended for his faith—and perhaps his curiosity, for he believes what has been said.

The angel of the Lord returns, and Manoah asks questions about the future vocation and manner of life for the promised son. Manoah invites his visitor to remain for a meal, for he does not comprehend that this is the special angel of the Lord. Instead, Manoah is instructed to prepare a burnt offering. As the flames of the fire ascend, the angel of the Lord also ascends in the flame.

It must be an exciting nine months for Mr. and Mrs. Manoah and their friends as they await the arrival of their son. He is called Samson, which is similar to the word meaning “sun.”

The descriptions about his growth and his being blessed by the Lord are similar to the phrases that are used for future sons of promise—Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26; 3:19) and Jesus (Luke 2:40, 52).

What Do You Think?

What indicators should make us confident that a leader of a ministry project has God’s approval?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding indicators established in Scripture

Regarding indicators not established in Scripture

B. For Israel (v. 25)

25. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

The context implies that Samson is coming of age. He is no longer apathetic or passively resigned to the oppression by the Philistines, for the Spirit of the Lord begins to prompt him to action. The camp of Dan is so named because men from Dan camped there (see Judges 18:12).

The phrase “the Spirit of the Lord came” is used to describe the empowerment of judges Othniel (Judges 3:9, 10), Gideon (6:34), Jephthah (11:29), and (three times) Samson (14:6, 19; 15:14). This phrase may be functionally equivalent to the Spirit of the Lord began to move him that we see here; this phrase is unique to Samson.

Samson’s parents have done their part in rearing Samson according to the divine mandates. Samson is ready to begin what the angel of the Lord has said: to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. Others will also have roles to play in this task at various times. They primarily include Samuel, Saul, and David. God is protecting His people as He focuses on preparing the world to receive the Messiah. He will arrive to deliver people from the ultimate enemy: sin.

What Do You Think?

What practices can help us remember the divine source of all our strength today?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Considering aids offered by technology

Considering interpersonal accountability

Other

Conclusion

 

A. Parenting Manual

In 1946, Dr. Benjamin Spock published The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. For more than half a century, this book was a consistent best seller, selling more than 50 million copies and being translated into about 40 languages. Mothers were encouraged by a basic message: you know more than you think you do!

Samson’s parents lived well before Dr. Spock. They received direction, not from a popular author, but from God himself. Child-rearing experts have some value, but we can encourage parents to this day with the words of God, who knows more than all of us combined!

B. Prayer

Almighty God, as Samson had a way to serve, give me strength to fulfill my place in God’s kingdom in the different segments of my life, and always in a way that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

It is never to late to offer a prayer of thanks for godly parents.


July 2

Lesson 5

Moses

Devotional Reading: 2 Chronicles 19:4-7

Background Scripture: Exodus 3

Exodus 3:1-12

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Key Verses

Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. —Exodus 3:9, 10

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. List the who, what, where, when, and why of God’s call of Moses.

2. Compare and contrast Moses’ reaction to God’s call with that of Gideon’s (lesson 2).

3. Personalize Moses’ question “Who am I, that I should [perform a specific mission],” and give an answer considering the difference God’s presence makes.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Agony or Victory?

B. Lesson Background

I. Incredible Meeting (Exodus 3:1-5)

A. Fire on the Mountain (vv. 1-3)

B. Voice from the Flames (vv. 4, 5)

II. Divine Awareness (Exodus 3:6-10)

A. Who God Is (v. 6)

B. What God Knows (v. 7)

C. What God Intends (vv. 8-10)

What God Still Sees

III. Supernatural Provision (Exodus 3:11, 12)

A. Moses’ Reluctance (v. 11)

Answering the Call

B. God’s Reassurance (v. 12)

Conclusion

A. The With-ness in Our Witness

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2016-2017 (KJV): StandardLessonCmy2016KJV.

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless