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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Judges 13

Verses 22-23

DISCOURSE: 273
MANOAH’S VISION

Judges 13:22-23. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. 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.

AFTER a brief mention of several judges who successively bore sway in Israel, we are led to the contemplation of one, whose birth, as well as life, deserves particular consideration. To his parents a revelation was made respecting him; which revelation, together with the effects of it on their minds, will form the subject of our present discourse.
Let us notice,

I.

The revelation made to them—

[The Israelites for their iniquities were brought under the power of the Philistines, who oppressed them sorely and for a long period. But God of his own grace and mercy raised up unto them a deliverer. Other deliverers had been raised up at once, and at the precise time that the deliverance was to be effected: but, in the present instance, the person who was to be God’s instrument of good to the nation, was not even conceived in the womb. He was to be born, as Isaac and Jacob had been, of a mother who was barren; in order that he might more eminently appear to be a special gift of God. “There was a man of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah: and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and told her, that she should conceive and bear a son,” who should be devoted as a Nazarite to the Lord, and should in due time become, in part at least, a saviour to his country [Note: ver. 2–5,]. The law relating to Nazarites required a total abstinence from wine, or strong drink, or from any thing unclean [Note: Numbers 6:2-8.] — — — And as his consecration to this state was to commence from his first formation in the womb, his mother was immediately to observe all that kind of abstinence which was required of the Nazarite himself, and to continue it till the child should be both born and weaned. This occurrence she mentioned to her husband, together with the charge given to herself respecting the abstinence that was required [Note: ver. 6, 7.]. Manoah, being strong in faith, entertained no doubt respecting the accomplishment of the Angel’s words: but being desirous that the mercy intended to the nation should not be obstructed by any error or neglect on his part, he besought the Lord, that the same person should be sent to them again, to teach them more fully whatever was necessary for them to know, or do, respecting the child. The visit was repeated, according to his desire; and the testimony was confirmed by a visible display of the divine power. Manoah, not knowing who this angel was, whether he was only a man, or an angel in human shape, or whether he was not the Angel of the Covenant, even the Son of God himself in human shape, requested permission to set before him a banquet, or an offering, as might be most suited to his character: but when he had presented an offering, fire, probably from the rock or from heaven, consumed the sacrifice; and the Angel ascended in the flame to heaven; and thereby testified the acceptance both of their persons and their sacrifice.]

Let us now notice,

II.

The effect produced upon them—

Great was the faith both of Manoah and his wife: but she, being the more eminent of the two, experienced a very different effect. The revelation produced,

1.

In Manoah, fear—

[He now perceived and knew, that the person who had announced these tidings to him was God, in human shape: and Therefore he conceived that both he and his wife must die. This idea was not without some foundation; for, when Moses had entreated the Lord to shew him his glory, the Lord said to him, “Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live:” and for this very reason God put him into a clift of a rock, and permitted him to see, as it were, only “his back parts [Note: Exodus 33:20-23.].” And, when Jacob had been favoured with a visit from the same divine person in the shape of an angel, he expressed his astonishment that “his life was preserved [Note: Genesis 32:29-30.].” Indeed, when only an angel has appeared to some of the most distinguished servants of the Almighty, they have been so agitated, as scarcely to retain possession of their minds [Note: Judges 6:22; Revelation 19:10.]. We wonder not therefore at his apprehensions; but we the more admire the composure of his wife.]

2.

In his wife, confidence—

[She argued in a very different way. She considered the mercies already vouchsafed to them as tokens for good: for why should God confer such singular honour upon them, if he intended to kill them? Why did he accept at their hands the burnt-offering? Why did he stoop to give them such information? Why give them such gracious promises? Was all this done to mock them? Indeed, if he should kill them, how could the promises be fulfilled? or for what purpose were they given? This was a just mode of arguing; for such mercies were both evidences, and pledges, of his love: and therefore were rather to be considered as earnests of future blessings, than as harbingers of ill. This was precisely the view which Paul entertained of the mercies conferred on him by God, “who,” says he, “delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:10.]:” and it is the true light in which every instance of his goodness should be considered.]

Let us learn then from hence,
1.

To guard against low and unworthy thoughts of God—

[It is realty no uncommon thought, even among good people, that their blessings are too great to be of any long duration. This sentiment does not arise from a view of the instability of human affairs, but from an apprehension that a continuance of their blessings is too great a thing to expect even from God himself, and that his grace, though rich, is not sufficiently extensive for such a gift. But how dishonourable is this to God! and what an unworthy return for all his goodness to us! Why should we entertain such a suspicion? why should we harbour such ungenerous thoughts? why should we so limit his glorious perfections? Let such apprehensions be checked in their very first rise; and let us remember that his disposition to give exceeds our utmost capacity to receive [Note: Ephesians 3:20.].]

2.

To make a just improvement of the mercies he bestows upon us—

[We shall do well to magnify the grace of God in our thoughts, and to inculcate upon others the same heavenly disposition. See how David argued, on a review of his past mercies; “Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living [Note: Psalms 56:13.]?” And, when under peculiar temptation he was led to doubt the continuance of God’s goodness to him, he checked himself, by calling to mind the marvellous mercies that had already been vouchsafed unto him [Note: Psalms 77:7-11.].

Nor is it for the comfort only of the person himself that God imparts these glorious hopes, but for the encouragement of others also: and this was the improvement which St. Paul made of his own happy experience [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.]. Only let it be recollected what God has done for us, in giving up his Son to the accursed death of the cross; and can we then limit his tender mercies? can we doubt his willingness to give us any thing else [Note: Romans 8:32.]? Whether therefore it be for the comfort of our own minds, or for the encouragement of others, this is the thought which we should ever bear in remembrance, and enlarge our own expectations from God in proportion as he multiplies his benefits to us: we should look on all present blessings as the first-fruits that precede the harvest, or as the drop before the shower.]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Judges 13". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/judges-13.html. 1832.