Depart not hence, I pray you, until I come to you, and bring forth my present, and set it before you. And he said…
The narrative speaks for itself; it is a picture of Eastern hospitality. Gideon's sense of the extraordinary nature of the visit expresses itself in his taking upon himself the duties of servant as well as host, to keep it secret. As the angel said to Manoah, "I will not eat of thy bread" (Judges 13:16), so the visitor betrays his true character as an angel of Jehovah in abstaining from the food. Of the phrase "and they did eat" in Genesis 18:8, the Targum gives the gloss,." they seemed to him to eat." Angels, not having a corporeal nature, do not require mortal sustenance. But the most striking incident in the narrative is the touching of the flesh and cakes with the angel's staff, and their being consumed by fire from the rock. This circumstance betokened not rejection of the gift, but its acceptance in a higher sense; the present becomes a sacrifice.
I. ALL BEST GIFTS ARE SACRIFICIAL. That which is given in order to a return; from gratification of self-love, ostentation, vanity; from custom; or without any real sense of loss, sacrifice, etc., is not accounted great by generous minds, however intrinsically precious it may be. As the sentiment enhances the value of the gift, even trifling in our eyes, so that which has cost pain, effort, loss of loving hearts, is "above rubies." Personality often thwarts the purpose of a well-intended gift; therefore it has often to be effaced ere the true end is attained.
II. How GOD OFTEN DEALS THUS WITH THE GIFTS OF HIS SERVANTS. It is not in a few isolated miracles that this has taken place. The mode of procedure is a principle of his kingdom, and is seen in every true life.
1. In carrying on a spiritual work to unforeseen developments, and so that demands are made the agent did not at first contemplate. Some kinds of spiritual effort are like sinking a shaft for a mine, the ultimate expenditure of labour and means is not ascertainable. That which was almost a pastime becomes a serious task. Consequences are evolved that call for heroism and generous self-devotion.
2. Results which were aimed at in the first instance are withheld, and the labourer has to continue steadfast amidst apparent want of success.
3. The labour itself becomes dear, and enthusiasm makes the greatest efforts easy, and the heaviest burdens light. At first it is "our" work; by-and-bye it is God's work. We lose ourselves m the presence of the "not ourselves that maketh for righteousness," who accepts our feeble labours and turns them towards infinite and inconceivable purposes.
III. WHAT IS SUBSERVED BY THIS CONVERSION.
1. It is educative. The subject of it is being taught a nobler life. He is wooed gradually out of the narrow shell of self into the larger atmosphere and arena of Divine love. At first God provokes us to the disinterested passion for himself, then he surprises us into fitting expression of it. The bridges of retreat are cut.
2. Our vague intention is interpreted to our spirits, and is set free. The alchemy of Divine love turns our dross into gold, our water into wine.
3. The permanent utility of man's work is thereby secured. Like the devotion of Christ, it receives an absolute worth in perfected sacrifice. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.