Time: the Judges ~1400-1000 B.C.
“She said, ‘Just as surely as you are alive, my lord, I am the woman who previously stood here with you in order to pray to the Lord. I prayed for this boy, and the Lord has given me the request that I asked of him. Now I dedicate him to the Lord. From this time on he is dedicated to the Lord.’ Then they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 SAMUEL 1:26-28
The faithful who lived in Israel during this time endured repeated cycles of enemy oppression followed by deliverance and a time of peace before Israel rebelled against God again. The women in this lesson lived in the last part of the time of the Judges. Mrs. Manoah’s son, Samson, was the “judge” (deliverer) during the time period when Hannah’s son, Samuel, was born so the two were contemporaries. Samuel was the last judge because during his life, Israel demanded a king. God gave them a king.
1. We don’t know her name, but we know of her famous son Samson. Let’s find out what his mom was like. Read Judges 13:1-24. Use adjectives to describe Mrs. Manoah.
2. What needs did the Lord notice and prepare to meet—personal and national?
3. How did He communicate to her His plan? [NOTE: When the angel says that his name is “beyond understanding” (Judges 13:18), the Hebrew for this phrase is translated in Isaiah 9:6 as “Wonderful,” applying to One who would come as “Mighty God.”]
4. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Do a study on the “angel of the Lord” appearing in the Old Testament. Who was this? To whom did he appear and on what occasions?
5. The name “Samson” is derived from a Hebrew word meaning sun or brightness. Notice God’s purpose for Samson. Nazirite is from a Hebrew word meaning “separated” or “dedicated.” Read Numbers 6:1-8. What 3 things did a Nazirite vow to do that distinguished him as being set apart to God?
6. What was Mrs. Manoah’s responsibility while pregnant? How does this scripture support the value of the life of an unborn child before birth?
7. What was Manoah’s response? What does he ask the Lord?
8. How does God respond to Manoah’s request? Notice the declaration of Manoah’s faith in Judges 13:12.
9. Discuss what happens in verses 15-21.
10. Before this, Manoah and his wife thought a “man of God” or prophet had appeared to her. When they realized an angel of the Lord had appeared to them (to her twice!), what were their individual responses to these appearances (verses 22-23)? What does this reveal about their faith?
11. Read 13:24-14:9. From the previous verses, we discovered that Manoah and his wife were a faithful, God-honoring couple. Their son had a life purpose to follow from birth. What kind of a son did Samson turn out to be? Do you think they were disappointed?
Scriptural Insight: “This was from the Lord” (verse 4) is evidence that the Lord uses even the sinful weaknesses of men to accomplish His purposes and bring praise to His name. Other instances are in Joshua 11:20 and 1 Kings 12:15.
12. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Read the rest of Samson’s story in Judges 14:9-16:31. How many Nazirite vows did Samson break? By the way, Mrs. Manoah had several more children after Samson. There is no indication that she had to follow the same dietary restraints for them.
13. Your Life’s Journey: God gave Samson godly parents and special abilities to do the work that God had prepared for him to do. Yet, Samson made the choice to follow his own instincts rather than adhere to his family’s faith and humility before God.
· If you are a parent or relative of a “prodigal” son or daughter, how do you feel about it?
· If you are a parent of a young child, are you afraid he will become a prodigal? Are you afraid that you will do something wrong?
· Although no parent is perfect, we must remember that every person makes his own decision whether or not to act on the knowledge of God he has received. Faith is an act of the will. Share with your group any fears or feelings of guilt and disappointment. Commit that loved one to the Lord, praying for the “prodigal” to return to his or her God.
14. Read Deuteronomy 28:9-11; Psalm 127:3-5. In ancient Israel, children specifically were an indication of what?
15. Read 1 Samuel 1:1-19. How would you describe Hannah if you were there watching her?
16. Discuss everything that was causing Hannah distress.
17. Discuss Elkanah’s response to his wife’s distress.
18. Your Life’s Journey: Elkanah’s response does not seem to acknowledge Hannah’s emotional needs. Does your husband or closest friend ever misunderstand your feelings? How do you react?
19. How did Hannah grow spiritually because of her barrenness? What did she learn about God?
Scriptural Insight: Vows are voluntary promises regarding personal commitment and piety. They were common in Old Testament times, were regulated by the Mosaic Law (Nu 30), were expected to be carefully thought out (Pr 20:25; Eccl 5:4-6), and were expected to be fulfilled accompanied by thanksgiving offerings. Vows other than marriage vows are not generally taught or modeled in the New Testament (Paul’s vow in Acts 18:18 being a holdover from his Jewish upbringing). We are not to make deals with God or try to find some leverage like that with Him. The basis of our relationship with Him is through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross making us totally acceptable in God’s sight. He, as our Father, gives because He wants to give. We, as His children, ask and receive based on His goodness.
20. God uses prayer to get us into partnership with Him, and then we recognize His blessing. Hannah had a fallible High Priest interceding for her. We have far more available to us as believers. Read the following verses and discuss who is helping us in our prayer and how? [NOTE: To remember in the Bible is not merely to recall to mind. It is to express concern for someone, to act with loving care on their behalf.]
· Hebrews 4:14-16 —
· Hebrews 7:24-25 —
· Romans 8:26-28; 31-34 —
21. Your Life’s Journey: Hannah had to endure her barrenness for some time because Peninah had at least 4 children. Sarah endured hers for at least 30 years! Do you consider yourself barren? Like Hannah, is it making you very sad? What should you do about your feelings/ attitude? Is there some opportunity available today where you can use your time to minister to someone else with your built-in mothering instincts? Ask someone to pray with you about this.
22. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): A number of women are identified in Scripture without any reference to children at all. Try to find several and share with the group how they spent their time. Example: Priscilla, in Acts 18, discipled new believers, entertained guests, and taught the Scriptures.
23. Read 1 Samuel 1:20-2:11. God gave Hannah a son. What did she do then?
24. Hannah’s prayer is her psalm of praise and thanksgiving. What emotions does she express, and what truths does she affirm about her God?
· Emotions —
· Truths —
From the Hebrew: Hannah’s prayer song is prophetic, anticipating the establishment of kingship in Israel. Her son Samuel crowns the first king, Saul, as well as the second king, David. It also contains the first reference in the Bible to the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 2:10). ”Anointed” is the Hebrew word “mashiyach” from which “Messiah” is derived. The Greek translation of this Hebrew term is “Christos,” from which comes the English word “Christ.”
25. Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26. How did God continue to answer Hannah’s prayer even after she completed her vow?
26. In what kind of “home” did Hannah leave her boy?
27. Why didn’t that terrify her? Refer back to 1:22-28. Whom could she trust? Why?
28. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-4:1. Hannah’s trust in the Lord was rewarded through His faithfulness to her son. List all the verses in 3:1-4:1. Hannah’s trust in the Lord was rewarded through His faithfulness to her son. List all the verses in 2:12-4:1 that reveal God’s faithfulness to Samuel as he grew up as well as Samuel’s response. Discuss how much God was involved in raising this boy.
29. How did Hannah continue to mother her boy?
30. Your Life’s Journey: Are you in a situation where you have to be a mother from a distance? How does it make you feel? Have you talked to the Lord about it? Are you able to trust Him? Scripture says that Samuel grew up to be the most respected Judge that Israel had.
God loved both Hannah and Mrs. Manoah. He knew what was going on in their lives. He was able to do something about it. But, God did not give Mrs. Manoah a peaceful land without invading enemies or a perfectly obedient son who sought to use his gifts for God’s glory. Nor did God tell Hannah not to fulfill her vow and leave her son with Eli at the Tabernacle. Both endured years of barrenness before having children. Both were separated in some way from their firstborn sons. During their walk, a loving God said “no” to some things. Yet, Hannah and Mrs. Manoah chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, God rewarded their faith with an outpouring of His blessing in other ways. Likewise, God may not choose to answer your prayers quickly. But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…
§ God loves me.
§ God knows what is going on in my life.
§ God can do something about it.
§ I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
31. Considering the little we know about Mrs. Manoah, how did she demonstrate her faith?
32. List everything that could have terrified Hannah. How did she respond to God by faith instead?
33. Tell Your Story: Read Psalm 107:1-43. Notice the different kinds of people who call out to God and how He responds to them. Verse 43 says, "Whoever is wise, let him take note of these things! Let them consider the Lord’s acts of loyal love!” Both of these women, Mrs. Manoah and Hannah, experienced God’s love as He took care of them in specific situations. Jot down your thoughts about the great love of the Lord for you and how He took care of you in 1 or 2 specific situations.