Numbers 6 & Psalms 40-41

Numbers 6

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

    “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

    “All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.

    “And if any man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two pigeons to the priest to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and the priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned by reason of the dead body. And he shall consecrate his head that same day and separate himself to the LORD for the days of his separation and bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering. But the previous period shall be void, because his separation was defiled.

    “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and he shall bring his gift to the LORD, one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one ram without blemish as a peace offering, and a basket of unleavened bread, loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and their grain offering and their drink offerings. And the priest shall bring them before the LORD and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering, and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offering to the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread. The priest shall offer also its grain offering and its drink offering. And the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. And the priest shall take the shoulder of the ram, when it is boiled, and one unleavened loaf out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite, after he has shaved the hair of his consecration, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. They are a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed. And after that the Nazirite may drink wine.

    “This is the law of the Nazirite. But if he vows an offering to the LORD above his Nazirite vow, as he can afford, in exact accordance with the vow that he takes, then he shall do in addition to the law of the Nazirite.”

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

    The LORD bless you and keep you;
    the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
    the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
        “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

(Numbers 6 ESV)

Psalm 40

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

    I waited patiently for the LORD;
        he inclined to me and heard my cry.
    He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
        out of the miry bog,
    and set my feet upon a rock,
        making my steps secure.
    He put a new song in my mouth,
        a song of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear,
        and put their trust in the LORD.
    Blessed is the man who makes
        the LORD his trust,
    who does not turn to the proud,
        to those who go astray after a lie!
    You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
        your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
        none can compare with you!
    I will proclaim and tell of them,
        yet they are more than can be told.
    In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
        but you have given me an open ear.
    Burnt offering and sin offering
        you have not required.
    Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
        in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
    I delight to do your will, O my God;
        your law is within my heart.”
    I have told the glad news of deliverance
        in the great congregation;
    behold, I have not restrained my lips,
        as you know, O LORD.
    I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
        I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
    I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
        from the great congregation.
    As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
        your mercy from me;
    your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
        ever preserve me!
    For evils have encompassed me
        beyond number;
    my iniquities have overtaken me,
        and I cannot see;
    they are more than the hairs of my head;
        my heart fails me.
    Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
        O LORD, make haste to help me!
    Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
        who seek to snatch away my life;
    let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
        who delight in my hurt!
    Let those be appalled because of their shame
        who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
    But may all who seek you
        rejoice and be glad in you;
    may those who love your salvation
        say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
    As for me, I am poor and needy,
        but the Lord takes thought for me.
    You are my help and my deliverer;
        do not delay, O my God!

(Psalm 40 ESV)

Psalm 41

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

    Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
        In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
    the LORD protects him and keeps him alive;
        he is called blessed in the land;
        you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
    The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
        in his illness you restore him to full health.
    As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
        heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
    My enemies say of me in malice,
        “When will he die, and his name perish?”
    And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
        while his heart gathers iniquity;
        when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
    All who hate me whisper together about me;
        they imagine the worst for me.
    They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
        he will not rise again from where he lies.”
    Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
        who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
    But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
        and raise me up, that I may repay them!
    By this I know that you delight in me:
        my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
    But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
        and set me in your presence forever.
    Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
        from everlasting to everlasting!

    Amen and Amen.

(Psalm 41 ESV)

Something to Consider

Numbers 6: The "vow of a Nazarite" was a special vow taken by anyone in Israel who willingly wanted to separate themselves by living in a special way of devotion and worship for a certain period of time. During the devoted time, those who had taken this vow were to avoid drinking wine, cutting their hair and touching anything that had died. Great men of the Bible such as Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist were examples of men who had taken life-long vows to live as a Nazarite.

Today, we might have a tendency to view someone who makes a similar vow of separation unto the Lord as legalistic, extreme or radical. However, this sort of vow was not meant to be an obligation but rather an opportunity to express your love for the Lord by denying the desires of the flesh, disregarding the approval of others and practicing specific disciplines in spiritual holiness and purity. The Nazirite’s uncut hair was an everyday reminder of their dedication to God’s service. This noticeable reminder would have challenged every Israelite around them to wholeheartedly devote themselves to the Lord daily. 

For the sake of the name of Christ may we separate ourselves unto the Lord and serve as a reminder to all those around us that faith in Christ is the foundation for all that we do. May we rest in the work of Christ - the ultimate Nazarite - who was separated with a special holiness as the Son of God. And may we live in holiness as God's special people trusting in the mysterious way that He makes us holy as He is holy.

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7)