Judges Part Two Dive
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR GOES TO...
When I read the Bible, I like to look beyond the main story, the main characters and find the person that God has put in there to surprise us. At times these people can be overlooked in the big scheme of things but God has called these faithful people and put their story into the Bible to show us, that every story matters if you take the time to hear it and learn from it.
I know you are probably expecting a Dive on Samson, or Deborah or Gideon but you know us here at TYB we are all about you thinking outside the box in your study of the Bible, so in this Dive for the book of Judges I want to highlight, Manoah and his wife, Samson's mum and dad. We can overlook this seemingly insignificant couple, I mean the main person we want to focus in on is Samson, right? No! Let me show you the treasures found in noticing the “best-supporting actors” when you read your Bible.
We meet Manoah and his wife in chapter 13, right in the middle where you are getting really frustrated at the cycle of sin of the Israelite people. Notice when these people lived,
13:1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
They lived in an evil generation and they had been in that evil for 40 years, so probably for their whole lives. Now the book introduces their story and it is a sad situation, Manoah had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. It is a statement of fact, and the author of Judges gives us no more detail than that their situation was dire. In the Ancient Near East, if you were barren, it meant that you had no-one to give your inheritance to, it meant that you would need to take care of yourself when you were older. But without hesitation the author begins this incredible account of this couple and the Angel of the Lord. Now remember when the Bible talks about the Angel of the Lord we know that this is either an appearance of Father God himself or Jesus dropping into the Old Testament to see what is going on. How cool is that? This seemingly insignificant couple were so honoured by God that he dropped in on them to give them a message himself. He didn’t just send an angel; it says THE Angel of the Lord. When was the last time the Angel of the Lord or any angel for that matter dropped in on you? This is incredible. And especially when they are in this time of evil.
In contrast to everyone else in the story of Judges, we have this beautiful couple that has an encounter with God in the midst of an evil generation, and they are diligently obedient. When everyone was doing what they saw fit to do, this beautiful couple did what God told them to do. I love that! No matter what your circumstances are, no matter what everyone else around you is doing God can drop into your situation and change your life forever!
Now the conversations between the angel and the wife are quite funny – he states the obvious and then tells her that she is going to give birth to a son but not only that, he gives her food instructions while she is pregnant. No fermented drink or anything unclean. And the boy will never cut his hair as he is a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb.
In Numbers 6 we are introduced to the term Nazirite. Jump back to Numbers 6 and let’s have a look at what this means. Read it from 6:1–21, it is an incredible life and one that opens up the life of Samson on a whole different level and lets us in on why his hair was so important.
Now the Cultural Background Study Bible explains this a little more:
Restrictions for the Nazirite are more stringent than those for the priest; the priest need only refrain from fermented beverage during his period of service in the sanctuary, the Nazirite must abstain from all vineyard products at all times.
The visible distinctiveness of allowing the hair to grow long and remain uncut for the duration of the vow (Number 6:5) set the Nazirite apart from societal norms.
The Nazirite vow was about being set apart for the call of God. His long hair showed everyone in his community that he was under the agreement with God, you could tell from the moment you saw him that he was a Nazirite. I love that it wasn’t the hair that had the power, as some people seem to think, it was the agreement and vow that the hair symbolised that gave him the power. I love Judges 16:22, But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. With God, it is never too late, and it is never over. God can redeem any situation. Anyway, let’s get back to mum and dad.
This beautiful couple is so diligent in their duty to have this baby and do all that the "man of God, who looked like an angel of God, very awesome." (13:6) says to them that the husband asks God to send him back. It’s really such a great prayer 13:8 “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Oh, I love these two, in a time when everyone else couldn’t care less what God was saying, these two are so grateful for the gift that God is about to give them that he asks the angel to come back so they can learn how to bring the boy up. This couple is in direct contrast to their society around them, and God honours their prayers. In 13:9 it says “God heard Manoah, and the Angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field;”
One more thing I want to highlight about the best-supporting actors in this story is 13:12 Manoah is about to come face to face with his answer to prayer, the angel has come back to visit as he asked and but he didn’t approach the man with doubt, or questions, he approached the man with a statement of faith “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?”
This dad didn’t question what the angel said, he came to him with great faith and knowing that what he said would come to pass; he wanted to know more details about when it does come to pass, give me some further instructions so I can ensure that I do this well!! I love these two, Samson's mum and dad are the best!
They had the faith to believe that what this man (at this stage they didn’t know it was an angel – look at 13:16 “Manoah did not realise that it was the Angel of the Lord.”) said would come to pass. On this obedience and faith, God grants them the promise and reveals himself to them. In a life and community that was doing evil in the eyes of the Lord, the simple faith and obedience of this couple calls God to answer their prayers to see him again, gives them the instructions that they are longing for, and then reveals himself to them as God.
We don’t have to go the way our society is going. We don’t have to follow the crowd; we are called like these two to live a life that is different, set apart and faith-filled.
As you read your Bible, don’t miss the 'support actors' that make the story come alive. Samson goes on to be the most diverse character in the book of Judges, and he does lead Israel for 20 years and dies killing more Philistines than when he lived. But it was the faithfulness of his mum and dad that gave him his power; it was the covenant vow that they made from the time he was in the womb that allowed him to grow in the Spirit of the Lord. (13:24-25). You have no idea what your faithfulness is doing not just for you but also for the next generation to follow in your footsteps. You may feel like a support act for others but God sees you and will visit and change your life and what you are doing will have an incredible impact not only in your life but the lives to come after you! Keep Going!