Judges 13 begins the last of the 13 cycles that take place in the book of Judges. There are four events that take place over and over again throughout the book. First, Israel sinned against God. Second, God turned them over to oppressors. Third, the people cried out to God in repentance, and fourth, God delivered them.

That pattern changes with the introduction of the story of Samson in Chapter 13. The third step is totally missing. There is no repentance and cry to God for help. Israel’s heart had become hardened.

It’s a problem we all face. Every time we hear the Word of God and it strikes at the heart of a secret sin and we refuse to repent our heart becomes harder to God’s word. Our hearts begin to dry out and as Jackman says, “Successive acts of resistance to God make it increasingly difficult to respond positively.”

It happened to Pharaoh as you well know. Christopher Marlow wrote the story of Dr. Faustus. At the end of the story he laments, “My heart’s so hardened I cannot repent.” It seems inevitable that if we “will not” often enough, eventually, it will become we “can not.”

Any study of God’s Word is best achieved when it is begun with a soft heart. A good prayer for you and I as we open the Bible is “Lord, keep the ground of my heart soft and fertile. May it receive your Word as rich soil receives the farmer’s seed and may my crop of life change be plentiful.”