The Philistines, Samson announced. (1-7) The angel appears to Manoah. (8-14) Manoah's sacrifice. (15-23) Birth of Samson. (24,25)
Verses 1-7 Israel did evil: then God delivered them again into the hands of the Philistines. When Israel was in this distress, Samson was born. His parents had been long childless. Many eminent persons were born of such mothers. Mercies long waited for, often prove signal mercies; and by them others may be encouraged to continue their hope in God's mercy. The angel notices her affliction. God often sends comfort to his people very seasonably, when they feel their troubles most. This deliverer of Israel must be devoted 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.
Verses 8-14 Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet, as Manoah, have believed. Good men are more careful and desirous to know the duty to be done by them, than to know the events concerning them: duty is ours, events are God's. God will guide those by his counsel, who desire to know their duty, and apply to him to teach them. Pious parents, especially, will beg Divine assistance. The angel repeats the directions he had before given. There is need of much care for the right ordering both of ourselves and our children, that we may be duly separate from the world, and living sacrifices to the Lord.
Verses 15-23 What Manoah asked for instruction in his duty, he was readily told; but what he asked to gratify his curiosity, was denied. God has in his word given full directions concerning our duty, but never designed to answer other questionings. There are secret things which belong not to us, of which we must be quite contented to be ignorant, while in this world. The name of our Lord is wonderful and secret; but by his wonderful works he makes himself known as far as is needful for us. Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God. But without Christ in the heart by faith, our services are offensive smoke; in him, acceptable flame. We may apply this to Christ's sacrifice of himself for us; he ascended in the flame of his own offering, for by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, ( Hebrews 9:12 ) . In Manoah's reflections there is great fear; We shall surely die. In his wife's reflection there is great faith. As a help meet for him, she encouraged him. Let believers who have had communion with God in the word and prayer, to whom he has graciously manifested himself, and who have had reason to think God has accepted their works, take encouragement from thence in a cloudy and dark day. God would not have done what he has done for my soul, if he had designed to forsake me, and leave me to perish at last; for his work is perfect. Learn to reason as Manoah's wife; If God designed me to perish under his wrath, he would not give me tokens of his favour.
Verses 24-25 The Spirit of the Lord began to move Samson when a youth. This was evidence that the Lord blessed him. Where God gives his blessing, he gives his Spirit to qualify for the blessing. Those are blessed indeed in whom the Spirit of grace begins to work in the days of their childhood. Samson drank no wine or strong drink, yet excelled in strength and courage, for he had the Spirit of God moving him; therefore be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.
Judges 13:1 . ISRAEL SERVES THE PHILISTINES FORTY YEARS.
1. the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years--The Israelites were represented ( Judges 10:6 Judges 10:7 ) as having fallen universally into a state of gross and confirmed idolatry, and in chastisement of this great apostasy, the Lord raised up enemies that harassed them in various quarters, especially the Ammonites and Philistines. The invasions and defeat of the former were narrated in the two chapters immediately preceding this; and now the sacred historian proceeds to describe the inroads of the latter people. The period of Philistine ascendency comprised forty years, reckoning from the time of Elon till the death of Samson.
Judges 13:2-10 . AN ANGEL APPEARS TO MANOAH'S WIFE.
2. Zorah--a Danite town ( Joshua 15:33 ) lying on the common boundary of Judah and Dan, so that it was near the Philistine border.
3. the angel of the Lord--The messenger of the covenant, the divine personage who made so many remarkable appearances of a similar kind already described.
5. thou shalt conceive, and bear a son--This predicted child was to be a Nazarite. The mother was, therefore, for the sake of her promised offspring, required to practice the rigid abstinence of the Nazarite
he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines--a prophecy encouraging to a patriotic man; the terms of it, however, indicated that the period of deliverance was still to be distant.
6-8. then Manoah entreated the Lord--On being informed by his wife of the welcome intimation, the husband made it the subject of earnest prayer to God. This is a remarkable instance, indicative of the connection which God has established between prayer and the fulfilment of His promises.
Judges 13:11-14 . THE ANGEL APPEARS TO MANOAH.
11. Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?--Manoah's intense desire for the repetition of the angel's visit was prompted not by doubts or anxieties of any kind, but was the fruit of lively faith, and of his great anxiety to follow out the instructions given. Blessed was he who had not seen, yet had believed.
Judges 13:15-23 . MANOAH'S SACRIFICE.
15. Manoah said unto the angel . . ., I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid--The stranger declined the intended hospitality and intimated that if the meat were to be an offering, it must be presented to the Lord [ Judges 13:6 ]. Manoah needed this instruction, for his purpose was to offer the prepared viands to him, not as the Lord, but as what he imagined him to be, not even an angel ( Judges 13:16 ), but a prophet or merely human messenger. It was on this account, and not as rejecting divine honors, that he spoke in this manner to Manoah. The angel's language was exactly similar to that of our Lord ( Matthew 19:17 ).
17-20. Manoah said unto the angel . . ., What is thy name?--Manoah's request elicited the most unequivocal proofs of the divinity of his supernatural visitor--in his name "secret" (in the Margin, "wonderful"), and in the miraculous flame that betokened the acceptance of the sacrifice.
Judges 13:24 Judges 13:25 . SAMSON BORN.
24. the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson--The birth of this child of promise, and the report of the important national services he was to render, must, from the first, have made him an object of peculiar interest and careful instruction.
25. the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times--not, probably, as it moved the prophets, who were charged with an inspired message, but kindling in his youthful bosom a spirit of high and devoted patriotism.
Eshtaol--the free city. It, as well as Zorah, stood on the border between Judah and Dan.