From the time our kids are very small, they are taught the life of Samson. He is depicted as the strongman of the Bible, and his feats of strength are truly remarkable.
Even before he was born, Samson was chosen by God for a special purpose. He was to be a Nazirite from birth, which was unheard of, and he was not just to have a month-long Nazirite vow, but he was to live under the stipulations of the Nazirite.
We know Samson’s ultimate downfall was his propensity toward ungodly women. As a man, he alone is guilty for his unwise decisions in that area.
But I wonder if his father, Manoah, didn’t play at least a part in Samson’s downward spiral, and in so doing, provide a strong warning to parents today.
Judges 14 begins:
Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” (Judges 14:1-3)
We might fault Manoah at this point for not being strong in his rebuke of Samson, but he is speaking truth into the life of his son so far.
We do not know what caused Manoah to cave in, but Samson eventually marries this foreign, pagan woman. Verse 9 tells us that, while they were traveling to Timnah, Samson’s father and mother were with him. Considering the culture of the time, they had to agree to his wedding.
Further, verse 10 tells us that Manoah was present during the wedding feast. “[Samson's] father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do.” It would be quite some time, but this flaw in Samson would eventually lead him to the duplicitous arms of Delilah, who proved to be his downfall.
Manoah was supposed to be the leader of this household. He had spoken to the angel of the Lord about the birth of this special boy, and knew that God would use Samson. Yet, when Samson wanted something, it seems that he got it.
Maybe it was because Samson was so special. Sometimes, we can struggle to say “no” to a child who shows a real propensity for some area of life. If he can throw a football 60 yards, how can we possibly keep him off the practice field for the Gospel Meeting? If she can be valedictorian with just a little more study time, why does she “have to” go to the youth retreat?
Manoah serves as a powerful warning to parents, though. Did you notice that it went beyond just avoiding saying “no?” It went beyond simply being an accommodating parent.
By the time of the wedding feast, Manoah is right there. By his presence at the feast, he is showing his support of something he knows isn’t right.
When it comes to family, it can get very difficult to avoid doing that.
“I used to think that homosexuality was wrong, but my son is happier in that lifestyle.”
“Matthew 19:9 has a whole different meaning to me now, because my daughter is truly happy with her new husband.”
“We don’t use instruments where I worship, but my son is just using his talents across town to express himself in their worship.”
Maybe it shouldn’t be so remarkable, but I am amazed at how often I have heard Christians say such things, or read their thoughts online or in notes. The pull of the child overtakes the power of the Gospel. What started as a small thing where we “gave in” becomes us approving of sinful actions, just because it is our child.
Let’s learn the lesson of Manoah, and learn to say “no” right from the start.
QUESTION: What are some ways to avoid Manoah’s “accommodating parent” mistake? Share your thoughts in the comments!
NOTE: The idea for this post came from the book Bad Dads of the Bible, chapter 7.
Photo credit: Zeevveez on Creative commons
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