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JUDGES 13:1-14:20
Series:  Heroes of Faith - Part Six

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 7, 2005

Please turn with me to Judges 13.  For the next three Sundays - as we’re looking at Heroes of Faith - for the next three Sundays we’re going to be looking at Samson.  As you’re turning to Judges 13, I’d like to catch us up to where we are in the book of Judges - then - as we’ve been doing each Sunday - we’ll go through the passage - then talk about some application to our lives.

By the way - last Sunday we went through 3 chapters and 40 plus verses.  Today we’re only going through 2 chapters and 45 verses.  So you can relax your grip on the safety bar.  Just keep your hands and feet inside the sanctuary until the sermon has come to a complete stop. 

Jephthah - remember him from last Sunday?  After Jephthah defeated the Ammonites Jephthah judged Israel for 6 years.  During that time there was a really bloody civil war - 42,000 Ephraimites are killed.  God’s people killing God’s people.  Then there’s a series of minor judges.  Minor because why?  Because they’re not major.  Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon - who we really don’t know a whole about.  Except that between them they judged Israel for 25 years.

Which brings us to 13:1. 
Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.  There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.  Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.  Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing.  For behold you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Let’s pause there. 
There are three things here that are important for us to notice.

- verse 1 is the beginning of the seventh time through the cycle of sin.  Remember this?  God’s people turning away from God.  God allowing His people to be oppressed - in this case by the Philistines. 

If you’ve been with us for a while - what’s the next step in the cycle?  God’s people crying out to God for deliverance.  Did you see that here?  Looking at how this seventh cycle begins its important to see that God’s people have never cried out to God.  This is how far God’s people have slid into sin.

At the beginning of Judges - the first time through the cycle - the people are crying out to God.  Then last Sunday - remember with Jephthah  - the people cried out to God for deliverance.  But it wasn’t sincere repentance.  They only wanted to avoid the consequences of their sin - not to really open their lives to God.

Here in chapter 13 - there’s not even a pretense of repenting.  The point being that God’s people are so far away from God that they aren’t even looking to God for deliverance.

- we need to notice the situation of Manoah’s wife.

Manoah and his wife are living in Hawaii.  Well, sounds kind of Hawaiian doesn't it?  Manoah?  Manoah and his wife are living in the region of Dan.  Dan is out on the coast in Philistine occupied Israel.  Meaning that Mr. and Mrs. Manoah are getting the brunt of the oppression.  God sends an angel to the wife of Manoah - who hasn’t been able to bear children - the angel tells her that she’s going to be the mother of Israel’s deliverer.

That’s significant.  In Scripture God purposefully uses children born to barren women to let His people know that something really special is going on.  In Scripture when we see someone childless having a child we need to think to our self,
“Self, God is doing something really important here.  Don’t miss it.”

The point being that God is at work here.  Pay attention.

- there are these unusual Nazirite instructions.

Normally, if someone loved God - wanted to draw closer to Him - they might make a Nazirite vow.  Which meant that they wouldn’t touch a dead body or something unclean.  They abstained from beer or anything produced from grapes - raisins - wine.  And, for as long as they were keeping their vow they wouldn’t cut their hair - outward reminders of what God was doing inside the person.

A person made a choice - for a period of time - to do those things that would help them deepen their relationship with God.

But here there’s no personal taking of the vow.  Its God who’s doing a God thing - in the life of His people - in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Manoah.  From before birth until he dies this child is God’s.

The point being that this unique child is born for God’s special purposes.

Going on - verse 6 - hang onto your safety bar: 
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome.  And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.  But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”  Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.”  God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her.  So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me.”  Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?”  And he said, “I am.”  Manoah said, “Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”  So the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention all that I said.  She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.”  Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you.”  The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.”  For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.  Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?”  But the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”  So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the Lord, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on.  For it came about when the flame went up; from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar.  When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.  Now the angel of the Lord did not appear to Manoah or his wife again.  Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord.  So Manoah said to his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God.”  But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.”

Let’s pause there. 
There are two things that we need to grab onto here.

- the identity of the angel.

Manoah offers to bar-b-que a goat for the angel.  Some of that great Hebrew hospitality.  When in doubt - serve food.  In verse 16 - the angel refuses the food.  But, asks for a burnt offering - worship.  Worship is a God thing.

When Manoah asks the angel what his name is - in verse 18, the angel says,
“Wonderful.”  Sound familiar?  Isaiah 9:6:  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us...and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor...”

In verse 20 - Manoah and his wife - after the wonders and the angel going up in flames - Manoah and wife finally get it and fall down in worship. 

In verse 22 - Manoah is very specific,
“We’ve seen God.”  The angel is the preincarnate Jesus.

This is like one of those Star Trek space time continuum paradox things.    Except this is a God thing.  Jesus announcing to a barren woman that she’s going to have a son who’s going to deliver His people.  Think about that.

Nobody is crying out to God.  Not even Mr. and Mrs. Manoah.  Not even for a child.  But God - because of His grace and mercy and love - steps into the lives of His people - right down there with them at the homestead - God comes down to provide for their deliverance.  He comes and speaks lovingly - directly to Manoah and his wife - reassuring them that He is a work - telling them what He is about doing for their deliverance.

Isn’t that a God thing?  Jesus coming.  Dying on the cross for us.  God providing for our spiritual deliverance even before we knew we needed a deliverer.

The point is that despite being rejected by His people - God has not rejected them.  God is with His people - working to deliver them from the Philistines.

- its important for us to notice that Manoah is a few sandwiches shy of a picnic.  Try that together, “Manoah is a few sandwiches shy of a picnic.”

Its significant that Jesus first comes to Mrs. Manoah.  When Mrs. Manoah tells Manoah what happened - what Jesus said - Manoah doesn’t seem to understand.  He asks God to send the angel back.  When Jesus comes back Manoah asks,
“What kind of life is the boy suppose to have.  What kind of work will he do?”

What part of Nazirite did you not understand?  Somehow Manoah isn’t getting this.

In verse 13 Jesus tells Manoah,
“Manoah, its okay.  Don’t worry about it.  Just let your wife do what I tell her to do.” 

In verse 22 - when Manoah says,
“God’s going to kill us.”  Its Mrs. Manoah who says, “Manoah.  If He wanted to kill us we be dead already.”  She really is the brains of the operation. 

The bottom line is that - unfortunately - because Manoah’s elevator doesn’t reach the top floor - his wife has taken over the home.

Verse 24: 
Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson;

God told Hagar - call him Ishmael.  Directed Abraham - name him Isaac.  God tells Zacharias - name the boy John.  God tells Mary - tells Joseph - name the baby Jesus.  Unique birth after unique birth in Scripture - where God is doing something significant through the life of a child - God telling the parents what to name the child.

Who gives Samson his name?  Mrs. Manoah - the brains of the operation.

Samson means “Sun” - s-u-n.  Or “brightness.”  Not exactly a manly man’s name that a father might give.  Jephthah - “Mighty man of valor” - that’s a manly man’s name.  “Brightness” is the kind of name a mother - captivated by the uniqueness and potential of her son - a smothering - domineering - doting mother might give her boy - the wonder child promised by God.  Brightness in our home.  The shining star of our people.  Samson is momma’s boy.

Share that with the person next to you,
“He’s momma’s boy.”

Verse 24: 
Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the Lord blessed him.  And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Notice - despite the dysfunctional family background - God blesses Samson.  God has a purpose.  God is working in the lives of His people.  Samson is God’s designated deliverer.

Chapter 14: 
Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines.  So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.”

That’s custom.  The parents - or a yenta - someone who arranges the marriage - makes the introductions - arranges for a meeting with the parents - the boys parents cough up a few chickens and a goat - and there you go - you’re married.  What’s not good is that she’s a Philistine.

Verse 3: 
Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”  But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”

Samson has no clue what a partnership of a Godly husband and wife - what Godly marriage looks like.  He’s got Manoah and wife as an example.  Wives are objects of lust.  Husbands are idiots. 
“She looks good.  I’m in lust.  Get her.”

Verse 4: 
However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines,.  Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.

When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land God told them,
“Don’t intermarry with the people there.”  God’s people did intermarry and it led to spiritual disaster.  (Deuteronomy 7:3)  At the beginning of Judges - intermarriage was what got God’s people into trouble in the first place (Judges 3:6).  Samson’s parents - even though they “did not know” that God would use this and despite God’s warnings - they went ahead with the marriage anyway.  Because “Brightness” wanted it.   

Verse 5: 
Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold a young lion came roaring toward him.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand - no weapon - but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.  So he went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson.  When he returned later to take her - that’s romantic - when he came back to club her over the head and drag her off by the hair to his cave - he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion.  So he scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went.  When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.  Then his father went down to the woman; and Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this.  When they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him.

An Armenian immigrant knew very little English and was having difficulty finding a job.  One of his friends suggested that he go to the zoo and ask for a maintenance job.  The zoo gave him a job - but not as a maintenance person.  They gave him the job of wearing a bear suit - entering a cage - and entertaining children.  His cage was just above the lion’s cage and - while he was performing his bear antics - he lost his balance and fell into the lion’s cage.

The lion chased him into a corner and he began screaming - afraid the lion would tear him apart.  He shouted in Armenian as the lion got closer to him.  Then the lion whispered to him in Armenian,
“Keep quiet, you fool, or we’ll both lose our jobs.”

Samson takes on this lion and rips it shreds.

Two things to notice here

- Samson takes honey out of the carcass - fear factor stuff.  The carcass - a dead thing and a lion - was unclean.  To touch it was to violate God’s law.  Just like with the marriage - which is totally against God’s law - Samson - as a Nazirite should never have touched the thing (Leviticus 11:27).  Then Samson doesn’t tell his parents - lies to them about the honey.  So they become unclean.  The only person Samson cares about is Samson.

- notice - The Spirit of the Lord gives Samson the strength to kill the lion.  Despite Samson’s disregard for God - God uses Samson.  God is still gracious and merciful.  God is still doing the God thing.

Verse 12: 
Then Samson said to them - these 30 men who came to the wedding feast - “Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.  But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” - valuable gifts - a significant wager.

Notice also the 7 days of feasting.  Wine flowing freely.  Of course Samson - who as a Nazirite wasn’t suppose to touch wine.  Samson never touched a drop.  Yeah.  Right. 

And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.”  So he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweat.”  But they could not tell the riddle in three days.  Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire.  Have you invited us to impoverish us?  Is this not so?”  Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me.”  And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?”  However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted.  And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard.  She then told the riddle to the sons of her people.

Did you see the leaving and cleaving part here?  The two becoming one?  (Genesis 2:24)  Not there.  Mrs. Samson who values her family more than her husband.  Samson who values his parents more than his wife.  Mrs. Samson whining to get her way.  Samson - the bright boy who is as dim a bulb as his father - Samson giving over leadership in the home to his wife.  He’s married mother and another dysfunctional family is born.

Verse 18: 
So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey?  And what is stronger than a lion?”  And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.”

Isn’t that a great line? 
“You all plowed with my heifer.”  “You used my wife.  The old heifer.”  Such love.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle
- paid off his debt.  And his anger burned and he went up to his father’s house.  But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.  Lucky guy.

Once again the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson.  God bails him out of another ridiculous situation.

Two thoughts of application.  First: 
The Importance of Honesty.  Try that with me, “The importance of honesty.”

Steve Zeisler calls Samson,
“The Mike Tyson of the ancient world.”

Jesus foretold his birth.  He is uniquely set-apart by God for God’s purposes.  And yet, with so much going for him - all the other judges achieve so much more with so much less.

The child deliverer is this wild out of control passive/aggressive self-centered momma’s boy who’s enticed by things Philistine - the women - the parties - the culture.  His life is controlled by what is around him rather than God.  He lives as an ungodly man with little - if any - regard for the things of God.

It is important for us to understand that Samson - while used of God - while in touch with God - with long Nazirite hair flowing - even looks Godly - Samson has never really honestly opened himself up to God.

How easy it is for us to go along - occasionally experiencing the movement of the Spirit in our lives - to know God’s promises - to experience God’s deliverance - to be used by God - share outward rituals of our faith - even communion.  But we only allow God to go so far.  We indulge our appetite for sin.  To be controlled by our own self will or the influences of what’s around us.  We’re reckless - self-destructive.  Never really allowing the fullness of who God is to penetrate into the depths of our hearts and to fulfill the potential that God has uniquely created us for.

That’s hard to hear.  But, can we be honest together?  There’s a lot of Samson in each of us.

Second thought: 
The Importance of what?  Trusting God.  Every Sunday we seem to keep coming back to this.  Try that with me, “The importance of trusting God.”

Remember Bob Dylan?  Slow Train Coming?

You might be the Ambassador to England or France;

You might like to gamble, you might like to dance;
You might be the heavyweight champion of the world;
You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls,
But whatever way it goes, you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it might be the devil, or it might be the Lord,
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

That’s the bottom line isn’t it?  We all serve somebody.  We all have choices.  Who to serve.  Who has control over our hearts.

Despite ourselves God is so gracious to us - when we mess up and wander off into sin.  He reaches into our lives - frees - upholds - heals.  Time and time again He demonstrates that He really does love us.  That He desires to bless us.  To do for us and in us what is really for our best.  To use us significantly - for the purposes He created us.  Isn’t the better choice to give ourselves completely over to God?


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.