Summary: Samson’s parents could give advice to today’s parents about bringing up children in a hostile spiritual environment.
Parenting in Philistine Territory
Text: Judges 13
In the past few years a new phrase has been added to our vocabulary-- "School Shootings." Drugs are readily available to kids even in grade schools throughout America and I’m sure right here too. Right here in Heidelberg your middleschoolers and highschoolers can walk right down to the clinic and pick up birth control devices paid for with your tax dollars and you won’t even get a phone call. Pornography isn’t just readily available it’s absolutely unavoidable. Across America and really around the world the very idea of absolute moral standards is not just laughable to the powers that be, but absolutley abhorent. The new morality is situational--you do what feels right to you and I’ll do what feels right to me and who is anybody--including your parents and especially the church to tell you any different.
To many of us it feels like a world gone mad. And we’re raising our kids in it. The scripture tells us that children are a treasure and sometimes it feels like we’re carrying open boxes of treasure through a den of thieves.
I think Samson’s parents would understand that feeling, because they were given the treasure of a child in the midst of a land ruled by the Philistines. But if they could speak to us today I think they’d also say, you can do it, because we did it.
And I bet that they’d even give us some parenting tips for raising godly children in a hostile environment
Transition: .I think the first thing they’d tell us is to remember the
1. Proximity of the enemy
1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
Nature of the Philistine occupation: Not hostile but pervasive, by technology and intermarriage.
ILLUSTRATION: The Borg from Star Trek "You will be assimilated"
To be succesful as parents in hostile territory we must recognize the decietful work of the enemy, subtle as it may be. Paul wrote "don’t be conformed to the world.
2. Privilege of the experience
2A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.
Ps 127:3 Tells us that children are a heritage and a blessing from the Lord. No one knew this better than Manoah and his wife: they had longed for a child to pour their lives into and had been convinced that that blessing would never be theirs when along comes the angel of the Lord to give them this incredible news. No matter how difficult it was to raise this special child in enemy territory I imagine they never forgot that Samson was a blessing from the Lord.
Parenting has its difficulties. Our children know how to push our buttons better than anyone else, Parenting in the world we live in makes for even greater challenges.
We need desparately to stop once in awhile and remember it is a privelege that God bestows upon us--a responsibility to be sure but a privelege just as surely. No one can push our hot buttons like our kids but also no one can push our heart buttons quite like them.
In the midst of Philistine territory we need to remember still what a privelege we have...
3. Prescription for Excellence
8Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."
12-14So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?" 13The angel of the LORD answered, "Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her."
Manoah realizes right off the bat that this is a special assignment and he wants to make sure he has his orders right.
There are two applications I want to make here. The first is that we like Manoah and Womanoah need to look to the Lord for proper instructions in bringing up our kids in a hostile land. Fortunately there is a textbook. We need Godly counsel in bringing kids up right. We need to be parents of the Word and parents of prayer if we are to take this awesome responsibility seriously.
The second application is this. Samson’s parents were also given responsibility to shield Samson from the world’s poloution--specifically they were to see that He kept a Nazarite vow from birth that he might be fully dedicated to the Lord. While our kids may not be destined to be Nazarites they are destined to be dedicated to the Lord and we have a responsibility until they are mature enough to shoulder that responsiblity on their own to keep them from the world’s poloution.