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Matthew Henry's Commentary on Judges 13


Matthew Henry (1662-1714), still world-famous amongst Christians for his Commentary, was a Presbyterian minister born in Flintshire, Wales . His father was a renowned pastor of the Puritan era.



When Israel was in this distress Samson was born; and here we have his birth foretold by an angel. Observe,


I. His extraction. He was of the tribe of Dan, v. 2. Dan signifies a judge or judgement, Gen. 30:6. And, probably, it was with an eye to Samson, that dying Jacob foretold, Dan shall judge his people, that is, “he shall produce a judge for his people, though one of the sons of the handmaids, as one, as well as any one, of the tribes of Israel ,” Gen. 49:16. The lot of the tribe of Dan lay next to the country of the Philistines, and therefore one of that tribe was most fit to make a bridle upon them. His parents had been long childless. Many eminent persons were born of mothers that had been kept a great while in the want of the blessing of children, as Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, and John Baptist, that the mercy might be the more acceptable when it did come. Sing, O barren! thou that didst not bear, Isa. 54:1. Mercies long waited for often prove signal mercies, and it is made to appear that they were worth waiting for, and by them others may be encouraged to continue their hope in God’s mercy.


II. The glad tidings brought to his mother, that she should have a son. The messenger was an angel of the Lord, (v. 3.) yet appearing as a man, with the aspect and garb of a prophet, or man of God. And this angel (as the learned Bishop Patrick supposes, on v. 18) was the Lord himself, that is, the Word of the Lord, who was to be the Messiah, for his name is called Wonderful, (v. 18.) and Jehovah, v. 19. The great Redeemer did in a particular manner concern himself about this typical redeemer. It was not so much for the sake of Manoah and his wife, obscure Danites, that this extraordinary message was sent, but for Israel’s sake, whose deliverer he was to be; and not only so, his services to Israel not seeming to answer to the grandeur of his entry, but for the Messiah’s sake, whose type he was to be, and whose birth must be foretold by an angel, as his was.


The angel, in the message he delivers, 1. Takes notice of her affliction: Behold now, thou art barren and bearest not. From hence she might gather he was a prophet, that, though a stranger to her, and one she had never seen before, yet he knew this to be her grievance. He tells her of it, not to upbraid her with it, but because perhaps at this time she was actually thinking of this affliction, and bemoaning herself as one written childless. God often sends comfort to his people very seasonably, when they feel most from their troubles. 'Now thou art barren, but thou shalt not be always so,' as she feared, 'nor long so.' 2. He assures her that she should conceive and bear a son, (v. 3.) and repeats it, v. 5. To show the power of a divine word, the strongest man that ever was, was a child of promise, as Isaac, born by force and virtue of a promise, and faith in that promise, Heb. 11:11. Gal. 4:23. Many a woman, after having been long barren, has born a son by providence, but Samson was by promise, because a figure of the promised Seed, so long expected by the faith of the Old-Testament saints.




“A Commentary on the Holy Bible,” Ward, Lock & Co., Vol 2, pp 633-634.