For the week of May 26, 2007 / 9 Sivan 5767
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 4:21 - 7:89
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 13:2-25
Our Lives Affect Others
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." (Shoftim / Judges 13:2-5)
The story of Samson is one of the more troubling stories in the Bible. It is troubling because, on one hand it seems that Samson can be called a Bible hero, yet his life was not an exemplary one. Those familiar with the Scriptures are aware that even some of the noblest of biblical personalities had their share of personal issues, but Samson is extreme.
One of the lessons we can learn from his life is that just because a person has the call of God upon them as well as an experience of God's presence and power, doesn't automatically mean that they will live good lives and make wise choices. While God used Samson against Israel's enemies at the time, his tragic end demonstrates where careless living will take us.
How we live our lives makes a difference. It makes a difference to ourselves and to those around us - not to mention our relationship with God. The tendency to do whatever we feel like at the moment is far more destructive than we care to admit.
Samson's mother was to learn this even before Samson was born. When God revealed to her that she would give birth to a special son, she was given specific instructions as to what she was to eat and drink. It was essential that she limit her own freedom in order to ensure her son's fulfillment of his calling.
Her response to God's instructions would make all the difference. Her personal decisions would have a direct impact on her yet-to-be-born son's life - and upon the welfare of her people.
I don't think that Samson's mother's experience is that unique. Obviously there are elements of her story that are particular to her and her son, but the general principle applies to all of us. Samson's mother had to live for someone other than herself. Her decision to do just that set the stage for what God wanted to do in her nation.
How each of one us lives our lives affects others far more than we realize. Unlike Samson's mother we don't usually know exactly whom we affect in this way and how we affect them, but we do - for good or for harm.
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