And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas…
The religious experience of one is often of help to others. At all times has the commerce of man with the unseen taken place; it is a necessary element in his spiritual life. The test of true religion is the sentiment thus awakened.
I. THE NATURAL FEAR OF GOD, AND ITS CAUSE. The sentiment expressed by Gideon a general one, but peculiar to Israelites. The Greek knew not this fear, because his conception of the nature of the gods was different. They were but as men, only more glorious and powerful. To the Israelite God was the Supreme in holiness and authority. Reverence for the character of God deepened into fear, because of the tradition that a visitation such as he now received meant death, either immediate or near at hand, and because of the sense of sin. No man could see God and live. We have the remnant and echoes of this belief still among us, in the fear of supernatural appearances and intimations. It is the dread of the simple, absolute holiness and goodness of God, deepened by our sense of sinfulness. The culprit trembles in presence of the judge. Had Israel rightly served God, this dread would have disappeared. Were men's hearts right with him, they would welcome his presence and prize his visitations.
II. THE WHISPER OF TRACE. It is a token of good-will. The terror which overcame the strong man is allayed. Christ gives a deeper tranquillity. He fills the breast with the sense of spiritual reconciliation - "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." And this is felt in the trial hours of life, and in the agony of dying. It steadies and evens the spirit amidst the most afflicting circumstances. In conversion the fear of the sinner under conviction is often intense. But who shall tell the rapture when peace is found?
III. THE MEMORIAL. HOW fitting that it should be commemorated, and by such a symbol! The altar is the meeting-place of man and God. The monument. The church. It told to others of an individual, secret transaction and experience. Here was won a victory over self, a triumph of duty more signal than Marathon, Bannock-burn, or Morgarten. It is well to tell men of God's mercies to us; and this intimation was an eloquent appeal to men to draw near and receive a like blessing. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.