Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
2. Read 12:8-15. Notice again (as we saw in lesson 4, link above) the copious details God gives us about some judges, like we’re about to see with Samson, and the sparse details He gives us about other judges, like Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy? Is this an indicator that some judges were more important or more faithful than others? Why not? Think about the things you do to serve the Lord. Do you do them for recognition and accolades, or simply because you love Him?
3. Read 13:1-7. How does verse 1 set the scene for the story of Samson? What was Manoah’s wife’s name? Why doesn’t the Bible tell us?
Who are some other women in the Bible you can think of who were barren, or functionally barren, and then conceived miraculously? How do all of these women’s miraculous conceptions serve as a type and shadow of Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus? Particularly compare “Mrs. Manoah’s” conception story to Mary’s. What similarities do you see? What differences?
Did any of the other women who conceived miraculously, including Mary, receive the same instructions Mrs. Manoah did in verses 4-5? What is a Nazirite? What were the requirements of a Nazirite vow? (Hint: check your cross references on verse 5, then click here). Why do you suppose God set Samson apart as a Nazirite, but none of the other judges?
What does God mean in verse 5, that Samson shall “begin” to save his people? Think about the judges we’ve already studied, and keep this in mind as we continue to study Judges. Are any other judges described as beginning to save their people? Compare this statement about Samson to the angel’s statement about Jesus in Matthew 1:21. How does Samson’s mission point ahead to Jesus’ mission?
What was the first thing Mrs. Manoah did after the angel ascended? Why?
4. Read 13:8-14. Mrs. Manoah had an unbelievable story to tell. Did Manoah believe his wife? (8, 11) Did Manoah believe God? (8, 12) Compare Manoah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son to Zechariah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son. Why did Zechariah bear an even greater responsibility than Manoah to believe the Lord about this?
5. Read 13:15-20. Is it possible this appearance of the “angel of the Lord” (16) was a Christophany? Give specific evidence from this chapter and its cross references to support your answer.
Why wouldn’t the angel tell Manoah his name? (18 – Check your cross references. You may also need to do a little more digging on the significance of names and greetings in Old Testament culture.) Is there a connection between “wonderful” in verse 18 and “wonders” in 19?
What is the significance of Manoah and his wife falling “on their faces to the ground”? (20)
6. Read 13:21-25. Why did Manoah think he and his wife would die? (22) Explain how Mrs. Manoah’s explanation (23) was a good example of a wife giving wise, godly counsel to her husband. Explain Manoah’s wisdom in listening to her here and throughout today’s passage. How did Mrs. Manoah exemplify being a helper fit for her husband? How was she, as Proverbs mentions, a good thing, the crown of her husband, prudent, and more precious than jewels?
7. Carefully examine each action of Manoah and of Mrs. Manoah, as well as their words in 13:6-24. What evidence do you see that Mrs. Manoah was a godly wife, and that she submitted to her husband? What evidence do you see that Manoah was a godly husband who loved his wife? How can you tell they desired to be parents who honored and obeyed God in their parenting?
8. What does today’s passage teach us about the nature and character of God?
- Back in Judges 10, we saw that the judge Jair had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys, and in today’s passage, 12:14 tells us Abdon had 70 sons and grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. This might strike us as a weird little factoid to include about these judges, but is there any significance to it? What’s up with these donkeys? Grab a good commentary, study Bible, or internet search engine, and see what you can find out. Share your findings in the comments if you like.
- What lessons did you learn from Manoah and his wife about having a godly marriage? How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own marriage?