Samson’s story is a popular one. But today I want to talk about his beginning – his birth. Samson’s father was named Manoah, from the tribe of Dan. Let’s not overlook this important point. Dan was one of Jacob’s sons; this one born to Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaiden. Rachel named him.
“And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.” (Gen. 30:6 KJV)
So it’s not surprising that Samson, who was born to be one of the great judges of Israel was born from the tribe of Dan, whose name meant “judge.”
Samson’s mother was barren. She was visited by an angel of the Lord who told her she would have a son who would deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.
(Don’t miss this exciting allusion to Jesus’ birth. Mary was also visited by an angel who told her that she would have a son who would deliver people from their sins.)
The details surrounding the son were not simple.
“Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:4-5 NKJV)
When the angel left, Samson’s mom ran to tell her husband what happened, telling him a man of God visited. Manoah’s response was to pray to God and ask Him to send the man back. He wanted to be sure they raised the son in the proper way and wanted to clarify the instructions. Essentially, he said, “Do it again, Lord!”
And won’t He do it?
“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. Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, “Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!” (Judges 13:9-10 NKJV)
God sent the angel back. Let’s stop here and clap a minute. First let’s clap because haven’t we all been in Manoah’s shoes? God speaks, then we want to please him and so we ask, “Would you come back and do it again?” We want confirmation.
But then I want to clap because God did it! He returned to give the instructions again. God doesn’t want to keep us in darkness. He want us to know how to follow Him and do His will.
This story isn’t over. It just keeps getting richer. Manoah tells the man of God, which we know is an angel of the Lord, to stay while he prepares a meal for him. But the angel say he won’t eat the bread. Instead, He tells Manoah to prepare it as a burnt offering to the Lord. I think Manoah is starting to realize this is no ordinary man because he then asks, “What is thy name?”
This is where I get a little Bible nerdy. The angel responds, “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (v. 18 KJV)
The Hebrew word used for secret here is piliy, which means “wonderful, beyond understanding.” Some Bible versions even substitute the word “wonderful” in place of “secret.” Where have you heard the word “wonderful” in scripture that stands out to you?
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
The Hebrew word for “wonderful” used here in Isaiah is pele, which means “wonder, miracle, astounding thing.” Both piliy and pele come from the root word pala, which means “to be wonderful, be marvelous, be amazing.” Essentially, these words are saying the same thing. But the use of this word in Judges not only alludes to Jesus, it has the “man of God” essentially saying that He is God. Is that not mind blowing to you?
While I have heard Samson’s story many times, it seems I brushed past the foretelling of his birth in earlier readings and missed some treasure in scripture. I’m walking away with three truths from this passage.
1. When we ask God to show up, He does.
2. Jesus has been there from the beginning.
3. Sometimes God Himself is right in front of us.
God, thank you today for your Word. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart to understand and know you more. Help me to see you in action. Do it again, Lord! Amen.