Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Israel had to make a decision. Follow the Lord or disobey. Their unwise selection landed them straight in the hands of their enemy, the Philistines. This led to forty toiling and miserable years of bondage and slavery.

But new growth springs up from the ashes of defeat. God is still working a plan of hope in the midst of our hardships. It was at this moment that Samson’s birth was foretold. He was the Nazarite referred to in verse 5. A Nazarite was one who gave himself completely to God. Samson would be the one to deliver God’s people from the tragedy. Even though they disobeyed God, He was still working out a redemption plan as they were enduring consequences and He never stopped loving them.

There is much to learn from this account of the Israelites. Every choice and action that follows will bear a punishment or a reward. You choose well, you reap great benefits; you choose poorly, you reap accordingly. God has graciously given us that freedom to choose. In this passage we see God’s faithfulness, even when His people were unfaithful to Him. Observing God’s faithfulness should give us a greater desire to obey Him and follow Him fully.

• What choices are you facing today?

• What do you do when you need help making a decision? Where do you turn?

• Ask God to help you choose well. Pray that God will help you make Him the center of your life, and that all of your choices and actions will reflect that reality.