Are You Leading Your Family?

“For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:5

Last week, we discussed key themes in Samson’s life. We will now shift to focusing on the home of Manoah and his unnamed wife. Manoah is “of the tribe of the Danites,” and Dan means “judge.” Manoah and his wife seem like a very typical couple in their day, with one exception: The wife was barren, like Sarah before her and Elizabeth after her, and unable to bear a son. The woman’s barrenness reflects the nation, as both are fruitless and without a future apart from a divine miracle.

A Bible journal says:

The story of Samson begins with a clear focus on the theme of the family. The reader is introduced in Judges 13 to a godly family and expects that the outcome of this judge will be better than those in the past. Unlike all the other judges Samson was marked out as God’s chosen instrument before he was born. The story of his birth ‘is a particularly elaborate version of the [annunciation] type-scene.’ This circumstance alone places the birth of Samson in line with the patriarchal families of Isaac, who was born of Sarah (Gen. 18), Jacob, who was born of Rebekah (Gen. 25), and Joseph, who was born of Rachel (Gen. 30). In addition Samson’s mother was given the message by ‘the angel of the Lord’ (Judg. 13:3), who had come to Gideon also (6:11). The beginning scenes in Samson’s family hold promise for a great change about to come with the final judge. The scenes, however, present some subtle problems. (1)

Without being asked, Jesus Christ came down from Heaven as “the angel of the Lord,” which means “messenger,” and reveals Himself as the Word of God. Jesus promises her that she will give birth to a son. Jesus then orders her to raise him as a “Nazirite to God from the womb … to the day of his death,” because he will grow up and “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

The woman reported all of this to her husband, with a few curious omissions. A Bible journal says:

When Manoah’s wife reported her experience to her husband, she focused on the angel’s dietary instructions. She omitted the prohibition about cutting the child’s hair (perhaps this was assumed on the basis of his identification as a Nazirite; cf. v. 7b), and, more importantly, she failed to say anything about his future military role. The latter omission is of great significance. Samson’s mother failed to communicate what was most important – her son’s divinely appointed destiny. Her response to the angel’s message foreshadows Israel’s failure to recognize Samson as their God-given deliverer and Samson’s own confusion about his role in life. (2)

Samson’s father then prayed, asking God for help in raising this promised son. A Bible dictionary says, “Three prayers rise to heaven in the raucous story, one generated by Manoah, Samson’s father, and the other two by the warrior-judge in dire circumstances.” (3)

God heard Manoah’s prayer, and Jesus returned yet again. The woman left the field and ran to the house to summon her husband to join her in their meeting with Jesus! Manoah appears to be quite dull in contrast to his more discerning wife. He asks God in prayer how to raise the child, even though Jesus had already told them. He offers to feed Jesus, but Jesus tells him to instead offer a sacrifice to the Lord in worship. Through it all, Manoah does not recognize that it is Jesus who has visited him from Heaven, even though Jesus said his name was “wonderful,” which God later echoed saying of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful…”)

A Bible commentary says of Manoah’s poor leadership and lack of spiritual discernment:

Although Manoah seems to have had a great interest in the angel and his message, apparently the pervading spiritual weakness among Israelite men had invaded this home also. That the narrator intended this to be the picture is borne out in several ways. First, the angel came directly to Manoah’s wife twice, and in the second appearance she needed to lead her husband back to meet the angel (v. 11). Second, Manoah is presented as a skeptical person, asking the angel many questions, which are not answered. Instead the angel referred Manoah to the information that was already given to his wife. She was given the more complete set of instructions. Manoah appears here like Gideon. It was difficult for him to accept the message of God and he wanted further clarification. In contrast to Manoah, his wife seemed content with the message and with the messenger (v. 6). Third, the focus is on the wife in the angel’s instructions and how she is to act in preparation for the coming of their son. If any instructions are given to Manoah, it could be said that he was to help his wife keep the rules (vv. 13–14). Fourth, though Manoah was certain that they would die for having seen an angel of the Lord, his wife was more astute and gave a reasoned response to their situation (vv. 21–23). Her response demonstrates her understanding of God and His ways. Fifth, Manoah’s wife, not Manoah, named Samson (v. 24). (4)

The Bible journal goes on to say:

While it might seem that Manoah’s wife is marginalized by her name not being mentioned, it may be that the narrator intended Manoah’s wife, like Jephthah’s unnamed daughter, to represent many women in Israel. God had picked a good home for the birth of the next judge, but even a good home in Israel had serious problems. Manoah’s spiritual awareness and reaction is slow. His wife outshines him in every regard. Questions worth pondering are these: How many other homes in Israel during the period of the judges are represented by this example? How did the lack of central spiritual leadership affect families, and how did the lack of leadership in families contribute to the spiritual chaos in the nation? (5)

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s devotional as we look at the Nazirite vow proclaimed over Samson’s life. 

Samson’s parents were godly compared to everyone else in their day, even though his father was a bit less discerning and more passive, while his mother was more astute and activated. What were your family and home dynamics like growing up?

1.    Michael J. Smith., “The Failure of the Family in Judges, Part 2: Samson,” op. cit., 425.

2.    Ibid., 150–151.

3.    James L. Crenshaw, “Samson (Person),” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary(New York: Doubleday, 1992), 951.

4.    Block, Judges, Ruth, 387–99; and Yairah Amit, “ ‘Manoah Promptly Followed His Wife’ (Judges 13.11): On the Place of the Woman in Birth Narratives,” in Judges: A Feminist Companion to the Bible, 146–56.

5.    Michael J. Smith., “The Failure of the Family in Judges, Part 2: Samson,” op. cit., 427-429.

Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt out or HELP for help. Visit for privacy and terms info.