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Judges 13:1-14:20; John 1:29-51; Psalms 102:1-28; Proverbs 14:15-16 (The Voice)

Judges 13-14

13 Once again, though, the Israelites did evil according to the Eternal God, and He gave the Philistines power over them for 40 years. During that time, a man of Zorah named Manoah, from the tribe of Dan, was married to a wife who could bear him no children.

Messenger of the Eternal One (appearing to Manoah’s wife): You are barren and have no children, but all of that is about to change. You will conceive and have a son. Be careful that you don’t drink wine or any other spirits (strong drink), and don’t eat anything that is ritually impure, for you are going to become pregnant and have a son. Don’t ever use a razor on his head, because you will raise this boy as a Nazirite, dedicated to the True God from his conception, and he will be the one to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines.

Manoah’s Wife (to her husband): A man of the True God visited me. He looked like a messenger of God, awe-inspiring. I didn’t ask where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name, but he told me that I was going to become pregnant and bear a son. He told me not to drink wine or other spirits or to eat anything ritually unclean because our boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart for God from the day he is conceived until the day he dies.

Manoah (to the Lord): Eternal One, please let the man of God whom you sent visit us again and teach us what to do with the boy You are giving us.

The True God heard Manoah and sent His messenger to visit the woman one day while she was in the fields. Manoah was not with her, 10 so she ran to tell him.

Manoah’s Wife: Look, the man who spoke to me the other day is here again!

11 Manoah got up, followed his wife, and came to where the man was.

Manoah (to the messenger): Are you the one who spoke to my wife the other day?

Messenger of the Eternal One: I am.

Manoah: 12 When your words come true, what rules should we apply to the boy? What is his mission in life?

Messenger of the Eternal One: 13 Your wife should do as I told her on my first visit. 14 She must not eat or drink of the vine, she must not drink any other strong drink, and she must not eat foods that are ritually impure. She must do all that I have commanded.

Manoah: 15 If you will wait, we would like to prepare a young goat for you to eat.

Messenger of the Eternal One: 16 Even if you try to detain me, I will not eat your food. If you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Eternal.

Manoah had not realized that he was speaking to the Eternal’s messenger. 17 That is why he asked the Eternal’s messenger a question.

Manoah: What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words become truth?

Messenger of the Eternal One: 18 Why do you ask my name? It is incomprehensible, beyond human understanding.

19 Manoah took the young goat, together with the offering of grain, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Eternal, to the wonder-working God. While Manoah and his wife watched 20 the flame going up toward heaven from the altar, the Eternal’s messenger rose up to heaven in the flames, and Manoah and his wife put their faces to the ground. 21 When he did not reappear, Manoah realized that they had seen the Eternal’s messenger.

Manoah (to his wife): 22 We are most certainly going to die, for we have seen the True God!

Manoah’s Wife: 23 If the Eternal had desired to kill us, then He would not have accepted the grain and burnt offerings from us or shown us these wonders or brought these announcements at this time.

24 In due time, the woman did bear a son, and she named him Samson. The boy grew, the Eternal God blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the Eternal One began to move in him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

14 Samson went down from the hill country to the Philistine town of Timnah, on the coastal plain, and he saw a Philistine woman there. When he came home, he told his parents,

Samson: I saw this woman in Timnah who captured my attention. She’s a Philistine, but I want her for a wife. I beg you, make the arrangements for her to be my wife.

Samson’s Parents: What? Isn’t there a single woman among your tribe, among all of our people, the people of Israel? Do you have to take a wife from among the uncircumcised Philistines?

Samson (to his father): You have to get her for me. She is the one and is pleasing in my eyes.

The longer the Israelites are in Canaan, the more they find themselves drawn into the beliefs and practices of those around them. Samson, although he is a deliverer of his people and set aside by God, demonstrates the worst traits of his people. He actually takes a wife from among the other people who are trying to conquer Canaan, the Philistines.

But in all of this, we are told, God is working out a purpose; Samson has the Spirit of God. Not only does God use imperfect human beings for His own designs, but God can use human weakness to achieve His goals. Samson’s weakness, although it leads to his personal destruction, becomes God’s strength and leads to great victories for Israel.

Samson’s parents did not know that this passion was planned by the Eternal, who was working out a way to move against the Philistines who ruled over Israel.

Samson and his parents went down to the vineyards of Timnah. While they were traveling, a young lion roared at him. The Spirit of the Eternal moved upon Samson in that instant, and with his bare hands, he tore the lion apart as one might rend a small goat; but since he was by himself when this happened, he did not tell his parents what he had done. Afterward he continued on to Timnah and talked with the woman. Samson was quite taken with her for she was very attractive.

So Samson returned later to marry her, and on the journey, he turned aside to see again the carcass of the lion he had killed. A swarm of bees was in the carcass, where they had made their hive with some honey. Although he had been set aside as a Nazirite, and was not supposed to touch a corpse, he scraped some honey out and went on, eating it from his hands. When he came to his parents, he gave some of it to them to eat, but he did not tell them where he had gotten it.

10 His father went ahead to the Philistine woman, and Samson made a wedding feast with food and drink, as was the custom for young men being married. 11 The Philistines of the bridal party invited 30 men to serve as companions for Samson at the feast, since he had not brought any of his friends.

Samson (to the 30 young men): 12 I have a riddle for you. If you can solve it during the seven days we eat and drink here, I will give each of you a set of linen garments and a change of clothes. 13 If you cannot solve it in the seven days, then you will have to give me 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes.

Thirty Men: Ask away. What is your riddle?

14 Samson: Out of the eater came something to eat,
        and out of the strong came something sweet.

For three days the young men puzzled over Samson’s riddle. 15 On the fourth[a] day, they went to Samson’s wife and threatened her.

Thirty Men: Trick your husband, seduce him if necessary, whatever it takes to find out the answer to this riddle, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to take away what is ours?

16 Samson’s wife went to him and wept in front of him.

Samson’s Wife: You say you love me, but you don’t. You asked my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.

Samson: I haven’t even told my parents the answer. Why should I tell you?

17 She went on crying until the seventh day of the feast; and, at last, because she continued to bother him, he told her the answer. Then she reported it to the young men, 18 so that before the sun went down on the last day of the feast, they knew the answer.

Thirty Men: What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?

Samson: If you hadn’t gone behind my back with my wife, you would never have found the answer to this riddle.

19 The Spirit of the Eternal came upon Samson, and he immediately received great strength. He went down to the Philistine town of Ashkelon where he killed 30 men, took their possessions, and gave their garments in payment to the young men who had answered his riddle. Then, furious, he left the feast and went back up to his father’s house, 20 and Samson’s wife was instead given to the companion who had been his best man.

Footnotes:

  1. 14:15 Hebrew reads, “seventh.”
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John 1:29-51

The mystery of Jesus’ identity occupies His contemporaries and will continue to occupy generations of believers for centuries to come. As the twelve journey with Him, it gradually becomes clearer who this man is, where He comes from, and how His existence will profoundly affect the rest of human history. The question of “Who is this man?” cannot be answered overnight.

29 The morning after this conversation, John sees Jesus coming toward him. In eager astonishment, he shouts out:

John the Baptist: Look! This man is more than He seems! He is the Lamb sent from God, the sacrifice to erase the sins of the world! 30 He is the One I have been saying will come after me, who existed long before me and is much greater than I am. 31 No one recognized Him—myself included. But I came baptizing[a] with water so that He might be revealed to Israel. 32 As I watched, the Spirit came down like a dove from heaven and rested on Him. 33 I didn’t recognize Him at first, but the One who sent me to baptize told me, “The One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit will be the person you see the Spirit come down and rest upon.” 34 I have seen this with my own eyes and can attest that this One is the Son of God!

35-36 The day after, John saw Him again as he was visiting with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, he announced again:

John the Baptist: Do you see Him? This man is the Lamb of God, God’s sacrifice to cleanse our sins.

37 At that moment, the two disciples began to follow Jesus, 38-39 who turned back to them, saying:

Jesus: What is it that you want?

Two Disciples: We’d like to know where You are staying. Teacher, may we remain at Your side today?

Jesus: Come and see. Follow Me, and we will camp together.

It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they met Jesus. They came and saw where He was staying, but they got more than they imagined. They remained with Him the rest of the day and followed Him for the rest of their lives. 40-41 One of these new disciples, Andrew, rushed to find his brother Simon and tell him they had found the One who is promised, God’s Anointed who will heal the world. 42 As Andrew approached with Simon, Jesus looked into him.

Jesus: Your name is Simon, and your father is called John. But from this day forward you will be known as Peter,[b] the rock.

43-44 The next day Jesus set out to go into Galilee; and when He came upon Philip, He invited him to join them.

Jesus: Follow Me.

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, came from a town called Bethsaida; and he decided to make the journey with Him. 45 Philip found Nathanael, a friend, and burst in with excitement:

Philip: We have found the One. Moses wrote about Him in the Law, all the prophets spoke of the day when He would come, and now He is here—His name is Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter; and He comes from Nazareth.

Nathanael: 46 How can anything good come from a place like Nazareth?

Philip: Come with me, and see for yourself.

47 As Philip and Nathanael approached, Jesus saw Nathanael and spoke to those standing around Him.

Jesus: Look closely, and you will see an Israelite who is a truth-teller.

Nathanael (overhearing Jesus): 48 How would You know this about me? We have never met.

Jesus: I have been watching you before Philip invited you here. Earlier in the day, you were enjoying the shade and fruit of the fig tree. I saw you then.

Nathanael: 49 Teacher, You are the One—God’s own Son and Israel’s King.

Jesus: 50 Nathanael, if all it takes for you to believe is My telling you I saw you under the fig tree, then what you will see later will astound you. 51 I tell you the truth: before our journey is complete, you will see the heavens standing open while heavenly messengers ascend and descend, swirling around the Son of Man.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:31 Literally, immersing, to show repentance
  2. 1:42 Literally, Cephas
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Psalm 102

Psalm 102

A prayer of the weak and oppressed, when he turns his complaints to the Eternal.

Hear me, O Eternal One, hear my prayer!
    Hear my lonely desperate cry for help.
Do not hide from me
    when my days are filled with anguish;
Lend Your ear to my wailing,
    and answer me quickly when I call.

For my days come and go, vanishing like smoke,
    and my bones are charred like bricks of a hearth.
My heart is beaten down like grass withered and scorched in the summer heat;
    I can’t even remember to eat.
My body is shaken by my groans;
    my bones cling to my skin, holding on for dear life.
I am like a solitary owl in the wilderness;
    I am a lost and lonely screech owl at home in the rubble.
I stare at the ceiling, awake in my bed;
    I am alone, a defenseless sparrow perched on a roof.
All day long my enemies chide me;
    those who mock me spit out my name as a curse.
For ashes have become my bread;
    my tears fall into my drink
10 Because of the depth of Your wrath.
    You have brought me up
    and then hurled me aside.
11 My days go by like a long shadow—stretched thin and disappearing—
    I shrivel up like grass baked in the hot sun.

12 But You, O Eternal One, remain forever,
    and Your name endures to all generations.
13 You will rise up once again and remember Your love for Zion;
    it is time to have mercy on Your city;
    yes, it is the divinely appointed time.
14 Your faithful servants take pleasure in her every stone;
    they even delight in the dust of her streets.
15 Days are coming when nations will tremble at the name of the Eternal;
    all the rulers of the earth will bow down to Your glory.
16 For He will return to rebuild His city, Zion;
    He will be seen in His splendor.
17 He will listen to the prayer of the impoverished
    and welcome their prayers.

18 Let this record be kept for posterity
    so that people not yet born may praise the Eternal.
19 Tell them that He looked down from holy heights, His heavenly sanctuary;
    the Eternal looked down from heaven and closely watched the earth,
20 Hearing the prisoners’ groans—
    releasing those awaiting execution—
21 That the name of the Eternal would resound in Zion,
    and His praise would be proclaimed in Jerusalem
22 When the peoples gather
    and the nations’ leaders assemble to worship the Eternal.

23 Along my way He has sapped my strength;
    He has shortened my days here on earth.
24 I said, “O my True God, don’t take me away
    in the middle of my life;
Unlike me, Your years continually unfold
    throughout all generations.”

25 In the beginning, You laid the foundation of the earth
    and set the skies above us with Your own hands.
26 But while they will someday pass away, You remain forever;
    when they wear out like old clothes,
You will roll them up and change them into something new, and they will pass away.
27 But You are the same, You will never change;
    Your years will never come to an end.[a]
28 The children of those who serve You will enjoy a good, long life;
    their offspring will stand strong before You.

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Proverbs 14:15-16

15 The gullible believe anything they are told,
    but clever people know to question every step.
16 The wise are cautious and stay far from evil,
    but fools are hotheaded and careless.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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