By Diana Lovegrove
She had neither children nor name. Married to Manoah, a man from one of the lesser-known tribes of Dan, she lived among a people who had forgotten their God, who had turned their backs on Him and all His goodness. They had been handed over to their enemies in His great mercy that they might cry out to Him for deliverance. Manoah’s wife was crying out to Him, for she had nowhere else to turn to, no one else to trust in. Her faith in Him marked her out as different among her people, her barrenness was a sorrow she carried daily, and her longing that she and her husband would walk in step together in their faith was a hope that she could not let go of. Lament was the song of her heart.
But her God saw her. El Roi. The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth, and in Manoah’s wife, He found such a worshipper.
An angel appeared with a message that she who was barren would bear a son who would bring deliverance to his people. The echo of words delivered 1,000 years later to another woman hangs in the air: “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you!” She is told her son will be a Nazirite, set apart to God from the womb, and she is to observe the Nazirite vow with regards to what she eats and drinks until he is born.
Her husband had not been present when the angel came. So she became a prophet to her husband, and shared the word from God that she had received with him. And Manoah, being a man of faith, responded with faith. He believed the words his wife shared, and he trusted her, for he knew her to be a trustworthy woman. And he himself was led to beseech the Lord that the man of God might return to them.
And look how God responded! He heard Manoah! He graciously responded to this desire, this hunger and thirst in Manoah, to know Him better. This is our God! He hears our requests, and responds – the word of God came a second time.
Yet when the angel returned, it was again to Manoah’s wife, when she was in the field. “But her husband Manoah was not with her.” Oh! What pain and sorrow lie behind these words - to be in a covenant marriage, given by God, serving and loving Him, and yet to not share in the experience of their God together. There is further work yet to be done. Manoah’s wife again responds in great faith, rushing to tell her husband that the man who looks like an angel of God has returned, trusting that he will respond. And he does! What great humility – “Manoah got up and followed his wife”. This may denote a disorder in the marriage – but God wastes nothing. He is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Manoah’s next words, together with their answer, are revealing. “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?” Isn’t this the nature of religion, to want rules to follow, so that we can judge our performance? But see how graciously the Lord responds. There is no rebuke, but instead a reminder that all that is required of them has already been said. “Your wife must do all I told her.” Manoah has asked “What must we do to do the works God requires?” The works required of Manoah, once the child is born, are this – to believe in the One He has sent. Faith! To trust in Him! To walk in the Spirit!
Manoah seeks to honour their visitor by preparing a meal. Echoes of Abraham’s plea to his 3 visitors here – “Do not pass your servant by”. There is no greater delight for the children of God than to fellowship with Him. And when we ask of Him to stay with us, again, see how He delights to meet our request, and how He provides further instruction – prepare a burnt offering to the LORD. For as we fellowship with our God, He constantly transforms us, as He seeks to form in us the image of Christ.
And through the course of their fellowshipping with the LORD together, the Spirit is working to bring greater unity, until we read these most profound words, which I believe are the highest blessing that can be given to a marriage:
“And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched”.
It is as Manoah and his wife were watching, together, watching Him, together, that He did an amazing thing. Will we watch Him, together, in our marriages? Will we cry out to Him that we might share a greater depth of fellowship in our marriages? The Lord will respond as we do so, and the dew of Hermon will fall on Mount Zion.
What was this amazing thing that the LORD did while Manoah and his wife watched? As the flame blazed up from the rock, the altar, where Manoah sacrificed a young goat to the LORD, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Manoah and his wife, united in their understanding of the greatness of God, of His holiness, and of their own humility, do what all those who worship Him in spirit and truth do in His presence – they fell with their faces to the ground.
When they saw their visitor no more, Manoah finally saw the spiritual truth that his wife had already seen (and which demonstrates her spiritual faith) – this was no man they were speaking to, but an angel of the LORD. Manoah had received revelation as he fellowshipped with God, and so was able to understand spiritual truth. His spiritual eyes were opened.
Yet even as his spiritual eyes were opened, he utters words of unbelief, of fear – “We are doomed to die! We have seen God!”
It is here that his wife comes forth with words of truth to strengthen, encourage and comfort her husband, words uttered in a prophetic spirit: “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, or shown us all these things or now told us this.” How her husband needed to hear these words, to be encouraged to hear his Father’s voice.
Manoah’s wife. A worshipper of God in spirit and in truth. The Father sought her out, blessed her, blessed her husband, blessed her womb, and through her son, Samson, pointed to the One who was coming to bring deliverance to His people, upon whom the Spirit of the LORD would rest in all His fullness. And having overcome through her faith, this nameless woman now has the promise that she will receive a white stone from His own hands, with a new name written on it (Rev 2:17). May God be glorified!
About the Author: Diana Lovegrove lives in England with her husband and their 8-year-old son. A part-time bookkeeper, tea is her drink of choice (PG Tips, hot), and she loves nothing better than when her guitar is in her hands so she can praise her God. She loves writing, and deep one-on-one chats with close friends. Diana blogs at Waiting For Our Blessed Hope