LINK: Judges 12-13
Now that Jephthah has been victorious in battle, the men of Ephraim complain that they didn't get to be a part of the glory. But when Jephthah had asked for their help, they had refused. Jephthah gave the Lord the credit for the victory -- no man would get the glory -- and then proceeded to slaughter the men of Ephraim. A very sad ending to Jephthah's story.
Three other judges are briefly mentioned. Apparently no major oppression occurred during this time. Two of these men were prosperous, but otherwise nothing is known about these judges.
The upcoming arrival of Samson was announced to his parents. God said the boy was to be a Nazirite from the womb on. You might remember God's instructions to Moses concerning the Nazirite vow from Numbers 6. There were permanent and temporary forms of this dedication, and Samson's was to be permanent.
One who took the Nazirite vow was dedicating himself to God. He was to be different from the rest of society and consecrated for God's use. The specified actions of abstaining from the fruit of the vine and not cutting the hair or going near a dead person were outward signs that served as public testimony of the commitment. A Nazirite couldn't quite hide in the crowd. He was "different" and everyone knew why. The outward actions indicated the consecration of the heart.
In Samson's case, we will see that his heart didn't always line up with the vow. Paul told the Romans, "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (Romans 6:13). Our lives should be fully consecrated to God, and there should be outward evidence of that commitment in our righteous behavior.
Lord, I want to be wholly consecrated to you, for your use, because you have purchased me with the blood of Jesus. Amen.