Judges 13:1-25: Manoah and His Wife, The Parents of Sampson

Manoah and His Wife, The Parents of Sampson

Judges 13:1-25 (Review 14:1-10 also) Lesson 15
Key Verse: 13:8 Kevin E. Jesmer 5-13-12 (modified 1-3-20)

“Then 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.’” (NIV)

Today we want to study about one little known woman of faith, Sampson’s mother. She is a very good example of motherhood. We don’t know her name. The Bible refers to her as Manoah’s wife, but she is a very spiritual and influential person in the history of God in her own right. Her husband was Manoah. The definition of his name is, “rest; a present” ( ) Possibly, his parents named him in hopes that he would find his rest in God and that his life would be a gift to the rest of humanity. Manoah was a source of rest to his wife. His faith in action was a gift to her and to the rest of the village and even to us now, as we study about this family some 3,500 years later. Through a study of this passage may first and foremost discover the motherly love of God. Next, may we grow to be godly parents like Manoah and his wife. May God work through us to raise our children and the young people of our nation, to be godly people who can live by faith.

Part l: God Promises A Son To A Barren Woman (1-7)

First, this couple lived in very dark times. Look at verse 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.” The Lord would not keep his hedge of protection forever. The ancient Israelites fell into their sin once again. When the inspired leader, Abdon, passed away, the people of Israel drifted away from God and his word. They began to worship and serve the surrounding nations’ idols. Drifting into spiritual darkness, they found themselves in a national crisis, being oppressed by the Philistines for forty years. Like always, God would work through this national crisis to bring his people back to himself. Isn’t that the way it always works? We disconnect ourselves from our source, God, and from the word of God. Then we drift spiritually. First it happens on an individual level and then, collectively, as a nation. We are set adrift in the sea of relativism and we end up suffering. It is happening to the USA today. We need to hold onto God and his word tenaciously. But there is always God’s hope even in the darkest of times.

There was a couple who did not give into idol worship. Look at verse 2, “A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless.” This couple was a family little known in a huge nation. They had a personal problem that caused them to despair of life. Look at verse 2b, “…had a wife who was sterile and remained childless.” To be sterile and childless in that time made people think that they were cursed by God. They had no one to pass on their family heritage, heirlooms, treasures, stories and so on. The worst thing is that they could not carry on their family name in Israel. Maybe the wife blamed herself and feared Manoah would also blame her and abandon her. But this was a family of faith. I am sure they overcame by faith in God. As they lived their lives they loved and served their nieces and nephews and the other young children in the village. There are godly ways to overcome the hardship of sterility and barrenness in a society that placed so much emphasis on having kids. In the meantime, they prayed to the one who could work miracles.

God did not forget this family. He came to them to plant a real and living hope in their hearts. Look at verse 3, “The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, ‘You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.’” This angel of the Lord was a representative of God, sent by God to directly communicate to Manoah’s wife. God heard her prayers He saw her situation. He cared about her and he came to give them good news. They would conceive and have a son.

This couple may have felt that God took a long time to answer their prayers. But from God’s point of view, it was exactly the right time, for God has a special and unique plan for their family. They would bring forth Sampson, a great judge in Israel’s history, one who would deliver his people from Philistine oppression. This couple would also be enshrined in the halls of time as an exemplary family of faith who loved God and who would bring forth Sampson.

We may think that we are fruitless. We may despair, thinking that God is taking too long to answer our prayers. We wonder what the purpose is for our suffering? I am sure that we have all struggled with these issues. But I have news for you! God hears our cries. He sees our tears. He will intervening in his time and reveal the great and glorious purpose he has for our lives, family and ministry. He is probably intervening right now, but we don’t have eyes to see it or the heart to appreciate it. God will work in his way and in his time. And his time is the perfect time. We must be patient and trust the Lord.

Manoah’s wife was willing to make many sacrifices in order to bear the blessing to be Sampson’s mother. She was to make a spiritual environment in the home. Look at verse 4 & 5, “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.” She and Manoah had to live pure and clean lives, even before the baby was born. She was not to put harmful things into her body. She had to live a life of spiritual devotion to God from conception. She could not have anything to do with the idolatrous practices of the people around her. (i.e. eating no unclean thing.) In short, she was to do nothing to harm the child and do everything to promote faith and devotion to God, in her child as he was growing up in their home.

I thank God for one mother among us, my wife Julie. She bore five kids. As soon as she conceived a child, she immediately stopped drinking coffee. She refused to take even one Tylenol pill even when she was experiencing discomfort from kicking babies and even headaches and body aches from hormonal shifts. She created a spiritual environment for her growing child by remaining engaged in ministry, teaching the Bible, praying and singing hymns. The growing fetus’ would hear the word of God being taught…hymns of God being sung…prayers being uttered. The peace and joy that Julie felt, as she served Jesus, would be shared with her children invitro. She cared about the physical and the spiritual lives of the children. We all served in the church together. The kids saw us bringing Bible students home. She did all of this because she knew that these children belonged to God and they were given to us to raise up as the people of God. She knew that each of her children were destined for a great purpose in the Lord. She was a good steward of that trust. I thank for all the mothers among us who were willing to sacrifice so much to make a good environment, both spiritually and physically for their kids to be raised in. May God raise up mother’s who can bring their kids to Jesus from the moment of conception instead of waiting until major problems arise.

We get a glimpse of God’s purpose for the child in verse 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.” God wanted this boy to be a Nazirite. A Nazirite is one who has taken the Nazirite vow. This vow can be read in Numbers 6:1-21. 1. It was a vow of separation that was made by the child’s parents, for it involved keeping even a young child separated from the world. It involved spiritual disciplines in order to enter into special fellowship with God. A person upholding a Nazirite vow would, by the grace of God, grow spiritually. There are several people in the Bible who seemed to have taken a Nazirite vow: Samson and John the Baptist are two; perhaps Paul took such a vow on two occasions (Acts 18:18; 21:24-26). We are not required to make a Nazarite vow ourselves, but there are times when God’s people need to set aside a time for spiritual discipline to enter into special fellowship with God. We need some kind of discipline that leads us to separation from the world and is also helpful in our spiritual growth.

The parents made the Nazirite vow for their children. Sampson’s mother and dad had to make sure that the boy never cut his hair, no matter how much he begged them. They must never let their child drink any alcohol, even when their “crazy” uncle offers the boy some drinks at family weddings. They must always promote an atmosphere of Bible study and worship in the home, even before birth.

There is a Christian equivalent. Isn’t infant baptism like this? Is it not a dedication and a prayer for our children to walk in the ways of the Lord and to become servants of God? Is it not a parents’ dedication of their own lives to create a spiritual environment in the home? We dedicated each of our kids to Jesus and to Jesus’ calling and mission. Each of their names have spiritual meaning and were inspired by a hope and a prayer. Ask them the meaning behind their first and middle names. It has also affected how Julie and I live our daily lives. Today I want to thank all parents who have made vows of dedicating their children to the Lord.

They could not raise their children in their own way. They needed to raise them in God’s way, holding onto God’s hope, word and vision. God wanted this boy to be a Nazirite and dedicated to serve God’s holy purpose. This is not easy. We have our hope and vision for our kids and family that may, or may not be God’s hope and vision. But this godly couple was able to make God plans, their own plans. They were on the same page with the Lord, though it was not easy to do so. When Manoah felt that his son would look cute with a purple mohawk, his wife would step in and remind him of their Nazirite vow and refuse to cut his hair.

Manoah’s wife had a deep and awesome respect for God. Look at verses 6-7, “Then the woman went to her husband and told him, ‘A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death. ‘’” She called this angel, “awesome!” She held the angel in high honor. She also repeated the words of the angel very well. That means that she accepted these words of God in her heart and internalized them. She spoke with a heart full of faith. She truly was the right mother to bring forth a servant of the Lord into the world.

Part ll: Manoah and His Wife Were One In The Lord (8-25)

This was a praying family. Look at verse 8, “Then 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.” Manoah was very humble. The act of prayer is actually a humble act, for by doing so we admit we can not, but God can. It reveals our desire to live in a relationship with Jesus. He was not telling God what to do, rather he was “begging” God’s favor, seeking what God wanted him to do. He was not thinking that he knew all the answers about child rearing. He wanted the angel of God to come again and teach them how to bring up this boy.

I thank God for instructing us on how to raise our kids. Our parents taught us many things, but not how to raise up Christian kids, God taught us a lot, through Bible study, his Spirit, Christian authors and other Christians. God’s advice is the best advice to influence our kids for an entire lifetime. Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” May God raise up praying mothers and fathers among us, who admit that they are helpless but are willing to depend on God.

Manoah’s wife was “one” with her husband. Look at verse 9 & 10, “God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, ‘He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!’” God heard Manoah’s prayer and sent the angel again. But the angel appeared first to the woman. She could have told the angel, “OK…tell me. I will “fill my husband in” later. He may be in charge, but I know what is going on.” No, she did not do this. Rather, she hurried to tell her husband and get him involved. She respected his leadership. She upheld him a servant of God. Manoah also had a oneness with his wife. verse 11a reads, “Manoah got up and followed his wife….” He was humble. When families have spiritual mothers like this, then the men can grow mature, spiritually and step up to be good spiritual influences on the family.

What was on Manoah’s mind. Look at verses 11b-12, “…When he came to the man, he said, ‘Are you the one who talked to my wife?’ ‘I am,” he said. 12 So Manoah asked him, ‘When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?’” He was interested in the rule for the boy’s life and work. The “rule” means the guiding principles of his life. The angel told him the purposes of God for his yet unborn son in verses 13-14, “The angel of the LORD answered, ‘Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She 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.” We can see that Manoah did not tell God what to do. He was seeking the will of God and was willing to obey it. Also, the mother was to play the most important role and he was “OK” with that. Praise God for humble and spiritual father’s like Manoah. He was a perfect match for the mother in this passage. They were perfect parents to raise up the boy Sampson.

This family was very hospitable, eager to have fellowship with a servant of the Lord. Look at verse 15, “Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, ‘We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.’” Manoah did not realize that it was an angel of the Lord. (16b). He thought he was a godly man. Maybe he wanted to spend some time with this man and have some good spiritual fellowship (koinonia). They would offer up a lamb, cook it and talk about many spiritual things, long into the night. The angel appreciated the offer, but did not have time to stay. Maybe he had a meeting to go to. He did not want any food. I don’t think that angels eat anyways. But if they ever tasted Julie’s cooking, I am sure he would make an exception.

But the angel did instruct Manoah to prepare an altar for sacrifice and they were in for the worship experience of their lives. Look at verses 16b-20, “…But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.) 17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?” 18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground.” Here we can see that this couple lived a religious life. They knew how to prepare an offering. It was a regular part of their life. Though their nation drifted away, they did not. When they sincerely came to God with a desire to worship him, they were blessed with some awesome worship experiences like this one. God was very gracious to allow them to experience such a heavenly vision.

They had a fear of God in their hearts. They were overcome with fright because they realized they were conversing with an angel. Look at verses verse 22, “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!” God had no intention of destroying them. He was setting them off on a glorious mission. He was commissioning them to be the parents of Sampson. But their fear of God and respect for the holiness of God was admirable.

Manoah’s wife helped him to understand what was happening. Look at verse 23, “But his wife answered, ‘If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.’” Manoah was about to “go off the deep end” with his fear of being struck down by God. But she stood up and told him the truth that set his heart free from fear and anxiety. Every man needs woman like this in their lives. I have one. Her name is Julie. When I am about to get a little crazy she sets me straight with the truth of God. She is a good mother and a good wife.

We can see some more of their greatness in the beginning of the next chapter. Verses 14:1-3 read, “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” Their child was born. They tried their best to raise him. But as the years passed Sampson got bigger and stronger. He was bold to demand things from his parents, even things he knew were sinful. He knew it was not right for him to marry a Philistine woman. What would you do as a parent? Manoah and his wife were quiet. They quietly prayed. Look at verse 14:10, “Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms.” Manoah was supportive of his son, even though his son was wrong. What a graceful mom and dad they were. They could be this way because they prayed and trusted the Lord. I thank God for the graceful mother in our family who knows how to practice the grace of God.

In today’s lesson we find a great woman, Manoah’s wife and Sampson’s mother. And also, a great man, Manoah. The wife was nameless but great. She was humble to accept God’s will upon her life for her child. She was willing to sacrifice a lot to create a spiritual environment for her son, even at the moment of conception. She had an awesome respect for God, she prayed, she upheld her husband, she lived a regular religious life, she devoted her child to the Lord, she was hospitable and graceful. Her husband shared in many of these qualities. We thank God for his motherly love on our lives. We thank God for bringing such mothers into our lives. We also pray that many mothers and fathers can be raised up across our land who can be like Manoah and his wife and who can raise up servants of God who can preach the Gospel throughout our nation. Amen!

Part l: God Promises A Son To A Barren Woman (1-7)

1.      What was the national crisis and how long were the people suffering? (1) Why did is this happen? What was God doing for his wayward people?

2.      What couple did God choose to work through? (2) What was there personal family problem? How did they feel?

3.      How did God reveal himself to this couple? Did they know that the one who was talking to them was an angel? What good news did he bring them?

4.      What kind of homelife were they to create? (4-5) What is a Nazirite? How can we create a spiritual atmosphere in our home to raise our family?

Part ll: Manoah and His Wife Were One In The Lord (8-25)

5.      What common prayer did Manoah have his wife? What was there concern? (8)

6.      What reveals their unity in this mission that God gave them? (9-10) and their unity in worship? (16b-20)

7.      How did his wife help him to calm down and understand what was happening to him? (22-23) What does this tells us about couples working together?

8.      Later on, how did his parents help their son Sampson to marry well? (14:1-3). How did they respond to him when he did not obey them? (14:10). What does this tell about their parenting style?

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