"What a godly couple! Now this is the kind of leader we want--someone who will not only deliver us from our enemies but also lead us into spiritual renewal."
That's what one would be tempted to think as you read about Manoah and his wife in Judges 13. When it's announced to the woman that she, though barren, will conceive and bear a son, and that he will be dedicated to the Lord from birth (a Nazirite), and that he will begin to save Israel from the Philistines, one's hopes could potentially soar.
Then Manoah prays the Lord to send the mysterious messenger back. Why? For instructions on raising this deliverer. They want to make sure they raise him well! Surely God is good to Israel! And at the end of the chapter we read that the Manoahs did have a son, and he was healthy, and he was blessed by the Lord as he grew, and the Lord began to stir him.
But as the focus of the next chapter shifts from parents to son, the promised one, a muffled alarm begins to sound somewhere in our minds. In verses 1-2 Samson informs his parents he wants to marry a Philistine. In verse 3 they remonstrate with him (in vain), pleading with him to marry an Israelite. Good students of the Old Testament, we realize that he should marry within Israel. Hasn't God commanded Israel not to intermarry with the godless nations around them?
Then Samson's justification to his father sounds another warning, for he says, "She is right in my eyes." That's a problem. Are we not to live by what's right in God's eyes? Further, living right in their own eyes is the very moral snare Israel continues to indulge that continues to lead them into dire geo-political straits. In fact, the theme of Judges, of which Samson's very words are an echo, is sounded twice: "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (17:6; 21:25).
As we continue to read of Samson, we become slightly less hopeful and a little wary ...