Scripture Focus: Judges 13.5 (ESV)
And he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.

Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: Samson Begins

By Carolyn Westendorf

Humans struggle to understand why God does what He does. The life of Samson is no exception. An angel announces his birth. Only a few receive this honor (Issac, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ). We expect him to be special, important, or worthy of emulation. Unfortunately, by the end of Samson’s story, we feel a sense of failure. We feel as if Samson did not reach his potential.  We feel as if God failed.

Did God’s purpose fail? What did God prophesy concerning Samson? The angel declared, “He will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5 ESV). Samson was to begin the process of deliverance. The angel never said he would complete the task. A different expectation was given. There was an enemy in the Promised Land, so God sent Samson as a lone man to start a fight. In Samson’s story, we see him confront the Philistines. He starts to reverse the Israelites’ complacency under Philistine rule.  

He brought partial freedom to his people by lighting the fires of liberation for later generations. No one expected this from Samson, even though God revealed a brief glimpse into Samson’s future.

Samson’s parents received instructions on the child’s purpose and way of life. He was to be a Nazirite – devoted to God. Yet, even with these instructions, they had no idea how the Lord would use Him (Judges 14.4).

Today, we have the complete word of God. We see what God is doing from beginning to end. Yet, we still question what God is doing. When it appears God is unfaithful we blame Him. We hold Him responsible when our expectations go unfilled. When we read about Samson today, we hope for a hero deliverer; yet we get a flawed man who disappoints us. However, God’s purpose prevailed. Perhaps we should reevaluate our presuppositions.

Samson’s origins show us God does not leave us to guess His purpose. He tells us from the beginning. However, our expectations often get in the way of understanding it.

God consistently acts through unexpected people in unexpected ways. Yet, He remains trustworthy even when we don’t understand. When surprised by God, we must take the opportunity to question our expectations and evaluate our reactions. Take the initiative to listen to God’s word. As He transforms and renews our minds, we become better equipped to comprehend God’s ways. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say forever, “Great is the Lord!” — Psalm 70.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Judges 13 (Listen – 3:44)
Acts 17 (Listen – 5:28)

This Weekends’s Readings
Judges 14 (Listen – 3:35), Acts 18 (Listen – 4:06)
Judges 15 (Listen – 3:13), Acts 19 (Listen – 5:47)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about Faith of the Flawed
These women and men found their place in God’s story not because they were flawless and perfect examples of obedience.