For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
I. THE PARTY EMPLOYED — an angel. This was often the privilege of the saints in the Old Testament, and sometimes in the New. Angels are employed to serve for the good and benefit of those that are the Lord's (Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:14). And the angels being invisible, we know not how much we are indebted to them for their ministry; we will know it better afterwards. Note, then, the dignity and advantage of the children of God. King's children have honourable attendants. These angels will attend thee —
1. During thy life (Psalm 91:11, 12). As a father of a family charges the elder children with the care of the younger ones, so does God the angels with the young heirs of glory.
2. At thy death (Luke 16:22).
II. THE PECULIARITY OF THIS MANIFESTATION. "The angel stood by me." They were all in the same ship, but none knew what passed but Paul himself.
1. There were many strangers to God in the ship; but Paul was His own, and with him God keeps communion. Whence observe that there is secret conveyance of intercourse with heaven to those who are the Lord's, in the midst of a crowd who know nothing of the matter. Many a time matters go on betwixt God and the soul, as betwixt Jonathan and David, when they only knew the matter (1 Samuel 20:39). The Lord knoweth who are His, and who are not, however mixed the multitude (2 Timothy 2:19). Intercourse with heaven lies in inward, not in external things. Every one may see at Communion who received the bread and wine; but who received Christ into their hearts is a secret betwixt God and the soul itself. Learn —
(1) That it is a sad thing to have been where intercourse with heaven was, and to have had no share of it.
(2) To be thankful, and walk worthy of your privilege, you who have had the distinguishing mercy of communion with God. To whom much is given much also shall be required.
2. How may a person know whether he has had communion with God or not? Mark —
(1) The soul's giving itself wholly to the Lord: "Whose I am." People may give their hand, tongue, many things; but none have communion with Him but those who give themselves wholly.
(2) Has religion now become your business? "Whom I serve." Have ye truly renounced the service of the devil, and of lusts? taken on the yoke of Christ in all its parts?
3. There is real communion with God —
(1) In longing desires after Christ (Psalm 26:9).
(2) In real love to Him (1 John 4:19).
III. THE POSTURE OF THE ANGEL. He stood, he did not sit down, because he was not to stay. This was an extraordinary visit to Paul, he was not to look for this as his ordinary entertainment from heaven. Extraordinary manifestations are what we cannot expect to be continued while we are here. God will have a difference betwixt heaven and earth. And as two summers are not to be looked for in one year, so a lasting heaven of comfort upon earth will not be found. Let Christians then lay their account with a struggling and wrestling life, with the clouds returning after the rain.
IV. THE TIME OF THIS MANIFESTATION: "This night." It was a sad night in that ship, all hopes of being saved were lost, and then the Lord appeared to help. When things are brought to an extremity this is a special opportunity which the Lord takes to appear for those that are His (Deuteronomy 32:36). By this —
1. The hand of God appears most eminent in deliverance. The more desperate the case, the love, wisdom, and power of God appear the more conspicuous (Isaiah 33:10). He has the greater revenue of glory by curing the disease when past hope.
2. It brings greater advantage to the saints (John 11:15).
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,