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Verses of Numbers 6

21

Numbers 6:21 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 145
THE LAW OF NAZARITES

Num 6:21. This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the Lord for his separation.

THE Nazarites, in the best times of the Jewish state, were eminently pious. God himself declares concerning them, that “they were purer than snow, and whiter than milk [Note: Lam 4:7.].” The very order itself was instituted by divine appointment, on purpose that they might be blessings to the nation, and preserve the tone of piety and morals from decay. It was a favour to that people that “God raised up of their sons for prophets;” nor was it less so, that he raised up of their “young men for Nazarites [Note: Amo 2:11.].” Some, as Samson and John the Baptist, were separated by God himself even from their mother’s womb; and the express order was given, that from their very birth they should drink no wine, and that no razor should come upon their head [Note: Jdg 13:4-5; Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14; Luk 1:15.]. Others perhaps, like Samuel, might be consecrated by their parents from the womb [Note: 1Sa 1:11.]. But, in general, the separation of themselves to be Nazarites was altogether voluntary and for a fixed time. The custom continued even to the apostolic age. St. Paul himself seems to have completed the vow of Nazariteship at Cenchrea [Note: Act 18:18.]: and when there were four men performing it at Jerusalem, he, in order to remove prejudice from the minds of those who thought him adverse to the law of Moses, united himself with them, bearing part of the charges attendant on that vow, and conforming himself in every thing to the prescribed ritual [Note: Act 21:23-24.]. The law respecting them is contained in the chapter now before us: and, agreeably to the arrangement made for us in our text, we shall consider it as containing,

I.

Their vows—

The particulars of their vow are here minutely detailed:

[They separated themselves for a season to an extraordinary course of attendance upon God. During that season they were not to touch any wine, or grapes either moist or dried. They were not to cut their hair, or to approach any dead body, or to mourn even for a father or a mother [Note: ver. 2–8.]. If, by any unforeseen accident, a person should fall down dead near them, or a corpse be brought nearly into contact with them, they were to shave their head, and offer both a burnt-offering and a sin-offering (to atone for the pollution they had contracted), and were to begin again the term of their separation, the whole that had passed having been rendered null and void [Note: ver. 9–12.].]

The design of it, though not expressly declared in Scripture, yet may without difficulty be ascertained—

[It seems that the order of Nazarites was intended to prefigure Christ, who, though not observant of the laws relating to that order, was from eternity consecrated to the service of his God, not only by the designation of his Father, but by his own voluntary engagement, and completed the course of his obedience till he could say, “It is finished.”
But we have no doubt respecting the design of God to exhibit to us in the Nazarites a pattern for our imitation. The appointment itself has ceased with the law: “the believing Gentiles” are expressly told that they “are not required to observe any such thing [Note: Act 21:25.].” But, though the form has ceased, the substance remains. We are called to consecrate ourselves unreservedly to God. This is our duty, and our privilege. “We are not our own; we are bought with a price;” and therefore bought, “that we may glorify God with our bodies and our spirits, which are his.” Every one amongst us should subscribe with his hand, and say, “I am the Lord’s [Note: Isa 44:5; Rom 14:7-8.]”— — — We need not literally abstain from wine; but we should shew a holy superiority to all the pleasures of sense. We may enjoy them, because “God has given us all things richly to enjoy:” but we should not seek our happiness in them, or be at all enslaved by them; or value them any further, than we can enjoy God in them, and glorify him by them. The same indifference should we manifest also in relation to the cares of this life. We may mourn indeed, but never indulge that “sorrow of the world, which worketh death.” Having God for our portion, the loss of all earthly things should be comparatively but little felt — — — We are not called to that singularity of dress which marked the Nazarites to public view: but surely we are called not to be conformed to every idle fashion, or to be running into all the absurdities which characterize the votaries of this world. A Christian should despise such vanities, and “be no more of this world, than Christ himself was of the world” — — — From pollution of every kind we should stand at the remotest distance: we should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” but “be purged from dead works to serve the living God.” What caution, what holy fear should we maintain! What dread of dishonouring our Lord, and walking unworthy of our holy profession! Surely we should “abstain even from the appearance of evil,” and labour to “be pure as God himself is pure” — — — If at any time, through weakness or inadvertence, we contract pollution, we must not think to proceed as if we had done nothing amiss: no; sin, of whatever kind, must be repented of: for, if it be continued in, it will infallibly destroy us [Note: Eze 18:24.]. We must, like the Nazarite, instantly apply ourselves to the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and seek remission through his precious blood. Yea, like him too, we must renew our dedication of ourselves to God, just as if we never had been devoted to him before. This is the safest way, and by far the happiest. If we stand doubting and questioning about our former state, it may be long before we come to any comfortable conclusion: but if we leave the consideration of past experiences, or use them only as grounds of deeper humiliation, and devote ourselves to God again as we did at the beginning, we shall most honour the mercy of our God, and most speedily attain renewed tokens of his favour — — —]

At the completion of their vows they were required to present,

II.

Their offerings—

These are particularly specified: they consisted of a he-lamb for a burnt-offering, to acknowledge God’s goodness to them; an ewe-lamb for a sin-offering, to obtain mercy at his hands; and a ram for a peace-offering, to shew that they were in a state of favour and acceptance with God. Besides these, they were to offer a basket of unleavened bread, consisting of cakes mingled with oil, and wafers anointed with oil, with a meat-offering and a drink-offering. Of these a greater portion was given to the priest than on other occasions: for, not only the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder were his, but also the other shoulder of the ram, which was sodden or boiled, was added, with one unleavened cake and one unleavened wafer; and, after having been put into the hands of the Nazarite and waved before the Lord, were given to the priest as his portion. The Nazarite’s hair also was shaven, and was burnt in the fire which boiled the peace-offerings. Thus was the termination of their vow publicly made known; and they, released from those particular obligations, were at liberty to resume the enjoyments which during their separation they had voluntarily renounced [Note: ver. 13–20.].

It would not be easy to mark with precision the exact design of these multiplied observances: but from a collective view of them we may gather,

1.

That of all that we do, we should give the glory to God—

[This was designed by the burnt-offering, as also by the heave-offering: they were acknowledgments to God, that his goodness to them was great, and that the service which they were enabled to render him had been the fruit of his love, and the gift of his grace. Thus should all our services be viewed. If they be regarded by us as grounds of self-preference and self-complacency, they will be odious to God in proportion as they are admired by us. We should never for a moment forget, that “it is by the grace of God we are what we are.” “It is God who gives us both to will and to do, and that too altogether of his good pleasure.” “Our sufficiency even for a good thought is derived from Him alone.” Instead of imagining therefore that we lay God under obligations to us for any works that we do, we must remember that the more we do for God, the more we are indebted to God — — —]

2.

That, after all that we can do, we need an interest in the atoning blood of Christ—

[This was clearly manifested by the sin-offering. The Nazarite’s hair was not burnt on the altar of the burnt-offerings, to make atonement, but with the fire that boiled the peace-offerings, to make acknowledgment. However holy our lives be, even though we were sanctified to God from the very womb, and never contracted such a degree of pollution as should destroy our hope of acceptance with him, yet must we be washed in “the fountain open for sin,” even the fountain of Christ’s blood, which alone “cleanseth from all sin.” There is iniquity cleaving to our holiest things; and an atonement is as necessary for them as for our grossest sins: and that atonement can be found only in the sacrifice of Christ — — —]

3.

That when our term of separation is fulfilled, our joys shall be unrestrained for evermore—

[”After that, the Nazarite may drink wine [Note: ver. 20.]:” and, after the short period of mortification and self-denial assigned us here, we shall “enter into the joy of our Lord,” even into “his presence, where there is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.” The dread of pollution shall then be past; and the tokens of humiliation be put away. Then shall we “drink new wine in the kingdom of our Father:” and O! how sweet those draughts, of which, in our present state of separation, it was not permitted us to taste! More encouragement than this we need not, we cannot, have. Let us only contemplate “the blessedness of those who die in the Lord,” and we shall need no other inducement to live unto the Lord — — —]

Application—

[The term, Nazarite, imports separation: and though, as has been observed before, the ordinances relative to Nazarites are no longer in force, their duties, in a spiritual view, are obligatory on us. St. Paul says, “Come out from among the ungodly, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” You remember too it was observed, that “God raised up young men to be Nazarites.” O that the young amongst us would be foremost in the surrender of themselves to God! How would the world be benefited! how would God be glorified! — — — With respect to females, a vow of theirs, if not allowed by their father or their husband, was made void; so that they could not separate themselves, as Nazarites, without the permission of those who had the control over them [Note: Num 30:1-16.]: but there is no such controlling power now, none to prevent a surrender of our souls to God: the answer to any opposing authority must be, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Let nothing then keep us from executing the purposes which God has inspired; but let us, both old and young, “yield up ourselves as living sacrifices unto God, assured that it is no less a reasonable, than it is an acceptable, service” — — —]


Verses of Numbers 6

21

Consult other comments:

Numbers 6:21 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Numbers 6:21 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Numbers 6:21 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Numbers 6:21 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Numbers 6:21 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Numbers 6:21 - Geneva Bible Notes

Numbers 6:21 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Numbers 6:21 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Numbers 6:21 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Numbers 6:21 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Numbers 6:21 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Numbers 6:21 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)