The Mystery of a Name
Judges 13:17, 18
And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, What is your name, that when your sayings come to pass we may do you honor?…

Names denote persons and describe characters. The nameless one wraps both his individuality and his nature in mystery. Naturally Manoah, like Jacob, desires to solve such a mystery (Genesis 32:29), and in response to this wish, unlike "the traveller unknown," the angel reveals a name, though one of partial mystery.

I. MANOAH'S QUESTION (see ver. 17).

1. Manoah does not know that his visitor is an angel of the Lord (ver. 16). Divine visitations are not always recognised. The true nature of Christ was unknown to most of his contemporaries. We cannot always trace the hand of God in his providential action. Heaven is about us unnoticed; unseen ministries attend our lives; God is nearer to us than we suspect.

2. Manoah desires to know the name of his mysterious visitor -

(1) from natural curiosity,

(2) from a desire to strengthen his faith in the message of the unknown,

(3) from a wish to give him thanks when his promise should be fulfilled.

The thirst to solve the strange questions which surround our spiritual life is natural, and not inconsistent with humility nor with faith. It would be better if we were more anxious to inquire for indications of God and of his character in the experience of life.

II. THE ANGEL'S REPLY (see ver. 18).

1. He begins his reply with a question. We should not assail heaven with unjustifiable prayers, but should be ready to give a reason for our petitions. Revelation is not intended to quench human thought, but to stimulate it. Every new voice from heaven, while it answers some questions, starts new questions.

2. The angel implies that Manoah's request was needless, either

(1) because he ought to have recognised the nature of his visitant from the character of his message and conduct, or

(2) because it was more important to consider the meaning of the message than to inquire into the nature of the messenger. We sometimes pray for more light when we only need better eyes to use the light we have; not a fresh revelation, but discernment, reflection, spiritual feeling to appreciate the revelation already received. God's truth is more important than the person of the prophet, apostle, or angel who brings it to us.

3. The angel gives Manoah a name. He is "Wonderful." This was a partial answer to Manoah's question.

(1) It carried his thought to God, who is the supreme mystery, and suggested the greatness, the wonder, the awe of all that pertained to him. Thus it was a revelation of the Divine.

(2) Nevertheless the name was but a partial explanation, as its very meaning suggested the unknown. The deepest questions cannot be solved on earth. But it matters little that the rays of revelation seem to melt into the darkness of the Infinite if only they shine bright and clear on our path of duty. - A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?

WEB: Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, "What is your name, that when your words happen, we may honor you?"

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