Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 10 2019 - Judges 13 – The birth of Samson

The Philistines were a seafaring people who migrated from Greece to the coastal area of the Promised Land after the time of the conquest. They do not seem to have oppressed the Israelites as the Midianites had done, at least, not during this period of Israel's history. Rather, they seemed to have been willing to live alongside them and intermarry with them. The danger for Israel was that the Philistines might dominate the land and that Israel might become assimilated into Philistine culture. With Samson, the fight back against the Philistine invasion begins.

The angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, a woman who had been unable to have children. He promised her that she would give birth to a son who would be a special child; he is to be a Nazirite, one whose life was to be entirely devoted to God. Two of the marks of a Nazirite were abstinence from alcohol and leaving one's hair uncut. Samson's mother was therefore to abstain from alcohol while pregnant with this child – his body will not be touched by alcohol even in the womb. God plans to make this child the one who will begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines. 

As she recounted to her husband what had happened to her she described her visitor as "a man of God" whom she said looked like an angel. Manoah found it difficult to believe what his wife was telling him; he needed to hear it for himself. So he prayed that the "man" would visit them again. And that's just what happened. When Manoah asked the angel to tell him how the child was to be brought up, the answer he receives is, "Your wife must do all that I have told her." In other words, all that they need to know has already been told his them. The angel's words seem almost a rebuke, "Why did you not believe what your wife said to you?"

When Manoah sacrificed a young goat and some grain to the Lord in the presence of the "man of God", "the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame." Manoah now realised that this "man" had been none other than "the angel of the Lord" – the Lord himself appearing in human form. Manoah is terrified and cries out to his wife, "We are doomed to die! … We have seen God!" His wife, in effect, tells him not to be so silly, God would not have revealed these things to them just to kill them.

There seems to be nothing very special or promising about this couple from the tribe of Dan. But God plans to use them to be the parents of a child who will become the champion of his people in their conflict with the Philistines. We read that from the moment this child, Samson, was born, the Spirit of the Lord was at work in him, preparing him for his life's work.

This chapter provides us with quite a build-up to the story of this a child of promise, but how will Samson live up to the calling of God upon his life? We shall soon discover in the following chapters.

We are probably all too aware that there is nothing very special about us. Nevertheless, we have a special Saviour who is the child of promise, the Lord God himself who came among us in human form. He did not come to destroy us but to bring us promises from God and to bless us. God has chosen us not because of any qualities in us but in order that he might display his grace and mercy in making us his own and in using us in his service. He has given us his Spirit to enable us to hear and respond to his call upon our lives – that we might be dedicated to God's service.

Father God, we stand amazed at your goodness and mercy. We thank you for your Son, our Saviour, in whom all your promises are given the "Yes" and "Amen". We thank you that he who came to live among us has ascended into heaven and is at your right hand interceding for us. We thank you for your Holy Spirit who has shown us the glory of Christ and led us to faith in him. Help us by that same Spirit always to be obedient to your call upon our lives.

Peter Misselbrook