July 15

Questions with Strange Answers #7

Judges 13:17-18 Then Manoah [Samson’s father] 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?”

[See June 14 devotional for related story.]

This exchange is similar to Jacob’s with the Angel of the Lord that appeared to Him in Genesis 32. After wrestling with the Angel all night, and wrestling a blessing out of him, Jacob famously asked the Angel his name. In one sense, it was logical to ask, as Jacob himself had just been granted a new name—Israel—by the Angel. But Jacob’s request was denied, as in that culture and time, revealing your name would have given insight into the person and was considered an attempt to gain leverage in dealing with the person. Considering Jacob’s history of deception and his misuse of authority up to this point, it is not surprising that the Angel withheld his name. Instead, he asked Jacob another question: “Why is it that you ask about my name?” And then he blessed Jacob.

Manoah seems to exhibit more faith than Jacob here, as he is less self-concerned and more intent on giving proper honor—“that when Your words come to pass we may honor You.” Giving proper honor vs. wanting control—a better choice. Yet the Angel responds by asking a question similar to the one asked of Jacob: “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”

Manoah’s response to that answer is sacrifice and worship, after which the Angel did something “wonder-full,” ascending in the sacrifice’s flame toward heaven, showing rather than telling Manoah and his wife whom they’d been dealing with. They’d been dealing with God. A name, no matter how profound, wouldn’t have sufficed. God was after a demonstration of His power, a much greater encouragement to Manoah than a revelation of a name that he wouldn’t have understood.

Is God showing you things rather than telling you things right now? Are you asking to hear when He’d prefer that you ask to see?

Prayer: Lord, lead me in asking the right questions to match the answers You’re desiring to give me. Forgive me for pressing for one kind of answer when You’re graciously giving me something better. Give me eyes to see what You’re doing and a heart to understand.

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