This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for August 7) is written by Lori Mills, professor of psychology at Milligan College in Tennessee.
Walk in God’s Path (Judges 13:1-8, 24, 25)
By Lori Mills
Can you recall a time you were consumed with wanting something? Perhaps it was a relationship, or child, or job, or healing from a disease. We might think we would do anything for God if he would just grant us our heart’s desire. We find ourselves promising God we will live our lives for him if he will just bless us by granting our request.
Prayer for a Child
In today’s passage, Manoah’s wife has been unable to have children. We can recall instances of other women in the Bible who struggled with this: Abram’s wife, Sarai; Jacob’s wife, Rachel; and Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, come to mind. Sometimes these women took matters into their own hands and decided they would have their children through their maidservants. However, we see a different response in Hannah: “And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head’” (1 Samuel 1:11).
This sounds like a desperate woman making an irrational vow. Perhaps no one would blame her if she forgot it and kept Samuel, her son, to herself. However, here is her response to this incredible blessing: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27, 28). Beyond just saying this, she left Samuel with Eli, the priest, to minister before the Lord under Eli.
What a great example of faithfulness, of remaining true to one’s word, of remembering God’s gift to her!
Seeking God’s Will
In today’s passage, an angel tells Manoah’s wife she will no longer be childless, and that she will have a son. In preparation for this, she is told not to drink wine or eat anything unclean. She is also told not to cut her son’s hair. These might have seemed like unusual instructions. We might expect she would think she could do things her own way.
But in verse 8 we see a much different response—Manoah actually asked for more instructions! He and his wife want the angel to visit them again to teach them how to bring up their son! Wouldn’t we be so much better off if we actually sought additional instructions from God instead of shrinking away from the instructions we already have?
We may find ourselves pleading with God to
- end infertility
- cure a disease
- get us through a life-threatening situation
- repair a broken marriage
- open doors that we might get a job
- change the heart of a rebellious child
- convict someone of sin.
Certainly we don’t always get what we wished for. However, even when we do, how often do we fulfill the promise we made to God? No—most of us probably go back to life as usual. It’s just that we get busy and, since the crisis has passed, we quickly forget any promise we made.
Let’s continue to take our desires to God, and to remember our indebtedness to him when, and if, we receive those desires. Let’s tell people about God’s provision, let’s thank him and worship him, and let’s offer up what he has given us to his service.
Let’s take to heart God’s instructions. Let’s seek his leading when we are facing daunting tasks of raising children, resolving conflicts, managing finances, and serving in the church. Let’s look for specific instruction in the Bible, listen to trusted Christian friends, and see what doors God opens.
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|August 1: Romans 2:1-8|
|August 2: Numbers 6:1-8|
|August 3: Leviticus 10:8-11|
|August 4: Deuteronomy 5:6-10|
|August 5: Deuteronomy 10:12-21|
|August 6: Judges 13:15-23|
|August 7: Judges 13:1-8, 24, 25|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Lori Mills has a PhD in clinical psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is professor of psychology at Milligan College in Tennessee, where she has taught for 17 years.