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This chapter commenceth with another sad account of Israel's transgression, and the consequent punishment from the Lord. We have in it also, the relation of the birth of Samson, and the message of an angel concerning him. The conference between the angel and the mother of Samson in the first interview, and the renewed conversation at a second, when her husband was present. Both are circumstantially related in this chapter.
Judges 13:1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
This is but the same distressing page, varying only as circumstances required they should vary, concerning Israel's sin and the Lord's punishment. But Reader! do not overlook, for it is a sweet consoling thought: correction is a mark of love, a proof of interest, the token of a father. If I see a man chastising a child, I instantly know that there is a relationship between them. That man I should say, without being told so, is the child's father. And do not these frequent corrections of Israel prove to me; that the Lord is Israel's father? You only have I known (saith God) of all the families of the earth; therefore 1 will punish you for all your iniquities. Amos 3:2 .
Dan was one of the tribes of Israel. And this tribe lay near the Philistines' country. Jacob prophesied concerning this tribe, that Dan should judge his people. Perhaps this prophecy had its fulfillment in the person of Samson. Genesis 49:16 .
If the Reader will connect what is here said of this angel, with what is said of him in Judges 13:18 , where the angel declares his name to be Secret, or as it might have been translated Wonderful: and then will call to mind what the Holy Ghost hath said of the Lord Jesus, by his servant the prophet Isaiah, that his name should be called Wonderful; such views will leave the Reader but little room to doubt who the angel was. See Isaiah 9:6 . And if the Reader will go further, and read Judges 13:22 , he will then have a further evidence. For it appears that neither Manoah nor his wife considered this visitor was any other than as a created angel, until that he ascended in the flame of the altar, and then they knew that it was God himself: and under this impression the man cried out, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. Had he not been convinced that this was Jehovah, he would not have so expressed himself: for it was upon the authority of God's own words which the Lord had said before to Moses, that he grounded this assurance! Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live. Exodus 33:20 .
This view of the subject will open to us most precious information to guide through all the parts of it. I pray the Reader, therefore, to preserve it in remembrance. The angel introduceth himself to the woman's notice as demanding particular attention, not only from the seeming interest be took in what concerned her, but also in intimating that he knew her barrenness. It was a calamity to any of the Israelites to be barren. Write this man childless; was one of God's severe judgments. Jeremiah 22:30 , It is worthy observation, that as Isaac was a child of promise; so was Samson. And was he not in this, a type and figure of the promised seed? Paul found great comfort in being of the class of the children of promise. Galatians 4:28 .
There is somewhat peculiarly interesting in the law of the Nazarites. The separation, or the being sanctified, and set apart to the Lord, carried with it a matter of great moment. And hence Moses appropriates a whole chapter to this one subject. And it is worthy of remark, that at the close of that chapter the blessing of Israel is subjoined, which certainly is expressive of the united blessing of Jehovah in his threefold character of persons. See Numbers 6:0 throughout. See the Commentary also on that chapter. That the Lord had a peculiar eye of grace and favor to the Nazarites, is evident from the prophet, because the Lord takes to himself praise that he had raised up, of Israel's young men, to be Nazarites. See Amos 2:11 . But is there not, in all this, a striking reference to our adored Redeemer, who is uniformly distinguished as Jesus Christ of Nazareth? And were not all Nazarites types of him? Were they not intended to show their belonging to him and to his seed, who in the first days of the gospel were in contempt called Nazarites? Oh! how sweet to go forth without the camp, bearing his reproach! See Hebrews 13:13 ; Matthew 2:23 ; Acts 28:22 .
An interesting information to her husband. No doubt from the nature of the prohibition, both Manoah and his wife conceived somewhat wonderful of this child; and cheerfully wished that a child, concerning whose birth so much attention was to be shown, might be dedicated as a Nazarite to the Lord from the womb. Nothing can be more interesting, nor more devoutly to be prayed for by true believers in Jesus, than that their offspring should be early followers of the Lord as dear children. If my Reader be a parent he will outrun all that I might add up on this subject.
There is somewhat very striking in the prayer of Manoah. No doubt from the woman's account in the joy she had experienced from the interview with the angel, the husband desired to be made a partaker in the same felicity. Reader! how dead and insipid would be all earthly conversation, if we were conversant with the heavenly inhabitants. Dearest Jesus! grant us the sweet visits of thy grace, and let our conversation be more in heaven; then shall we be looking for, and longing for the day of thy coming. Philippians 3:20 .
God is a God-hearing prayer, and faithful to His promises. Before my people call is the promise, I will answer. And Jesus confirms the same, when he saith, Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Compare Isaiah 65:24 with Matthew 21:22
It doth not appear from the relation, that the angel bid her call her husband, but it may be supposed. So did Jesus to the woman of Samaria. John 4:16 .
Certainly in all this we behold a lively type of the ever-blessed Jesus. He was himself holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and a Nazarite indeed, in whom was no guile. And was not the mother of Samson, like the church of old, during the long expected season of the birth of Jesus, enjoined to holiness, and to touch not the unclean thing Ye are an holy nation, a peculiar people. 1 Peter 2:9 .
Every step in this delightful narration, becomes more, and more interesting. Perhaps the Reader will recollect, how in similar circumstances, Abraham tried to-detain his heavenly visitor. Genesis 18:2-1.18.5 . Reader, you and I can hardly enter into the full apprehension of the sweetness of those things. Since the Son of God finished redemption-work, and returned unto glory, such open appearances have not been vouchsafed, of divine visits. But stop - are we not still more highly favoured? Is not the Holy Ghost come down to dwell in the hearts of his people; and is not that gracious promise fulfilled, that if any man love our Jesus, the Father will love him, and both will come and make their abode with him? Are these things so? Do the Holy undivided Three, truly visit the souls of the faithful? Oh! then may my soul know this, feel it, and truly enjoy it, and constrain the Lord to abide with me always, even to the end of the world. Dear Jesus! I would say, be not thou as a way-faring man, that tarrieth but for a night; but do thou remember thy promise, wherein thou hast caused me to hope. John 14:24-43.14.26 ; Matthew 28:20 .
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. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.
It is not strange that Monoah should be unconscious who this angel was: for when our Lord Jesus Christ came in substance of our flesh, and in a more open display of his Person, when he came to his own, his own received him not. John 1:11 .
Jacob felt the same desire, in the interview he had with the angel Genesis 32:29 . Reader! what a mercy is it, to you and to me, that that name, which is now so dear to his people, is no longer secret. Now we know him in that lovely name of Jesus, a Saviour; the Lord our righteousness, and all the other precious appellations by which he comes home, revealed to our hearts: and which are as ointment poured forth. Matthew 1:21 ; Jeremiah 23:6 ; Song of Solomon 1:3 . Oh! thou precious Emanuel; may I so know thy name, as to put my trust in thee. Psalms 9:10 .
What a most interesting scene this must have been! It seems as if the man and his wife did nothing but look on. Yes, our faith can go no further. To lift a tool upon the altar is to pollute it. Exodus 20:25 . Jesus is both the sacrifice, the rock or altar on which the sacrifice is offered, and the High Priest to offer. Well might they look on when the Lord did things so wondrously. There could be no longer a question who this was, when he ascended in the flame of the altar. Whether fire came down from heaven, or whether the Lord caused it to issue from the rock to consume the sacrifice, it is not said; but the acceptableness of the sacrifice could not be doubted, when the wonderful angel ascended with it before God. Reader, how very precious are such views, in type and figure, we meet with occasionally in the Old Testament, of that one grand and all-sufficient offering which our Lord Jesus made by himself under the New dispensation? And oh! how very, very refreshing to the souls of God's people now, is the consideration, that our dear Lord, as Mediator, gives a sanctity and sweetness to all the pure offerings of our hearts, in perfuming them with the odours of his blood and righteousness, and ascending in the flame of our devotions which he himself, by his Holy Spirit, hath excited; and carries them, as our High Priest, before the throne! Oh! may my soul never presume to draw nigh, but under the censer of this Great High Priest! And may my soul never cease to draw nigh, now I have such an High Priest and Advocate with the Father, who is the propitiation for my sins. 1 John 2:1-62.2.2 .
The effect upon the minds of those persons was as might be expected. Never will the soul lay lower, than in the moment of receiving signal mercies. It is difficult to say, which to admire most, the fear of the man, or the faith of the woman. Nothing can be more admirably expressed, than the well-grounded confidence of the woman. Surely the Lord's acceptation of an offering, must carry with it a conviction of love to the person offering? And never, at such a time as this, when there was no open vision, would the Lord have shewed them such gracious things, had he not intended mercy. Reader! do not overlook the personal instruction this view of the subject brings. If you have ever tasted that the Lord is gracious: if you have been let into the sweets of God's grace in Jesus: if in times past you have been led to view the loveliness of Jesus, and have seen a suitableness and an all-sufficiency in Him for salvation: seek for that sweet office of the Holy Ghost, I mean as the Remembrancer of Jesus, to live upon these things, when you cannot see them. Recollect, that though your views differ, Jesus is the same. carry these things about with you, to help the mind in a dark and cloudy day. And learn to say, as the wife of Manoah did, If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have shewed such things, neither have received Christ, the great sacrifice, at your hands.
Samson, like Shemesh, signifies a sun: probably typical of Him, who is emphatically called, the Sun of righteousness. Malachi 4:2 . And perhaps in allusion to his great strength. For the sun is said to go forth as a giant to run his course: Psalms 19:5 . The first indications of the strength which would afterwards be manifested in his life. What a lovely and engaging view is given of our adorable Redeemer, in his human nature, when in the midst of the Jewish doctors, he astonished everyone with his questions and answers. Luke 2:46-42.2.47 . How very interesting is the dawn of early piety, and the love of God our Saviour in young minds. And what additional beauty it throws over the youthful countenance. Such most probable, was John, the youngest of all the disciples, whom it is said Jesus loved. John 13:23 .
CONTEMPLATE, my soul, the wonderful grace of God manifested to this humble family, amidst the general corruption of Israel; and remark from it, for thy comfort and encouragement in evil times, how the Lord watcheth over his people for good. Behold! how angels minister unto them that are the heirs of salvation. And may I not hope, may I not trust, that some celestial messenger will graciously be sent to my relief in any, and in every case, wherein my God and Father sees it needful.
But do I not see in this instance Jesus himself, the Almighty Angel, and Messenger of the Father's covenant? Surely, dearest Jesus, as the great Mediator of it, and in this light thy Father's servant, it is thou thyself which hast brought all the glorious revelations of heaven! It is thou which hast communicated all the important messages from Jehovah to men. Surely it was thou which didst converse with the Patriarchs, with thy church in the wilderness, and upon many occasions, like the present, to thy people, as if thou didst long for the period fixed on from all eternity to arrive, in which thou wouldest assume our flesh, and dwell among us. As if thy precious soul, in contemplating the glories of redemption, anticipated with joy and rapture the hour when by thy appearing in substance of our flesh, thou wouldest ransom the souls of thy people from everlasting destruction. Oh! thou Almighty Angel of the New Covenant, thou High Priest after the order of Melchisedec; thou Altar, thou Rock, and Sacrifice! do thou be all these, and infinitely more, if needful, in all my poor offerings; and do thou perform wondrously, and give me faith to look on, till my eyes see thee ascending in the flame of thine own complete and all-sufficient sacrifice, as an evidence that thou art all in all, and goest up with thy people's intercession in thy dear name and righteousness; and then, like Manoah and his wife, I would fall with reverence of soul and body at thy feet, as the Lord my righteousness.
But let me take one prospect more of the subject in this Chapter, and in the promised child of Samson, the Nazarite from the womb, behold him typified, who was not only separated from the very shadow of guilt, and before his incarnation devoted to his Father's service, but was miraculously conceived by the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost. Samson, though set apart from his mother ' s womb, a Nazarite by birth, was born in sin, and shapen in iniquity. But the Almighty Samson of our salvation was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. The Samson of Manoah and his wife was indeed raised up of God to be the deliverer of his brethren from temporary affliction; and even this limited, as it necessarily was, to the boundaries of this life, by reason of death, could not be accomplished but in part. But the Almighty Samson of our heavenly Father, was raised up to be the Deliverer of his people from everlasting ruin, and to save them from the wrath to come. And in this glorious work, Jesus is not only the author, but the finisher of the work, and hath completed the eternal redemption of our souls. Hail! thou that art mighty to save! the Lord of Hosts is thy name. Lord! let thy grace be sufficient for me, and thy strength, of which Samson's was but the mere shadow in resemblance, be made perfect in my weakness. For of thee, and through thee, and to thee, are all things; to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany