Did you have many parenting theories back before you had children? Did you actually apply those practices once you had kids or did you scratch it all and parent by the seat of your pants?
What was the best parenting advice you ever received? Did it work?
What if God himself appeared to you before you were even pregnant and told you what to do after your child was born? Would you listen? Would you obey?
On today’s episode of All God’s Women we look at Samson’s mom, a humble woman, wife of an obscure man, who received parental advice from the Angel of the Lord himself.
Continuing in our study of Judges, we come to chapter 13. It opens with ”The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.”
But despite the Israelites persistence in abandoning God, He never abandoned them.
At the end of those forty years, the Angel of the Lord appeared to an unnamed woman, wife of Manoah, and told her she would conceive a son. This in itself was great news, as she’d previously been unable to conceive. But God didn’t end there. He gave her specific instructions for what to do during her pregnancy. She was not to drink any alcoholic beverages or eat anything unclean. And when the child was born, she was not to ever cut his hair because he would be a Nazarite to God from birth.
So what exactly was a Nazarite? In Numbers 6, God gave Moses instructions for men and women who made a special vow to God, called a Nazarite vow. They were to consecrate themselves to the Lord and to not only abstain from wine or beer, but to not even drink vinegar made from wine or drink any grape juice or eat fresh grapes or raisins. They could not cut their hair during their time of consecration. And they were not to go near a dead body, even if it was their family member.
Typically, the Nazarite was a temporary event lasting thirty to a hundred days, but three men in the Bible are listed as lifetime Nazarites. Samson was one of those.
Imagine being this barren woman, minding your own business, and having an Angel of the Lord come to you and deliver such a message. What would you do?
With an amazing display of faith, Manoah’s wife didn’t question the angel in any way, but rather immediately ran to tell her husband the good news.
He wasn’t convinced. He and his wife were undistinguished unknown Israelites from the family of Dan, certainly not worthy of a personal visit from God. His wife so desperately wanted a child, surely she just imagined the whole thing.
But he prayed and asked the Lord to come again and teach them what they should do for the son who was to be born.
God listened to his prayer and the angel came again to the woman. She was alone in the fields, but she ran quickly to her husband and dragged him to the angel. He heard for himself what the angel had already told his wife.
Sure enough, the woman did give birth to a son, and she named him Samson, which means “strength of the sun”. We’re told that Samson grew and the Lord blessed him.
We each have dreams for our lives, visions of what our future is supposed to be like, but so often, our lives are nothing like our dreams. I’m sure that like other women of her time, Manoah’s wife assumed she would get marry and have children, but it didn’t happen that way. She got married, but God took His time blessing her with a child. She didn’t let it get her down, though. She lived her life childless until the Lord let her know a son was coming.
Oh, the pride she must have felt when she found out not only was she to have a child, but that he would be a lifetime Nazarite. What an honor to be bestowed on her, to be given the responsibility of raising a man of God. I imagine she likely had an image of what this son would be like, a meek and mild man, obedient and godly.
But while Samson was indeed, a man of God, He was also an impulsive, strong willed young man with a violent temper and a weakness for the ladies.
Samson fell in love with a Philistine woman and begged this parents to give her to him in marriage. Despite their pleas for him to find instead a good Hebrew woman, Samson insisted, and ended up in a marriage doomed from the start.
How Samson’s mother must have prayed for him during his growing up years. How she must have tried her best to lead him in the right direction. And how disappointed she must have been to see him chasing after a pagan woman and behaving in such a crass and vile manner.
But note what it says in Judges 14:4, “But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”
God needed a man with strength who wasn’t afraid of the Philistines. The very areas where Samson was weakest, God was able to use as strengths in order to help free the Israelites from the Philistine oppression.
While Samson’s mother likely felt discouraged by his choices, perhaps even blaming herself, wondering if she had failed her son and that’s why he turned out the way he did, she wasn’t to blame. God knew that Samson had a weakness for pagan women and a violent temper, and God used those for his glory.
Perhaps you’re listening today and your life has not turned out the way you thought it would. Your dreams have faded and you’re stuck in a reality that was not your choosing. You’ve given up on having your prayers answered.
Don’t despair. God’s timing is not the same as ours and He may surprise with an unexpected announcement just as he did Manoah’s wife.
Maybe you’re blaming yourself for choices others have made. Maybe your children didn’t go in the direction you led them. If so, again, keep in mind that God’s timing is not the same as ours and His plans are not the same as our plans. He sees the big picture. He knows what’s ahead. He knows what’s best, even if it makes no sense to us.
We are not responsible for the actions of others, even if it’s our children. They are given free will and must make their own choices. All we can do is to follow God and obey what he tells us to do and trust that He will take care of the rest. And, oh, how sweet it will be if you live to see those wayward children being used by God just as Samson was used in his dying day.
Lord God, we come to you in the midst of a reality that was not of our choosing. Things are happening around us that we have no control over. It’s so easy for us to be fearful or discouraged, wondering what all is happening. But we know that You are Lord of all. And though things may not make sense to us right now, we know that You are still in control, and that You are working in ways that we can’t begin to understand. Give us a peace in the midst of the chaos. Give us the strength to endure this race we’re on. Forgive us those times when we lose track of You and try to take matters into our hands. Thank You for Your grace and for Your forgiveness. In Christ name we pray. Amen.
That concludes today’s episode of All God’s Women. Tune in next week when we talk about Delilah and the power women have to lead men astray.
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