June 14

Questions with Strange Answers #6

Judges 13:2-5 Now there was a certain man from Zorah… whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

The story of Samson begins with his parents. After his mother discusses her angelic visitation with his father Manoah, Manoah said to the angel (vv. 12-14), “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?”

So the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

The Angel of the Lord, whom many feel is God Himself, doesn’t answer the question, but rather transcends it. We would expect an answer that begins with “He will be” or “He will do….” Instead, to ensure that the word of the Lord will come to pass, the Angel gives instruction to the mother. In his commentary, Matthew Henry points out that the mother’s habits will directly affect the health and strength of her son. True enough, and the best preparation for a Nazarite would be to have a mother submitted to the laws of the Nazarite while pregnant, including no alcohol or contact with dead bodies.

But here we have another example of a human desire—Manoah’s— to understand something, answered by a divine command to do. It’s as if the Angel answered Manoah with a simple reminder of a command He’d already given to Manoah’s wife. Certainly this would have added weight to the command through repetition, but it also moves Manoah’s focus on what needed to be done to strengthen the promise.

In fact, this answer can be looked at as the response to Manoah’s earlier prayer to the Lord in v. 8: “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.’”

How well do we remember what we’ve asked of the Lord? Do we believe that He’s heard us when we pray? Have we been distracted by events that followed our prayer, to the point where we no longer are expecting an answer to it? Or have we simply forgotten what we’ve prayed?

Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t forget. Maybe what’s happening in your life is an answer, not to yesterday’s prayer, but to last week’s, or last month’s, or last year’s. Or perhaps He is instructing you what to do instead of satisfying your curiosity about what He’s doing. Wouldn’t you rather have it that way?

Prayer: Lord, as much as I want to understand, I want Your will to take place. Keep me focused on Your words to me. Thank You that You hear my prayers and remember them long after I’ve forgotten them. Thank You that in one way or another, You answer them all.


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