Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

6 September 2005

Manoah

Judges 13, 14

 

 

 

Samson was one of the last judges to appear in Israel.

 

Despite the fact that he was gifted with extraordinary physical strength, Samson was morally and spiritually weak.

 

His feud with the Philistines, who dominated the Israelites during his lifetime, was rooted in personal hostility rather than a desire to free his people.

 

Although Samson killed many Philistines during his lifetime, he never won freedom from oppression for his people.


It is clear from the story in Judges that Samson’s flaws were his own and cannot be traced back to worldly and godless living by his parent’s.

 

Both parents are portrayed as godly and good persons who did their best to respond to God and give their son guidance.


Oddly enough, I believe it’s Samson’s mother who was the more level headed and perhaps strongest, spiritually in the family.

 

It’s from her that I hope we can gain some important lessons.

I’ll begin today’s lesson by giving you the Historical Background:

Much has happened in the lives of God’s people after their conquest of Canaan.

 

They have been on a “roller coaster” in terms of their relationship with God.

 

They do evil in the sight of the Lord, God punishes them by delivering them into the hands of an enemy, they beg for a deliverer, and God’s sends one in the form of a judge.

 

Not much has changed as we begin our study here in Judges 13:

Vs. 1: "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.”

The Philistines had been enemies of God’s people for some time now and will continue to be for years to come.

 

They were not conquered and destroyed during the conquest of Canaan by Joshua (cf. Joshua 3:1-2).

 

In fact, five cities, belonging to the Philistines were left and they formed a centralized government to make war against Israel. 

 

God tested Israel through their struggle with the Philistines, and He encourage them to trust Him for victory.  

 

Some of the Israelites were not around when Joshua led Israel on their conquest of Canaan. 

 

They were not familiar with warfare, and therefore those nations that remained in the land would teach them and subsequent generations of Israelites the art of warfare.  

 

After Joshua’s death, we see the Israelites continuing to conquer Canaan; however, they didn’t completely destroy these people, rather they allowed them to live among them (cf. Judges 1).

 

The Philistines, therefore, served the purpose of testing Israel.

Vs. 2: “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children.” 

 

Manoah and family were Danites (from the tribe of Dan) living in Zorah—a city of Dan which was about 13 miles west of Jerusalem, on the border of Judah.

 

Manoah’s wife was barren and therefore there were no children.

 

We are not told if she couldn’t have children, or if they were just waiting.

 

But it wasn’t customary at that time to put off child birth, and so I would suspect she couldn’t have children.

 

She obviously has been selected by God to carry out His will.

 

I believe there are 2 lessons for us to learn from Manoah and his wife.

Lesson 1 - We must always stand ready to serve God.

 

Vs. 3: “And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son.”

Notice that the angel didn’t appear to Manoah; instead he appeared to his wife directly.

 

Why?

 

I believe Manoah’s wife was stronger spiritually than Manoah himself.

 

Vs. 8: “Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.”

 

Notice, that after she tells her husband of her encounter with the angel, he asks for the angel to come back and give them further instructions.

 

Vs 9: “And God listened to the voice of Manoah, 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.”

God honored Manoah’s request, and the angel is sent back, but to whom does it appear?

 

The wife.

So, what’s the point?

 

I believe these brief Biblical facts teach us something about Manoah’s wife’s spiritual character.

 

I believe she was a godly, obedient, spiritual woman who stood ready to serve God when ever the call came.


Would God have chosen a woman with any less character to do His will in this situation?

 

I don’t think so.

 

Would God have chosen a woman who was weak spiritually to raise this “deliverer” of Israel?

 

I don’t think so.

What about us today?

 

Should we stand ready to serve God?

 

We certainly should!

 

Of course, we shouldn’t expect a visit from an angel with a similar message, but we have opportunities every day to serve God in many ways.

 

Paul told the Ephesians to, "make the most of every opportunity" (NIV—Eph 5:16).

 

How are some of the ways we stand ready to serve God?

 

  1. We have to be strong spiritually!

 

Do you think God opens as many doors of opportunity for a spiritually weak person?

 

I don’t think so.

 

There won’t be much accomplished by those who lack the faith to follow God’s leading.

 

  1. We have to put God first in our lives!

 

Jesus told us to "seek ye first the kingdom of God…" (Matt. 6:33).

 

Paul gave good advice when he said, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…" (Col 3:17).

 

How many times have people missed opportunities to serve God by allowing other “worldly things” to get in the way?

 

  1. We have to be well equipped!

 

Manoah’s wife was equipped with the spiritual knowledge she needed to carry out her task.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

Listen to verse 5: "the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb."

 

Had Manoah’s wife not been a spiritual woman, well versed in God’s Word, she wouldn’t have had the knowledge to carry out this vow—she might not even have known what the vow of a Nazarite was.

 

The particular’s regarding this vow is outlined in Numbers 6:1-21.

 

Briefly the vow of a Nazarite involved 4 things:

 

  • They were not to touch anything dead.

 

  • They were not to drink wine or strong drink.

 

  • They were not to cut their hair.

 

  • (Most important)  Through out their life, they were to be dedicated to the Lord.

 

It’s important to note that this vow started from the womb, meaning that she had to live by it herself!

 

She had to live like a Nazarite for the nine months that she carried Sampson.

 

What’s the point for us today?

 

How can anyone carry out God’s will if they are not students of His Word?

 

We must be active students of God’s Word, standing ready to serve!

 

Lesson 2 - We must be obedient to God’s will, regardless of what we might think of it!

 

The next three verses tell us:

 

1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

The text tells us that Samson’s parents tried to counsel him against seeking a wife among the Philistines when Samson saw the woman he desired.

 

It’s clear that the parents were in agreement in urging Samson to marry an Israelite.

 

However, Samson was now an adult who was guided by his passions, rather than wisdom or by respect for his parents.

 

I believe Samson’s mother did her best to follow the instructions God gave her.

 

Yet Samson made choices that she advised against.

 

Samson’s choices in women ultimately caused his downfall and death.


What’s our lesson here?

 

I think there is a hard lesson here, one that we often fail to realize or teach.

 

Parents may teach their children to love and honor God; however, when they become adults they make and are responsible for their own decisions.

 

They must decide whether they will heed their parent’s guidance or not.


Don’t get me wrong here; I’m not advocating any other course of action regarding the rearing of a child.

 

I believe it is crucial to raise our children in strong Christian homes where Christian living and values are strongly taught and adhered to.

 

The point I’m making is, just like the case here with Samson, even though at times, when we as parents have done our best, our kids may still make the wrong choice!


We can offer advice and pray for our children, but they are young adults, and we can’t choose for them.

 

Often we will need the strength to live with things we can’t change and to have faith in the God who works in all things for our good.


I’m reminded of a Psalm written by Solomon: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth" (Ps. 127:3-4).

 

What’s the point here?

 

Children need youthful guidance, much like a bowman making a shot.

 

Without guidance, the arrow may miss the mark badly.

 

However, even with proper guidance, once the arrow leaves the bow, there is no guarantee it will hit the target.

 

We as parents, like the bowman, must do our best to aim the arrow in the right direction, and to ensure proper release, and then the rest is in their hands!

Summary:

 

Manoah’s wife was a special person from whom we can learn several valuable lessons.

 

She was, without a doubt, a spiritually strong woman who stood ready and well equipped to serve God.

 

Likewise, she was a very obedient women who carried out God’s will without doubt, questions, or criticism.

 

She certainly has godly characteristics which we all should model.

 

Yet, perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from her surrounds the disappointing choices our children often make.

 

The Bible is full of sons and daughter’s of godly men and women who made poor choices.

 

The world we live in today is equally full of children raised by good, Christian parents who make poor choices regarding how they live their life.

 

Should we blame ourselves?

 

Not necessarily.

 

Should we give up on them?

 

By no means!

 

Samson, in the end, I believe made his mother proud.

 

He humbled himself, and made one final request to God, one that God granted.

 

Samson today is viewed as a Bible hero, not an unruly child.

 

If our children make poor choices, we must remain strong in the faith and prayerful that God will grant us one final request!

 

Friends, no matter how much your children disappoint you, never give up on them. 

 

Keep praying for them and continue to reach out to them. 

 

Our example in this is our God. 

 

Don’t you think we disappoint Him? 

 

We must! 

 

But does He kick you out of His family? 

 

Certainly not! 

 

He patiently deals with your heart, until you realize you need forgiveness and come back to Him, just as you are; not perfect, just forgiven. 

 

The hymn writer may have said it best:

 

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

 

Remember the 2 lessons that Manoah’s wife wants to teach us by her example:

 

Lesson 1 - We must always stand ready to serve God.

 

Lesson 2 - We must be obedient to God’s will, regardless of what we might think of it!


 

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