Judges 13 (New International Version)
The Birth of Samson
1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
The Philistines lived on the western coast of Canaan. They were fierce warriors and, more important, they knew how to make weapons out of iron, a skill the Israelites did not possess. From the time of Samson until the time of David (and the Philistine giant, Goliath), these enemies were a constant threat to Israel.
2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
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.
As a Nazirite, Samson could not ever cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol. We will see that Samson has a hard time keeping these vows.
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.’ ”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD : “O LORD, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her.
Like Hagar, Manoah’s wife receives a visit from an angel twice!
10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the one who talked to my wife?”
“I am,” he said.
12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?”
13 The angel of the LORD answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.”
15 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”
16 The angel of the LORD replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.)
17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”
18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame.
Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 21 When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD.
22 “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”
23 But his wife answered, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.”
24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson.
The cycle of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence, 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, with great heights and deep lows.
He grew and the LORD blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Proverbs 22:6 (English Standard Version)
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
OR — as Dorothy Sayers has one of her characters misquote the verse in her book Unnatural Death:
“Train up a child and away he shall go!”
Samson: a life begun with such promise! HERE is “What If I Stumble” by DC Talk. The opening quote is from Brennan Manning