Old Testament reading: Judges 13-14
Samson is one of the best known Old Testament characters. Though people know little about him personally, he is famous even among unbelievers as representing the epitome of physical strength. Samson was a tragic character in many ways. Here was a man of nearly unlimited physical and personal potential, but his lack of self control led to his downfall and ultimately his death. Samson had no one to blame for his problems other than the man he saw in the mirror. Samson teaches us to heed the advice of godly parents, especially in matters pertaining to life’s dearest associations (14:1-4). Samson’s parents were found in such Divine favor so as to receive a visit from the Angel of the Lord (whom I believe to be the pre-incarnate Lord) to declare the end of their barrenness. And not only this, Manoah prayed for the return of God’s messenger and was heard and answered. Note also that Israel is already under Philistine oppression before this deliverer is even conceived. I am also impressed with the faith and logic of Samson’s mother in Judges 13:22-23. So many interesting tidbits in this text!
New Testament reading: Matthew 8-9
“I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel!” So said the Lord Jesus in response to the Centurion’s statement of faith. Most of us tend to stop reading or thinking about this account at this point. But to do so would be a grave error, for after speaking of the centurion’s faith, Jesus expressly included the Gentiles as fellow heirs of the kingdom of heaven while excluding the unbelieving Jews. This centurion was a Gentile and had enlisted the help of the Jewish elders to plead his case, which they readily and enthusiastically did (cf Luke 7:1-10). Perhaps the Lord’s statement was lost on them because this man was a “good Gentile” in that he loved the Jewish people and had built them a synagogue. Also of note in chapter 8 is the mother in law of the first “Pope.” No, Peter was not the first pope. I only note this to show the foolishness of Catholic dogma. The person they hold in such high regard was a married man, unlike the celibacy demanded of the present Catholic priesthood and hierarchy.