Samson’s Mother – A Woman of Confidence
We are not told Samson’s mother’s name. Only that she was the wife of Manoah, a man of Zorah-west of Jerusalem-of the tribe of Dan, and that she was barren – Judges 13:2. She was humbly trying to accept the fact that she would have no children to keep her memory alive. One day while out in the field, an Angel of the Lord came to her and prophesied that she would bear a son who would deliver Israel from the heavy-handed Philistines. The Angel told her that she was not to drink wine nor strong drink, and she was not to eat any unclean thing – Judges 13:4.
Samson’s mother and Manoah were obviously God-fearing believers, but the Angel’s prophecy seemed almost too good to be true. She told her husband all that the Angel said, and Manoah prayed that the Man of God would return in order to “teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born” – Judges 13:8. He wanted to hear it for himself. The Angel did return for a third time to repeat the rules of the Nazirite vow: no wine or fruit, no razor was ever to touch his head, and no touching of anything unclean.
Although this woman may have been uneducated and dependent upon her husband, as a believer and an expectant mother, she had no trouble complying with the instruction of the heavenly messenger. Manoah made an offering to God, on the spot, “and as the flame ascended, the Angel went with it. Terrified, the two fell on their faces to the ground” – Judges 13:19, 20.
The revelation of the supernatural was required for a depraved society such as theirs, and the dramatic display confirmed God’s supernatural intervention, no doubt answering their prayers. When Manoah expressed his fear that they themselves would die because they had seen God, his wife demonstrated her confidence in God: “If the LORD were pleased to kill us, He would not have received a burnt offering.” – Judges 13:23.
Their promised son, Samson (meaning “sunlike” or “splendor”), chose a lifestyle reflecting the fallen nature of his world; nevertheless, God used him to restrain the Philistines. As a result, his name is found with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32.
The disappointment of barrenness was transformed into the joy of motherhood. Though grateful for a son of such unusual strength, this humble mother must also have grieved over Samson’s selfishness and disobedience to God, as all mothers do when they see their children straying into the fallen world. Certainly, his mother’s prayers and nurturing played a part in the contribution Samson made as a deliverer of his people.
This unnamed woman will be remembered as a believing woman who left her testimony: Every woman must not only listen for God’s direction, but also obey Him, even in the minutest detail – Judges 13:14 “She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.” God’s holy angels are poised to bring about His will even when we least expect it.
Samson’s Heathen Bride
This impressive woman from Timnah captured Samson’s affection with her beauty and charm, and she, too, was most likely infatuated with his strength and wit. They married hastily and without their parents’ approval. The marriage was doomed from the beginning because of competing loyalties which pulled at the young couple, as well as selfishness and immaturity on both their parts.
The Timnite had remained in her parents’ home after her wedding, and would receive occasional visits from her husband. These pagans practiced what is called a metronymic marriage which means the husband was viewed as having joined his wife’s family, and in theory he was subservient to his wife’s father. Any children born of the marriage were considered members of the mother’s family. These customs totally went against all that God Jehovah made marriage to be.
This woman was most concerned with her own self-preservation. Just as Samson, she was accustomed to getting her own way, if by no other means, through manipulating with her tears and whining – Judges 14:2, 3, 16, 17 “And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well…And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee? And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.”
She used all of her skills of manipulation, including a week of tears, to meet the demands of her countrymen, knowing all the while that they planned evil against her husband. When Samson finally trusted her with his secret, she blatantly, and seemingly without remorse, betrayed him. She was under threat for the lives of herself and her family, but in the end, perhaps because of her own wrong choices, all their lives were lost – Judges 15:6 “Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.” Who knows what protection Samson might have given the family if only his wife had communicated her fears to him. But of course since they jumped quickly into a marriage based on infatuation, they had no friendship or loyalty of any kind for each other. They did not take time to bond.
Both the Timnite and Samson erred when they rushed into the serious commitment of marriage based upon “love at first sight” – Judges 14:2,3. Neither had left father and mother in order to give primary loyalty to the other as taught in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Of course, it is only common sense that the same goes for the woman. Neither one of them reached beyond self to be concerned about the best interest of the other as it says in Ephesians 5:33 “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Neither of them even considered the consequences of being joined to another who did not have the same spiritual commitments – Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” We are not to be in-equally yoked.
Marriage to a foreign woman who was not committed to the God of Israel was strictly forbidden because intermarriage was a huge factor in the destruction of the nation – Deuteronomy 7:1-4 “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” Judges 3:5, 6 “And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.” They turned away from God Jehovah.
Not only was Samson an Israelite and thus committed to Yahweh, but he was also a Nazirite, therefore he was set apart by God in a special way. For a judge to fail in this area shows the far-reaching result of spiritual apathy. This marriage put Samson on the road to estrangement from Yahweh; yet only the Lord could have given wisdom and imparted the love needed to overcome the overwhelming obstacles that faced Samson and the Timnite in their challenging marriage.
Delilah – A Teasing Temptress
Samson and Delilah are one of the most well-known couples in the Bible. Samson is known for his strength; Delilah is known for her seductive manipulation. (It appears that Samson had a weakness for seductive and manipulative women.)
Delilah lived in a small village near Samson’s hometown. She was probably Philistine, although her name is Semitic. She may have been a temple prostitute. Apparently Samson had been visiting her quite often, and their relationship became known to the Philistine leaders. They went to Delilah with an offer that she could not refuse.
Samson’s background, his upbringing, and his own experience should have taught him to stay away from foreign entanglements, but it is clear that Samson felt an emotional attachment to Delilah. No evidence exists that she felt personal admiration or affection for him. On the contrary, she clearly was motivated by greed; she was perfectly willing to use all of her charming seductiveness (which apparently was considerable) to earn a large cash bonus. She was only focused on how she would be set for life.
The ingredients for disaster were in place: a morally weak man with uncontrollable sexual passions; a seductive temptress motivated by greed; a group of foreign leaders with unlimited funds and the strong conviction that their national security perhaps, even their national survival, was at stake.
Her methods were simple, and though it took time, they eventually worked. She was playful and teasing, flirtatious and provocative, alluring and enticing. She coaxed and sweet-talked. She pouted and demanded. (Gee doesn’t that sound familiar? You would have thought that Samson might have learned from his experience with his pagan wife; but no, apparently not.) There was a fortune waiting for Delilah if she could discover the secret of Samson’s strength. She was determined, and she ultimately succeeded in prying his secret from him.
Convinced that he had finally told her the truth, she sent for the Philistine leaders. She lulled Samson to sleep and had his hair cut off. With complete and utter heartlessness, she watched as he struggled out of a deep sleep, thinking he would fend off his attackers as easily as before, only to discover to his horror that his strength was gone. No doubt, she was counting her money as they led him out.
Delilah personifies the immoral woman of Proverbs 5:4-6 – “But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.” Men beware of these manipulative temptresses. But, we all know that “what comes around, does go around.”
Even though Samson chose to go into the world and follow his lusts, God still used him to accomplish His perfect will. This is proof that God is always in control of all things.