There’s Nothing Ordinary About Ordinary

Judges 13:2, “There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.

Manoah? Who’s this guy? Joe average is what I’m thinking. In fact, if he had lived in modern times, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if his name was John Smith. The Bible tells us absolutely nothing about him. No background. No notable lineage. No list of accomplishments or qualifications. The text makes it obvious that he doesn’t even have any experience with parenting. From a hiring standpoint his resume is pretty lean. All we are told is that he was “…a certain man...” If I didn’t know better, I’m tempted to believe that God drew his name out of a hat. Manoah seems completely nondescript, totally inadequate, and entirely ordinary. I doubt that a single one of us would have chosen him if we had been in charge of the selection process. And yet, out of an entire nation of people, God chose Manoah to be the father of the man who would serve as the next great deliverer of God’s people.

I want to take a few minutes today to take a closer look at this ordinary man, to hopefully glean some life lessons that will have value for each of us. The opening to this chapter certainly doesn’t tell us much about Manoah but the ensuing story speaks volumes about this ordinary man’s extraordinary character.

  • Manoah was a man of prayer. In verse 8 we are told he “entreated the Lord.” When Manoah had a need he turned to God for guidance and assistance. He made time to pray because prayer was his first choice of action. Prayer was important in his life.
  • Manoah was a man who recognized his own limitations. Look at his request. He asks God for help in raising his soon coming son. Manoah understood that he had no previous experience as a father. So, instead of trying to act like he had all the answers, he accepted his limitations and opened up his heart to learn.
  • Manoah was a man of faith. Look at verse 12. One word demonstrates this man’s remarkable faith. “…when…” In Manoah’s mind God always kept His word. The promise of a son was not a question of “if.” It was a matter of “when.” In faith Manoah began to make preparations for the fulfillment of God’s Word.
  • Manoah was a man of reverence. In verse 16-19 Manoah displays his profound sense of respect and awe for the divine. He takes time and puts forth effort in a very determined act of worship. He does not treat lightly or irreverently the encounter and opportunity that he has been granted. His response to God? Manoah worships.
  • Manoah was a man of responsibility. Look ahead into chapter 2 and you find a man who took seriously the divine charge that he received. Manoah had been given a job. And he was going to do that job to the best of his ability. When Samson starts looking for a wife, Manoah is quick to challenge his son’s initial choice. He understood that part of his responsibility as a father was to help his son choose the right paths.

Devoted to prayer. Willing to learn. Full of faith. Committed to worship. Responsible. Hmmm… Guess I will need to change my initial statements regarding this extraordinary man. This ordinary man was actually a truly amazing man. Little wonder that God chose him for such an important role. The amazing thing to me is that there is not one item on that list that I cannot do myself. I can pray. I can admit my weaknesses and open my heart to learn. I can grow in faith. I can worship. I can be responsible. And therein lies the real wonder in the life of Manoah. Far too often we allow our own sense of inadequacy to disqualify us from kingdom service. We tell ourselves that God could never use us. We’re not special. Or gifted. Or talented. Or educated. Or charismatic. Honestly? We’re downright ordinary. There’s nothing extraordinary about us. But just like Manaoh, we can be used by God to do great things if we will just receive the call. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. Stop complaining about what you don’t have and simply surrender yourself to Him. There’s absolutely nothing ordinary about a life that is fully abandoned to God. He specializes in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. He did it for Manoah. And he can do it for you.