And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or announced to us such things as these.” — Judges 13:22-23
When we think about entering into the presence of God, the idea tends to excite or comfort us. Recently, I have heard several different comments, particularly from worship leaders, who mention the idea of “entering into the presence of God.” It has become increasingly common to focus on the idea of ushering people before the throne of God. What leaders usually mean when they say this, though, is that they expect wonderful things to happen: encouragement, healing, comfort, good teaching, etc.
In this verse of Judges, though, we see the father of Samson who responds quite differently once he realizes that they had been with God. Now, Manoah encountered feelings much differently that comfort. Likely, he endured conviction and terrifying awe. His response was not praise or singing. Instead, Monoah feared for his life.
Why did Monoah feel this way? Because he understood that he could not stand innocently before the LORD. Sometimes, it seems as though we have forgotten this fact. We forget the weight of the presence of God: his holiness, majesty, and righteousness. The immensity of quashes our smallness, and when we have truly encountered this presence, we are crushed.
The next verse, however, demonstrates yet another amazing truth. Monoah’s wife recognizes the grace of God. This couple has just spent time with God as he patiently listened to their pleas and requests to help them know that they could trust the words that he was bringing to them. Monoah’s wife noticed this patience.
Monoah recognized God’s majesty, and when his wife pointed out the grace and patience, the two could fully understand the goodness of God.
The problem with ignorance about the soul-crushing majesty of God is not that it hides the truth about us – that we are small. No, it overshadows the sheer greatness of God. It attempts to cover up the glory of his grace.
When God shows up, conviction ought to be a part of it. Conviction demonstrates patience because it means that God is willing to point out our deficiencies and encourage us to change. A part of the work of grace is that it regenerates us, and regeneration starts with recognition of sin and that we need more of him.
We walk a dangerous road when we continually talk about the grace of God while excluding talk about the majesty of God. For it is the majesty that makes that grace so extraordinary.