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In this chapter we have, 1. The peaceable times Israel enjoyed under the
government of two jndges, Tola and Jair, ver. 1--5. 2. The troublous times that ensued. (1.) Israel's sin that brought them into trouble, ver. 6. (2.) The trouble itself they were in, ver. 7-9. (3.) Their repentance and humiliation for sin, their prayers and reformation, and the mercy they found with God thereupon, ver. 10.-16. (4.) Prepa. ration made for their deliverance out of the land of their oppressors, ver, 17, 18.
VER. 6. “ And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord.”]-Thạt is, in serving the gods of the heathens round about to a greater degree than ever, as if they delighted in nothing so much as idolatry, which brought upon them great captivity and sore distress: in which respect their idolatry may be figurative of the vanity and base ingratitude of our hearts in departing from the Lord, and the spiritual captivity and distress that it brings us into; " for to be carnally minded is death,” Rom. viji. 6.- Ver. 10. A spiritual decay, or the christian's being under the providential anger of the Lord, makes bim to cry to him for his smiling presence, and for the joy of his salvation.-Ver. 11--15. The Lord's reminding his people of bis former loving kindness to them bumbles them to the dust, and makes them acknowledge their transgressions before him, and resign themselves up to his mercy.
Ver. 16. A truly humbled soul discovers the sincerity of its repentance by obedience; and for those who fear the Lord, and are humbled before him, his bowels move with mercy towards them, Psalm ciii. 13.
His soul was grieved for the miseries of Israel." Not that God can, properly speaking, be grieved, who is a Being of all perfection and perfectly bappy, Job xxxv. 6, 7. but as the Lord has taken upon him the character of a Father, so he speaks with fatherly bowels and commiseration to his children under their afflictions, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. which shews that bosom love and delight which the Lord takes in his people, as the “ Father of mercies, and God of all comfort."
This chapter gives us the history of Jephthah, another of Israel's judges,
and numbered among the worthies of the old testament, that by faith did great things, Heb. xi. 32. though he had not such an extraordinary call as the rest there mentioned had. Here is, 1. The disadvantages of his rise and original, ver 1--3. 2. The Gileadites' choice of him, to be commander in chief against the Ammonites, and the terms he made with them, ver. 4-11. 3. His treaty with the king of Amnion about the rights of the two nations, that the matter might be determined, if possible, without bloodshed, ver. 12-28. 4. His war with the Ammonites, which he enters upon with a solemn vow, ver. 29-31. prosecutes with bravery, ver. 32, and ends with a glorious victory, ver. 39. 5. The straits he was brought into at luis return to liis owu house, by the vow he had made, ver. 34-40.
THIS chapter gives us an account of the Lord's ap. pearing for bis people, who were distressed by the children of Ammon, and of his raising up Jephtbah, a man of valour, to be a deliverer in Israel.
Ver. 30. “ And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said,” &c.]-Whether Jephthah's vow was a prudent or a rash vow bas been much disputed : some think that it was expressive of his strong zeal and love to the Lord for the deliverance which he had wrought for his people ; but it appears to be a rash vow; for if he vowed to sacrifice bis daughter, as some think he did, it was contrary to the law of God, “ Thou shalt not kill;" besides, it was still rash and imprudent, because that which was devoted or vowed to the Lord might be redeemed according to the law, " a female for thirty pieces of silver,” Lev. xxvii. 4. If he intended by bis vow only to devote his daughter to the Lord by appointing her to a perpetual state of virginity, which seems to be the case, in this respect it may be said to have been a rash vow, because the law of God did not require it, nor has any parent authority over his children in this matter.
Ver. 39. " Who did with her according to his vow which he bad vowed.”]-What Jephthah did to his daugh. ter in order to fulfil bis vow, is a question not easily answered: some think that he really sacrificed his daughter: but there are others that think Jephthah's vow was ful. filled, and yet his daughter not sacrificed: this is the opinion of Mr. Romaine, in a short treatise upon that subject, and also of Dr. Gill: what makes this probable
is, that Jephthab was much grieved at seeing his daughter when she came forth to meet him, and having but this one child, it greatly afflicted him that sbe was to be devoted to a state of virginity ; for thereby bis family must cease in Israel, and he could have no hope of the Messiah's descending from him.
It is likewise said, ver. 40, that the daughters of Israel went four days in the year to lament the “ daughter of Jephthah ;" but the Hebrew word signifies, as the learned Dr. Gill observes, to commune or talk with her, or comfort her. No doubt it was a promise made by her companions, that they would come and see her four times a year during her life; for it was not usual to lament persons four times a year after their death. The Jewish writers observe that Jepbthah built a house without the city for his daughter to live alone : thus Jephthah's vow was fulfilled, for it is written, ver. 39. " She knew no man," which respects her virginity ; for to suppose bim to sacrifice his daughter, is to suppose him to be guilty of a breach of the law of God, with an appearance of honouring God; and it would be, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, like a sacrifice to Molech.'
In this chapter we have, 1. Jephthal's rencounter with the Ephraimites, and
the blood shed on that unhappy occasion, ver. 1-6. And the conclusion of Jephthali's life and government, ver. 7. 2, A short account of three others of the judges of Israel, Ibzan, ver. 8-10. Elou, ver. 11, 12. Abdon, ver. 13-15.
VER. 6. " Then said they unto hini, Say now Shibboleth.”]-Some will have this to be figurative of the nearness of the bypocrite to the real christian, to true faith in the Son of God, to true love to his name, and to sincere obedi. ence in the Lord's ways; but though they come near to the christian, yet the language of Ashdod is mixed in them, and is not the pure language of Canaan; there is a self-confi. dence mixed with all their seeming faith in Jesus, and hypocrisy in their seeming love to his name, and a pharisaical spirit in all their obedience; for Christ is not their « all in all,” their chief delight, their rest, their life, and whole salvation, the foundation of their faith, the building of their hope, the only food of their souls, their “ alpha
and omega," their beginning and end : they cannot from · the heart say amen to bis name being exalted, his crown flourishing, and his glory shining like the beams of the morning: for their hearts are not right with the Lord; there is a worn at the root, and a secret glorying, rejoicing, and resting in something short of Christ.
At this chapter begins the story of Sampson), the last of the judges of Israel,
whose story is recorded in this book, and next before Eli. The passages related concerning him, are from first to last very surprising and uncommon. The figure he makes in this history is really great, and yet vastly different from that of his predecessors : we never find him at the head, either of a court or of an army, never upon the throne of judgment, or in the field of battle, yet in his own proper person, a great patriot of his country, and a terrible scourge and check to his enemies and oppressors; he was an eminent believer, Heb. xi. 32. and a glorious type of him, wbo with his own arm wrought salvation. The history of the rest of the judges commenced from their advancement to that station, but Sampson's begins with his birth, nay, with his conception, and no less than an angel from heaven ushers him into the world, as a pattern of what should be afterwards done to John baptist, and Christ. This is related in this chapter. 1. The occasion of raising up this deliverer was the oppression of Israel by the philistines, ver. 2. 2. His birth is foretold by an angel to his mother, ver, 2-5. 3. She relates it to his father, ver. 6,7. 4. They both together hare it again from the angel, ver. 8-14. whom they treat with respect, ver. 15-18. and who to their great amazement, discovers what he was at parting, ver. 19--23. 5. Sampson is boru, ver, 24, 25.
VER. 3. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman.”]—This angel appeared in the form of a man, ver. 6. and yet in the majesty and glory of God, ver. 18. which shews that this angel was the God-man, or, as the Jews call him, the God-angel, the Lord Jesus, who is the angel of the covenant. These frequent appearances of our Lord Jesus for the deliverance of his people testify that his delights were with the sons of men.
Ver. 7. "The child shall be a Nazarite to God, from the womb to the day of his death.”]-In which he was a type of Christ, who was sanctified by God the Father, separated from sinners, and called a Nazarene, who was born for the salvation of his people.
Ver, 11. ks Art thou the man that spake unto the woman? and he said, I am.”]-Observe, first, that Ma. noah addresseth the angel with the greatest familiarity, “ Art thou the man?” because the angel appeared as a man, when he was Jehoval in the human form : in which respect I apprehend this to be figurative of that free and near access which the children of God have to him, as God-man, their Head, and Saviour. This view of the Lord Jesus removes the dread of our minds and gives life to our hopes: then we have access by one Spirit through him to the Father. And by Christ's appearance as man, I humbly conceive that all the old testament saints had access to the Father: the Shekinah, the tabernacle, the ark, and the mercy-seat, under the law, were figures of Christ, as God-man, bcing the way of access to the Father.
Ver. 18. “ And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?"] -Or, as it is in the Hebrew, seeing it is wonderful ;' which is one of the names that Christ bears, who is wonderful in his person, and in his incarnation was made of a woman: “ The Word was made flesh :” which hypostatical union of the two natures constitutes bis person as God. man, the Bridegroom, and Saviour of his church. Likewise he is wonderful in his offices, relations, and love to his chosen : in short, he is wonderful in all be is, and in all he has done for bis people, Isai. ix. 6. And these glories and names of the Lord Jesus under the law were one of the secrets hid from the foundation of the world, but now made manifest to the saints.
Ver. 19. “ And the angel did wondrously.”]-Agree. ably to his name and nature: in which he shewed his om. nipotence, power, and glory; therefore Manoah called him Jehovah, which is the proper and essential name of the Lord Jesus, Jer. xxiii. 6. Note, no soul will ever question Christ's proper deity, that has seen the displays of his glory.
'Ver. 22. “And Manoah said uuto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.")-This might be apprehended from Exod. xxxiii. 20. and indeed we find ibat Jacob and Gideon were both amazed that their lives were preserved, Gen. xxxii. 30. Judg. vi. 22. when they bad scen the glory of the Lord : and indeed it is wonderful to think of the condescension of Jehovah, that his divine glories should be displayed, and yet the life of the creature who beheld them is preserved; which is owing to the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.