Sometimes God’s complete disregard for human customs is amusing. In the story of Manoah’s wife, we’re dealing with a time when, according to custom, women were property–generally useful for sex, having babies, keeping house or working the fields. Companionship was optional.
The story of Manoah and his wife offers many delicious, God-initiated ironies. First, God sends his messenger to whom? A nameless woman! Second, where Manoah is determined to discover God’s name and take control of the situation, isn’t it ironic that God, instead, only re-emphasizes that Manoah’s wife has all the pertinent details?
As Manoah presses for a name, God only responds that his name is “wonderful,” beyond knowing. Ironically, at the same time, God is making himself known to them in a truly personal and marvelous way. But it is all on God’s terms–not Manoah’s. The story also shows how God sees us, even when we are invisible and nameless to the rest of the world, and, even better, he includes us in his story. Manoah’s wife became an important part, indeed, of God’s story. Centuries later, another unknown, invisible girl likewise became pivotal to God’s story. Perhaps the wonder of our relationship with God is that even though his name is “wonderful” and beyond understanding, he still draws near, reveals himself to us, and invites us, just like these people, into his story.