Summary: Imagine the job of being Samson’s parents. But his parents were successful. This sermon examines what classifies parents as successful.
February 4, 2001 Judges 13
¡§Being Bam-bam¡¦s parents¡¨
Radio personality Paul Harvey tells the story of how Eskimos kill wolves. First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait he licks it, tasting the fresh-frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the Arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor sharp sting of the naked blade on his tongue nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more-until the dawn finds him dead in the snow.
That¡¦s a picture of what the world, the flesh, and the devil are out to accomplish with the family ¡V they are seeking to get the family to cut it¡¦s own throat. That¡¦s what the Philistines were doing to the Israelites in Judges 13. Verse 1, ¡§Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.¡¨ This is a common refrain in the book of the Judges ¡V God¡¦s people rebelling and falling into sin again and finding themselves under the domination of another nation.
What makes the Philistines especially important is the method they used. They had great military strength because they had learned how to smelt iron. With their iron weapons, they could have overrun Israel by direct attack as the other nations had. They did not. Rather than marching as an obvious enemy, the two main weapons they used were trade and intermarriage. If the Israelites wanted a plow or an ax, they had to go to the Philistines to get one. If they wanted to marry their sons or daughters, the Philistines had no objection. In both those ways, the Philistines were gaining a strangle-hold on the Israelites, slowly choking them to death by compromise and assimilation. Israel was not being enslaved by military dominance but by spiritual and cultural seduction. [Gary Inrig, Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay, p. 206]
To borrow from the Paul Harvey story ¡V the Philistines didn¡¦t come up and slit the Israelites throat. They coated the knife and let Israel cut their own throat. They coated the knife with commerce and trade; social and cultural brainwashing; and finally, with intermarriage. Israel lapped all of this up until they had spiritually cut their own throat. They were no longer their own nation but the Philistines were in charge. They were no longer a people committed to God but they were philistines within Israelite bodies. You couldn¡¦t tell the difference between them and the enemy.
It is against the backdrop of wholesale spiritual compromise that the Holy Spirit inspired the author of the book of Judges to introduce us to a simple couple. This couple is set in contrast to the culture. They weren¡¦t like everyone else. Maybe people thought they were even a little weird. But the writer tells us that this couple was given a vital assignment from God. Their assignment was to raise a child; a child who would have a special place in the plan of God. They weren¡¦t whisked away to some secluded location in order to perform this task. They were to raise their child in the context of the culture. This is the same assignment that every Christian parent has today. According to Malachi 2:15, one of the purposes behind marriage is that God ¡§seeks godly offspring.¡¨ God wants us to raise our children to follow him. According to 2 Timothy 3:1, we are to do this in the context of ¡§perilous times¡¨.
The America in which parents seek to raise children today is not the same America of years gone by. In some cases that is good but overall it is not. Values of patriotism, morality, Christian commitment ¡V once held dear are now mocked and even through twisted logic declared to be unAmerican. It is in this context that Christian parents are called upon to raise their children. John 17:15 wasn¡¦t spoken about parents but it might well have been. Jesus prays to the Heavenly Father and He says: ¡§I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.¡¨
But the question is how are we going to do this? How are we going to be successful parents in perilous times? Here in Judges 13 in the example of Manoah and his wife we find some answers. They were successful in the raising of their child and they show us four characteristics of parents who are successful. Successful parents are parents who recognize their privilege, responsibility, dependence and limits.