Instruction Manuals & Barren Wombs

After continued study on Hezekiah and the Kings before him; which is quite fascinating– to me, I wanted to go backwards and figure out when the life span of people shortened, to try to figure out why. I know I could do various searches and find someone’s brilliant work and how they figured this out, but if I am to be changed, I thought it would be important to know for myself, and to build my faith.

This somehow– I don’t know how these things happen, led me to Manoah. I think it’s really cool that his name has Noah in it, I haven’t looked any deeper into this, but I would like to! 🙂 This is Samson’s dad. As a child, I was only taught about Samson’s great strength, and of course his hair. I didn’t know anything about his parents. Their story is unique. They don’t force God’s hand. They don’t show desperation, or failure overwhelming them, but it would seem they had become content to their life, together; just the two of them. In our contentment God can do so much.

Judges 13 -Our story begins with a barren woman. (There were so many noted barren women in the Bible- I’m verrry curious to find out how many, and how many angels appeared to them too.)

2 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food.[a] 5 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”

Alright. Here we have an angel of the Lord appearing to a barren woman. Again. I love that the Lord, always shows that He is who has given, done or blessed us. He wants us to know, it was Him. He appears and it doesn’t tell us what she thought right then, it doesn’t show that she spoke at all, so I would venture a guess that would agree with what she tells her husband, she was terrified. I would also think, it would be very difficult to maintain the same degree of terror when your hope and dreams are coming out of the angels mouth. You who have probably dreamed for a child for countless years, are now being promised one, and on top of it, a special one. She gets a handbook for parenting. How many of us, wish an angel would have given us just that when we realized we were essentially on our own to raise the child before us.

6 The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’”

I like that the Bible says “ran” so often. While we live in a world where riding in cars and picking up our cell phone is a normalcy, they had to use what God had given them, their feet. I also like that it doesn’t say she was winded. Or exhausted when she got to him. I like to read between the lines. I hope you do too! We also see the womans perspective here, as we are often described as detailed, she proves it. She gives info Manoah doesn’t ask for, because she thinks he wants to know… he might, but chances are, he’s like, “who cares”. She explains that he was terrifying, that she doesn’t know where he came from or his name, and in the most interesting way she expresses to him what is said to her in a shortened way, and she doesn’t give the most important part. She gives the info pertaining to her, but not about their son. She has recorded on her heart what she must do, as all good mother’s attempt to do. She leaves out that his hair must never be cut. I wonder why she left that out? Was it intentional, did she not see the importance, was it something that just slipped her mind?

8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”

Manoah, a seemingly wise man, does what we often forget to do, he says, “Hey I didn’t get all of that the first time and this is brand new info, I mean we have never had a child… and now this one has special instructions accompanied by an angel….call him back”.

9 God answered Manoah’s prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But her husband, Manoah, was not with her. 10 So she quickly ran and told her husband, “The man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”

I always wonder why the angel appears to one person, almost every time. He doesn’t choose a moment when they are together… so unusual. . .and again with the running!

11 Manoah ran back with his wife and asked, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife the other day?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I am.”

12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”

I love Manoah’s response. He doesn’t say, “If”, he says, “when” and he is specific in his questions, this tells me he thought about this, he wanted to know how to raise him as a boy and what to teach him as a man.

13 The angel of the Lord replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. 14 She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”

Now the angel has left out the part about cutting Samson’s hair. He becomes more specific in the area that Manoah asks him about, but doesn’t give this additional info. Now wouldn’t the angel have known that the hair info hadn’t been passed along? I would think he would say, “and by the way… don’t cut his hair… (and don’t ever let him near  scissors when he is 3- a story for another time… ) But no, he says, “ok, the wine thing and forbidden foods… lets go deeper in detail on that…”

15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.”

16 “I will stay,” the angel of the Lord replied, “but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the Lord.” (Manoah didn’t realize it was the angel of the Lord.)

How did he not know he was an angel of the Lord. His wife clearly thought he was terrifying as it must have been an understood thing in their day that angels are scary. Unlike the angels of our day, painted as sweet little babies, instead of fierce warrior ready to set upon the enemies of the Living God.

17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord, “What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you.”

I love it… the man wants the details. “Who are you”, and his wife is standing there thinking… “oh now you want to know something?” just kiddin’

18 “Why do you ask my name?” the angel of the Lord replied. “It is too wonderful for you to understand.”

19 Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to theLord. And as Manoah and his wife watched, the Lord did an amazing thing. 20 As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the Lord ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground.

If we could ever get a true understanding of our God, if we recognized His hand in our lives, we would live face down.

21 The angel did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, 22 and he said to his wife, “We will certainly die, for we have seen God!”

23 But his wife said, “If the Lord were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.”

24 When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the Lord blessed him as he grew up. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.

She was a wise woman, and she was faithful to do just as she was instructed.  Judges 16 shows us something fun and beautiful, this is after Samson’s death.  31 Later his brothers and other relatives went down to get his body. They took him back home and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, where his father, Manoah, was buried. Samson had judged Israel for twenty years. Apparently a once barren womb became a fertile womb.

That is why I serve this true and Living God. He takes the broken, mends it and produces more fruit that I could ever hope to bear on my own. He is God of all. He is ready to do a miracle in your life. Cry out to Him, an Manoah did. Ask for instruction, and clarification on what He needs from you, to accomplish His work!




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