The story of Sampson is one of those weird stories in the Bible that at first glance seems like a great children’s story. A man of God with flowing, Herculean-locks is given the super human strength to deliver his people from oppressors. We have three different kid’s Bibles in my house, and they all tell the story of Sampson next to vivid pictures of a toga-wearing man who appears to be a mix of Jared Leto and The Rock.
As a mom of littles, however, I’m realizing this is one of those horrifying stories that isn’t actually very kid-appropriate. There’s enslavement, forced labor, sexual promiscuity, and you guys, they literally gouge out the hero’s eyes shortly before he commits mass murder/suicide. Try explaining that to your kids at bedtime. 😬
So I’m going to let someone else theologically unpack that one, and we’re going to back up a few chapters to an interesting little passage about Sampson’s parents.
Before Sampson’s mother ever gave birth to her ripped and ego-centric son (again, a lot to unpack), an angel of the Lord appeared to her and said:
“Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:3-5 ESV).
The woman then went to her husband and told him all the angel had told her. Wanting to know more, he prayed that the angel would return and give them further instructions about how to raise their child. When the angel returned, the man asked him:
“ ‘Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?’ And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, ‘Of all that I said to the woman, let her be careful. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe’ ” (v12-14).
You may notice here that the angel basically repeats what he said earlier. He literally refuses to give him any new information. In fact, he gives slightly less information the second time around.
As parents, we often want all the information about our children — what their calling will be; specifics on how to raise them; what their futures will look like… And these are all really good questions to ask God. Notice that the angel doesn’t rebuke the man for his questions, but he doesn’t answer them either.
I’ve felt at times that when it comes to my children, some of my prayers and questions go so long without an answer. God, what are you doing here? When will healing come? Or the ever-popular…I know you gave her this strong will for a reason, what’s the plan here?
This passage in Judges encourages me that as I ask and seek God’s wisdom for my children, he will continue to engage me with his relational presence, but he may not always bring immediate clarity. And that’s ok. I have faith that while God doesn’t always give me the answers to my questions, he has given me plenty of direction for my parenting:👇
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV).
I don’t have to understand the endgame of my parenting to be faithful today. I don’t have to know everything about my child’s future or calling to be obedient to my own. And when it seems like God isn’t answering the questions I have about my child’s future, perhaps he is just patiently pausing a decade or two until he can give the answers directly to the one who they were meant for all along. Like Sampson, who lived an imperfect life, often seeking to fulfill his desires instead of God’s will, but who was still used by God.
And that’s really our greatest hope, right? That our children would seek and hear the voice of God in their own lives.
Danielle Miller is mom to three girls and has been married to her husband, Johnny for 10 years. After 14 years in the medical field, including almost a decade as a nurse, she is enjoying being a stay at home mom with all the coffee and play dates that go along with that. She also enjoys eating out, running, gardening, and lake vacations.