Lessons in Pride

Day 1: Judges 8:1-3, 28
Background: When we last left Gideon, God had just helped 300 men defeat the tens of thousands of Midianite soldiers.
Story: Feeling left out
When all the fighting was over and the two Midianite chiefs had been killed, the people from the tribe of Ephraim complained to Gideon. “Why didn’t you call us to help you fight the Midianites?” they asked. So Gideon said to them, “The little I did was nothing compared to what you have done. With God’s help you killed the Midianite chiefs! What have I done to compare with that?”
When they heard what Gideon said, they were not so angry anymore. In the end the Midianites were completely defeated and were no longer a threat. The Lord sent peace in the land for as long as Gideon lived.
Discuss: What should I do about someone who feels left out? Have you ever been told that you could only invite a certain number of friends to a party?
If you were to meet one of the friends who wasn’t invited and feels hurt, what would you say? Maybe you are the captain of a team and have to decide who gets to play in a match. How would you explain to your friend why you didn’t choose him or her? You could say; “You aren’t quite good enough,” or “There wasn’t enough space for everyone.” However, deep down you know that you would not be happy with an answer like that.
On the other hand, trying to avoid your friend in the hope that the problem will go away will only make your friendship cool off. Gideon realized that a tribe had been left out of the action, but he let them share the feeling of victory by making them feel important and useful. Can you think of some ways to encourage a friend who feels left out?
Verse for today: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
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Day 2: Judges 13:1-5, 24-25
Story: An unexpected messenger
Gideon had died and the Israelites had started sinning against the Lord again. So, the Lord let the Philistines rule over them for forty years.
One day, the Lord’s angel appeared to a woman who had not been able to have children and said, “You will soon be pregnant and have a son. After he is born, you must never cut his hair because he will be dedicated to God.”
When the angel had gone, the woman told her husband Manoah about the message from God. Manoah prayed to God and said, “Please let the man of God You sent come back and tell us how to raise the boy.” So, God answered Manoah’s prayer and sent the angel again. When the boy was born, his mother named him Samson, and the Lord blessed him and made him strong.
Discuss: Why was Samson not meant to cut his hair? During the time of Moses, if someone wanted to give himself to God in a special way, he had to follow God’s instructions (Numbers 6:1-8). Any person could take a Nazirite vow to fully dedicate himself to God for a certain time. During that time, he was not allowed to eat grapes or drink wine, nor was he allowed to cut his hair (which was a sign of his dedication to God).
If you would like to give your life to God for Him to use in a special way, you don’t need an outward sign
to show others about your dedication to God. People will see your faithfulness to the Lord by the way
you live.
However, if you want to do something to remind yourself of the commitment or pledge you made to the
Lord, you could write it on a decorated card and keep it in your Bible.
Verse for today: You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Leviticus 20:26
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Day 3: Judges 14:1-4
Story: Samson gets his way
When Samson had grown up, he went to a place called Timnah where he met a Philistine woman he
liked. He went back home and said to his father and mother, “I have met a woman in Timnah and I want
you to get her for me.”
His parents asked him, “Why do you go to those heathen Philistines to look for a wife? Can’t you find a
girl from your own people?”
“She is the one I want,” Samson said; “get her for me!”
Discuss: Why do parents ‘always’ say no?
At times, it may seem as though the only answer you get from your parents when you ask for
something, is ‘NO!’ Has the thought ever struck you that you may be asking for the wrong things?
Samson wanted to date a girl from the Philistine people who did not believe in God. His parents knew
that this was not a good idea and tried to reason with him. “Surely there are many pretty girls here
among God’s people,” they said.
But Samson was stubborn and demanded his own way. What he didn’t know was that before long he
would find out that the Philistines were not friendly people and that he couldn’t even trust this Philistine
girl.
In spite of how it seems at times, your parents want you to have what is best (Luke 11:13). But not only
that, they want to keep you from things that are not good. They want to keep you safe and unharmed in
every way. So whenever your parents say no, remember that they are protecting you or trying to help
you control your many wishes.
Verse for today:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1
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Day 4: Judges 14:5-9
Story: Keeping secrets
Samson was on his way to Timnah with his father and mother to meet the Philistine women he wanted
to marry. On their way, walking through the vineyards, Samson heard a young lion roaring. The power of
the Lord came on Samson and made him very strong. He went after the lion and killed it with his bare
hands, but He didn’t tell his parents what he had done.
A few days later, when Samson went back to marry the Philistine woman, he went to look for the dead
lion. A swarm of bees had made a hive inside the lion’s body, so Samson scraped the honey out and,
when he met up with his parents again, gave them some too. But Samson did not tell his parents where
he had got the honey.
Discuss: Should I tell my parents everything?
Isn’t it amazing how parents seem to find out about the things their children try to hide from them? For
a while, children may be able to cover up something, but in the end, parents always seem to stumble
across the evidence or start asking uncomfortable questions. When you try to cover up your sin, you’ll
end up feeling guilty, dirty, dishonest, and miserable. God knows you are not perfect; so when you do
sin, He wants you to confess your sin straight away (1 John 1:9).
Samson was not supposed to go near anything that was dead, and he knew it, yet he was disobedient
and kept it a secret. You don’t need to carry the weight of guilt in your heart, or live a life of secret
failures! Tell your parents about your temptations and struggles so they can pray for you and encourage
you.
Verse for today:
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes
of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
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Day 5: Judges 14:10-20
Story: Samson throws a party
Samson was having a party, which was the thing to do after getting married. He and his father went to
the woman’s house where thirty young Philistine men joined them. Samson said to the men, “Let me ask
you a riddle. I bet each of you a piece of fine linen and special clothes that you can’t solve the riddle by
the time the wedding feast is over.” They all agreed, so Samson said, “Here is the riddle: Out of the eater
came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.”
Day after day the young men tried to work out the riddle. On the fourth day, they went to Samson’s wife
and told her to trick Samson into telling her the riddle. At first Samson would not tell her, but after she
had nagged and cried about it for days, he told her. She secretly went to tell the Philistines the meaning
of the riddle, and Samson lost the bet.
Discuss: Is it wrong to take a bet?
Why do people take bets? Is it because they are convinced they are right; is it because they enjoy
proving someone wrong; or is it to get something for nothing out of the deal? These reasons (and
probably some others) seem pretty selfish and are likely to cause quarrels and disappointment.
Solving a riddle can be a lot of fun, and it is good when it just a friendly brainteaser. In Samson’s case,
this was more than a friendly brainteaser—it was a show of power and pride. (Samson didn’t even have
the linen and clothes he promised as a reward.) With any bet, someone is always the loser! Don’t take a
bet in order to prove yourself better than someone else or to get something from the other person.
Verse for today:
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce
quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23