Judges 13 Commentary
|Judges 13:1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, so that the LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.|
NOW THE SONS OF ISRAEL AGAIN DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD: (Jer 13:23, 9:5, Isa 5:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25)
Again - The cycle of sin, bondage, repentance, deliverance, blessing, and sin again continued in the history of Israel. The part of the cycle that brings enslavement is described in this passage and it is notable that this is the longest record of oppression of Israel in Judges (40 years)!
THE TRAGEDY OF UNFULFILLED POTENTIAL
As Dave Guzik observes…
Paul describes every believer's potential…
Paul then gives us the warning…
This tragic saga of Samson's unfulfilled potential is a story each of us as "New Testament Nazarites" (in the sense of being set apart unto God in Christ Jesus (See related NT word studies on hagios = holy; hagiasmos = holiness; hagiazo = set apart or make holy; cp Ep 1:3 [note] - blessed with every spiritual blessing) would be wise to study and internalize as an example of evil things we should not crave, as Samson craved (1Co 10:6). The tragic story of Samson is an example that has been written down in Judges 13-16 for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1Co 10:11). Therefore it behooves us as set apart ones in Christ to take heed if we think Samson's saga could never happen to us lest, in our state of false confidence and/or pride, we too would fall into bondage to Sin with loss of spiritual power, vibrant witness and divine reward in this life and the life to come! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty (Is 6:3, Re 4:8-note) and He calls His children who are now to be His messengers to be likewise in days which are not too unlike those of the Judges (Jdg 21:25, 2Ti 3:1, 2, 3, 4-note)! (cp 1Pe 1:14-note, 1Pe 1:15, 16-note; see also Ex 6:7, 19:6, Lv 11:44, 45, 20:7, 26, Dt 7:6, 14:2- these OT passages of course speak directly of Israel but are applicable in principle to NT believers.)
The phrase did evil is common in is also common in 1 & 2 Kings (24 times), increasing in frequency in second Kings. Here are all 41 occurrences (ESV) of did what was evil in the Old Testament - Jdg. 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1; 1Ki. 11:6; 14:22; 15:26, 34; 16:25; 22:52; 2Ki. 3:2; 8:18, 27; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2; 21:2, 16, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19; 2Chr. 21:6; 22:4; 33:2, 22; 36:5, 9, 12; Isa 65:12; 66:4; Jer. 52:2). It is as if the closer they got to judgment, the more evil they became or the more certain the judgment had to be. Just a thought to ponder. Note it is also interesting that this phrase did evil is not found in 1 & 2 Samuel. Could it be that the reason is that the leaders were godly men like Samuel and David? Note also that the evil began with Baalim (plural) but progressed to the point documented in Jdg 10:6 (note)!
THE EYES OF JEHOVAH
In the sight of Jehovah - Don't glide by this phrase too quickly beloved! We need to let this eternal truth sink in - the all knowing, everywhere present, all seeing, perfectly just God (see His attributes Omnipresence; Omniscience) does not close His eyes when we commit evil, wicked deeds. He does not wink when we despise Him by sinning either in ignorance or willfully against His holy nature (see His attribute Holy). In the context of his treatise, "Everyman's Manual of Sexual Conduct" (see notes on Pr 5:1-14; 5:15-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27), Solomon made it very clear that…
This awesome, fearful truth that Jehovah's eyes know no impenetrable darkness (even of our hearts, 2Co 4:6) and are not hindered by any futile attempts to hide one's sins (or even our motives! 1Co 4:5) should cause us to be very circumspect when we sin thinking that "no one knows" or "I got away with it!" (Wrong! See Nu 32:23, Ps 90:8, Isa 59:1,2, 3, 4, Job 20:27, Pr 26:26, Eccl 12:14, 13, Lk 12:2). This principle of the Holy One always and everywhere watching is also found in the following passages which are worth perusing slowly and pondering soberly - Eyes of the LORD - Pr 15:3; 2Chr 16:9, 10 = godly King Asa failed to remember that God was His Strength, His Shield and His Deliverer - 2Chr 16:7,8 vs Ps 28:7-note, Ps 28:8-note, Ps 28:9-note!; Job 31:4; 34:21; Ps 11:4-note; Ps 17:3-note; Ps 139:1-note, Ps 139:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Je 16:17; 17:9,10; 23:24; 32:19; Ho 7:2; Heb 4:12-note, He 4:13-note; Re 2:18-note, Re 2:23-note).
In fact given the truth that the LORD is ever watching us, we would be wise to do likewise in regard to our hearts…
The primary introduction to this cycle was in [Jdg 10:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. Sadly each new generation seemed to have to learn the lesson of the price to be paid for sinful indulgence. There is also a sad "omission" in this text. Every other time they reached a time of desperation they would cry out to God for a deliverer (Jdg 3:9, 15, 4:3, 6:7, 10:10) but that did not happen in this case--even though it was the longest recorded oppression!
The Philistines disarmed the Jews (1Sa 13:19, 20, 21, 22, 23) and therefore had little fear of a rebellion. Jdg 15:9-13 indicates that the Jews were apparently content with their lot and didn’t want Samson to “rock the boat.” It’s frightening how quickly we can get accustomed to bondage and learn to accept the status quo. Had the Philistines been more severe on the Jews, perhaps the Jews would have prayed to Jehovah for help. Samson would "begin to deliver Israel" (v5) but It would take the prayers (& one military battle fought by prayer) of Samuel (1Sa 7) and the conquests of David (2Sa 5:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25) to finish the job that Samson started and give Israel complete victory over the Philistines.
Jamieson records that…
Preacher's Commentary offers a thought provoking comment on Israel's failure to cry out for deliverance writing that…
SO THAT THE LORD GAVE THEM INTO THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES 40 YEARS
Forty years - This is the longest recorded time of oppression of Israel in Judges.
Gave them into the hands - In the OT "hand" often symbolized one's power and giving one into another's "hand" was giving them over to the power of the other party (cp Ge 32:11, Ex 2:19, 3:8, 14:30, 18:9, 10, 1Sa 12:9). Thus the picture here is that of Jehovah recompensing Israel her "wages" (bondage) for her evil deeds (cp the reaping and sowing principle - Gal 6:7, 8, Ho 8:7). Remembering that God is not impartial (see study of this attribute) and shows no favoritism, the message for NT believers is to take heed, for we will be given over to the power of Sin (the "flesh") if we persist in committing evil sinful deeds. For example, we see so many Christian men today (2008) who are in bondage to the power of internet pornography. The wages of sin is always death, and for believers it is manifest by a quenching of the Holy Spirit, a loss of fellowship with the Father and a leeching of the supernatural power of Christ within our soul. This "giving over" is described by Solomon in the context of sexual sins (he should know - cp 1Ki 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 - note Solomon's "wages"!) where God's clear warning is…
The words of John Owen's famous admonition resonate with those of Solomon…
the choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin… Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually (Ro 6:3-note; Ro 6:11-note), your being quickened with him (Ro 6:4-note; Ro 6:5-note; Ro 6:6-note; Ro 6:7-note, Ro 6:8-note, Ro 6:9-note, Ro 6:10-note, will not excuse you from this work." (From John Owen's treatise - Of the Mortification of Sin)
Using a different metaphor for giving one into another's power, the prophet Isaiah warned Israel
This picture of God giving His people over to the power of the godless pagans is a key thought (key words and phrases are an important concept in inductive Bible study) in the book of the Judges - Jdg 2:14, 15, 16, 18, 23; 3:8; 4:2, 6:1, 2, 9, 13, 14; 8:22, 34; 9:17; 10:7; 13:1, 5; 15:18. It is interesting that Samson used this same phrase in what amounts to a personal prophecy, the text recording that…
Philistines cross references (see Torrey's Topic below): 1st mention (Ge 21:32, 33, 34), Ge 26:1, Ex 13:17,18 (Note: from Abraham > Exodus ~ 700yr), Ex 23:31, Jos 13:1, 2, 3, Jdg 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 31, 10:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
Philistines worshiped Dagon, Ashtaroth (Astartes) & Baal-zebub (Baal = "master, possessor, husband"). When the Israelites entered Canaan, they found that every piece of land had its own deity, its "owner". There were thus many "Baals" (plural = Baalim"). Yahweh was the "Master" & "Husband" of the Israelites, and therefore they called Him "Baal" in all innocence. But naturally this led to confusion of worship of Yahweh with the Baal rituals. It appears also that the 40 year period of oppression did not end until the Battle of Mizpah (1Sa 7:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) when Samuel led Israel to victory over their Philistine foes. They were not finally defeated until the early years of David's reign (2Sa 5:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25). The Philistine dominion began before the birth of Samson [Jdg 13:5], and was in force during Samson’s 20 years’ judgeship [Jdg 14:4; 15:20].
Philistines (sea people) = non-Semitic people, sometimes = "the uncircumcised" (Jdg 14:3; 15:18; 1Sa 14:6; 31:4; 2Sa 1:20; 1Chr 10:4) who settled in the plain and low hill country of SW Palestine, being part of the great invasion of the sea peoples referred to by Rameses III of Egypt about 1200 BC. They organized a "pentapolis" or confederation of 5 cities (Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ashdod on the coastal highway, with Gath and Ekron on the edge of the foothills of Judea). The Jews weren’t able to occupy that territory during their conquest of the land (Jos 13:1,2). The land between Israel’s hill country and the coastal plain was called the “Shephelah,” which means “low country”; and it separated Philistia from Israel.
Their knowledge of metallurgy and access to sources of iron gave them a great advantage over other nations and enabled a comparatively small number to conquer far larger groups and to extend their sway for a time over most of Palestine. They were the leading enemy of Israel from the time of Samson to the middle of the reign of David (1Sa 13:19, 21). Eventually the Philistines gave their name to the whole land, in the form "Palestine." (Cp. Isa 14:29, 31; Ge 21:34,Jdg 10:7
Henry Rossier - A Remnant (Judges 13)
The people having relapsed into unfaithfulness, were in subjection to enemies within — to the Philistines, who were established in Israel's territory. It was the last stage in the history of declension. The children of Israel no longer cried to Jehovah; submitting to this state of things, they did not even wish to be delivered from it (Jdg 15:11), and, for the sake of living quietly in their state of servitude, sought to get rid of their liberator. The time of total apostasy was at hand.
In the midst of this irremediable state of things, God separated a godly remnant, and addressed his communications to them. Manoah and his wife feared Jehovah, listened to His voice and spake to one another (cf. Mal. 3:16), a striking type of the remnant — of the Marys, and Elizabeths, and Annas, and Zacharias, and Simeons — that waited for the true Messiah, the Saviour of Israel; type also of the future remnant, who, passing through the tribulation, will follow the paths of righteousness, waiting for the coming of their King.
Samson, the deliverer of Israel, found at his birth, not a people that welcomed him, but this godly couple who believed in his mission. The Lord, rejected by the people from the time of His arrival on the scene, found only a few faithful souls with whom He could enter into association, those excellent of the earth mentioned in Ps 16:3 (Spurgeon's note), in whom He found His delight. Times of irremediable ruin are then the times of remnants; this, consequently, applies to the present period of the church — a period foretold by the Sovereign Prophet to His disciples, when He spoke to them of an assembly reduced to two or three gathered to the true centre, to the name of Christ, during His absence. This period is mentioned in Revelation, when — in presence of the idolatry of Thyatira, the deadness of Sardis, and the nauseating lukewarmness of Laodicea — the approbation of Him that is holy, of Him that is true, is pronounced upon the feeble separated remnant of Philadelphia.
That which characterizes a remnant at all times is Nazariteship, entire "separation unto the Lord." The angel of Jehovah appearing unto the wife of Manoah, said to her: "Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not; but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing" (Jdg 13:3, 4). This woman had to take upon herself Nazariteship, because she was the vessel chosen of God to present to the people the promised deliverer. "For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head; 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" (Jdg 13:5). The Nazariteship of Samson involved that of his mother. In order to do honour to the deliverer of Israel, it was needful for his witnesses to bear before the eyes of all, the impress of his own character. This is true at all times. If we do not manifest Christ down here in His character of entire separation to God, we are not witnesses for our Saviour. Christ having come, permanent Nazariteship should characterize the saints as it does the Lord; and the more the ruin increases, the more apparent will this become. The second epistle of Timothy, which tells us of the last days, is full of the characteristics of Nazariteship. In Judges 2:19, it is the Nazarite withdrawing from iniquity; in Judges 2:21, it is his purifying himself for God; in Judges 3:10, 11, and Judges 4:5, 6, 7, it is, as the servant of God, walking in forgetfulness of self and in absolute dependence on the Lord. Is it not the Nazarite who speaks in 2Co 4:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12? In Judges 6 through Jdg 7:1, of this same epistle we again find the principal traits of Nazariteship; reproach and self-forgetfulness in Jdg 13:4-10; separation from all association with the world in Jdg 13:14, 15; cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit in Judges 7:1. Quotations might be multiplied. What it is important to establish is, that there is for us, neither walk. nor testimony, nor service, without Nazariteship; that is to say, without devotedness and separation to God.
In Jdg 13:6, Manoah's wife told her husband about the angel's visit: "A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible; but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name." This poor woman had but little intelligence; she knew neither whence the angel came nor who he was, nor did she ask him, proving how slight was her acquaintance with God. Far from giving her confidence, the presence of the God of promises frightened her, for she only saw the countenance of the angel to be "very terrible." Manoah himself, a man of sincere piety, had little understanding, but he desired more. He wished to know "what to do unto the child" (v. 8), then, "what shall he do" (Jdg 13:12, margin). Instead of answering his questions, the angel of Jehovah said to him: "Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe" (Jdg 13:13, 14). Why? Because knowledge is not the first thing that God requires. Neither it, nor even true piety, such as was found in Manoah and his wife, is sufficient to keep us in the midst of the ruin. That which was needed for them before knowledge was true personal separation to God, a separation which had as its pattern and measure the Nazariteship of him who was about to appear.
Other truths too — the portion of Christ's witnesses in a day of declension — are revealed to us here. "Manoah said unto the angel of Jehovah, What is thy name … And the angel of Jehovah said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is wonderful (margin). So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered them upon a rock unto Jehovah; and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on" (Jdg 13:17, 18, 19).
In reviewing the history of the different epochs of this book, we find that to each revival there are certain corresponding principles which characterize it. The times of Othniel, Ehud, Barak, Gideon and Jephthah, each furnishes us with some new principle; but God reserves the most precious truths of all for the last days of ruin, hidden until then and wonderful. How worthy of the God of love is such a way of acting! Knowing the difficulties of His own in the midst of increasing unfaithfulness and wishing to attract their hearts in the midst of this darkness, He brings to light and confides to His witnesses truths more and more glorious.
The starting point of these truths is the sacrifice. Manoah, more intelligent than Gideon (cf. Judges 6:19), took the kid with the meat offering, and offered them upon a rock unto Jehovah. The cross is the foundation of all our knowledge as children of God. Manoah was desirous of knowing many things which Jehovah could not reveal to him before the sacrifice. But this foundation once laid, the angel did wondrously, which doubtless was revealed, in a manner still obscure and symbolical, to the eyes of this poor remnant who were waiting for a Saviour. "For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of Jehovah ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on" (Jdg 13:20). They found in the fire of the sacrifice a new way, not opened up hitherto, a way for the representative of Jehovah to ascend to Him; and, their gaze fixed on the angel, they saw a glorious person, whose dwelling place they knew now that he had disappeared from before their eyes. Then only, "Manoah knew that it was an angel of Jehovah" (Jdg 13:21). The heart and the interests of this poor remnant were at that moment withdrawn from this world, and followed the angel, ascending with him to heaven. These simple believers could thenceforth speak of a path which led to heaven, and of a person who was there, who had become their object while they were still here below.
In this wonderful act another thing was revealed, not for Manoah, but for us: the future character of this Nazariteship of which the angel had spoken to them. It is now heavenly, as we have above remarked. The angel in parting from them went up into heaven. The Lord Jesus, rejected by the world, said: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (John 17:19). Set apart in heaven, He attracts us after, and fixes our eyes upon, Himself; in order that the heavenly character of the One whom the world has rejected may be reproduced in us here below. In presence of this revelation, so instructive for us, but of which Manoah and his wife had but a faint glimpse, they "fell on their faces to the ground" (Jdg 13:20). And shall not we, in the midst of increasing darkness, adore in fuller measure, the God who has revealed to us, not only a heavenly and glorified Christ, but our place in Him, and has given Him to us as an object that we may reflect Him more perfectly in this world? Such are the blessings given to fill our hearts with joy and gratitude. How many Christians there are, who, seeking a place in the world, walk down here with bowed heads as they see the state of things around them, and vex their souls from day to day, as just Lot did of old — but such is not our part; we are not called to be Lots, nor to act like him down here. Our portion is with Abraham, the friend of God, who was not disheartened by the ruin. As a Nazarite he kept his place on his high mountain, his eyes fixed — not on Sodom, but — on the city which hath foundations. Jesus said of him: "Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Ah! rather than be discouraged, let us praise God, and thank Him for the heavenly treasure He has given us in Christ.
Like so many Christians of the present day, Manoah was filled with fear when he found himself in the presence of God. "He said to his wife, we shall surely die, because we have seen God" (Jdg 13:22). His companion was a true helpmeet for him. Is there any room for fear, said she, when God has accepted our offering? The love of God, proved to us at the cross. is the positive guarantee for everything else. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Ro. 8:32-note)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg 13:1 Birth of Samson.— The oppression of the Israelites by the Philistines, which is briefly hinted at in Judg. 10:7, is noticed again here with the standing formula, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord,” etc. (cf. Judg. 10:6; 4:1; 3:12), as an introduction to the account of the life and acts of Samson, who began to deliver Israel from the hands of these enemies. Not only the birth of Samson, but the prediction of his birth, also fell, according to v. 5, within the period of the rule of the Philistines over Israel. Now, as their oppression lasted forty years, and Samson judged Israel for twenty years during that oppression (Judg. 15:20; 16:31), he must have commenced his judgeship at an early age, probably before the completion of his twentieth year; and with this the statement in Judg. 14, that his marriage with a Philistine woman furnished the occasion for his conflicts with these enemies of his people, fully agrees. The end of the forty years of the supremacy of the Philistines is not given in this book, which closes with the death of Samson. It did not terminate till the great victory which the Israelites gained over their enemies under the command of Samuel (1 Sam. 7). Twenty years before this victory the Philistines had sent back the ark which they had taken from the Israelites, after keeping it for seven months in their own land (1 Sam. 7:2, and 6:1). It was within these twenty years that most of the acts of Samson occurred. His first affair with the Philistines, however, namely on the occasion of his marriage, took place a year or two before this defeat of the Israelites, in which the sons of Eli were slain, the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, and the high priest Eli fell from his seat and broke his neck on receiving the terrible news (1 Sam. 4:18). Consequently Eli died a short time after the first appearance of Samson. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.|
AND THERE WAS A CERTAIN MAN OF ZORAH: (Zorah mentioned in Jos. 15:33; 19:41; Jdg. 13:2, 25; 16:31; 18:2, 8, 11; 2 Chr. 11:10; Neh. 11:29)
Zorah (see discussion) was a town first assigned to Judah (Jos 15:33), but later given to Dan (Jos 19:41). It became the point of departure for the Danite migration northward (Jdg 18:2, 8, 11). Zorah was on the border between Dan and Judah, opposite Beth-shemesh on the N side of Sorek valley, less than 15 miles from Jerusalem in the foothill country (shephelah - lowlands). The city was on the summit of a lofty hill on overlooking valley of Sorek (note). The summit itself is overhung by a lofty palm, and there are many remains of ancient tombs, cisterns, wine presses, etc., around this archeological site. From here Eshtaol (note), Beth-shemesh (note) and Timnah (note) are all visible. Nearby is the border of Philistia. Why was Danite village of Zorah located on a summit? One cannot be 100% certain but see (Jdg 1:34).
The tribe of Dan was originally assigned the land adjacent to Judah and Benjamin, extending to the Mediterranean Sea (Jos 19:40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48). Since the Danites weren’t able to dislodge the coastal inhabitants, however, the tribe relocated and moved north (Jdg 18,19), although some of the people remained in their original location.
OF THE FAMILY OF THE DANITES:
Danites (see discussion) - From Judges 13-18, the author concentrates on the tribe of Dan, which had been one of the largest and most prominent tribes during the wilderness march (Nu 2:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31). In the period of the judges, however, Dan seemed helpless against the Amorites (Jdg 1:34) and moved northward to find new territory (Jdg 17,18).
WHOSE NAME WAS MANOAH AND HIS WIFE WAS BARREN AND HAD BORNE NO CHILDREN: (barren - Genesis 16:1; 25:21; 1Samuel 1:2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Luke 1:7)
Childlessness - Regarded as a Misfortune or a Reproach:
MacDonald notes that…
Ray Pritchard introduces his 5 part sermon series on Samson with these comments…
Barren (aqar) refers to the state of not being fertile or not being able to become pregnant. The recurring theme of the barren mother is familiar in biblical history Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, the mother of Samson, and Hannah are chief examples of this situation (Ge 11:30; 25:21; 29:31; Jdg 13:2, 3; 1Sa 2:5). God is often mentioned as the one who brought about this condition and/or the one who overcomes miraculously opening the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel and enabling them to give birth to sons (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin) who played a significant role in Israel's history. In light of the prior use of this type scene one might expect Manoah's wife's child to be important, like Isaac, whose birth was announced in a special manner (Ge 17-18).
If the basic problem of Judges is that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jdg 21:25) then Samson is the supreme example of that attitude.
Samson contrasted with Samuel
Comparing and contrasting the lives of Samson ("sunlight" or "sun-like") and Samuel ("heard of God") reveals several interesting points:
Samuel was totally committed to God
Samson was victorious only in his death because he was controlled by his passion
Both were raised by godly parents,
Both of their mothers were barren,
Both lived in days of the moral anarchy of Judges
Samson was probably "judging" Israel during time that Samuel was ministering to the LORD at the Tabernacle in Shiloh under the tutelage of Eli the High Priest so their lives overlapped),
Both had a call to a separated life (Angel of LORD instructed Manoah's wife to raise him a NAZARITE to God [Jdg13:5], and Hannah vowed to give Samuel to the LORD all the days of his life and that no razor would ever come on his head which also sounds like a NAZARITE VOW although Samuel is never specifically called a Nazarite [1Sa 1:11]), Samuel ministered to the LORD (this phrase is used 3x to describe Samuel in his youth [1Sa 2:11, 2:18, 3:1) and finally heard the voice of the LORD but we have no similar record of Samson ever having intimate fellowship with the LORD; Samson received the Spirit of the LORD for strength; the LORD actually spoke with Samuel (1Sa 3:4, 6, v8, 11f) and revealed HIMSELF to him (1Sa 3:21)
Both were Judges (Samuel also prophet) but only Samuel fulfilled the function of the judge to be a deliverer (Jdg 2:18).
Both had the Philistines as their main ENEMY
Samson was defeated by the Philistines & had only partial success; Samuel defeated the Philistines after 40 years of rule and brought peace to the land. (1Sa 7:10, 13, 15).
Samson rebelled against the AUTHORITY of God and his parents; Samuel submitted to AUTHORITY, submitting to God, his parents (who had dedicated him to the LORD ALL the days of his life [1Sa 1:11]) and Eli. Samson DISOBEYED. Samuel OBEYED.
Samuel was a PROPHET and called Israel to REPENT from their idolatry; Samson was a PRODIGAL & promoted compromise and collaboration with the uncircumcised Philistines and did not confront Israel for her idolatry.
Samson's PRAYERS were primarily self serving (Jdg 15:18, 16:28); Samuel's were for the salvation of Israel (1Sa 7:5, 8, 9,10). God answered both of their prayers!
Samson was a LONER; Samuel was a LEADER. Some would say Ehud was a loner also but that is not completely true as he was the LEADER of the sons of Israel in the pursuit of the Moabites (Jdg 3:12-26, 27, 28, 29, 30).
Samson broke every NAZARITE VOW; Samuel appears to have remained dedicated to the LORD all his life thus fulfilling the vow of his mother Hannah.
Samson manifested WEAKNESSES in the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes and the boastful pride of life; Samuel was a man dependent on God and there is no record of similar weakness in his life. Sadly his sons "did not walk in his ways" even his first born name Joel (1Sa 8:3, 5).
Samson did what was right in his own eyes (the very Hebrew phrase used of his lust for the Philistine woman Jdg 14:3, 7); Samuel was dedicated to the LORD.
Samson's life ended tragically and ignominiously without mourning by Israel; All Israel MOURNED when Samuel died (1Sa 25:1)
Samson in many ways is a tragic picture of the entire nation of Israel —born by special divine provision, consecrated to the Lord from birth and endowed with unique power among his fellowmen. The likeness is even more remarkable in light of his foolish chasing of foreign women, some of ill repute, until he was cleverly subdued by one of them. In this he exemplified Israel, who during the period of the judges constantly prostituted herself to Canaanite gods to her own destruction.
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:2–7. Whilst the Israelites were given into the hands of the Philistines on account of their sins, and were also severely oppressed in Gilead on the part of the Ammonites, the angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, a Danite from Zorea, i.e., Sur’a, on the western slope of the mountains of Judah (see at Josh. 15:33). Mishpachath Dani (the family of the Danites) is used interchangeably with shebet Dani (the tribe of the Danites: see Judg. 18:2, 11, and 18:1, 30), which may be explained on this ground, that according to Num. 26:42, 43, all the Danites formed but one family, viz., the family of the Shuhamites. The angel of the Lord announced to this woman, who was barren, “Thou wilt conceive and bear a son. And now beware, drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean: for, behold, thou wilt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall come upon his head; for a vowed man of God (Nazir) will the boy be from his mother’s womb,” i.e., his whole life long, “to the day of his death,” as the angel expressly affirmed, according to v. 7. The three prohibitions which the angel of the Lord imposed upon the woman were the three things which distinguished the condition of a Nazarite (see at Num. 6:1–8, and the explanation given there of the Nazarite vow). The only other thing mentioned in the Mosaic law is the warning against defilement from contact with the dead, which does not seem to have been enforced in the case of Samson. When the angel added still further, “And he (the Nazarite) will begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines,” he no doubt intended to show that his power to effect this deliverance would be closely connected with his condition as a Nazarite. The promised son was to be a Nazarite all his life long, because he was to begin to deliver Israel out of the power of his foes. And in order that he might be so, his mother was to share in the renunciations of the Nazarite vow during the time of her pregnancy. Whilst the appearance of the angel of the Lord contained the practical pledge that the Lord still acknowledged His people, though He had given them into the hands of their enemies; the message of the angel contained this lesson and warning for Israel, that it could only obtain deliverance from its foes by seeking after a life of consecration to the Lord, such as the Nazarites pursued, so as to realize the idea of the priestly character to which Israel had been called as the people of Jehovah, by abstinence from the deliciae carnis, and everything that was unclean, as being emanations of sin, and also by a complete self-surrender to the Lord (see Pentateuch, p. 674). (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:3 Then the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman, and said to her, "Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.|
THEN THE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARED TO THE WOMAN, AND SAID TO HER BEHOLD NOW, YOU ARE BARREN AND HAVE BORNE NO CHILDREN BUT YOU SHALL CONCEIVE AND GIVE BIRTH: (the angel Jdg 2:1; 6:11,12; Ge 16:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; Luke 1:11,28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38) (but you - Ge 17:16; 18:10; 1Sa 1:20; 2Kings 4:16; Luke 1:13,31)
The Angel of the LORD - (see study of this important OT phrase - Angel of the LORD). Here are all the OT uses of this phrase in the ESV - Ge 16:7, 9, 10, 11, 22:11, 15; Ex 3:2; Nu 22:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 34, 35, Jdg 2:1, 4; 5:23; 6:11, 12, 21, 22; 13:3, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21; 2Sa 24:16; 1Ki 19:7; 2Ki 1:3, 15; 19:35; 1Chr 21:12, 15, 16, 18, 30; Ps 34:7; 35:5, 6; Isa 37:36; Zec 1:11, 12; 3:1, 5, 6; 12:8. As one can readily discern from carefully studying the context of Judges 13, this Angel is no ordinary (created) angel, but all indicators point to the fact that this Angel is the pre-incarnate representation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the greatest number of appearances of the Angel of the LORD in the book of Judges, which describe some of the darkest days in Israel's entire history.
I agree with Dave Guzik who offers the following interpretation of the Angel noting that…
As someone has said when God wants to do something really great in His world, He doesn’t send an army but a Messenger. The Angel of the LORD visits a couple and promises to send them a baby. His great plan of salvation got underway when He called Abraham and Sarah and gave them Isaac. When He wanted to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, God sent baby Moses to Amram and Jochebed (Ex 6:20) and when in later years Israel desperately needed revival, God gave baby Samuel to Hannah (1Samuel 1:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). When the fullness of time arrived (Ga 4:4), God gave Baby Jesus to Mary; and that baby grew up to die on the cross for the sins of the world.
Behold… you shall conceive - The announcements of the births of Ishmael (Ge1 6:11), Isaac (Ge 18:10), Immanuel (Isa 7:14), John the Baptist (Lk 1:13) and Jesus (Lk 1:31). This promise came as a great blessing to this woman burdened by childlessness. In First Samuel God gave a similar message through the priest Eli…
|Judges 13:5 "For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."|
Other servants of God who were chosen before birth include Jeremiah (Jer 1:4,5) and Paul (Ga 1:15), although Ps 139:15,16 teaches that the Lord is involved in the conception of every child (Ps 127:3).
NAZIRITE TO GOD FROM THE WOMB: (no razor Numbers 6:2,3,5; 1Samuel 1:11)
Nazarite (05139) (naziyr) means consecrated, separated or devoted and in this current context the object of consecration, separation and devotion is unto God. This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and separated from all sin, a holy life. As discussed more below, the Nazarite or "separated one" took a vow either for life or for a defined time to fulfill some special service to Yahweh. Samson’s vow was involuntary and lifelong.
Naziyr is used 16 times in the OT (Ge 49:26; Lev. 25:5, 11; Nu 6:2, 13, 18, 19, 20 ; Deut. 33:16; Jdg 13:5, 7; 16:17; Lam 4:7; Amos 2:11, 12) and in the NAS is rendered consecrated ones (1), Nazirite(9), Nazirites(2), one distinguished(2), untrimmed vines(2).
For the OT institution and regulations of a Nazarite, read Numbers 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.
Numbers 6:7 reads
Nezer means “separation” or “consecration” and describes something set apart. There are 22 uses of nezer in the OT (Ex 29:6; 39:30; Lv 8:9; 21:12; Nu 6:4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 21; 2Sa 1:10; 2Ki 11:12; 2Chr 23:11; Ps 89:39; 132:18; Pr 27:24; Je 7:29; Zec 9:16) and these are translated in the NAS as consecration(1), crown(10), dedicated(4), hair (1), Nazirite(1), separation(8).
This expression "his separation to God on his head" denotes his hair, which was the proof and emblem or sign of the separation, and subjection to God. It is interesting to note that this Nazarite requirement was even more strict than that of the regular priests (excepting the High Priest) (cp Lv 21:1, 2, 3, 11).
Nezer is also used to describe a royal crown (2Sa 1:10; Zec 9:16; Ps 89:39) which is interesting for in this story we see that Samson’s long hair was his “royal crown” and he lost it because of his sin. This story reminds one of Jesus' warning to the church in Philadelphia (Re 3:7, 8, 9, 10)…
Samson did not discipline his body, and as a result he lost both his crown and his prize, which reminds one of Paul's strong warning to the saints at Corinth…
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has this entry for Nazarite…
HE SHALL BEGIN TO DELIVER ISRAEL FROM THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES: (begin 1Samuel 7:13; 2Samuel 8:1; 1Chronicles 18:1)
Often Samson was seen as a failure, but in the perfect plan of God he accomplished that which he was destined to do—he did begin to bring deliverance. The deliverance was continued in the time of Samuel (1Sa 7:10, 11, 12, 13, 14) and completed under David (2Sa 5:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; 8:1).
|Judges 13:6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the Angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.|
Man of God - This phrase often referred to a prophet in OT (Elijah, Elisha, Moses, David, et al).
(Dt 33:1; Jos 14:6; 1Sa 2:27; 9:6; 1Ki 17:18,24; 2Ki 4:9,16; 1Ti 6:11)
Thompson's Chain Reference on the Topic
Men of God
The Angel of the LORD notices her affliction. God often sends comfort to his people very seasonably, when they feel their troubles most. This deliverer of Israel must be consecrated to God. Manoah's wife was satisfied that the messenger was of God. She gave her husband a particular account, both of the promise and of the precept. Husbands and wives should tell each other their experiences of communion with God, and their improvements in acquaintance with Him, that they may help each other in the way that is holy.
His appearance - (Mt 28:3; Lk 9:29; Acts 6:15)
Awesome - (Jdg 13:22; Ge 28:16,17; Ex 3:2,6; Da 8:17; 10:5,11; Mt 28:4; Re 1:17) (his name - Jdg 13:17,18; Ge 32:29; Lk 1:19). Awesome is the Hebrew verb yare (03372) which means to fear, to respect or to reverence. In the present context yare conveys the sense of to be awesome or to be feared. Yare is often descriptive of deity. We see such a use of yare in…
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:6, 7. The woman told her husband of this appearance: “A man of God,” she said (lit., the man of God, viz., the one just referred to), “came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very terrible; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name,” etc. “Man of God” was the expression used to denote a prophet, or a man who stood in immediate intercourse with God, such as Moses and others (see at Deut. 33:1). “Angel of God” is equivalent to “angel of the Lord” (Judg. 2:1; 6:11), the angel in whom the invisible God reveals himself to men. The woman therefore imagined the person who appeared to her to have been a prophet, whose majestic appearance, however, had produced the impression that he was a superior being; consequently she had not ventured to ask him either his name or where he came from. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:8–20. Being firmly convinced of the truth of this announcement, and at the same time reflecting upon the obligation which it imposed upon the parents, Manoah prayed to the Lord that He would let the man of God whom He had sent come to them again, to teach them what they were to do to the boy that should be born, i.e., how they should treat him. הַיּוּלָד, according to the Keri הַיֻּלָּד, is a participle Pual with the ם dropped (see Ewald, § 169, b.). This prayer was heard. The angel of God appeared once more to the woman when she was sitting alone in the field without her husband.
Judg. 13:10, 11. Then she hastened to fetch her husband, who first of all inquired of the person who had appeared, “Art thou the man who said to the woman” (sc., what has been related in vv. 3–5)? And when this was answered in the affirmative, he said still further (v. 12), “Should thy word then come to pass, what will be the manner of the boy, and his doing?” The plural דְּבָרֶיךְ is construed ad sensum with the singular verb, because the words form one promise, so that the expression is not to be taken distributively, as Rosenmüller supposes. This also applies to v. 17, Mishpat, the right belonging to a boy, i.e., the proper treatment of him. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the Angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her.|
Listened (hearkened - Psalms 65:2; Matthew 7:7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
The Angel of the LORD - Louis Goldberg writes that…
|Judges 13:13 So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Let the woman pay attention to all that I said.|
Let the woman pay attention to all that I said - The Angel did not answer Manoah's question but simply stated that Manoah's wife should recall everything he had told her. Initially He revealed the divine intent to deliver His people (Jdg 13:5), despite their failure to ask for deliverance (Jdg 13:1). But once Manoah's wife, who had not asked to be delivered from her barrenness, overlooked her son's role, God seemed to veil his intentions. He was content to work behind the scenes, delivering a people who did not seek deliverance through a deliverer who failed to see himself as such.
Becoming A Parent - What a great day it is when a couple discovers they're going to be parents! It's even more exciting for those who have been unable to have children. Such was the case for Manoah and his wife, the parents-to-be of Samson.
The "Angel of the Lord" appeared to Manoah's wife and told her that she would bear a son, one who would "begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" (Judges 13:5). He also told her how she was to live and that her son was to be a "Nazirite to God" (Judges 13:4, 5).
When she told her husband about it, he asked the Lord to send the Angel again and give them further instructions. Manoah's question was: "What will be the boy's rule of life, and his work?" (Judges 13:12). But the Angel's answer pointed primarily to the obedience of the mother (Judges 13:13, 14).
As parents, the question we should ask ourselves is not "How can we produce a godly or successful child?" but rather "How can we be more godly parents?" The first question has to do with the end result over which we have no control; the second has to do with a process over which we do have control. Our prayer should be: "Lord, make us the kind of parents You want us to be." —David Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, help us to be what You want us to be
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:13, 14. The angel of the Lord then repeated the instructions which he had already given to the woman in v. 4, simply adding to the prohibition of wine and strong drink the caution not to eat of anything that came from the vine, in accordance with Num. 6:3. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:15 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, "Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a kid for you."|
Let us - (Jdg 6:18,19; Ge 18:3, 4, 5 )
Such food was considered a special delicacy. Hospitality of this kind was common in the ancient Near East. Proper attitude demanded that Manoah provide a meal for his guest, as Abraham had done on a similar occasion (Ge 18:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). So Manoah prepared a young goat, the same kind of animal Gideon offered to his heavenly visitor (Jdg 6:17, 18, 19).
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:15. As Manoah had not yet recognised in the man the angel of the Lord, as is observed by way of explanation in v. 16, he wished, like Gideon (Judg. 6:18), to give a hospitable entertainment to the man who had brought him such joyful tidings, and therefore said to him, “Let us detain thee, and prepare a kid for thee.” The construction נַעֲשֶׂה לְפָנֶיךְ is a pregnant one: “prepare and set before thee.” On the fact itself, see Judg. 6:19. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:16 And the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD." For Manoah did not know that he was the Angel of the LORD.|
If you prepare a burnt offering - The Angel's willingness to accept a sacrificial offering to the LORD, which is tantamount to an act of worship and provides support that this Angel is God and not a created angel. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John clearly teaches that God's angels shun any acts that might be taken as acts of worship, John recording…
Manoah did not know - Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. Manoah at this time did not have eyes to see that this was the pre-incarnate Messiah.
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:16. The angel of the Lord replied, “If thou wilt detain me (sc., that I may eat), I will not eat of thy food (אָכַל with בְּ, to eat thereat, i.e., thereof, as in Ex. 12:43, Lev. 22:11); but if thou wilt prepare a burnt-offering for Jehovah, then offer it.” (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:17 And Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?"|
When your words come to pass - Note that Manoah believed the announcement and said “when” and not “if.” He was a MAN OF FAITH. Fulfilled prophecy was a sign of the authenticity of a prophet (Dt 18:21,22; 1Sa 9:6).
Our Mysterious God (Jdg 13:15-23, He 1:1, 2) - In today's Scripture, we read that a mysterious and awesome visitor appeared to Manoah and his wife (Samson's parents). When Manoah asked, "What is Your name?" the visitor didn't answer the question directly but instead "ascended in the flame of the altar" (Judges 13:17, 18, 19, 20). Then Manoah knew he had seen God in human form.
Who can understand such a God—the God who wrote the 3-billion-letter software code in the DNA molecule of every human cell? Who can fully comprehend the God who knows everything, even our inner thoughts? Yet many Old Testament saints knew and loved this God. They experienced the joy of His grace and forgiveness, even though they didn't completely understand how a holy God could forgive their sins.
As Christians, we too stand in awe before the majesty and mystery of an incomprehensible God. But we have a great advantage because we see Him revealed in Jesus, who said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). And when Jesus hung on the cross, He revealed God's compassion and love, for He died there for us.
A mystery? Yes. But how wonderful that we can know the love of this incomprehensible God!
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:17. Manoah then asked his name: מִי שִׁמְךָ, lit., “Who is thy name?” מִי inquires after the person; מָה, the nature of quality (see Ewald, § 325, a.). “For if thy word come to pass, we will do thee honour.” This was the reason why he asked after his name. כִּבֵּד, to honour by presents, so as to show one’s self grateful (see Num. 22:17, 37; 24:11). (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:18 But the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?"|
Why do you ask (Jdg 13:6; Ge 32:29 )
Wonderful (06383) (peliy from pala = to do something wonderful or extraordinary) is the Hebrew adjective meaning incomprehensible, extraordinary, surpassing, ineffable. It refers to something so awesome it is beyond human capability or comprehension (see God's attribute Incomprehensible). The basic verb (pala) means to be wonderful or cause something wonderful to happen, and generally used to refer to acts of God, describing things considered beyond human capabilities (e.g., in Dt 17:8 the idea is "too difficult" or beyond your capability). In Isaiah 9:6 the closely related noun pele’ is translated “Wonderful, a title for Christ Himself…
The only other use is by the psalmist who records that…
The idea of wonderful then is something so awesome it is beyond human capability or comprehension. The same root occurs in “wonders” in [Jdg 13:19] and in “miracles” in [Jdg 6:13].
That the Angel would not divulge his name reminds one of the Angel (God) Whom Jacob encountered (Ex 32:24, 35, 36, 37, 28, 29, 30), who likewise did not give His name.
Wonderful! (Isa 9:1,2,3,4,5,6,70 - When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Mt. 21:9). Later that same week, however, a mob called for His crucifixion (Mt 27:22). Few people recognized Him as the one Isaiah described as Wonderful (Isa. 9:6).
If there is anyone who deserves that name, it is Jesus. He is wonderful in His deity and in His selfless love that led Him from the shining glories of heaven into the darkness of this sin-cursed world. He is wonderful in His virgin birth, wonderful in His overcoming, sinless life of service, wonderful in His teachings, wonderful in His vicarious death, wonderful in His astounding resurrection, and wonderful in His ascended glory.
Someone has observed, "In Christ we have a love that can never be fathomed, a life that can never die, a peace that can never be understood, a rest that can never be disturbed, a joy that can never be diminished, a hope that can never be disappointed, a glory that can never be clouded, a light that can never be darkened, and a spiritual resource that can never be exhausted."
Do you love the Wonderful One? If you do, your life here will be full of wonder, and the life hereafter, bliss! —Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:18. The angel replied, “Why askest thou then after my name? truly it is wonderful.” The Kethibh פלאי is the adjectival form פִּלְאִי from פֶּלֶא, for which the Keri has פֶּלִי, the pausal form of פְּלִי (from the radical פָּלָה = פָּלָא). The word therefore is not the proper name of the angel of the Lord, but expresses the character of his name; and as the name simply denotes the nature, it expresses the peculiarity of his nature also. It is to be understood in an absolute sense—“absolutely and supremely wonderful” (Seb. Schmidt)—as a predicate belonging to God alone (compare the term “Wonderful” in Isa. 9:6), and not to be toned down as it is by Bertheau, who explains it as signifying “neither easy to utter nor easy to comprehend.” (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:19 So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on.|
The rock - Not just any rock but an altar as explained in the following verse.
Wonders (root of "wonderful" above) has the primary meaning of being surpassing and conveys the ideas of being extraordinary or beyond one's imagination/expectations. It also conveys the idea of being too difficult (for men) or beyond one's capability, and so often refers to miraculous deeds of divine intervention that are beyond human capability. The Angel of the LORD acted according to His name. In short, He being wonderful, performed wonderful deeds.
Guzik notes that…
Took the kid (Jdg 6:19,20; 1Ki 18:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 )
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:19, 20. Manoah then took the kid and the minchah, i.e., according to Num. 15:4ff., the meat-offering belonging to the burnt-offering, and offered it upon the rock, which is called an altar in v. 20, because the angel of the Lord, who is of one nature with God, had sanctified it as an altar through the miraculous acceptance of the sacrifice. מַפְלִא לַעֲשֹׂות, “and wonderfully (miraculously) did he act” (הִפְלִיא followed by the infinitive with לְ as in 2 Chron. 26:15). These words form a circumstantial clause, which is not to be attached, however, to the subject of the principal clause, but to לַיהֹוָה: “Manoah offered the sacrifice to the Lord, whereupon He acted to do wonderfully, i.e., He performed a wonder or miracle, and Manoah and his wife saw it” (see Ewald, Lehrb. § 341, b., p. 724, note). In what the miracle consisted is explained in v. 20, in the words, “when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar;” that is to say, in the fact that a flame issued from the rock, as in the case of Gideon’s sacrifice (Judg. 6:21), and consumed the sacrifice. And the angel of the Lord ascended in this flame. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell upon their faces to the earth (sc., in worship), because they discovered from the miracle that it was the angel of the Lord who had appeared to them. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.|
When the flame (2Ki 2:11; Ps 47:5; He 1:3)
The altar - The fact that they had an altar to God is another indicator of the godly character of Samson's parents. In contrast, Gideon had to build an altar to God, because the one in his father's backyard was to the pagan idol Baal (cp Jdg 6:25, 26, 27)!
We see the godly character of Samson's parents in Manoah's prayer life (Jdg 13:8), his faith in God's promise of a son (Jdg 13:12, 17) and here his willingness to offer a burnt offering (Jdg 13:16, 19).
Fell on their faces to the ground -Falling on one's face is generally tantamount to an act of worship in the Scriptures (cp Ge 17:3; Lev 9:24 Deut 9:18, 1Chr 21:16,26 Ps 72:11, Ezek 1:26,28 Mt 17:6 Lk 5:8, 1Co 14:25, Re 1:17, 5:8). This action is clear evidence that they were worshiping deity and supports that the Angel was God. As noted earlier in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John clearly teaches that God's angels shun any acts that might be taken as acts of worship, John recording…
|Judges 13:21 Now the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah or his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the Angel of the LORD.|
Manoah knew (Jdg 6:22; Ho 12:4,5) - Contrast the fact that Manoah did not know it was the Angel of Jehovah in Jdg 13:16. In Jdg 13:17, Manoah sought to know His name, which the Angel said was "wonderful" (Jdg 13:18), a "revelation" which prompted a response of worship (offering of a kid with grain on the rock) and which in turn brought further "revelation" (Jdg 13:19) and humble worship (Jdg 13:20)
Knew (yada') means to know by virtue of relation or by one's experience. In some context yada' speaks of the most intimate "knowing" that can occur between a man and a woman. In this passage it speaks of knowing between God and man, but emphasizes a knowing based on experience. The Septuagint translates yada' with ginosko which is the Greek verb that describes knowing by experience.
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:21–25. From that time forward the Lord did not appear to them again. But Manoah was afraid that he and his wife should die, because they had seen God (on this belief, see the remarks on Gen. 16:13 and Ex. 33:20). His wife quieted his fears, however, and said, “Jehovah cannot intend to kill us, as He has accepted our sacrifice, and has shown us all this” (the twofold miracle). “And at this time He has not let us see such things as these.” כָּעֵת, at the time in which we live, even if such things may possibly have taken place in the hoary antiquity. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:23 But his wife said to him, "If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time."|
But his wife said to him (Eccl 4:9,10; 1Co 12:21)
He would not have received us (Ge 4:4,5; Ps 86:17)
Nor would He have shown us all these things (Ps 25:14; 27:13; Pr 3:32; John 14:20,23; 15:15)
The psalmist records a similar truth regarding revelation of the LORD…
Paul conveyed a similar truth to the church at Corinth explaining to them that…
It was the Lord who calmed Gideon’s fear of dying (Jdg 6:23), but here it is Manoah’s wife who relieves his angst. Using common sense, she reasons that Jehovah would not have taken the trouble to come down twice and promise them a child if they were to die immediately. Besides, the Lord had requested and accepted an offering from them. Husbands, let us listen to our helpmates, as God has given them spiritual discernment that we often need to hear! See Spurgeon's sermon below on Manoah's wife.
Spurgeon's devotional "The Sacrifice has Been Accepted" notes that…
The Lord has shown us our election, our adoption, our union to Christ, our marriage to the Well-beloved: how can He now destroy us? The promises are loaded with blessings, which necessitate our being preserved unto eternal life. It is not possible for the Lord to cast us away and yet fulfill His covenant. The past assures us, and the future reassures us. We shall not die, but live; for we have seen Jesus, and in Him we have seen the Father by the illumination of the Holy Ghost. Because of this life-giving sight we must live forever. (Spurgeon, C. Faith's Checkbook)
If the Lord were pleased to kill us, He would not have received an offering.
Manoah was a pessimist, given to dark foreboding, fond of anticipating misfortune. So soon as he realized that he had seen the face of God, he made sure that his wife and he would die. His wife, on the contrary, was prone to look on the bright side of things, and she must have been an admirable helpmeet. How much some of us owe to the temperament of those with whom we live! Many a time would Christian sit down to die, and succumb in the dark waters of the river, if it were not for Hopeful, who pierces the gloom, and beholds the light shining beyond the cloud.
Often enough Foreboding whispers, “We shall surely die.” It is the voice of conscience, dreading the result of sin. It is the voice of mistrust, which fails to look beyond the hills for its help. It is the voice of human frailty. At such times let us look back and recount the blessings of the past. Did not God receive our burnt-offering? Did He not conspicuously answer our prayers? Did He not give his only begotten Son? Has He not led us by his right hand and holy arm? Has He not delivered us in seven troubles? Besides, has He not pledged Himself for the future? Has He not showed us “all these things”? It is impossible to believe that He will allow us to be overwhelmed.
His love in time past forbids me to think, He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink.
Trust Him, O suffering saints, doing his will in the teeth of opposition and hate! Fear not the faces of men; be not dismayed before their threats — He is with you to deliver you. They may fight against you, but they shall not prevail; their proudest threats shall fail of their fulfillment.
The first remark arising out the story of Manoah and his wife is this—that oftentimes we pray for blessings which will make us tremble when we receive them. Manoah had asked that he might see the angel, and he saw him: in answer to his request the wonderful One condescended to reveal himself a second time, but the consequence was that the good man was filled with astonishment and dismay, and turning to his wife, he exclaimed, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” Brethren, do we always know what we are asking for when we pray? We are imploring an undoubted blessing, and yet if we knew the way in which such blessing must necessarily come, we should, perhaps, hesitate before we pressed our suit. You have been entreating very much for growth in holiness. Do you know, brother, that in almost every case that means increased affliction? for we do not make much progress in the divine life except when the Lord is pleased to try us in the furnace and purge us with many fires. Do you desire the mercy on that condition? Are you willing to take it as God pleases to send it, and to say, “Lord, if spiritual growth implies trial, if it signifies a long sickness of body, if it means deep depression of soul, if it entails the loss of property, if it involves the taking away of my dearest friends, yet I make no reserve, but include in the prayer all that is needful to the good end. When I say, sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, I leave the process to thy discretion.
Suppose you really knew all that it would bring upon you, would you not pray, at any rate, with more solemn tones? I hope you would not hesitate, but, counting all the cost, would still desire to be delivered from sin; but, at any rate, you would put up your petition with deliberation, weighing every syllable, and then when the answer came you would not be so astonished at its peculiar form. Often and often the blessing which we used so eagerly to implore is the occasion of the suffering which we deplore. We do not know God’s methods.
This is the Lord’s way of answering prayer for faith and grace. He comes with rods of chastisement, and makes us smart for our follies, for thus alone can he deliver our childish spirits from them. He comes with sharp plowshares and tears up the soil, for thus only can we be made to yield him a harvest. He comes with hot irons and burns us to the heart; and when we inquire, “Why all this?” the answer comes to us, “This is what you asked for, this is the way in which the Lord answers your requests.” Perhaps, at this moment, the fainting feeling that some you are now experiencing, which makes you fear that you will surely die, may be accounted for by your own prayers. I should like you to look at your present sorrows in that light, and say, “After all, I can see that now My God has given to me exactly what I sought at his hands. I asked to see the angel, and I have seen him, and now it is that my spirit is cast down within me.”
A second remark is this—Very frequently deep prostration of spirit is the forerunner of some remarkable blessing. It was to Manoah and to his wife the highest conceivable joy of life, the climax of their ambition, that they should be the parents of a son by whom the Lord should begin to deliver Israel. Joy filled them—inexpressible joy—at the thought of it; but, at the time when the good news was first communicated, Manoah, at least, was made so heavy in spirit that he said, “We shall surely die, for we have seen an angel of the Lord.” Take it as a general rule that dull skies foretell a shower of mercy. Expect sweet favor when you experience sharp affliction. Do you not remember, concerning the apostles, that they feared as they entered into the cloud on Mount Tabor? And yet it was in that cloud that they saw their Master transfigured; and you and I have had many a fear about the cloud we were entering, although we were therein to see more of Christ and his glory than we had ever beheld before. The cloud which you fear makes the external wall of that secret chamber wherein the Lord reveals himself.
Before thou canst carry Samson in thy arms, Manoah, thou must be made to say, “We shall surely die.” Before the minister shall preach the word to thousands, he must be emptied and made to tremble under a sense of inability. Before the Sunday-school teacher shall bring her girls to Christ, she shall be led to see how weak and insufficient she is. I do believe that whenever the Lord is about to use us in his household, he takes us like a dish and wipes us right out and sets us on the shelf, and then afterwards he takes us down and puts thereon his own heavenly meat, with which to fill the souls of others. There must as a rule be an emptying, a turning upside down, and a putting on one side, before the very greatest blessing comes. Manoah felt that he must die, and yet die he could not, for he was to be the father of Samson, the deliverer of Israel and the terror of Philistia.
Let me offer a third remark, which is this—great faith is in many instances subject to fits. What great faith Manoah had! His wife was barren, yet when she was told by the angel that she should bear a child, he believed it, although no heavenly messenger had come to himself personally—so believed it that he did not want to see the man of God a second time to be told that it would be so, but only to be informed how to bring up the child: that was all. “Well,” says old Bishop Hall, “might he be the father of strong Samson, that had such a strong faith.” He had a strong faith indeed, and yet here he is saying in alarm, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” Do not judge a man by any solitary word or act, for if you do you will surely mistake him. Cowards are occasionally brave, and the bravest men are sometimes cowards; and there are men who would be worse cowards practically if they were a little less cowardly than they are. A man may be too much a coward to confess that he is timid. Trembling Manoah was so outspoken, honest, and sincere that he expressed his feelings, which a more politic person might have concealed. Though fully believing what had been spoken from God, yet at the same time this doubt was on him, as the result of his belief in tradition: “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”
Once again, another remark is that it is a great mercy to have a Christian companion to go to for counsel and comfort whenever your soul is depressed. Manoah had married a capital wife. She was the better one of the two in sound judgment. She was the weaker vessel by nature, but she was the stronger believer, and probably that was why the angel was sent to her, for the angels are best pleased to speak with those who have faith, and if they have the pick of their company, and the wife has more faith than the husband, they will visit the wife sooner than her spouse, for they love to take God’s messages to those who will receive them with confidence. She was full of faith, evidently, and so when her husband tremblingly said, “We shall surely die,” she did not believe in such a mistrustful inference. Moreover, though they say that women cannot reason, yet here was a woman whose arguments were logical and overwhelming. Certain it is that women’s perceptions are generally far clearer than men’s reasonings; they look at once into a truth, while we are hunting for our spectacles. Their instincts are generally as safe as our reasonings, and therefore when they have in addition a clear logical mind they make the wisest of counselors.
Well, Manoah’s wife not only had clear perceptions, but she had capital reasoning faculties. She argued, according to the language of the text, that it was not possible that God should kill them after what they had seen and heard. Oh that every man had such a prudent, gracious wife as Manoah had! Oh that whenever a man is cast down a Christian brother or sister stands ready to cheer him with some reminder of the Lord’s past goodness, or with some gracious promise from the divine word! It may happen to be the husband who cheers the wife, and in such a case it is equally beautiful. We have known a Christian sister to be very nervous and very often depressed and troubled: what a mercy to her to have a Christian husband whose strength of faith can encourage her to smile away her griefs, by resting in the everlasting faithfulness and goodness of the Lord.
God the Holy Spirit shall help us, we will take up the argument of Manoah’s wife, and see whether it will not also comfort our hearts. She had three strings to her bow, good woman. One was—The Lord does not mean to kill us, because he has accepted our sacrifices. The second was—he does not mean to kill us, or else he would not, as at this time, have told us such things as these. So the three strings to her bow were accepted sacrifices, gracious revelations, and precious promises. Let us dwell upon each of them.
And, first, accepted sacrifices. I will suppose that I am addressing a brother who is sadly tried, and terribly cast down, and who therefore has begun to lament—
The Lord has forsaken me quite;
Brother, is that possible? Has not God of old accepted on you behalf the offering of his Son Jesus Christ? You have believed in Jesus, dear friend. You do not believe in him now. Lay your hand on your heart, and put the question solemnly to yourself, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” You are able to say, “Yes, Lord, notwithstanding all my unhappiness, I do believe in thee, and rest the stress and weight of my soul’s interests on thy power to save.” Well, then, you have God’s own word, recorded in his own infallible Book, assuring you that Jesus Christ was accepted of God on your behalf, for He laid down his life for as many as believe in him, that they might never perish. He stood as their surety, and suffered as their substitute, is it possible that this should be unavailing, and that after all they may be cast away? The argument of Manoah’s wife was just this—“Did we not put the kid on the rock, and as we put it there was it not consumed? It was consumed instead of us; we shall not die, for the victim has been consumed. The fire will not burn us: it has spent itself upon the sacrifice. Did you not see it go up in smoke, and see the angel ascend with it? The fire is gone; it cannot fall on us to destroy us.”
This being interpreted into the Gospel is just this—Have we not seen the Lord Jesus Christ fastened to the cross? Have we not beheld him in agonies extreme? Has not the fire of God consumed him? Have we not seen him rising, as it were, from that sacred fire in the resurrection and the ascension, to go into the glory? Because the fire of Jehovah’s wrath had spent itself on him we shall not die. He has died instead of us. It cannot be that the Lord has made him suffer, the Just for the unjust, and now will make the believer suffer too. It cannot be that Christ loved His Church, and gave himself for it, and that now the Church must perish also. It cannot be that the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all, and now will lay our iniquity on us too. It were not consistent with justice. It would make the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to be a nullity, a superfluity of cruelty which achieved nothing. The atonement cannot be made of none effect, the very supposition would be blasphemy. O, look, my soul, look to the redeemer’s cross, and as thou seest how God accepts Christ, be thou filled with content. Hear how the “It is finished” of Jesus on earth is echoed from the throne of God himself, as he raises up His Son from the dead, and bestows glory upon him: hear this, I say, and as thou hearest, attend to the power of this argument—If the Lord had been pleased to kill us, he would not have accepted his Son for us. If he meant us to die, would he have put him to death too? How can it be? The sacrifice of Jesus must effectually prevent the destruction of those for whom he offered up himself as a sacrifice. Jesus dying for sinners, and yet the sinners denied mercy! Inconceivable and impossible! My soul, whatever thy inward feelings and the tumult of thy thoughts, the accepted sacrifice shows that God is not pleased to kill thee.
But, if you notice, in the case of Manoah, they had offered a burnt sacrifice and a meat offering too. Well, now, in addition to the great, grand sacrifice of Christ, which is our trust, we, dear brothers and sisters, have offered other sacrifices to God, and in consequence of his acceptance of such sacrifice we cannot imagine that he intends to destroy us.
First, let me conduct your thoughts back to the offering of prayer which you have presented. I will speak for myself. I recall now, running over my diary mentally, full many an instance in which I have sought the Lord in prayer and he has most graciously heard me. I am as sure that my requests have been heard as ever Manoah could have been sure that his sacrifice was consumed upon the rock. May I not infer from this that the Lord does not mean to destroy you? You know that it had been so with you, dear brother. You are down in the dumps today, you are beginning to raise many questions about divine love; but there have been times—you know there have—when you have sought the Lord and he has heard you. You can say, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him from all his fears.” Perhaps you have not jotted down the fact in a book, but your memory holds the indelible record. Your soul has made her personal boast in the Lord concerning his fidelity to his promise in helping his people in the hour of need, for you have happily proved it in your own case. Now, brother, if the Lord had been pleased to kill you, would he have heard your prayers? If he had meant to cast you out after all, would he have heard you so many times? If he had sought a quarrel against you he might have had cause for that quarrel many years ago, and have said to you, “When you make many prayers I will not hear.” But since he has listened to your cries and tears, and many a time answered your petitions, he cannot intend to kill you.
Again, you brought to him, years ago, not only your prayers but yourself. You gave yourself over to Christ, body, soul, spirit, all your goods, all your hours, all your talents, every faculty, and every possible acquirement, and you said, “Lord, I am not my own, but I am bought with a price.” Now, at that time did not the Lord accept you? You have at this very moment a lively recollection of the sweet sense of acceptance you had at that time. Though you are at this time sorely troubled, yet you would not wish to withdraw from the consecration which you then made, but on the contrary you declare,
High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
Now, would the Lord have accepted the offering of yourself to him if he meant to destroy you? Would he have let you say, “I am thy servant and the son of thy handmaid: thou hast loosed my bond?” Would he have permitted you to declare as you can boldly assert tonight, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” delighting to remember the time of your baptism into him, whereby your body washed with his pure body, was declared to be the Lord’s forever? Would he enable you to feel a joy in the very mark of your consecration, as well as in the consecration itself, if he meant to slay you? Oh, surely not! He does not let a man give himself up to him and then cast him away. That cannot be.
Some of us, dear friends, can recollect how, growing out of this last sacrifice, there have been others. The Lord has accepted our offerings at other times too, for our works, faith, and labors of love have been owned of his Spirit. There are some of you, I am leased to remember, whom God has blest to the conversion of little children whom you brought to the Savior, and there are others on earth whom you can look upon with great joy because God was pleased to make you the instrument of their conviction and their after conversion. Some of you, I perceive, are ministers of the Gospel, others of you preach at the corners of the streets, and there have been times in your lives—I am sure that you wish they were ten times as many—in which God has been pleased to succeed your efforts, so that hearts have yielded to the sway of Jesus. Now, you do not put any trust in those things, nor do you claim any merit for having served your Master, but still I think they may be thrown in as a matter of consolation, and you may say, If the Lord had meant to destroy me, would he have enabled me to preach his Gospel? Would he have helped me to weep over men’s souls? Would he have enabled me to gather those dear children like lambs to his bosom? Would he have granted me my longing desire to bear fruit in his vineyard, if he did not mean to bless me.?
Now, the second argument was that they had received gracious revelations. “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have showed us all these things.” Now, what has the Lord shown you, my dear brother? I will mention one or two things.
First, the Lord has shown you, perhaps years ago, or possibly at this moment he is showing you for the first time—your sin. What a sight that was when we first had it. Some of you never saw your sins, but yours sins are there all the same. In an old house, perhaps, there is a cellar into which nobody goes, and no light ever comes in. You live in the house comfortably enough, not knowing what is there; but one day you take a candle, and go down the steps, and open that moldy door, and when it is opened, dear me! What a damp, pestilential smell! How foul the floor is! All sorts of living creatures hop away from under your feet. There are growths on the very walls—a heap of roots in the corner, sending out those long yellow growths which look like the fingers of death. And there is a spider, and there are a hundred like him, of such a size as cannot be grown, except in such horrible places. You get out as quickly as ever you can. You do not like the look of it. Now, the candle did not make that cellar bad; the candle did not make it filthy. No, the candle only showed what there was. And when you get in the carpenter to take down that shutter which you could not open anyhow, for it had not been opened for years, and when the daylight comes in, it seems more horrible than it did by candlelight, and you wonder, indeed, however you did go across it with all those dreadful things all around you and you cannot be satisfied to live upstairs now till that cellar downstairs has been perfectly cleansed. That is just like our heart; it is full of sin, but we do not know it. It is a den of unclean birds, a menagerie of everything that is fearful, and fierce, and furious—a little hell stocked with devils. Such is our nature; such is our heart. Now, the Lord showed me mine years ago, as he did some of you and the result of sight of one’s heart is horrible. Well does Dr. Young say, “God spares all eyes but his own that fearful sight, a naked human heart.” Nobody ever did see all his heart as it really is. You have only seen a part, but when seen, it is so horrible that it is enough to drive a man out of his senses to see the evil of his nature.
Now, let us gather some honey out of this dead lion. Brother, if the Lord had meant to destroy us, he would not have shown us our sin, because we were happy enough previously, were we not? In our own poor way we were content enough, and if he did not mean to pardon us, it was not like the Lord to show us our sin, and so to torment us before our time, unless he meant to take it away. We were swine, but we were satisfied enough with the husks we ate; and why not let us remain swine? What was the good of letting us see our filthiness if he did not purpose to take it away? It never can be possible that God sets himself studiously to torture the human mind by making it conscious of its evil, if he never intends to supply a remedy. Oh no! A deep sense of sin will not save you, but it is a pledge that there is something begun in your soul which may lead to salvation; for that deep sense of sin does as good as say, “The Lord is laying bare the disease that he may cure it. He is letting you see the foulness of that underground cellar of your corruption, because he means to cleanse it for you.”
But He has shown us more than this, for he has made us see the hollowness and emptiness of the world. There are some here present, who at one time, were very gratified with the pleasures and amusements of the world. The theater was a great delight to them. The ballroom afforded them supreme satisfaction. To be able to dress just after their own fancy, and to spend money on their own whims, were the very acme of delight; but there came a time when across all these the soul perceived a mysterious handwriting, which being interpreted ran thus: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” These very people went to the same amusements, but they seemed so dull and stupid that they came away saying, “We do not care a bit for them. The joys are all gone. What seemed gold turns out to be gilt; and what we thought marble was only white paint. The varnish is cracked, the tinsel is faded, the coloring has vanished. Mirth laughs like an idiot, and pleasure grins like madness.”
We have heard the words, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” sounding in our hearts; and now do you think that, if the Lord had meant to kill us, he would have taught us this? Why, no; he would have said, “Let them alone, they are given unto idols. They are only going to have one world in which they can rejoice; let them enjoy it.” He would have let the swine go on with their husks if he had not meant to turn them into his children, and bring them to his own bosom.
But he has taught us something better than this—namely, the preciousness of Christ. Unless we are awfully deceived—self-deceived, I mean—we have known what it is to lose the burden of our sin at the foot of the cross. We have known what it is to see the suitability and all-sufficiency of the merit of our dear Redeemer, and we have rejoiced in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory. If he had meant to destroy us he would not have shown us Christ.
Sometimes also we have strong desires after God! What pinings after communion with him have we felt! What longings to be delivered from sin! What yearnings to be perfect! What aspirations to be with him in heaven, and what desires to be like him while we are here! Now these longings, cravings, desirings, yearnings, do you think the Lord would have put them into our hearts if he had meant to destroy us? What would be the good of it? Would it not be tormenting us as Tantalus was tormented? Would it not, indeed, be a superfluity of cruelty thus to make us wish for what we could never have, and pine after what we should never gain? O beloved, let us be comforted about these things. If he had meant to kill us, he would not have shown us such things as these.
I shall have no time to dwell upon the last source of comfort, which is what the Lord has spoken to us—many precious promises. “Nor would he have told us such things as these.” At almost any time when a child of God is depressed, if he goes to the Word of God and to prayer, and looks up, he will generally get a hold of some promise or other. I know I generally do. I could not tell you, dear brother, tonight, what promise would suit your case, but the Lord always knows how to apply the right word at the right time; and when a promise is applied with great power to the soul, and you are enabled to plead it at the mercy-seat, you may say, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have made us such a promise as this.” I have a promise that hangs up before my eyes whenever I wake every morning, and it has continued in its place for years. It is a stay to my soul. It is this: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” Difficulties arise, funds run short, sickness comes; but somehow or other my text always seems to flow like a fountain—“I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have said that to us.
What is your promise, brother? What have you got a hold of? If you have not laid hold of any, and feel as if none belonged to you, yet there are such words as these, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came not the world to save sinners,” and you are one. Ah, if he had meant to destroy you, he would not have spoken a text of such a wide character on purpose to include your case. A thousand promises go down to the lowest deep into which a heart can ever descend, and if the Lord had meant to destroy a soul in the deeps, he would not have sent a gospel promise down even to that extreme.
I should like to say these two or three words to you who are unconverted, but who are troubled in your souls. You think that God means to destroy you. Now, dear friend, I take it that if the Lord had meant to kill you, He would not have sent the Gospel to you. If there had been a purpose and a decree to destroy you, He would not have brought you here. Now you are sitting to hear that Jesus has died to save such as you are. You are sitting where you are bidden to trust Him and be saved. If the Lord had meant to slay you I do not think He would haven sent me on such a fruitless errand as to tell you of a Christ who could not save you. Some of you have had your lives spared very remarkably. You have been in accidents on land or on sea—perhaps in battle and shipwreck. You have been raised from a sickbed. If the Lord had meant to destroy you, surely He would have let you die then; but He has spared you, and you are getting on in years; surely it is time that you yielded to His mercy and gave yourself up into the hands of grace. If the Lord had meant to destroy you, surely, He would not have brought you here, for, possibly, I am addressing one who has come here, wondering why. All the time that he has been sitting here he has been saying to himself, “I do not know how I got into this place, but here I am.” God means to bless you tonight, I trust, and He will, if you breathe this prayer to heaven, “Father, forgive me! I have sinned against heaven and before thee, but for Christ’s sake forgive me! I put my trust in thy Son.” You shall find eternal life, rejoicing in the sacrifice which God has accepted. You shall one of these days rejoice in the revelations of His love, and in the promises which He gives you, and say as we say tonight, “If the Lord were pleased to kill us He would not have showed us all these things.”
|Judges 13:24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him.|
Samson (See notes on Samson) - Samson’s name was given by his mother, which compares with Hagar’s naming of Ishmael (Ge 16:11; cf. Isa 7:14). "Samson" means "little sun" (or sunlight or brightness) from shemesh meaning "sun". About 2 miles across the valley of Sorek was Beth-Shemesh where the sun god was worshiped!
Samson was born, like Isaac, a child of promise. It is noteworthy that about 20% of the entire book of Judges is about Samson so even though aspects of this story are difficult to understand it cannot be ignored.
Here is a brief summary of Samson from Nave's Topical Bible…
The child grew up (He 11:32 1Sa 3:19; Lk 1:80; 2:52)
The LORD blessed him - To bless in the OT often conveys the sense of "to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc." It is frequently contrasted with qalal "to esteem lightly, curse" (cf. Dt 30:1,19).
While other judges were said to be clothed with God’s Spirit (Jdg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29), only of Samson is it said “the Lord blessed him” (Jdg 13:24; Lk 1:80, 2:52) so that the hand of God was on him in a special way. He began his ministry blessed by the Lord and closed his life mocked by a pagan crowd. To be sure, in Samson’s death he achieved his greatest victory, killing more than any time in his life, but how much better had he been a living sacrifice (Ro 12:1,2) and not a dead one.
Few men in the Bible exhibit such a contrast of strength and weakness. When we think of Samson, we ordinarily think of his strengths. He killed a lion with his bare hands (Jdg 14:6). He killed thirty Philistines single–handed (Jdg 14:19). He broke the cords with which the men of Judah had bound him, and slew 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (Jdg 15:14, 15, 16). In escaping from a trap which the Philistines had laid for him, he walked away with the gates of Gaza (Jdg 16:3). Three times he escaped the treachery of Delilah—once by breaking the seven fresh bowstrings that bound him, once by snapping the new ropes as if they were a thread, and once by pulling out the pin that fastened the seven locks of his hair to a loom (Jdg 16:6-14). Finally, he pulled down the pillars of the house in which the Philistines were being amused by him, killing more in his death than he did in his life (Jdg 16:30).
But Samson’s weaknesses were even more apparent. He had a weakness for women, and was willing to disobey God in order to get a woman who pleased him (Jdg 14:1-7). He also disobeyed his parents (Jdg 14:3). He practiced deceit (Jdg 14:9; 16:7, 11, 13b). He fraternized with 30 Philistines, the enemies of God’s people (14:11-18). He gave way to temper and vindictiveness (Jdg 14:19b; 15:4, 5). He had a cruel streak in his nature (15:4, 5). He consorted with a harlot (Jdg 16:1, 2). He dallied with evil (Jdg 16:6-14). He revealed the secret of his strength to the enemy (Jdg 16:17, 18). He was too cocky and self–confident (Jdg 16:20b). Last, but not least, he broke his Nazirite vow (Jdg 14:9).
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:24. The promise of God was fulfilled. the boy whom the woman bare received the name of Samson. שִׁמְשֹׁון (LXX, Σαμψών) does not mean sun-like, hero of the sun, from שֶׁמֶשׁ (the sun), but, as Josephus explains it (Ant. v. 8, 4), ἰσχυρός, the strong or daring one, from שִׁמְשֹׁום, from the intensive from שִׁמְשֵׁם, from שָׁמֵם, in its original sense to be strong or daring, not “to devastate.” שָׁדַד is an analogous word: lit. to be powerful, then to act powerfully, to devastate. The boy grew under the blessing of God (see 1 Sam. 2:21). (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
|Judges 13:25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.|
The Spirit of the LORD began to stir him - (Jdg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 1Sa 11:6; Mt 4:1; Jn 3:34)
Matthew Henry writes that…
In Mahaneh-dan - The camp of Dan (Jdg 18:12)
Between Zorah and Eshtaol (Jdg 18:11; Joshua 15:33)
Three times the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson (Jdg 13:25, 14:6; 14:19; 15:14), and it is implied in his other exploits as well. In the OT the Spirit came upon individuals to empower them for special service and He did not permanently indwell them in contrast to the NT (Jn 14:16,17). Contrasted with Jephthah, the son of a harlot who was driven out of his home, Samson had every advantage as a boy.
What potential: His birth announced by Christ Himself, godly parents, dedication to God at birth and set apart as a Nazirite for special service, blessed of the LORD as he grew, and finally stirred by the Holy Spirit of God. All members of the Trinity are intimately involved in his development. BUT SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE IS NO GUARANTEE OF SPIRITUAL SUCCESS. That's what Paul recounts in 1Co 10:1,2,3,4,5,6 as he lists the numerous privileges of the Israelites and their repeated failures, closing with the somber warning in (1Co 10:12).
His final feat of superhuman strength, pulling down the temple of Dagon and slaying more than 3000 Philistine leaders and people, came in answer to his final prayer to God (Jdg 16:28). His right to call upon God like this in these times of great need was contingent, however, upon his obedience to his Nazarite vows, specifically never to cut his hair (Jdg 16:17; Nu 6:5). Clearly, Samson was a man who yielded frequently to the lusts of his flesh (Jas 1:14-note, Jas 1:15-note), but he nevertheless God classifies him as a man of faith in Hebrews 11 (Heb 11:32-note).
|F B Meyer…
Samson's story is very interesting. It teaches what can be wrought by one man who is right with God, and in whom God's Spirit dwells with mighty power. Probably he was not specially remarkable in his physique; his power was the result of faith.
Judges 13:3-7 An angelic annunciation. -- This Angel was the Lord Himself, who is the Word of God, for His name is called Wonderful (Judges 13:18, marg.) and Jehovah (Judges 13:19). How careful should parents be to deny themselves of even lawful indulgences for the sake of their children, for what parents are, children are likely to become. If a mother has no other inducement to live a noble life, let her do so on behalf of her children. It is interesting to compare Judges 13:5 with Matthew 2:23, Luke 1:15, 2:23, as connecting the letter and the spirit of the Nazirite vow.
Judges 13:8-23 Manoah's prayer and its answer. -- Well would it be for father and mother often to use the words of Manoah, when he asks for guidance as to teaching the child, "What shall be the ordering of the child, and what shall be his work?" (Judges 13:12). God has a plan for every child, and parents should be fellow-workers with Him. He is not far away from any who seek Him or need His help. He does wondrously, and His nature ascends like the altar-flame (Judges 13:20).
The reasoning of Manoah's wife (Judges 13:23) was very wise, and one that would help us in many an hour of alarm. Let us not always fear that God means harm, but look back upon the past, the services which He has permitted us to render, the offerings He has received, and the things He has shown us. Would He have done all this, and then fail us? Would He have begun if he had not counted the cost, and foreseen that He was able to complete? There are no unfinished houses in the Eternal City; no incomplete busts in His workshops; no half-cut jewels in His crown. It is not God's nature to thwart yearnings that He has instilled, or to cancel hopes that He has excited. What He has told us is a guarantee of what He will yet do for us.
Judges 13:24-25 Samson's birth. -- Zorah (Samson's birthplace), and Eshtaol, a few miles distant, occupied positions of the Danite border. The plain in which they were situated was noted for its vineyards (Judges 15:5), and Samson's self-denial, as regards the produce of the vine, would early be put to the test. Here, in his own country, and in close proximity to the Philistines, he was trained for his future life-work, and from the first there were evident traces of the Divine blessing, and of the possession of the Divine Spirit (Isa. 44:3, 4). (F. B. Meyer. CHOICE NOTES ON JOSHUA THROUGH 2 KINGS)
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary…
Judg. 13:25. When he had grown up, the Spirit of Jehovah began to thrust him in the camp of Dan. פָּעַם, to thrust, denoting the operation of the Spirit of God within him, which took possession of him suddenly, and impelled him to put forth supernatural powers. Mahaneh-Dan, the camp of Dan, was the name given to the district in which the Danites who emigrated, according to Judg. 18:12, from the inheritance of their tribe, had pitched their encampment behind, i.e., to the west of, Kirjath-jearim, or according to this verse, between Zorea and Eshtaol. The situation cannot be determined precisely, as the situation of Eshtaol itself has not been discovered yet (see at Josh. 15:33). It was there that Samson lived with his parents, judging from Judg. 16:31. The meaning of this verse, which forms the introduction to the following account of the acts of Samson, is simply that Samson was there seized by the Spirit of Jehovah, and impelled to commence the conflict with the Philistines. (Judges 13 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary-enter p404)
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 (Jdg 13:2, 3, 4, 5). The law relating to Nazarites required a total abstinence from wine, or strong drink, or from any thing unclean (Nu 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8.) — — — 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. (Jdg 13:6,7) 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.” (Ex 33:20, 21, 22, 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.” (Ge 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. (Jdg. 6:22-note; Rev. 19:10-note) 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:” (2Co 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. (Ep 3:20-note)]
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?” (Ps 56:13-note) 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. (Ps. 77:7, 8, 9, 10, 11-note)
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. (2Co 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? (Ro 8:32-note) 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.] (Simeon, C. 1832-63. Horae Homileticae)