Samson: Parental Guidance
by Sophia Prinsloo with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
“Mom! With the new baby growing inside of you, you're not supposed to drink too much coffee or wear high heels! I'm sure glad you don't drink or smoke, because it could really hurt the baby!” Isabelle said while she was helping her mom in the kitchen with a peppermint crisp tart.
“Where did you get all this from, darling?” Isabelle's mom asked curiously.
“Sharon, my friend at school, told me. Her mom is also going to have a baby just like you and she has a whole list of things not to do. Do you also have a list?” Isabelle asked expectantly.
Her mom smiled and said, “Well, I know all those things by heart. Remember, I had you. You were a strong, healthy baby and, thus far, you've turned out quite nicely, cutie-pie.”
Isabelle giggled and agreed, nodding her head while sampling a large dab of cream from the mixing bowl with her finger, sticking it into her mouth.
“Isabelle!” her mom scolded her playfully, giving her a little swat on her bottom with a kitchen towel as she ducked behind the table, giggling.
As her mom put the tart in the fridge, she said, “You know, when we begin to believe in Jesus, his image starts growing inside us. When we do bad things, we hurt that image of Jesus in us, but when we're obedient and do good things, his image in us can grow healthy and strong. It pleases God very much when we become more and more like Jesus. We do that by reading and doing what his Word says.”
The Lord gave the Israelites many victories over their enemies under the mighty leadership of Joshua and brave judges, such as Gideon, Deborah and Jephthah as they settled in the Promised Land! The mighty presence of God went before them helping them drive out the evil, heathen nations when they remained faithful to the Lord, obeying the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses, and also teaching these rules to their children.
Yet, at times, it made God weep to see the Israelites turn their back on Him and serve idols. It was unbelievable! Over and over, as soon as they would be at peace with the other nations, the Israelites would begin worshipping heathen idols. How foolish they were to step out from under God's protection and freedom, making themselves become slaves of the very nations whose gods they worshipped!
At the time this Bible story took place, God had let the Philistines conquer the Israelites because they had turned to idols. This heathen nation lorded over them for forty years. The evil Philistines lived on the west side of Canaan, along the Mediterranean coast. They were ferocious warriors and not easy to conquer because of their superb combat skills. Worse yet, they were experts in making strong, sharp weapons out of iron. The Israelites appeared helpless before them and knew God alone could rescue them.
In spite of their weakness, the Lord loved the Israelites and was never far away from them because they were his chosen people. He always had a plan to deliver his beloved people from their oppressors, just like his plan of redemption when He sent Jesus to deliver us from sin. However, it would not be a quick fix. In his own time, God worked behind the scenes, setting a plan in motion to begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
In his mercy, the Lord decided to send out his Angel to the city of Zorah, which was situated on the crest of a hill, overlooking the fertile valley of Sorek. The Angel of the Lord was to give a message to a certain woman. She was the wife of a man from the tribe of Dan, whose name was Manoah. Manoah's wife was barren and could not have any children.
In those days, it was a big disgrace to be barren. Having children was considered a great blessing from the Lord. Besides, children always helped with the many chores of ancient living. Manoah and his wife had to work extra hard just to get everything done by themselves.
One day, Manoah's wife was faithfully going about her daily tasks, doing the laundry, grinding wheat on a stone mill for baking bread, milking the cow, and working in the field while singing heartily unto the Lord. Suddenly, to her utter amazement, the glorious Angel of the Lord appeared to her, speaking words that touched her heart deeply.
He said, “You have been barren for so long and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. From now on, you may not drink any wine or beer, or eat any unclean food. When your son is born, you may never cut his hair because he will be a Nazarite, a special servant of God from the time of his birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
In those days, being a Nazarite meant to make a vow before the Lord to be consecrated to Him, not taking any wine or beer, not cutting your hair, and not going near a dead body.
Manoah's wife would gladly give up all those things if she could carry and give birth to an Israelite deliverer! Her excitement at the Angel's promise made her leap for joy and run to Manoah. “MANOAH! MANOAH! Where are you?” she yelled at the top of her voice.
“Here I am! What on earth is going on? Why do you look so...so excited?” he asked her, with a puzzled look on his face.
Still trembling from excitement, her cheeks rosy from the run, Manoah's wife said, “I saw a Man so gloriously awesome but so fearsome too. I didn't ask his Name or where He was from, but it must have been the Angel of the Lord. He told me something extremely wonderful. He said I was going to have a baby boy and that I may not eat unclean meat or drink wine, because this son will be a servant of the living God, a Nazarite. He will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.”
Flustered, Manoah almost couldn't believe his ears but, from the look on his wife's face, he knew she was telling the truth. Feeling very dumb, not knowing how to raise a special child, he fell down on his knees in earnest, heartfelt prayer. He did exactly what the Bible says. It says that we must ask God for wisdom when we need it and He will gladly give it to us if we ask in faith.
So baring his insecure heart before the Lord while seeking wisdom, he pleaded, “Please, Lord! Send the Man of God to us again to teach us and give us instructions about the boy You're going to give us.”
The Lord listened to Manoah's sincere prayer. Again, He sent his Angel to Manoah's wife while she was out alone in the field. When she saw Him, she jumped up and ran to find her husband. “MANOAH! MANOAH! He is here! Come quickly!”
“Who is here?” Manoah asked puzzled.
“JUST COME! Your prayer has been answered! It's the man who came to me last time and told me about the boy,” she exclaimed, catching her breath. “PLEASE HURRY!”
Manoah got up and, with his garments flapping in the wind, he hastily followed his wife to the field where the Man was waiting. When they reached Him, Manoah asked, “Are You the Man who spoke to my wife the other day?”
The Angel of the Lord replied, “Yes, I AM!”
“Sir, when your words come true and we have a baby boy, how should we teach him? How must he live? What must he do?”
The Angel of the Lord patiently told Manoah exactly what He had told his wife earlier. He said, “Everything I told your wife, she must do. She may not eat grapes or any unclean thing, nor drink beer or wine. Like I said, everything that I told her, she must do.”
Manoah realized that they must do just as the Man said. For the rest, they were just going to have to trust the Lord to work out his plan in their future son's life.
Then Manoah politely asked the Man, “Will you wait while we prepare some tender meat for you to eat?”
The Man replied, “I'll wait, but I won't eat your food. If you want to bring a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord.”
Manoah still did not realize it was the Angel of the Lord, so He asked, “What is your Name so that we can honor you when your words come true?”
The Angel of the Lord replied, “Don't ask my Name, because it is a wonderful secret!”
In those days, you were considered to have power over someone if you knew his name and where he came from. No man cam have any power over God, so the Angel of the Lord didn't give his Name to Manoah.
Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a nearby rock as a sacrifice unto the Lord. As the flames from the sacrifice leaped into the sky, the Angel of the Lord did a strange and wonderful thing. Before the very eyes of Manoah and his wife, He rose up through the flames and into the heavens, disappearing from their sight.
Manoah and his wife nearly fainted, falling flat on their faces in the field from pure shock and bewilderment at the miracle. They had never seen such a thing. Only then did Manoah actually believe that the Man was the Angel of the Lord. He yelled fearfully, “Now surely we're going to die because we've seen God!”
But the calm, wise words of his beloved wife comforted him when she said, “My dear husband, if God wanted us dead, why would He have accepted our offering? Why would He have allowed us to see all these wonderful things? And why would He have given us such a promising message to hear with our own ears?”
Just as Manoah's wife said, they did not die. In due time, the promise of the Angel came true when she bore a beautiful, strong, healthy baby boy. Holding him in her arms, they were overcome with joy at the Lord's faithfulness. They they named the child “Samson,” which means “sunlight.” Still not knowing precisely how he would begin to deliver Israel, they did their very best to raise him in the ways of the Lord.
As he grew up, Samson was blessed by the Lord! His parents couldn't help but notice that as his uncut hair got LONGER and LONGER, he grew STRONGER and STRONGER! Young Samson took quite an interest in visiting the parade grounds of the army of the Danites. Whenever he visited these camps, he could feel the Spirit of the Lord exciting him deep within his soul. All the while, it was God working in Samson's heart, confirming his calling to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines. But what do you suppose Samson did? Did he listen to God and become obedient to the Lord's calling? We'll have to wait for the next story to find out!
God loves you and He called you to know his Son, Jesus Christ, and be obedient to Him. On top of that, He gave you parents or guardians to raise you and He gave you his Word to help you walk in his ways so you could become the best person you can be.
1. Why did the Philistines lord over the Israelites?
2. To whom did the Lord send his Angel?
3. What was the Angel’s message?
4. What is a Nazarite?
5. What did Manoah’s wife have to give up to bear Samson?
6. What set of rules were Israelite parents to teach their children?
7. How did the Lord answer Manoah’s prayer?
8. What miracle did the Angel of the Lord perform?
9. Can you remember what woman in the New Testament was also visited by an angel who promised her she would have a special baby?
10. What was the baby's Name and why was He so special? What did He came to do?
A VERSE TO LEARN
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
ALTERNATIVE VERSES TO LEARN
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul.... And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
Poor Manoah! He felt so unsure of himself when he heard that he and his wife were chosen to raise a special child. Do you think it’s easy or difficult to raise a child? In what ways? What if it’s a special child? Do you think parents or guardians need wisdom from God to raise children? Where did Manoah and his wife find wisdom? Where can your parents or guardian find wisdom?
[After discussion:] Remember you, as well as your parents or guardian, are special to God. God would like your parents or guardian to help you know God. When you have questions about God or life. or anything else, always go, ask your parents or guardian. God also wants them to help you become the best person you can be so you can live a godly life. That means God uses them to reprimand you when you do wrong things and to praise you when you do good things, all according to the Word of God.
Now thank God for putting special people in your life to raise you, especially if they serve Him. Ask Him to give them wisdom to guide you in life. Pray that God will help you learn to be obedient. Also thank God for being your heavenly Father, Who loves you and gave his Son, Jesus Christ, for you.
To show that you appreciate your parents, go and give them a hug. Make sure they get a big thank you for everything they do for you. Thank them for raising you in the ways of the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending me a
Deliverer in Jesus! Please help me understand the
instructions in the Bible that teach me how to
serve You. Help my parents (guardians) guide and
instruct me in your ways and help me to be
obedient. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen!
CAN YOU FIND THIS STORY IN THE BIBLE?
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