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Seeds of the Kingdom

His Name is Wonderful

by John Sainsbury

24 September 2021

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Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honour you when your word comes true?” He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding (or sometimes translated:‘It is wonderful’).
Judges 13:17-18, NIV

Many of us are probably familiar with the stories of Samson the deliverer of Israel but perhaps less so with those of his parents. His father’s name was Manoah, from the tribe of Dan and his mother, who isn’t even named in the story, is described as being sterile and childless. However, it is to this nameless barren lady that the angel of the LORD appears to give her the incredible news that she would conceive a son (a saviour for God’s people so it turns out).

At the time, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so He delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. But into that ‘hopeless’ situation, the angel of the LORD steps in to bring hope out of hopelessness, not just for Manoah and his wife, but for the whole downtrodden people of God.

When Manoah encounters the angel of the LORD, we read a fascinating encounter between them culminating in Manoah asking the name of his heavenly visitor. And this is where things get even more interesting. He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” Although some translations have it as “It is wonderful” (Judges 13:18).

What did the Angel of God mean when asserting that his name was ‘wonderful’?

We see the same idea in Psalm 139:6 when the Psalmist is overwhelmed by God’s intimate, detailed, full-knowing of him – even knowing the very words he’ll speak before he does so. Of this he says: ‘such knowledge is too wonderful for me.’ By saying it’s too ‘wonderful’ he seems to suggest that ‘it’s beyond him’, it’s too much; in other words, he just can’t take it in. It’s a bit like knowing just how many stars there are in the skies. The number is simply too vast to comprehend, too ‘wonderful’ for us to fathom.

So here, in Judges 13:18, the Angel of God is saying in effect: ‘My character, my nature is “too much”; it is beyond – you simply can’t get your head around it. I am too wonderful. That is who I am.’

This is the One to whom we come in prayer, the One who sees our individual distress and hears our cries yet, at the same time, is the One who is simply too wonderful for us to get our heads round!

Prayer: Dear Wonderful Father God, thank You that You hear my prayers today. Thank You that I matter to You, despite the fact that You are too wonderful for me to fully comprehend. Wonderful God thank You for who You are, and who I am to You. Amen.

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.


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