Missiology Through Scripture – Judges 13:2-5

“There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.’” – Judges 13:2-5

The ancient tradition of the Nazirites stated a person taking the vow was consecrated for life to God’s service. Samson’s mother pledged him to Nazirite service and he remained a Nazirite until his death. While Samson did not always honor his vow, the Lord never stopped using him.

The Nazirite vows were not uncommon during the time of early Israel. The prophet Samuel did not cut his hair (1 Sam 1:11) and Paul completed a similar vow (Acts 18:18). However, the belief that Samson would deliver Israel from the Philistines highlights the incompleteness and insufficiency of his life’s calling. Only in his death could Samson truly be used by God. John Lange said, “For the Philistines oppressed Israel forty years, and Samson judged his people only twenty. Samson began to restore victory to Israel, he did not make it full and final. The angel of God who calls the hero out of the womb of his mother, knows that he will not finish that for which God nevertheless gave him strength.”[1] To fulfill God’s plan Samson would need to be followed by Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, David, and Jesus. The failed service of Samson points to the need for the work to be completed by Christ.

Like Samson, we are called to serve the Lord. Like Samson, we are certain to fail. The God honoring labors of pastors, missionaries, and evangelists will most certainly not usher in Christ’s reign alone. It is understood our work among the nations will be insufficient. By ourselves, we cannot bring around God’s glory. God will use our labors, as he did those of Samson. Like the Nazarites, today’s missionaries play one small part in glorify the Lord in one small corner of the world. For a season, God will use us to usher in his glory. We are to trust in his sovereign plan and walk in obedience.


[1] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Judges (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 187.