God has been raising up judges for Israel. This one He raises up from before he is even born. This judge will be special. He will be a one man army!
There are four times in the bible (that I can recall) where a parent is foretold a child will be born. The first was when Abraham was told he would have a son. The second is our story today. The third is when Zechariah was told Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist. And the fourth is when Mary is told she will bear the Messiah, Jesus.
Twice the parents are told how to raise the child. Samson and John are the two who receive explicit instruction at the time of their announcements. Samson’s mother is given instructions about her conduct while pregnant too.
I find it interesting that God chose the tribe of Dan as the origin of Samson. Of all the tribes, to me anyway, theirs is the sketchiest in serving the Lord. They never took possession of their inheritance. When they finally did take territory it was from a people who were quiet and subdued. They captured a hired priest and took his master’s household idols with them when they came to their new land. This does NOT look like a tribe that was walking after the Lord! But our story takes place before Dan’s move north so maybe they were closer to God at this time. It appears that God was spreading His choice of judges throughout the tribes. Maybe it was just Dan’s turn.
I LOVE that Samson’s parents didn’t doubt what was told to them by the angel of God! When the angel came the first time and met with Samson’s mother alone, her report to her husband was taken for truth. Manoah, her husband, didn’t voice ANY doubts about her account. His only request was for more direction in raising the son they were going to have. Neither of them even asked for verification of the man’s origins. They believed EVERYTHING he told them.
This couple had no idea they were in the presence of an angel. They thought the man who visited them was a prophet of God. He had the “appearance of the angel of God” (verse 6c) but Samson’s mother still called him “A man of God” (6b). When Manoah prayed he asked God to send again the “man of God whom You sent” (verse 8b), not an angel. Manoah even tried to feed the ‘man’ a meal but he refused. Instead, the ‘man’ asked that the meal be turned into a burnt offering to the Lord instead. THEN they realized who they had been dealing with all along! “We shall surely die, for we have seen God” (verse 22). His wife was able to calm him though. “If the Lord had meant to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these” (verse 23).
She was a wise woman and would no doubt use that wisdom in raising the son God had promised her. She and her husband would follow His instructions to the letter. I wonder how hard it was for them to follow the instructions of the angel.
Samson’s mother was to “not eat anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing” (verse 14a). I noticed that the instructions given when Manoah included the refraining from eating ANYTHING that came from the vine too, instead of just the last two conditions. Juice/wine was a main staple for the people. Samson’s mother would have been allowed to drink water and milk during her pregnancy. Samson would have only had these options his whole life. Maybe they were allowed other fruit juices like apple, orange or pomegranate. She would have had to get creative to keep her son’s palate from straying.
Samson’s mother was never to cut his hair. How long did his hair get? My hair only grows to a certain length then it stops growing. Hopefully his did too. I can’t imagine trying to come up with hair styles to keep his ever lengthening hair from being walked on or caught while he was engaged in an activity. Was he allowed to trim his hair? Was it only the “razor” and shaving his head that was forbidden?
I went and looked up the requirements of a Nazirite vow and the only thing not covered in the angel’s conversation was staying away from dead bodies. This is included in the traditional vow but not mentioned in the conversations with Samson’s parents. There will be several instances in his life where he will break this requirement of the standard vow.
The timeline for a Nazirite vow is supposed to be limited but Samson’s vow was to last his whole life. He will be called to this vow from his mother’s womb. His mother stated that he was to keep it until his death. There would be no end for him. No final sacrifice offered by the priest signifying the end of his time of service. I have a feeling his final act in life, which ended his own and 3,000 others would qualify as his sacrificial ending.
The Nazirite vow is supposed to be voluntary and above and beyond regular vows. Samson did not choose this of his own accord. It was chosen for him by the Lord. His parents would have needed to help him make this part of his own heart as he grew up. I have a feeling that Samson’s whole family would make his vow part of their whole lives, at least to some degree, in order to help him maintain his walk with the Lord.
I doubt his mother or father felt burdened by all these requirements. They wanted a child and would willingly do whatever it took to have one. They eagerly sought instruction and agreed to all conditions put before them. Their lives would finally be complete and the shame of barrenness taken from them.
Father God, I wish I would be as quick to believe “good news” brought to me as Samson’s parents were. I don’t know if they believed so readily because it was what they were hoping and praying for or if they recognized the source within their own spirits. Did they grab hold of this message because it rang true in their hearts?
Whatever the reason, they wanted to know their part in it and what was expected of them. No doubt was found in their hearts, only a desire to follow ALL the rules to make sure the prophecy came true. No desire for fleece laying. No asking for a sign. But when they were finally given an unexpected sign they were CERTAIN of Who had sent them this message.
I wonder if they looked back at this encounter and drew strength on the tough days. Did the certainty of their visit give them strength when their son tested their boundaries? Did they “treasure these things in their heart” like Mary would? I wonder if they ever had any “doubt” days.
I would LOVE to feel this CERTAINTY with the things in my life. Even when I think I’m certain I still bump into doubts. Father God, I want to KNOW I’m walking in Your ways. I want to have my spirit cry out YES and AMEN when it encounters the things You have for me to do. Help me hold onto what YOU have told me and SHUT DOUBT OUT!