Summary: Lesson’s learned from Samson’s mother, applicable to us today!
Samson was one of the last judges to appear in Israel, judging after Abdon. While gifted with extraordinary physical strength, Samson was morally and spiritually weak. His feud with the Philistines, who dominated the Israelites in his lifetime, was rooted in personal animosity rather than a passion to free his people. While Samson killed many Philistines during his lifetime, he never won freedom from oppression for his people.
It is clear from the story in Judges that Samson’s flaws were his own and cannot be traced back to worldly and godless living on his parents part. Both parents are portrayed as godly and good persons who did their best to respond to God and give their son guidance.
Oddly enough, I believe it’s Samson’s mother who was the more level headed and perhaps strongest, spiritually in the family. It is from her that I hope we can gain some important lessons.
Much has happened in the lives of God’s people after their conquest of Canaan. They have been on a “roller coaster” in terms of their relationship with God. They do evil in the sight of the Lord, God punishes them by delivering them into the hands of an enemy, they beg for a deliverer, and God’s sends one in the form of a judge. Not much has changed as we begin our study here in Judges 13:
Vs. 1: "Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years."
The Philistines had been enemies of God’s people for some time now and will continue to be for years to come. They were not conquered and destroyed during the conquest of Canaan by Joshua (cf. Joshua 3:1-2). After Joshua’s death, we see the tribes continuing to conquer Canaan; however, they didn’t completely destroy these people, rather allowed them to dwell among them (cf. Judges 1). The Philistines thus were for testing Israel (Judges 3:1-4).
Vs. 2: Manoah and family were Danites (from the tribe of Dan) living in Zorah—a city of Dan which was about 13 miles west of Jerusalem, on the border of Judah. Manoah’s wife was barren and had borne no children. We are not told if she couldn’t have children, or if they were just waiting. It wasn’t customary to put off child birth, hence I would suspect she couldn’t have children. She obviously has been selected by God to carry out His will.
Lesson 1 - We must always stand ready to serve God vs. 3).
Notice that the angel didn’t appear to Manoah, rather to his wife directly. Why? I believe Manoah’s wife was stronger spiritually than Manoah himself. Notice after telling her husband of her angelic encounter that he asks for the angel to come back and give them further instructions (vs. 8).
Honoring Manoah’s request, the angel is sent back, but to whom does it appear? The wife (vs. 9)!
What’s the point? I believe these brief Biblical facts teach us something of Manoah’s wife’s spiritual character. I believe she was a Godly, obedient, spiritual women who stood ready to serve God when ever the call came.
Would God have chosen a women with any less character to do His will in this situation? I don’t think so. Would God have chosen a women who was weak spiritually to raise this “deliverer” of Israel? I don’t think so.
What about us today? Should we stand ready to serve God? Most definitely! Of course, we shouldn’t expect a visit from an angel with a similar message, but we have opportunities daily to serve God in many ways. Paul told the Ephesians to, "make the most of every opportunity" (NIV—Eph 5:16). How are some ways we stand ready to serve God?
1. We have to be strong spiritually! Do you think God opens as many doors of opportunity for a spiritually weak person?
2. We have to put God first in our lives! Jesus told us to "seek ye first the kingdom of God…" (Matt. 6:33); Paul admonishes us in that "whatever you do in word of deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…" (Col 3:17). How many times have people missed opportunities to serve God by allowing other “worldly things” to get in the way?
3. We have to be well equipped! Manoah’s wife was equipped with the spiritual knowledge she needed to carry out her task. What do I mean by that? Notice vs. 5: "the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb." Had Manoah’s wife not been a spiritual woman, well versed in God’s law, she wouldn’t have had the knowledge to carry out this vow—she might not even know what it was. The particular’s regarding this vow are outlined in Numbers 6:1-21. It’s important to note that this vow started from the womb, meaning that she had to live by it herself! What’s the point for us today? How can one carry out God’s will if they are not students of His word? We must be active students of God’s word, standing ready to serve!