I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on fatherhood.
I do often wonder how to be a better parent. What makes a good parent? I have learned to be intentional. And I have learned to look for good role models in life and in scripture to model my parenting after. I love to study, and I am a big copycat!
Last year for my birthday my sister Shadow gave me a new translation of the Bible called the Voice. I have been reading through it in an unorthodox fashion. I started the historical books this month and today I found myself in Judges 13, the story of Samson.
In all my studies of Samson, I have to admit I have always wondered about his parents. What kind of people were they? Why on earth did Samson turn out so rough? I understand environment had a lot to do with it: he lived in rough times. And then I read chapter 13. The beginning.
Here is what I learned:
Israel spent most of this time in history under the authority of other kingdoms because they couldn’t keep their eyes on God. At this particular time, they had been under Philistine (think Goliath) rule for 40 years.
A man named Manoah and his wife (she doesn’t get named in scripture so I will call her SMom i.e. SamsonMom) don’t have any children.
A “Messenger of the Eternal One” brings SMom a message. Here is my first red flag in this story. Why didn’t God send the message to Manoah? (That’s how it worked for John the Baptist’s parents – see Luke 1) What was his relationship to God that God would bypass him in this patriarchal society and tell the message directly to SMom?
I want to challenge any men reading this blog, are you the kind of man that would receive the message from the Lord? Or would God bypass you and give the message directly to your wife?
The messenger tells SMom how to live her life during the conception and pregnancy. She tells her husband. And he prays. That’s good, so he has some understanding of God.
His prayer seems simple enough: send back the messenger to teach us what to do with this boy you are giving us. But this really is another red flag. SMom already had the instructions. I wonder if Manoah really believed her or if he wanted to see for himself.
But God is always good. The messenger returns, but again to SMom. And look at the timing of this. SMom is out in the field working alone. She sees the messenger and goes to tell her husband. Manoah has to “get up” to go out to the messenger. Red flag #3: why is the wife working the field while the husband sits at home?
Maybe he is an accountant and I am making more out of this than I should. So again I challenge: are you contributing to the provision of your family? Are you modeling the kind of man you want your sons to be?
Manoah begins to question this ever patient messenger. Yes he is the same from before. SMom should do as previously instructed. Then Manoah offers to feed the messenger a goat.
The messenger’s response if red flag #4.
- “if you could detain me” – the messenger sees the play here.
- “I would not eat your food” – Eating together is a sign of community or relationship.
- “offer it to God” – don’t worship the angel.
Challenge: What are your motives for doing religious things? Would God want to eat at your table with you? Do you worship the Eternal Lord, or the powerful things from Him?
So Manoah and SMom offer the goat as a sacrifice to God. As the flames go up to heaven, the messenger also goes back to heaven. That’s when Manoah finally realizes this is from God. Hello.
His response is to fall to his face expecting sudden death. SMom comforts him with her understanding of God. “God will not kill us or He would not have accepted our sacrifice and given us this message.”
Red Flag #5: Manoah understands God’s wrath and judgment and power. He doesn’t seem to understand God’s motives or plans in our lives. He is not looking at the big picture.
Challenge: Do you know God? It would take a lifetime of study. And still there would be more. Are you willing to make time in your life to learn anything you can about the Creator of the Universe? Are you willing to step back from your self-centered focus of life and see what God is doing in the people around you, especially your children?
I hope so. It is my prayer that anyone who reads this blog would seek after God and grow in relationship with Jesus, His son and my savior.
What do I learn from this? What will I take away? Mostly this: I can’t expect my children to be anything I am not. I MUST model anything I think is important for their lives. I need to have an obvious relationship with God if I want my kids to have one. I need to be willing to work hard if I want my children to be hard workers. I need to have strong character if I want my children to be influential in the world around them. And I need wisdom to see the world as God created it so that my children can find joy and contentment even when life gets hard (and they have 3 tests, a paper, and a presentation in one week).
After seeing these things from Samson’s origin, I can understand a little better how he turned out like he did. I am curious why the messenger never instructed them further in how to actually raise the boy. How God uses Samson is an interesting study in the sovereignty of God that I will leave for another blog.
until then – AJ