One of my great joys as a pastor is visiting and praying with families who have just welcomed a new child. No parent I’ve spoken with in the hospital has shown me their newborn child and said, “Look at him. He’s so ordinary.” Even if the child is their third or fourth, there is still a palpable sense of joy in the room.
In Scripture, God often interrupted dark days with the announcement of a child’s birth. The birth of the child signaled hope, that God was at work even when things were dark. Here in Judges 13, Israel repeated the cycle of falling away from the Lord, and the Philistines ruled over them for more than a generation. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife to announce that she would have a son. The announcement of Samson’s birth came with the declaration that he would be “a Nazarite to God from birth” (Judges 13:5). Following the instructions of Numbers 6:1–12, he would be “holy to the LORD” all the days he was separated from the things forbidden by the vow.
For Christ followers, this story may sound familiar. In Luke’s Gospel, God sends an angel to Zechariah, telling the priest that his barren wife would give birth to a son that would be set apart too (Luke 1:5–25). And then the angel, Gabriel, visited a young virgin to tell her that she would have a Son, set apart to save God’s people from their sins (Luke 1:26–38).
The hope God brings to His people is always accompanied by a call to be holy. While this summons for Samson is a call to abstain from cutting hair and drinking certain things, holiness also includes a devotion of the entire heart, soul, mind, and strength to God. We give Him our whole selves, putting our indwelling sin to death in Christ Jesus.
Thanks be to God, we are not alone in the fight to be holy. Our set apartness does not rely solely on our will or fortitude. God is always at work in us through the power of His Spirit.