“Therefore beware and drink no wine or strong drink and eat nothing unclean.”
Judges 13: 4
“Picky, Picky, Picky”
“That is best which God sends;
It was His will; it is mine.”
Are there some requests of God that I find “demanding or picky?”
What are they?
Have I found it difficult to obey all God asks me to do?
“God is too great to be withstood, too just to do wrong, too good to delight in any one’s misery. We ought, therefore, quietly to submit to His dispensations at the very best.”
“How will you find good? It is not a thing of choices; it is a river that flows from the foot of the invisible throne, and flows by the path of obedience.”
My mother is a very fastidious person. Neatness and tidiness are at the top of her list of virtues.
As my sister and I were growing up, leaving your bed unmade or your room a mess was not tolerated.
One particular day, desiring to play outside rather than clean my bedroom, I came up with a brilliant idea. I took all of the “stuff” that cluttered my bedroom, and scooped it up and hid it under my bed. Since the bedspread touched the floor, my wares were not visible and off I went outside to enjoy the company of my friends.
As you can figure out, it was only a few minutes later when I heard my mom’s voice ordering me back into the house and she didn’t sound pleased. She had found my hidden possessions and had pulled all the objects out and put them on top of my bed.
Needless to say, I spent the next few hours really “cleaning” my room while I fumed about how “picky” my mom was.
Looking back on this experience, I am forced to admit that my mother’s diligence paid off for I live in a very tidy home where everything has a place, and how beneficial I’ve found her lesson on “pickiness” because it saves me a great deal of time as I write the devotionals from my little “sacred sanctuary,” because the closet where I write is neat and organized.
This practical life experience is reflected in our text today, believe it or not.
Yesterday, we found that an Angel of the Lord came to Samson’s mother and informed her that the child she was carrying within her body was a consecrated child. He was to be a Nazirite. This mother chose to follow the requirements laid out in the book of Numbers by God to Moses, for Nazirites. If we return and read these prerequisites, we find that it appears that God is the ultimate “picky” person.
Listen to what the Bible tells us in Numbers 6: 3 (Amplified Bible), “He (or she) shall separate himself (herself) from wine and strong drink; he (she) shall drink no vinegar of wine or of strong drink, and shall drink no grape juice, or eat grapes, fresh or dried.” Please remember, God said men or women could be Nazirites, consecrated to Him.
Let’s get this picture clear. This wasn’t simply a prohibition against intoxication. Fresh grapes, raisins, grape juice, vinegar and even grape seeds were equally prohibited.
You have to know me well enough by now to know what my next question will be “Why?” Why would God be so picky? What’s wrong with raisins? Why couldn’t a Nazirite, one who had vowed to dedicate themselves wholly and completely to God, not be allowed to eat fresh grapes? Doesn’t this sound picky to you, as well?
Well, it certainly did to me until I read clear over in Judges 16, where we find the Philistines dwelt in the Valley of Sorek. I decided to go to my Hebrew dictionary and look up the Valley of Sorek and you won’t believe what I found. In Hebrew, the word Sorek means, “vine.” The Philistines lived in the Valley of the Vine, the Valley of Grapes. All of a sudden it was as though a big light bulb went off in my head and God’s light shown on the purpose He had, which I thought was a “picky” requirement.
God asked those who made a vow to dedicate and consecrate themselves to Him to abstain, to stay away from, to avoid, not even to touch anything associated with the sordid, the impure – the Philistines.
Their destructive lifestyle and degrading habits were not to be incorporated in any way into the lives of the Nazirites.
God’s apparent “picky” request to avoid grapes of the vine was not a banishment of this healthy fruit from our lives forever. However, at that particular time in history, when the enemies of the God of heaven and earth wanted to destroy and defame all that was pure and holy, God asked those who consecrated themselves to Him, Nazirites, whether men or women, to stay completely and totally away from the Valley of the Vine and anything and everything associated with it.
As I read this story, my heavenly Father didn’t look so picky or demanding. In fact, just the opposite! He looked like a loving and protective parent, trying to teach me and guide me with gentle-kindness on a path He knows will bring me happiness, peace, and ultimate fulfillment.
When my nieces, Aimee and Bethanie, turned sixteen and were able to drive, I became a nagging auntie. “Don’t drive too fast. Watch where you are going. Don’t ever get in a car with your friends if they have had something to drink.” And above all, my ultimate demand, “Always wear your seat belts!”
One day, Aimee said to me, “Effie, don’t be a nag. Don’t be so picky.” But months later, when Aimee and Bethanie were in the family waiting room of the Trauma ICU at St. Joseph’s hospital and the surgeon told them, “Your Aunt Dorothy wouldn’t be alive today if she hadn’t had her seat belt on,” guess what? The word “picky” never entered their minds again. I don’t ever have to remind them to put on a seat belt anymore. And now that Aimee has two precious babies of her own to protect, I can’t tell you the effort she takes to make certain they are safe when they travel.
This is exactly what God did for His children related in the book of Judges --- and it is what He wants to do for you and me today.
Call Him a “picky” parent if you want, but in the end, we will find that at the heart of every reason God has for asking us to abstain from entering the Valley of Sorek, is a reason that protects and saves us.
“Holy and eternal God,
Give us such trust in Your sure purpose, that we measure our lives not by what we have done or failed to do, but by our obedience to you.”
New Zealand Prayer Book
From: To her Lord
“Alas, how hard a thing it is to bring
Into a true subjection flesh and blood,
Quietly to entertain
(And not complain)
Those exercises that attend for good!
My Life, my Joy, my Love,
If thus thou please to prove
And exercise my poor perplexed mind.
Teach me to wait in fear.
That I may learn to hear
What trials may attend, of any kind.
And, guarded by thy ray,
Walk in the way,
That leads directly to the throne of grace,
Where in humility,
Poor I may be
Admitted to sit down in the heavenly place.
And there to thee discharge
My grief’s at large,
As to a Bosom-Friend, that bears with me,
And often passes by
Faults of infirmity:
Alas! I cannot bear too much for thee!”
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