You likely remember the story of Samson – the strong judge of Israel who defeated the Philistines but ultimately lost his strength when Delilah cut his hair. But do you recall the story of Samson’s parents, especially his father Manoah? Though he plays a smaller role, Manoah is an important figure who teaches us valuable lessons about prayer, parenting, and walking in God’s promises.
In Judges 13, we’re introduced to Manoah and his wife, who were unable to have children. One day, an Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and proclaimed that she would miraculously conceive and bear a son who would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. The Angel gave her specific instructions about abstaining from wine and not cutting the boy’s hair, because he would be a Nazirite dedicated to God from birth.
When she told Manoah about the Angel’s visit, he prayed for the Lord to send him again to teach them how to raise this special child. God listened to Manoah and sent the Angel back so Manoah could hear the instructions directly. We then see Manoah make an offering to the Lord and worship Him, after realizing he had seen God. Manoah’s wife later gave birth to Samson, whose story is found in the remaining chapters.
But there are important lessons we can learn from Manoah’s small but significant role. As we explore his story, we’ll focus on three key themes:
- Manoah teaches us the power of persistent prayer.
- Manoah models how parents can walk in God’s promises for their children.
- Manoah shows us the awe and reverence we should have for the Lord.
Let’s explore these lessons more deeply from Manoah’s life.
Manoah Demonstrates Persistent Prayer
The first lesson we see from Manoah is the power of persistent prayer. When his wife came to him with the incredible news about their promised son, Manoah did not respond with disbelief or numb acceptance. Instead, he immediately prayed for the Lord to return so he could receive the instructions directly.
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.” (Judges 13:8)
Manoah went straight to the source – God Himself – with bold, persistent prayer. He knew the gravity of the news and desired a personal encounter with God to prepare him to parent this extraordinary child.
Manoah’s prayer demonstrates the boldness and persistence that should characterize our own prayer lives. We serve the same God who personally sent an angel in response to Manoah’s prayer. When we pray, we can have the same expectant faith that God hears us and will answer our prayers according to His perfect will. Manoah’s interaction with God was not a one-time experience. We can continually approach God’s throne of grace with our needs just as Manoah did.
As parents and guardians entrusted with children’s spiritual development, we have a special duty to persistently pray and seek the Lord’s guidance. Parenting requires great wisdom and discernment. Through regular prayer, we can access the all-knowing One who created our children and knows how to guide them into the purposes He has planned for their lives.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Manoah Models How to Walk in God’s Promises
In addition to persistent prayer, Manoah also models how to walk in God’s promises despite uncertainty or doubt. When Manoah first heard about the promised child, he likely had many questions about how this could happen when his wife was barren. The news seemed impossible based on their circumstances and experiences.
Yet Manoah believed God’s incredible promise, even though it seemed improbable. His immediate response was prayer and worship, not disbelief:
So 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?”
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. (Judges 13:15-21)
Rather than allowing doubts or questions to steal his faith, Manoah fully trusted God’s promise. He obeyed the Angel’s instructions and offered a burnt offering to the Lord, demonstrating his reverence even without fully understanding the situation.
Manoah’s faith challenges us to walk fully in God’s promises, believing His word over our limited human understanding. When God makes a promise, we can be assured it will come to pass even if it seems impossible in our circumstances.
As parents, God often calls us to raise our children in faith, believing His purpose and plans over their current behavior or attitudes. We may not always understand why God has allowed our child to struggle in a certain area. But we must continue trusting His heart and character, that He will complete the work He began. He is able to act mightily on their behalf as we believe Him over our doubts.
Though the road of parenting is filled with many unknowns, we can stand firmly on God’s good promises. Manoah exemplifies unwavering faith in God’s word despite not knowing what the future held. As we follow his example, we’ll see God’s purposes miraculously unfold in our families.
Manoah Models Reverence for the Lord
Finally, Manoah also models the awe, respect, and reverence we should have for the Lord. When Manoah realized he had encountered the Angel of the Lord directly, he humbled himself and worshipped God.
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. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” (Judges 13:21-22)
Manoah recognized the gravity of meeting with the Almighty God. He understood his human limitations before the majesty and glory of the Creator. Our sovereign God is all-powerful, eternal, and transcendently holy. Manoah’s response was humility, awe, and reverence.
Our culture has lost its reverence for God, instead viewing Him as a benevolent therapist or doting grandfather. But Scripture reveals a beautiful, fearful wonder that should characterize our relationship with God. He is the mighty King before whom every knee will bow! We must recapture the awe-filled fear of the Lord that transforms us to live wholly submitted and surrendered lives.
As parents, our greatest desire should be for our children to know and revere God above all else. When they encounter His presence, we want them to respond as Manoah did – in humble worship! We must model for them through our own lives what it means to fear the Lord and walk in reverent obedience to Him. As they see us worship with our lips and our lives, their hearts will be drawn to glorify God as well.
Manoah’s brief role powerfully demonstrates how awe of the Lord should inspire our worship. We serve the same mighty God and must nurture the same reverence in our hearts and families.
Manoah may be a secondary character, but he exemplifies three vital lessons for anyone who desires to walk with God – the power of persistent prayer, unwavering faith in God’s promises, and awe-filled reverence for the Lord. Manoah teaches us so much about the type of relationship God wants to have with each of us.
As we remember Manoah and these themes from his life, let’s reflect on how we can apply these lessons in our own walks with God:
- In what ways is the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray more boldly and persistently?
- What promises of God do I need to stand on more firmly today, believing His Word over my doubts or circumstances?
- How can I cultivate greater awe and reverence for the majesty of God in my heart and home?
Manoah may seem like a minor character, but his example speaks volumes to us today. Let’s emulate Manoah’s hunger for God’s presence, trust in God’s Word, and reverence for God’s holiness. As we do, we’ll watch in awe as God moves powerfully in our families just as He did in Manoah’s.
The story of Manoah and his wife reminds us of God’s amazing faithfulness across generations. One encounter with God transformed this childless couple into the parents of Samson, the mighty judge who began delivering Israel. May Manoah’s story inspire us today to persistently seek God’s presence so He can work mightily in our families as well. What an awesome, reverent adventure awaits us as we walk in faithful obedience to our Lord!