This morning we will begin a 3-part message about Samson, the 12th and final judge named in the book of Judges. There are 4 chapters dedicated to his story - chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16. In part 1 of this message (today) we will discuss his miraculous birth. In part 2 (next Sunday) we’ll talk about his early run-ins with the Philistines. In part 3 of this message (2 weeks from today) we will consider his disastrous relationship with Delilah.
This is the 28th sermon in our series called “The Conquering and Independent Church”. There are 34 sermons in total, so after today we only have 6 left. We should wrap this series up the week before Christmas if all goes according to plan. Here we go…
I. AN ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENT (Judges 13:1-7)
Following the judgeships of Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. This time He turned them over to the Philistines who persecuted them for 40 years. As you may recall, the Philistines had oppressed and terrorized Israel many years earlier during the days of Shamgar (Judges 3:31).
There was a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan who lived in Zorah. He was married, but his wife was barren so they had no children. The Angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife and told her that she would conceive and bear a son. The angel said that this child would be a Nazirite from the womb. During her pregnancy she was not to partake of wine or strong alcohol, nor eat anything unclean, nor cut the newborn's hair. Clearly the LORD considered Samson to be a living person from the point of conception. The angel foretold that this miraculous son would begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.
Manoah’s wife hurried to tell her husband about the man of God she’d seen. She stated that his appearance was awesome - like an angel, and she didn’t ask for his name or where he’d come from. However, she did hear his message - that she would conceive and give birth to a child who would be set aside as a Nazirite for his entire life.
A Nazirite was a person who dedicated themselves to God by carefully adhering to the stipulations of the Nazirite vow found in the Mosaic Law (Numbers 6:1-21). Those who made this solemn commitment were separated or consecrated to the LORD. Typically, the Nazirite vow was taken voluntarily for a specific period of time as a way of yielding oneself to God. However, this child would be a Nazirite from conception until death.
Also notice that this son would “begin” to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. As we will discover later in this series, Philistine persecution will continue even after the death of this mighty judge. He will, however, deal a crippling blow to the Philistines that will relieve Israel’s oppression temporarily.
II. A SECOND VISIT (Judges 13:8-20)
After listening to his wife, Manoah prayed that the man of God would return and tell them how to parent this special child. God heard Manoah’s petition and sent the Angel of the LORD back to his wife a second time. When the angel appeared, she went and found her husband and they came to the field where the angel waited. Not realizing that he was an angel, Manoah asked the man if he was the same person who had spoken to his wife earlier. He also asked what the boy’s vocation would be. The angel simply repeated what he’d said to Manoah’s wife earlier.
Manoah asked the man to wait while he prepared a young goat for Him. The angel stated that he would not eat of it and recommended that Manoah offer a burnt offering to God. Manoah then asked the man what his name was, but the angel answered by simply describing his name as wonderful. So Manoah took the young goat and grain and made an offering to God while the Angel of the LORD performed wonders in their presence. As flames rose up from the altar, the angel ascended into heaven. In awe, Manoah and his wife fell on their faces to the ground.
Notice that the angel deflected Manoah’s attempt to worship him and instead directed Manoah to give all praise and glory to God. This is yet another Biblical example of how we should worship God only - not angels, saints, or any other created person or thing. The LORD alone is deserving of all worship, adulation, and reverence.
III. A MIRACULOUS BIRTH (Judges 13:21-25)
After witnessing these remarkable events, Manoah and his wife realized that this was no regular man. They had seen the Angel of the LORD. Manoah was concerned that they would die because they had seen the LORD. His wife comforted him by saying that God would not have accepted their offerings or showed them miraculous signs or told them of such wonderful things to come if His desire was to kill them.
In the months that followed, Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son and the couple named him Samson. The child was blessed by the LORD and raised in the tradition of a Nazirite. The Spirit of the LORD began to stir in him even as a youth growing up in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshraol in the tribal territory of Dan.
Many theologians believe that the Angel of the LORD who visited Manoah and his wife was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. The Angel of the LORD appears multiple times in the Old Testament. Already in this series, we have discussed His appearance to both Joshua as the captain of God’s army (Joshua 5:13-15) and to Gideon on the threshing floor (Judges 6:11-24). Remember, Jesus is God - He is eternal, without beginning or end. He was present and active in the creation. Jesus did not come into existence when He was born in Bethlehem - He already was. Therefore, it is completely reasonable to believe that Jesus appeared to various people as the Angel of the LORD during Old Testament times.
As we wrap up today’s sermon, let me ask you… do the events described in this chapter remind you of anything? They should, especially as we enter into the holiday season. The details surrounding Samson’s birth are, in many ways, similar to those of Jesus’ birth. Consider this:
The Angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife to announce that she’d give birth to a son. Likewise, the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she’d give birth to the Son of God.
The Angel of the LORD appeared a second time and spoke with Manoah, Samson’s father, to reassure him and confirm what he’d said to his wife earlier. Likewise, an angel appeared to Joseph (believed by many to be a second appearance of Gabriel) to confirm what Mary had told him and assure him to go through with their marriage.
The Angel of the LORD told Samson’s parents that he would be set apart for God’s service and would deliver his people. Likewise, the angel Gabriel told Joseph and Mary that Jesus would be the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, and the Savior of His people.
Both births were miraculous, though in different ways. Samson was conceived in the natural way, to a mother who had previously been barren (such as Sara, Rebekah, and Rachel). Jesus was conceived supernaturally, to a virgin who became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
So, in some respects, Samson’s amazing birth looks forward to that of Jesus Christ. Pretty cool, right? Join us next week as we continue our look at the remarkable life of Samson.