Judges 13 (Annotated)
1. And the children of Israel did evil again [see chap. Judges 3:7, Judges 4:1, Judges 6:1-11, Judges 10:6] in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines [who from this point to the reign of David play a most important part. By Philistines we are not to understand Canaanites, but foreign conquerors; the name means camps] forty years [terminating with the battle of Ebenezer, 1 Samuel 7:13].
2. And there was a certain man of Zorah [place of hornets], of the family of the Danites [the words "family" and "tribe" are often used interchangeably. The tribe of Dan is said to have consisted of the single family of Shuham, Numbers 26:42], whose name was Manoah [rest]; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
3. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
4. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink [intoxicating liquor not made from grapes], and eat not any unclean tiling [a law which applied to all Israelites]:
5. For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head [see the law of the Nazarite in Num. vi.]: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines [" begin," but not complete: many men are permitted to begin good works, but they die without their full accomplishment].
6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me [angels always appear in human form], and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible [see Matthew 28:3-4]: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
7. But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, "and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite [Samuel was also a Nazarite, so was John the Baptist, so was James the Lord"s brother] to God from the womb to the day of his death.
8. Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us [we should ask for second and completing inspirations] what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
9. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
10. And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
11. And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the Prayer of Manasseh, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
12. And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child [what shall be the order of the child and his work?] and how shall we do unto him? [Not a step would they take without divine direction.]
13. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
14. She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine [see Numbers 6:3-5], neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. [The wine is described as the vine of wine—the grape-bearing vine; thus distinguishing it from the wild cucumber vine; see 2 Kings 4:39].
15. And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee [literally, before thy face. Compare with this the narrative of Gideon. A kid was a special delicacy; see Genesis 27:9; 1 Samuel 16:20].
16. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord [literally, a burnt offering unto the Lord thou mayest offer it. Compare chap. 1 Samuel 6:20. The worship of angels is nowhere encouraged by angels themselves; they invariably point worshippers to God himself. The angel did not understand Manoah as preparing a simple meal, but as really making preparations for sacrifice. Cautions given by angels should be studied with care— Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:8-9; and see Acts 10:25-26]. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord.
17. And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name [compare Genesis 32:29; Exodus 3:13; Proverbs 30:4], that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour [the word implying that some gift would be presented to the angel]?
18. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? [In Isaiah 9:5, this word is rendered "wonderful ": the word must be taken as an adjective. The only angel who names himself in scripture is Gabriel],
19. So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel of the Lord did wondrously [as in some sense verifying his name]; and Manoah and his wife looked on [all they could do].
20. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar [that which was a rock at first now became an altar], that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
21. But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.
22. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God ["as seeing him who is invisible"; Exodus 33:20; see also Genesis 32:20 and Deuteronomy 5:24].
23. But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands; neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would, as at this time, have told us such things as these.
24. And the woman bare a Song of Solomon, and called his name Samson [to minister, a name denoting Nazaritic consecration]: and the child grew [see Luke 1:80, and Luke 2:40], and the Lord blessed him ["with a heroic spirit and extraordinary strength of body, far above that which the poets feign of their Hercules with his twelve incredible labours "].
25. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times [literally, to agitate or thrust him—" to move him hither and thither, as the bells which hung in the skirts of Aaron"s garments; these bells have their name from a word which signifies that they were shaken to and fro "] in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
THIS is part of a family scene. It is quoted from a conversation which took place between husband and wife. Let us treat the incident as showing some aspects of family life, some methods of reading divine Providence, and some sources of consolation amid the distractions and mysteries of the present world.
Look at it as showing some aspects of family life. Here is the head of the house in gloom. Is he not always more or less in gloom, this same head of the house all the world over? Who ever knew a head of the house that was not more or less low-spirited, worried by a hundred anxieties, tormented by sudden fear? Perhaps naturally so: after all he is the head of the house; and probably the lightning conductor, being higher than any other part of the building, may have experience of thunderstorms and lightning discharges that lower parts of the structure know nothing about. As the head of the house you are in the market-place, you see things in their roughest aspects, you have to bear many a thing that you cannot explain to strangers, and there is an under-current in your consciousness which perhaps your truest friend has never seen, or seeing, appreciated; and therefore when we hear the head of the house complaining in tones that have no music in them, how know we but that the poor man has been undergoing vexations and distresses that he does not feel at liberty to explain? At any rate Manoah took this view of the angel"s visit: "We have seen God: no man can see God and live—we shall surely die." Here we have a wife comforting her husband. Like a true woman, she let Manoah have his groan out. There is a beautiful cunning in love. It does not break in upon a sentence at a semicolon. It lets the groan get right out, and then it offers its gentle consolation. If we had heard Manoah alone, we should have said, A terrible thunder-storm has burst upon this house, and God has come down upon it with awful vengeance; and not until we heard his wife"s statement of the case should we have any clear idea of the reality of the circumstances. You complain of this word "but" when a statement is made to you and it proceeds fluently and satisfactorily; the speaker says but, and you say, "Aye, there it is again." We carelessly abuse this but; it sometimes, however, introduces all the light and all the music, and is found to be the key, long lost, of the gate which had impeded our progress. "But his wife said unto him"—"but a certain Samaritan came that way." Therefore remember that help sometimes comes after words that seem only to promise some greater distress. Be the complement of each other. The husband does not know all the case. Perhaps the wife would read it a little too hopefully. You must hear both the statements, put them both together, and draw your conclusions from the twofold statement. People are the complement of each other. Woe to that man who thinks he combines all populations and all personalities in himself. He must be a miserable man who thinks that he is the only man in the world. You would get more help from other people if you expected more, if you invited more, if you put yourself in circumstances that would justify the offering of more. There is not a poor creature in the world who cannot fill up the drop that is wanting to complete the fulness of some other creature"s joy. You would not be half the man that you are except for your wife, and yet you never say "Thank you" with any degree of heartiness or sincerity. You listen to her suggestions with a half contempt, as if she did not know what she was talking about, and then you go and work out her idea and get the profit of it, and say what a clever man of business you are. That is not honest, it is not just—"Thou shalt not steal."
Here we have a husband and wife talking over a difficult case. Is not that a rare thing in these days of rush and tumult and noise, when a man never sees his little children, his very little ones, except in bed? He leaves home so early in the morning, and gets back so late at night, that he never sees his little ones but in slumber. Is it not now a rare thing for a husband and wife to sit down and talk a difficulty over in all its bearings? Have we not known in our own experience many a wife wronged because of the husband failing to show proper confidence? The man has been in difficulties, wherever he has gone he has been pursued by a haunting dread, and he has suffered all this alone; whereas if he had but stated the case with all frankness and loving candour, who knows but that his wife might have said some word which might have been as a key to the lock, and as a solution of the hard and vexatious problem? You will always find it an inexpressible comfort to take your husband or wife, as the case may be, into your confidence, and talk any difficulty right through, keeping back no part of the case. "It soothes poor misery hearkening to her tale." If we lived in more domestic confidence, our houses would be homes, our homes would be churches, and those churches would be in the very vicinage of heaven.
Let us now look at the incident as showing some methods of reading divine Providence. There we have the timid and distrustful method. Manoah looks at the case, reads it, spells where he cannot read plainly, and then, looking up from his book, he says to his wife, "There is bad news for you: God is about to destroy us." There are these same timid and doubtful readers of Providence in society today. There are some men who never see the sky in its midday beauty, who never see summer in July at all, who really have never one day"s true elevation of soul. I do not blame such people altogether. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We cannot all read with equal facility, and see with equal distinctness. There are causes or sub-causes, intermediate, secondary influences arising from physical constitution and other circumstances over which we have no control, which trouble our vision even of God himself. Let us, therefore, put in a word wherever we can for those who are not constituted hopefully, who have not been gifted with a sanguine temperament. There are men amongst us whose life is a continual pain. It is possible so to read God"s ways among men as to bring upon ourselves great distress. Is a Prayer of Manasseh, therefore, to exclaim, "This is a punishment sent from heaven for some inscrutable reason, and I must endure it as well as I can; I shall never see the sky when not a cloud bedims its dome "? No, you are to struggle against this, you are to believe other people; that is to say, you are to live in other people"s lives, to get out of other people the piece that is wanting in your own life. You are not to put ashes upon your head and say, "There is nothing in the universe that I do not see." You are to call little children and to say, "What do you see?" and young men and say, "How does life look from your point of view?" and you are to live in other people. We are to walk by faith and not by sight; we are debtors both to the Jew and to the Greek; and we must get from one another a complete statement of the reality of God"s way among the children of men. This is the inductive and hopeful method of reading divine Providence. Some cynical people who have no licence, and therefore ought to be arrested as metaphysical felons, say that women have no logic. And that sentence sounds as if really it ought to be true. It is so pat. It is one of those little weapons that a man can pick up and use as if he had always had it. I think that Manoah"s wife was in very deed learned in what we call the inductive method of reasoning, for she stated her case with wonderful simplicity and clearness. "If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands; neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would, as at this time, have told us such things as these." That is logic! That is the inductive method!—the method, namely, of putting things together and drawing a conclusion from the aggregate. Thank God if you have a wife who can talk like that. Why, if they had both been gloomy parties, what a house it would have been! They need never have taken the shutters down, and summer might have ignored their existence. But Manoah"s wife was of a hopeful turn of mind. She had the eye which sees flecks of blue in the darkest skies. She had the ear which hears the softest goings of the Eternal. She was an interpreter of the divine thought. Oh, to have such an interpreter in every house, to have such an interpreter in every pulpit in England, to have such a companion on the highway of venture and enterprise! This is the eye that sees farther than the dull eye of criticism can ever see, that sees God"s heart, that reads meanings that seem to be written afar. Have we this method of reading divine Providence? I call it the appreciative and thankful method. Why, some of us can take up our loaf and say, "Only this!" and say it in a tone that means practical blasphemy; others can take up a crust and say, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow! This is God"s gift. He cannot mean me to die, or he would not have put this into my hand." A litany in one sentence, worthy to find its place amid the hallelujahs and blessings of the better world. Who was it that said, "When I look at those who are higher than I Amos, I am tempted towards discontent, but when I go out amongst the poor and compare their condition with my own, my heart overflows with loving thankfulness"? How dare we complain, the worst, the poorest among us! Taking the average—and a low average—what Prayer of Manasseh, what woman is there that ought not to join in heartfelt praise to Almighty God for mercies innumerable as the moments, delicate as the light, present as the living air round about one"s poor life! Manoah droops, pines, dies; his wife goes out, gathers the flowers in the Lord"s garden, brings them back to him and says, "Manoah, be a man: would God have given us these things if he meant to kill us?" And poor Manoah lifts up his drooping face to the light. Put together your mercies, look at them as a whole and say, Can this mean death, or does it mean life? and I know what the glad answer will be.
There are some sources of consolation amid the distractions and mysteries of the present world. Every life has some blessings. I charge it upon you when the year closes to reckon up your blessings. Men eagerly count up their misfortunes and trials, but how few remember their mercies! One man says, I have no wealth. No, but look what a pair of shoulders you have! Another man says, I have but feeble health. True, but look what investments you have! Another voice says, I am disposed to be fearful and dispirited. But look what a wife you have! Every life has some blessing, and we must find what that blessing or those blessings are. We must put them together, and reason from the goodness towards the glory of God. Amid these blessings religious privileges are sure signs of the divine favour. We have religious privileges: we can go into the sanctuary: we can take counsel together; we can kneel side by side in prayer; we can go to the very best sources for religious instruction and religious comfort. Does God mean to kill when he has given us such proofs of favour as these? Does he mean to kill us when he has sent the minister of the covenant to tell us glad tidings of great joy? Let us find in religious blessings proof that God means no evil to us. We will persist in looking at a distress till it seems to be the only thing in our life. We need to put two and two together. Do not be losing yourselves in the midst of details that have apparently no connection. Gather up your life until it becomes shaped into meaning, and then when you have seen things in their proper relationships pronounce calmly upon the ways of God towards you. Let us put away religious melancholy. Many people are saying, "I fear I have committed the unpardonable sin; I seem to have offended God for ever, and put him far away from me, so that I can never see his face again." Wouldst thou have any anxiety about the thing if he were clean gone for ever, and had drawn the skirts of his garments after him so as to leave thee but the blackness of darkness? By the very fact of thy concern, understand that God has not purposed to kill thee. Cry mightily for him; say, "Oh that I knew where I might find him!" "Why standest thou afar off, O God?" And if thou criest Song of Solomon, he will surely come again, saying, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee."
Let us learn from this family scene that great joys often succeed great fears. Manoah said, The Lord intends to kill us; his wife said, Not Song of Solomon, or he would not have received a burnt offering at our hands. And behold Samson was born, a judge of Israel, an avenger of mighty wrongs. Is it ever so dark as just before the dawn? Are you not witnesses that a great darkness always precedes a great light—that some peculiar misery comes to prepare the way for some unusual joy? If we could only lay hold of life in this way, and read it, not with unreasonable expectation of deliverance and joy, but with hopefulness, we should never become old, desiccated, or tuneless—to the last we should wear like old silver, to the very last there would be in us a light above the brightness of the sun. Let us read the goodness of God in others. Many a time we have been recovered from practical atheism by reading other people"s experience. When things seem to have been going wrong with us, we have looked over into a neighbour"s garden and seen his flowers, and our hearts have been cheered by the vision.
Oh, woman, talk of your mission! Here is your mission described and exemplified in the case of the wife of Manoah. What do you want with your School Board and platform experiences, and those mysterious abstractions which you call your rights? Here is your field of operation. Cheer those who are dispirited; read the word of God in its spirit to those who can only read its cold meagre letter, and the strongest of us will bless you for your gentle ministry. Did not Paul write to the Church at Rome saying, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila," putting the wife"s name first, and that in no mere spirit of courtesy, but probably in recognition of her supreme influence in spiritual direction and consolation? Who was it in the days of Scottish persecution? Was it not Helen Stirk—a braver Helen than the fiend Macgregor—who said to her husband as they were both carried forth to be executed, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days; but this day wherein we die together ought to be most joyful to us both, because we must have joy for ever; therefore I will not bid you good-night, for we shall suddenly meet within the kingdom of heaven "? Who was it when Whitefield was mobbed and threatened, and when even he was about to give way,—who was it but his wife who took hold of his robe and said, "George, play the man for your God"? Oh, woman, talk of your rights, and your sphere, and your having nothing to do! We should die without you. The man is fit for murders, stratagems, and spoils who is not a worshipper of woman—a worshipper of his mother, of his sister, of his wife, of the ideal woman. Have a sphere of labour at home, go into sick-chambers and speak as only a woman can speak. Counsel your sons as if you were not dictating to them. Read Providence to your husband in an incidental manner, as if you were not reproaching him for his dulness, but simply hinting that you had seen unexpected light. Women have always said the finest things that have ever been said in the Bible. She was a woman that—we speak it with reverence—outwitted the Lord himself. He said "No" to her request. And he was not accustomed to say that word; it fell awkwardly from those dear lips. "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not meet to take the children"s bread and cast it unto dogs." But the woman outwitted him. Scribes and Pharisees would have been silenced, but the woman said: "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters" table." Christ yielded himself a willing prisoner of love. Trust the heart of love to outstrip the brain of genius!
Samson was the son of Manoah, of the tribe of Daniel, and born a.m2848, of a mother whose name is nowhere given in the Scriptures. His destination to great achievements began to evince itself at a very early age by the illapses of superhuman strength which came from time to time upon him. Falling in love with a woman of Sorek, named Delilah, he became so infatuated by his passion, that nothing but his bodily strength could equal his mental weakness. Betrayed by her, and forsaken of Heaven, the Philistines having deprived him of sight, at first immured him in a prison, and made him grind at the mill like a slave. As this was an employment which in the East usually devolves on women, to assign it to such a man as Samson was virtually to reduce him to the lowest state of degradation and shame. In process of time, while remaining in this confinement, his hair recovered its growth, and with it such a profound repentance seems to have wrought in his heart as virtually reinvested him with the character and the powers he had so culpably lost. Of this fact his enemies were not aware. They kept him like a wild beast for mockery and insult. On the occasion of a feast in honour of their god Dagon, Samson was ordered to be brought out to be made a laughing-stock to his enemies. He secretly determined to use his recovered strength to tremendous effect, and persuaded a boy to conduct him to the two pillars upon which the roof of the building rested. Here, after pausing for a short time, while he prefers a brief prayer to Heaven, he grasps the massy pillars, and bowing with resistless force, the whole building rocks and totters, and the roof, encumbered with the weight of the spectators, rushes down, and the whole assembly, including Samson himself, are crushed to pieces in the ruin. Thus terminated the career of one of the most remarkable personages of all history, whether sacred or profane. The enrolment of his name by an apostolic pen ( Hebrews 11:32) in the list of the ancient worthies "who had by faith obtained an excellent repute" warrants us undoubtedly in a favourable estimate of his character on the whole, while at the same time the fertility of the inspired narrative has perpetuated the record of infirmities which must for ever mar the lustre of his noble deeds.
Almighty God, thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Thou knowest when to open thine hand and when to close it, and it is ours but to watch the opening and the shutting. Thou art King: we are the subjects of thy crown. The Lord reigneth. That is the highest note in our Song of Solomon, the gladdest tone of our rhapsody. We abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and take nothing into our own hands, for they are not only unclean, but weak because unclean. We come to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Unknown One, and the for-ever Unknowable, yet still always coming to our heart"s best feeling, a new light, a new warmth, a new gladness. We know thee by our love. Our hearts grope for thee, assured that thou art hidden in the darkness, and concealed in the light, and everywhere present to bless and heal and redeem. Now we know thee in Christ Jesus—the heart of God, the will of God, the whole meaning of eternity in relation to man. This is wonderful in our eyes. Sometimes we touch him, so near we are, and so reverently familiar; yet we feel that it is like touching a cloud hiding mysteries; and sometimes we stand afar off, because we do not know his language, we cannot follow his words: we know them as terms, but we cannot see all the meaning with which he charges them. Nevertheless, he is with us today, to-morrow, and on the third day; then he rises again, and we see him no more after the flesh: but we know that he lives; he left his promise with us: we claim it, we rejoice in it, our heaven begins in its music, and our eternity of bliss is assured by a living faith in the living Christ. Thou hast done all things well. Sometimes we have thought otherwise, and at those times of ignorance thou hast graciously turned away thine eyes from us, that thou mightest not see our folly; but we have come to repent; we have seen the larger work, the fuller meaning, somewhat of the ultimate intention—then our mouth has been filled with singing, and our heart with joy, and our eyes with tears of. gladness. Henceforth we will trouble thee no more. Be the rain heavy and the storm bitter, or the sky burning with gracious summer, it shall not be ours to murmur at the reigning, living, loving Father. Thou doest all things as thou wilt; the time is kept in the upper sanctuary, and the law is with the Lord and not with man. This is the gift of Christ—this glowing, triumphant faith; this is the miracle of the cross; this is the meaning of the resurrection as to our own spiritual victory. Now we glory in tribulations also. They were the last to come into the song; they stood back, far off, frowning and hesitant, unwilling to be made use of for Christian sacrifice; but now by faith we have brought them in one by one: and we glory in tribulations also—yea, we are exceedingly filled with gladness, and we forget our sorrow as the sea might forget in its fulness the stone which lies in its depths. We bless thee for all these high emotions, these noble impulses, these upward outgoings of the soul: they do us good; they cleanse the heart; they give elevation to the whole scale of life—they are the very miracles of heaven. We put our whole being into thine hand, saying, Do as thou wilt: thy will, not mine, be done; what thou choosest is best, what thou doest is right. This we have learned in Jesus Christ; this is the lesson we have received in our crucifixion with the Son of God. Thou dost administer thy discipline to us in various ways. Sometimes thou dost bring us down from great heights; sometimes thou dost chasten us with heavy sorrows, so that men pity us, so that human creatures who are strangers cannot look on without sympathetic tears. Yet the sufferer is the most rejoicing, because where pain abounds grace doth much more abound; where the background is blackest every touch of thy light shines with a new and dazzling meaning. Thou hast brought us together again after separation—some for one week, some for a few days, some for a longer period. For all renewal of fellowship, and trust, and love, we bless thee. We need all these intermediate helps, that we may be continued in our faith and patience in reference to the eternal communion. Some are in great sorrow; some cannot see for tears; many have no helpers, and a few have none to speak to: a few words of uttered misery would be a help in the wilderness, but there is nothing present but the great glaring light or the heedless wind. Say to such that thou art near, and that everything may be told to thee, even things that may not be told to sweetest mother, or most trusting and loving friend. Help us during the few days that remain. How they fly! Presently they will all be gone, and we, who were going to enjoy ourselves some day, will find that our proposals are lost in the wind, and that the opportunity is gone. Help us, then, to begin now, to enter into the joy of the Lord now, to know that now is the accepted time and now the day of salvation. Amen.
"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?"— Judges 13:12.
The supreme question which parents should ask.—A question which God permits to be pat to himself.—God alone can know the true way of training a human life.—It is in vain to ask God"s guidance after the foundations of the life have been laid and its policy has been determined upon. The child is to be trained up from its earliest moment.—There is a sense in which there is no time of unconsciousness to the child: we are making impressions even when those impressions are not accompanied by acts of intelligence.—Surely blessed is that child who has never seen anything in father or mother that is not true, beautiful, and good.—It would seem the easiest thing in the world to train a child; in reality it is the most difficult.—Every child has its own peculiar psychology.—Every child has its own peculiar motive, impulse, vision of things, and purpose.—The very wisdom of God is required in the right training of children.—But the child cannot be trained aright until the parent has a correct conception of life itself.—If life is a question of this world, of immediate health, wealth, and enjoyment, then the policy of child-training is easy and simple enough; but if life here is but the beginning of real life, if the present state of existence is but a gate opening upon true destinies and illimitable spheres of action, then light from above is needed, and guidance and comfort from the Father of all men.—Let parents be encouraged to consult God about child-training.—Let every child be the subject of special prayer.—Let the parent be able to say, should occasion arise, to each child, "I have prayed for thee," as Christ said to Simon Peter.
"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?"— Judges 13:18.
Men are continually driven back from secret altars, and forbidden to indulge their curiosity in sacred places.—We may receive anonymous blessings.—It is difficult to distinguish sometimes between curiosity and reverent inquiry.—Sometimes we are more interested in the secret things than in the things revealed. When we are conscious of such interest we may know that we are animated by curiosity, and not by the spirit of reverential inquiry.—In coming to the Bible we must come for ripe fruit, for practical blessings ready to be handled, for the things which we can immediately understand and apply; and we must not be deterred from our use and enjoyment of these because a secret seems to be hidden within them all, and a ghostly presence seems to be moving in shadow across the pages as we peruse them.—There is a point at which the knowable ends: at that point we may either become fools or wise men—fools because we say there is nothing worth knowing, or wise men by saying the temporal must be conducted in the light of the eternal, the finite must be ennobled by a consciousness of the infinite, the human must be lifted up to its noblest significance by the assured presence and judgment of the divine.
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 13". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany