Life, Hope & Truth

The Faith of Manoah’s Wife

The Bible doesn’t even mention her name. However, Samson’s mother was yet another woman of faith. She listened to and followed God’s instructions regarding the upbringing of her son.

The first time we come across this woman of faith is in Judges 13. We are introduced to her husband, Manoah, and are told that his wife had no children. It’s interesting to note that other women of faith had also been childless, including Sarah, Rebekah and Hannah.

Another point of interest is that Manoah and his wife were of the tribe of Dan, which was given land near the Philistines but later settled in the northern region of the Promised Land. The Danites were not always obedient to God. In fact, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh, the Danites were involved in idolatry (Judges 18:31). And yet it was from this tribe and from this woman that God was going to raise up a deliverer for Israel.

“You shall conceive and bear a son”

One day when Manoah’s wife was alone, the “Angel of the LORD” appeared to her and revealed that she would have a son. In addition, she was instructed to be quite vigilant in avoiding certain foods and beverages. “Therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean” (Judges 13:4).

There was a reason for this command. Her son was to be what the Bible calls a Nazirite from the womb.

In Numbers 6:2-5, 8, God gave instructions for those who would take a Nazirite vow to separate themselves to the Lord for a specific time. They needed to avoid drinking wine and grape juice, and eating anything of the grapevine, including grapes and raisins. Their hair was not to be cut, and no razor was to come upon their heads. The person who voluntarily came under this Nazirite vow was to be holy to the Lord until his days of separation were complete.

In Samson’s case, he was chosen by God to be a Nazirite until the day of his death, and even his mother was to abide by the terms of the Nazirite vow during her pregnancy.

After this unique visit from the Angel of the LORD, she found her husband and told him all about it, even mentioning that she believed the One who came and revealed this information was “a Man of God, … and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome” (Judges 13:6).

Manoah’s reaction

Manoah was quite moved by what he heard, and he prayed, “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” (verse 8).

The Man of God did return, but not to Manoah. He appeared again to his wife, who was alone in the field. So, even though Manoah had prayed for the Man of God to appear to them both, He appeared to the woman. She immediately went to inform her husband, and Manoah followed his wife to where the Man of God was located.

Manoah asked the Man of God if He was the One who appeared to his wife. The answer that he received was quite revealing: “I am” (verse 11). That is similar to the response Moses received from the One who spoke from the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14).

It wasn’t until later, after a miracle, that Manoah realized that the Man was the Angel of the LORD and that He was God (Judges 13:21-22). At this point, Manoah just wanted to know what his son’s rule of life and his work would be (verse 12).

In answering Manoah’s question, the Man again reiterated what He had told Manoah’s wife and that she should do as she was commanded. So we see that the instructions given to Manoah’s wife were very important and were to be obeyed.

Manoah’s wife’s reaction

After Manoah listened to the Man, he offered to prepare a meal for Him. The Man of God recommended that Manoah prepare and offer a sacrifice to the Lord instead.

During the preparation of the offering, Manoah asked the Man what His name was. The Man did not give His name since “it is wonderful” (verse 18). As a side note, Jacob had asked the Lord the same question and received this response: “Why is it that you ask about My name?” (Genesis 32:29-30).

When Manoah and his wife did offer the sacrifice, the Man of God ascended in the flame of the offering and didn’t appear to them again. Manoah and his wife both fell on their faces to the ground as they realized who this Man really was, and Manoah thought they would die (Judges 13:20-22).

His wife reassured him that they wouldn’t die. She then gave Manoah three reasons she was confident they would remain alive. First, the Man had accepted the offering they gave. Second, the Man had showed them all these things, and third, the Man had “told us such things as these at this time” (verse 23). Manoah’s wife believed and had faith in what God had promised.

This was an exceptional perspective that Manoah’s wife had. She didn’t believe that they would be killed after seeing the Angel of the LORD. Manoah, however, wasn’t so sure. This is reminiscent of Gideon’s fears when he saw the Angel of the LORD (Judges 6:22-23).

Manoah’s wife was confident and had faith that God would fulfill His word that they would have a son.Manoah’s wife was confident and had faith that God would fulfill His word that they would have a son.

Samson’s request

So the words of the Man of God did come to pass. Manoah’s wife bore a son and called his name Samson.

The child grew, and the Lord blessed him. Samson’s mother apparently followed all the instructions given to her, and Samson must have listened to what his mother and father had told him about being a Nazirite.

But, as time went by, Samson surprised his parents by asking them to arrange a marriage with a Philistine woman he was attracted to. This decision evoked a plea from both his father and mother: “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” (Judges 14:3).

Why would his parents say this and be so concerned? They knew Samson was set apart by God to be holy, and the Philistines were pagans who worshipped idols. God had commanded the Israelites not to marry those who didn’t worship the true God.

Notice Exodus 34:12, 15-16: “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst … lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, … and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.”

Samson’s mother and father didn’t want him to break God’s law. However, the account in Judges states that Samson’s choice would be used by God, and that God was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines (Judges 14:4).

The Bible does not give any more information about Samson’s parents, but from what we can see, both of them were faithful and obedient to God.

Lessons to learn

Most of us know the story—Samson did eventually have his hair cut off, and he lost his strength. After a while, his hair grew back and he died in service to the Lord. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 as a man of faith.

Manoah and his unnamed wife did leave an example of having faith in God. Samson’s mother believed that they would have a child and that they weren’t going to be killed after seeing the Angel of the LORD. She obeyed God’s instructions regarding her pregnancy and did her best to teach her son.

God is not asking us to take the physical Nazirite vow today, but He does want us to do His will and be dedicated to Him. God is looking for women and men to have that kind of faith and commitment.

For more stories of women of faith, see the other articles in our “Women of Faith” section.

About the Author

John Foster

John Foster

John Foster grew up in the Chicago, Illinois, area and began attending the Church of God with his parents in 1958.

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