One of the most tragic love stories in the bible comes from the book of Judges, Samson, and the women in his life. I was drawn to this story because of my interest in understanding betrayal in the eyes of Delilah, and how it was possible for someone who once was the strongest man in their time, could resist several attempts of his beloved to betray him, and eventually lead to his downfall. And of course, I was in for a surprise when I discovered it wasn’t only Delilah who committed such act of betrayal, another woman did too, but it was the motive behind these acts that made these two women different, yet similar outcome was produced. Digging in deep caused me to view the whole gospel of salvation differently which cannot be understood without knowing who Samson’s parents were and how he came to be.
Judges chapter 13 begins with ‘And again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. To which I thought, Again!. But God in His nature, had a plan for their salvation, again haha, we cannot deny God’s character is what we all need in our lives. Samson’s father was named Manoah and his wife was barren and had no children. Unfortunately, the bible does not give us her name, but it explains in verse 3 that the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “Indeed now you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now I cannot begin to imagine how she must have felt in response to the news, but I can only imagine the joy, and when she went to her husband she explained that this Man, His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome.
She explained to her husband the instructions that she was to drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Now being a Nazarite from God also meant no razor was to come upon his head, and as for him, he was to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistine. Upon hearing this, Manoah prayed to the Lord asking Him to send the Man of God again and teach them what to do for the child. I’m thinking, what he needed were not the instructions as they were clear, what he was looking for was the confirmation that this was real and wanted to hear it for himself too. And isn’t it amazing that His word is reassuring? because God listened to his voice according to verse 9, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her.
With haste she ran and told her husband Manoah and when he came to the Man he said, “Are you the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.” I must be honest this came as a surprise to me because in the bible, the only being that has been known to say the words “I Am”, is God alone, so your guess could be as good as mine. There was a short conversation thereafter and the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah in verse 13, now listen to these words, “Of all that I have said to this woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe. Now the similarity in these words to that which Adam was given in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:16) is uncanny, except the absence of the result of disobedience if any, because sin had already been committed.
Manoah still was not aware he was speaking to the Angel of God hence his offer to prepare him a goat and also asking in verse 17 “What is your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honour You?” And the Angel of the Lord said to him “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful? “At this point I am not surprised with this answer, it sounds way too familiar, Jesus liked to answer questions with a question during His time on earth, the Pharisees would know better. But He had mentioned that if Manoah was to offer a burnt offering, he must offer it to the Lord, and Manoah did just that. Then He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on, it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! And when they saw this they fell on their faces to the ground. I can only imagine their shock, imagine meeting God and not knowing it. Needless to say, we are all unworthy of seeing the Lord in our human flesh, and only God would have accepted the burnt offering and ascend with the flames. Again, the similarity in how Jesus ascended to heaven from Mount Olives, after He Himself as a spotless lamb was given to us as a sacrifice, eternally connecting us to God is undeniably amazing. The Son of Man Himself had appeared to this family, delivering the great news of the salvation of Israel again.
Having known the background of Samson’s family, I invite you to join me again next time as we get to see what kind of man Samson came to be, and of course the other women in his life. Until then, may the good Lord richly bless you. Amen