Biblical Parenting 101: You First.
Wanna know how to raise your children according to God’s will? You are either gonna hate or love this, Papa and Mamacita.
Step one of having children who honor God is giving them parents who honor God.
Yep. YOU do what God commanded YOU to do first. Here, look. Now, I know it’s early but don’t fret over the long passage below. This will be worth it, I promise.
1Again the Israelites did evil in the sight of the LORD, so He delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. 2Now there was a man from Zorah named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, whose wife was barren and had no children. 3The angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “It is true that you are barren and have no children; but you will conceive and give birth to a son. 4Now please be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, and not to eat anything unclean. 5For behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son. And no razor shall come over his head, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
6So the woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me. His appearance was like the angel of God, exceedingly awesome. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7But he said to me, ‘Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now, therefore, do not drink wine or strong drink, and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from the womb until the day of his death.’ ”
8Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, “Please, O Lord, let the man of God You sent us come to us again to teach us how to raise the boy who is to be born.” 9And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God returned to the woman as she was sitting in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10The woman ran quickly to tell her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has reappeared!” 11So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he asked, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”
“I am,” he said. 12Then Manoah asked, “When your words come to pass, what will be the boy’s rule of life and mission?” 13So the angel of the LORD answered Manoah, “Your wife is to do everything I told her. 14She must not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.” Judges 13:1-14
This is telling about the birth of Samson. We tend to leave the seemingly fantastical Bible stories to children as we “wisely” move on to topical, grown-up things like finances or marriage. All well and good (actually not at all well and good), but there is still gold to mine in the miracles and mayhem of the Old Testament.
Do you see anything repeated? Verse 4? Verse 7? Verse 14? Do you think there is a point God is trying to make? It seems like He wants Samson’s mother, whose name we are not even given, to “not drink wine or strong drink, or eat anything unclean.” Why? Because the son she has not even conceived yet, will be a Nazirite.
Really think on this. Samson’s parents sincerely want to know how to “raise him right.” Isn’t this the plea of every parent? “Show me the rules, Lord!” Manoah prays and pleads this very thing, “Teach us how to raise this boy.” And He does. But probably not in the way they (or I) would hope for. Rather than give the names of books, gurus, conferences… or proper Pre-K’s, hobbies, or must-have skills… the Angel of the Lord came all the way back to them to give the simplest and best answer. “YOU must do as I have commanded YOU to do… And what I have commanded you to do, IS MODEL WHAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOUR SON TO DO.”
See that, friend. Mama took the Nazirite vow FIRST. The answer to the sincere plea and question of parents seeking wisdom to raise a child in faithfulness? You obey first. Do everything I have commanded you to do.
You don’t get to outsource your own obedience. There is no substitute teacher or better lesson– than you walking out obedience faithfully before the Lord. And before your family. And as long as we are chewing on tough meat, there’s no expiration date given on those commands. We might think this was “while you are pregnant” wisdom, but does Scripture actually say that?
What good and hard news! This is a gift if you let it be! God is not doubling your work. He is dividing it. You have just one job.
God has got your kids. He wants YOU to obey. And in the obeying, they will be led well. You pursue Him and He will pursue them.