Summary: God blessed Samson with great parents...as many of us have. What are we doing with that blessing? God also always tells us what we need to know even though it's not always what we want to know.
Did your school yearbook have this category: “Most Likely to Succeed”? If so, would we find your picture there? Perhaps you were too much of a goof in high school to lead any of your classmates to believe that you would ever amount to much. If you were the chosen one, have you measured up to the expectation? Have you become a champ, or have you ended up a chump? Over the next four weeks that’s the question we want to ask about Samson - the long-haired strongman who lived in Israel over 3,000 years ago. It may surprise you to learn that of all the people in the Bible, Samson was probably the most likely to succeed. Let’s find out why, and as we do we’ll see what we can learn about ourselves and about our Savior-God.
Even before Samson was born, God made it known that he was destined for great things. One day the Angel of the Lord appeared to Samson’s mother and said: “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:3-5).
The astonished mother-to-be ran to her husband, Manoah, and reported what had been said. You have to admire Manoah’s response. He didn’t grunt an acknowledgment and go back to the Sports page. He prayed. He prayed that God would send the messenger again to, as he put it, “teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born” (Judges 13:8). Dads, Manoah sets a great example for us. He’s not content to leave the childrearing to his wife. He wants in on the action but is humble enough to admit that he’s not sure how to do that. And so he turns to the Lord in prayer. Do we, like Manoah, eagerly seek the Lord’s guidance in raising our children? Or are we content to fake our way through this thing called “parenting” because we’re too busy researching our fantasy football picks? That wasn’t Manoah’s attitude. How blessed Samson was to have a father like that!
God answered Manoah’s prayer and the Angel of the Lord appeared again but he just repeated what he had already told the Mrs.: neither she nor the son to be born should drink alcohol or eat anything unclean like pork. And they shouldn’t cut the boy’s hair, ever, as his long hair would proclaim the he had been dedicated to God’s service (like a nun’s habit would proclaim). No new information, however, was forthcoming.
Manoah doesn’t seem willing to settle for that and so he offers to prepare the messenger a meal, perhaps hoping that a taste of goat BBQ would loosen the stranger’s tongue. But the Angel of the Lord said: “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD” (Judges 13:15). Manoah still didn’t know that this visitor was from heaven and so he prodded: “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?” (Judges 13:17) But Manoah’s inquiries had gone far enough. The Angel of the Lord replied: “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding; it’s too wonderful” (Judges 13:18 - paraphrase).
What did the Angel of the Lord mean that his name was “beyond understanding” and “too wonderful”? It was a gentle rebuke to remind Manoah and us that God doesn’t always tell us what we want to know about him or our future but he always tells us what we need to know and we should be content with that. Manoah was desperate for more details on how to raise his son but the heavenly messenger assured him he had all the details he needed. Likewise we often wish that God would just tell us which house to buy or what kind of career to pursue. “I want to do your will,” we cry. But God replies, “You already know my will. Love me and love your neighbor. Keep that in mind as you choose a house and a career.”
Even if God were to tell us everything we would like to know about him, our puny human minds wouldn’t be able to process it. For example, God has told us that he is “triune” that is, he is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit yet one God, not three Gods. Do you understand how that can be? No, even when we stand on our spiritual tippy-toes we still can’t reach the bottom step of the throne of the Eternal that we may fully grasp him (adapted from C. Spurgeon). But it’s not important that we understand God fully; it’s crucial that we trust him completely. That’s what the Angel of the Lord was telling Manoah.