Summary: Godly parents don’t always produce godly children
Recently I read about a married couple who couldn’t have children. They lived during a time of great upheaval in their country and it felt like their nation had fractured. Weeks turned into months, which turned into years. The barrenness in the wife’s womb made them both feel broken.
One day God made it clear to the wife she would conceive and give birth to a son. She was thrilled and went into prenatal care mode, being careful to not drink alcohol or eat any food that would be bad for their baby.
It’s likely you don’t know the names of these parents, but you’ve probably heard about their son. His strength was well-known, but his sins led to his downfall. His name was Samson.
These parents sensed their son was going to be special so they did everything they could to set him apart for God’s purposes. The wife had been told by an angel that their boy would be a Nazirite, which was someone who took a vow “to be separated for God’s use.” The idea was he would be totally and unreservedly committed to the Lord’s work. He was to never cut his hair, drink no alcohol, not touch dead bodies and avoid unclean foods. These outward actions were to reflect his inner dedication. The mother was told their son would save the Israelites from the hand of their enemies.
The husband felt overwhelmed and inadequate to the task, so he turned to the Lord, drawing closer to Him than he ever had before. In Judges 13:8, 12, this dad-to-be prayed, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born…what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?”
I see three elements in this prayer that parents can learn from.
1. Reverence for God. Listen to how he begins: “O Lord…” This is an emphatic form of the name Adonai and focuses on God as ruler. He recognizes that God is in charge and he is subject to Him. This is pretty amazing because Judges 13:1 tells us the spiritual climate among the Israelites was not good because they had been subject to the Philistines for 40 years.
2. Request for help. Observe the passion behind his plea for help: “Please let…” It could be translated, “Please, now!” He knows he’s in desperate need and without some help they won’t have a clue how to bring up their boy. Fellow parents, God loves to hear us ask for help in the task of raising young disciples.
The word for “teach” refers to launching life words, like shooting out arrows from a bow. It also has the idea of enlightening or “pointing out” as with a finger. His request is specific and reveals his desire to parent as a partner with his wife: “teach us what we are to do with the child.” Another translation renders it this way: “…how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
3. Realignment for focus. Sensing the heavy responsibility for raising their son to be a difference-maker, the dad adds this request in verse 12: “What is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” The word “manner” is the idea of personality and “mission” relates to his purpose. One of the joys of parenting is helping our children discover how God wants to use the manner of who they are to accomplish God’s mission in this world. This dad wants his son to be who God wants him to be and to do what God wants him to do.
Parents, this is a great way to pray. Start with reverence for God, request His help and realign your focus. Ask God to reveal your child’s unique personality and then guide him or her to find and fulfill his or her purpose in life. You could pray something like this: “God you are my Lord and Master. I submit and surrender to your right to rule and reign supreme in my life, and in the life of my child. Help me to parent my child like you parent me. Give me wisdom to know what to do every day. Enable me to understand the manner and mission of my child as you use his or her personality to fulfill your purposes, all for your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
The husband’s request reveals something about the home Samson grew up in. But as we will see, a godly home is no guarantee of a godly life.
Samson’s Downward Cycle
Samson’s feats were legendary, but his flaws proved to be fatal. His two greatest weaknesses were romance and revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly. He was strong on the outside but had no control on the inside. He’s a sad example that godly parents don’t always produce godly children.