Advent Devotion for December 19   9 comments

Samson and John the Baptist

DECEMBER 19, 2023


Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 (Revised English Bible):

There was a certain man from Zorah of the tribe of Dan whose name was Manoah and whose wife was barren; she had no child.  The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said,

Though you are barren and have no child, you will conceive and give birth to a son.  Now be careful to drink no wine or strong drink, and to eat no forbidden food.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor must touch his head, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from birth.  He will strike the first blow for Israel’s freedom from the power of the Philistines.

The woman went and told her husband,

A man of God came to me,

she said to him;

his appearance was that of an angel of God, most terrible to see.  I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘You are going to conceive and give birth to a son.  From now on drink no wine or strong drink and eat no forbidden food, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from his birth to the day of his death.’

The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson.  The boy grew up in Mahaneh-dan between Zorah and Eshtaol, and the LORD blessed him, and the spirit of the LORD began to move him.

Psalm 71:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

In you, LORD, I have found refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

By your saving power rescue and deliver me;

hear me and save me!

Be to me a rock of refuge

to which at all times I may come;

you have decreed my deliverance,

for you are my rock and stronghold.

Keep me safe, my God, from the power of the wicked,

from the clutches of the pitiless and unjust.

You are my hope, Lord GOD,

my trust since my childhood.

On you I have leaned from birth;

you brought me from my mother’s womb;

to you I offer praise at all times.

I have become like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth will be full of your praises,

I shall tell of your splendour all day long.

Luke 1:5-25 (Revised English Bible):

In the reign of Herod king of Judaea there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of the priesthood called Abijah.  His wife, whose name was Elizabeth, was also of priestly descent.  Both of them were upright and devout, blamelessly observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.  But they had no children, for Elizabeth was barren, and both were well on in years.

Once, when it was the turn of his division and he was there to take part in the temple service, he was chosen by lot, by priestly custom, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and to offer the incense; and at the hour of the offering the people were all assembled at prayer outside.  There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right of the altar of incense.  At this sight, Zechariah was startled and overcome by fear.  But the angel said to him,

Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard:  your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.  His birth will fill you with joy and delight, and will bring gladness to many; for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord.  He is never to touch wine or strong drink.  From this very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and he will bring back many Israelites to the Lord their God.  He will go before him as a forerunner, possessed by the spirit and power of Elijah, to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord.

Zechariah said to the angel,

How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.

They angel replied,

I am Gabriel; I stand in attendance on God, and I have been sent to speak to you and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news.  But now, because you have not believed me, and you will lose all power of speech and remain silent until the day when these things take place; at their proper time my words will be proved true.

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, surprised that he was staying so long inside the sanctuary.  When he did come out he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had had a vision.  He stood there making signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his period of duty was completed Zechariah returned home.  His wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she lived in seclusion, thinking,

This is the Lord’s doing; now at last he has shown me favour and taken away from me the disgrace of childlessness.

The Collect:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


This series of Advent devotions is nearing its end and climax.  December 24 will be the last day of Advent, so the assigned readings (especially the Gospel readings), which span Luke 1:5 to Luke 1:79, bring us to the verge of Christmas Day.

This day’s readings tell of two men whose backstories were similar yet whose lives were different.  The stories of the births of Samson and John the Baptist contain an angel, a miracle, and a mission for the yet-unborn child.  Samson’s mission took a detour; he gave into his weakness for women, and one woman, a spy, in particular.  Yet John the Baptist remained true to his mission from beginning to end.

John chose the better path.  May we do likewise.


Written on June 3, 2010


Posted September 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023-2024, December 19, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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