Manoah Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
“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.”
6 September 2005
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 encourages 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 childbirth, 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 whenever 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.
2. 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?
3. 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) Throughout 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!