Judges 13 – The Birth of Samson
A. The Angel of the Lord announces the birth of Samson to Manoah’s wife.
1. (1) Life in Israel at the time of Samson’s birth.
Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
a. Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: The cycle of sin, bondage, repentance, deliverance, blessing, and sin again continued in the history of Israel. Into these times was born the next judge of Israel, Samson. In this sense Samson was truly a man of his times. He was a study in contrasts; a man of great strengths and great weaknesses. In this, he was a picture of Israel’s history both during this period and generally; a picture of great heights and deep lows.
i. Samson is also an important example of unfulfilled potential. Though he did great things for God, it is staggering to consider what he might have done and been for God.
ii. “We have one of the strangest stories of the Old Testament, the story of Samson. It is the story of a great opportunity and a disastrous failure in the case of a man who might have wrought a great deliverance but failed.” (Morgan)
b. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines: Because of Israel’s sin and rebellion, God gained their attention again by bringing them into subjugation to the Philistines.
2. (2-3) The Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah’s wife.
Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.”
a. A certain man from Zorah: The town of Zorah is about 14 miles [22.5 kilometers] west of Jerusalem. It was in the land of the tribe of Dan.
b. And the Angel of the Lord appeared: From the rest of the chapter, we see that we should regard this Angel as no mere angel. As seen before in the Book of Judges (Judges 2:1-5 and 6:11-24), this was Jesus on a special mission, appearing as a man before His incarnation in Bethlehem.
c. You are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son: This promise came as a great blessing to this woman burdened by childlessness.
3. (4-5) Special instructions regarding the child to come.
“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.”
a. The child shall be a Nazirite to God: Numbers 6:1-21 describes the vow of a Nazirite. When under the vow, people regarded themselves as specially devoted to God, leaving their hair uncut, drinking no wine and eating no grape products, and avoiding any contact with anything dead.
b. From the womb: There was nothing particularly unusual about someone taking the vow of a Nazirite for a specific period of time. What was unusual in Samson’s case was that he was to live under the vow from his birth, and that his vow was intended to be a lifetime vow.
c. Please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean: Manoah’s wife also had to share in the Nazirite vow during the time she carried Samson.
d. He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines: “There is almost a weird suggestiveness in the phrase used by the angel concerning him, ‘He shall begin to save Israel.’ His ultimate failure was as certainly foreknown as was his opportunity.” (Morgan)
4. (6-7) Manoah’s wife reports the appearance of the Angel of the Lord to her husband.
So the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name. And He said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’“
a. A Man of God came to me: This indicates that the Angel of the Lord appearing to Manoah’s wife generally appeared to be a Man; yet His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God.
b. I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name: This shows the profound impact the appearance of the Man of God had upon Manoah’s wife. He was very awesome; so much so that she did not ask questions about where He was from or what His name was.
B. The Angel of the Lord announces the birth of Samson to Manoah.
1. (8-14) The Angel of the Lord reconfirms the words spoken before.
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” 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!” So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, “Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.” Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?” So the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.”
a. Please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born: Manoah already knew what God wanted him to do because the Angel of the Lord already told him. Here he asked for confirmation of the word previously spoken.
b. What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work? God honored Manoah’s request for confirmation; but He did not answer this request to know the future. He simply called Manoah and his wife to obey what God already told them to do.
2. (15-18) Manoah offers the Angel of the Lord a meal; the Angel of the Lord will only accept an offering.
Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.” And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the Lord.) Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?” And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”
a. I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord: Here, the Angel of the Lord showed Himself to be God, in the sense that He did not need a meal but would accept a sacrificial offering made unto the Lord.
b. Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful? Here the Angel of the Lord shows Himself to be Jesus, in taking the name wonderful (Isaiah 9:6).
3. (19-21) The Angel of the Lord displays His authority to Manoah and his wife.
So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on; it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar; 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. When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord.
a. He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on: The Angel of the Lord proved He was wonderful by doing a wondrous thing – ascending in the flame of sacrifice to heaven.
i. “The first remark arising out the story of Manoah and his wife is this – that oftentimes we pray for blessings which will make us tremble when we receive them…A second remark is this-Very frequently deep prostration of spirit is the forerunner of some remarkable blessing.” (Spurgeon)
b. Then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord: For the first time, Manoah and his wife understood that this Person was no mere man or messenger from God. They realized they spoke with God Himself.
4. (22-23) The reaction of Manoah and his wife.
And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because 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 told us such things as these at this time.”
a. We shall surely die, because we have seen God! Manoah perhaps knew what God said to Moses in Exodus 33:20: You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. Manoah feared that because they had just seen the Lord, they would shortly die.
b. If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering: This was a perceptive response from Manoah’s wife. She understood that God had not done so much for them to abandon them now. God’s past work in our life is a promise of His future care and blessing for us.
i. Manoah’s wife was an invaluable source of encouragement for his faith. She didn’t criticize Manoah. She didn’t say, “What a silly man you are. What a stupid man you must be to be so frightened.” We can never strengthen someone’s faith by criticizing. We must do as Manoah’s wife did – encourage them and build faith up.
c. He would not have accepted a burnt offering: The basis of the faith of Manoah’s wife was that she knew that the Lord had accepted their offering to Him. The same principle works for the Christian believer today: If the Lord wanted to do you evil, He would have never accepted an offering on your behalf – the offering of Jesus on the cross.
i. “Brother, if the Lord had meant to destroy us, he would not have shown us our sin, because we were happy enough previously, were we not? In our own poor way we were content enough, and if he did not mean to pardon us, it was not like the Lord to show us our sin, and so to torment us before our time, unless he meant to take it away.” (Spurgeon)
5. (24-25) Samson born, and the Holy Spirit comes upon him.
So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
a. So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson: The promise from the Angel of Lord was fulfilled. It was proven to be true.
b. And the Lord blessed him…And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon Him: This is the source of the great strength we see in Samson later. We usually think of Samson as a man with huge, rippling muscles; but others couldn’t figure out why he was so strong. It is reasonable to think that he did not look very strong. Whether he looked strong or not, it was the Spirit of God who made him strong.
©2013 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission