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Bible Commentaries

Parker's The People's Bible

Judges 16

Verse 20

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him." Judges 16:20 .

This is the saddest of all mental experience. It has its counterpart even in business and in professional life. There are men of business who suppose they are as competent and energetic as ever, whilst those who are looking on observe how great is the decay, and how lamentable the weakness. Men suppose themselves as capable as ever of giving advice in perplexity, yet when they come to counsel the bewildered mind they lose the centre of thought, and miss altogether the purpose which the counsel was intended to serve. We go away from such men filled with a sense of pity. Let us apply the same truth to the religious nature. Note the ghastliness of having a form of godliness without the power thereof. No irony so distressing. A man may use the very words of prayer, and yet may not enter into the spirit of fellowship with God. The picture is that of a man on whose outward appearance no change has been wrought which he himself accounts of any consequence, but within the house of the soul has been stripped of all that was valuable, and is left in emptiness and desolation. A terrible thing it is to bow down in prayer after God himself has forsaken the altar. Cut is it possible for a man to have lost fellowship with God, and yet to be unaware of the loss? All history says that it is possible. Familiarity with certain places and modes and actions may delude the mind into believing that whilst the usage is repeated the spirit is retained. We grow into a species of self-idolatry sometimes without intention, and often without knowledge. How are we to know that the Lord is still with us? Always by the simple test of obedience. But is not obedience itself sometimes a delusive action? Possibly, and therefore we should esteem most highly that obedience which imposes upon us the pain and loss of sacrifice. How does the Lord depart from a man? The intellect is apparently as acute as ever, external offices are fulfilled as punctiliously as before, no blemish is found upon the public reputation, how, then, can God have departed from the man? The mystery lies in the fact of our composite nature: we are body and soul, flesh and spirit, in us there is both time and eternity, dust of the earth and fire from heaven; and, our life being so complex, we do not instantly know when the very centre of life and thought has been changed that is, we go on for a little while by a momentum originally received, but which has no power of self-replenishment, and therefore must die when the original inspiration is withdrawn. Let us not make any religious experiments as Samson did. He got into a mood of speculation and adventure, saying, If you do this or that, I shall be as other men. He did not mean at first to tell his secret, but little by little we are led to the giving up of that which is the very mystery and glory of life. It is infinitely dangerous to tamper with temptation. There may be a kind of pleasure in taunting the Philistines, misleading them, mocking them, and laughing at them in their disasters, but he should be stronger than ever Samson was who ventures to play with the enemy, and to practise tricks and puzzles for the sake of bewildering and annoying them. It is impossible to say when the last temptation may come, or how we ourselves may be tempted to try if in reality our strength lay where we supposed it to lie. The lesson comes back again and again from all quarters, and with a thousand voices "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 16". Parker's The People's Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jpb/judges-16.html. 1885-95.