Genesis 32:24
So Jacob was left all alone, and there a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
Certainty of Retribution and Possibility of ReformH. W. Beecher.Genesis 32:24
God's InterpositionsM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 32:24
God's Revelation to JacobA. Fuller.Genesis 32:24
Guilt All AloneC. S Robison, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Human LonelihoodHomilistGenesis 32:24
Jacob AloneJ. C. Coghlan, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Jacob and the AngelJ. C. Jones, M. A.Genesis 32:24
Jacob At PenuelG. J. Allen, B. A.Genesis 32:24
Jacob At PenuelHomilistGenesis 32:24
Jacob At PenuelM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Jacob Striving with GodBishop Magee.Genesis 32:24
Jacob WrestlingJ. C. Gray.Genesis 32:24
Jacob Wrestling with GodW. Hodson.Genesis 32:24
Jacob Wrestling with GodC. New.Genesis 32:24
Jacob Wrestling with the AngelT. H. Leale.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's Crisis-NightJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's Example in PrayerJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's Prevailing PrayerD. C. Hughes, M. A.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's StruggleJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's WrestleS. Gregory.Genesis 32:24
Jacob's WrestlingBp. Babington.Genesis 32:24
Loneliness and Communion with GodHomilistGenesis 32:24
Mahanaim and PenuelDean Vaughan.Genesis 32:24
PenuelT. S. Dickson.Genesis 32:24
PenuelW. M. Taylor, D. D.Genesis 32:24
Saints Wrestling for the BlessingT. Boston, D. D.Genesis 32:24
The Change in JacobBishop Boyd Carpenter.Genesis 32:24
The Crisis in Jacob's LifeJ. Clifford, D. D.Genesis 32:24
The Features of the Development of Revealed Faith in Jacob's WrestlingJ. P, Lange.Genesis 32:24
The History and Mystery of Jacob's LifeC. Ness.Genesis 32:24
The Wrestling of JacobW. D. Horwood.Genesis 32:24
Wrestling JacobH. Allen, M. A.Genesis 32:24
Peniel. The Face of GodR.A. Redford Genesis 32:24-32

The patriarchal revelation at its best. The main point, the personal wrestling of the believer with the angel of deliverance. Through that scene Jacob passed as by a baptism (ford Jabbok) into the full enjoyment of confidence in Jehovah, into the theanthropic faith. A man wrestled with him. The faith of Jacob was now to be a faith resting not upon tradition alone, nor upon promises and commandments alone, nor upon past experience alone, but upon a living, personal union with God. The wrestling was a type of that intimate fellowship which spiritually identifies the individual child of God with the Father through the man Christ Jesus. The pilgrim on his way is hence-forth the prince, having power with God and with men. It is a great lesson on prevailing prayer.

1. The prayer of faith.

2. The prayer of importunity.

3. The prayer of intense desire. I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. Bless me for myself, bless me for my family, bless me for the world. But Jacob was a type of the true Prince of God prevailing for his people. He wrestled, he wrestled alone, he wrestled to his own suffering and humiliation, although into victory. He obtained the blessing as the Mediator. Although the patriarch was not allowed to know the name of the angel, he was himself named by the angel. Although we cannot with all our searching find out God, and even the revelation of Christ leaves much unknown, still we are "known of him." He gives us one name, and by that name we know him to be ours, which is the true saving knowledge. Peniel, the face of God, is the name not of God himself, but of the blessed revelation of God. We know where we may find him. We may each one start afresh from our Peniel, where we have been blessed of God, and have through Christ prevailed against the dark- ness of the future and the helplessness of our own impotence. Nor must we forget that this wrestling was reconciliation - the reconciliation between man and God, preceding the reconciliation between man and mare The lameness of the patriarch symbolized the life of dependence upon which he henceforth entered with much more entire surrender than before. "As the sun rose upon him, he halted upon his thigh." It was the morning of a new life - the life of man's confessed nothingness and God's manifested sufficiency. In such a light we can see light. The day may have dangers in it, but it will be a day of mighty deliverance, Divine blessedness, rejoicing in personal salvation and peaceful life. - R.

Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him.
From this description of a day and a night in the life of Jacob we learn three things.

1. This is a crisis, a turning-point in his career. His experience at the ford of Jabbok is his "conversion" from the craft and cunning and vulturous greed of years to the sweet subjection of his will to the Eternal, and consequent victory over himself and his brother.

2. God is in this crisis from first to last and at every moment of these twenty-four hours.

3. The crisis closes in the victory of the patient and loving Lord over the resisting selfishness of Jacob. Note these points: —

I. It must have been a welcome fore-gleam of approaching victory, and a pledge of the sustaining presence of Jehovah in the "valley of the shadow of death," that as this day of crisis broke on the pilgrim the angels of God met him.

II. What is the significance of this terrific conflict? It means this assuredly. Jacob having gone to God in quaking fear, God holds him and will not let him go; goads and harrows his soul, till his heart swells and is ready to break; urges him to such a relentless and soul-consuming struggle with his self-will that he feels as though he is held in the grip of a giant and cannot escape. He resists, he struggles, he writhes, and in his furious contortions is at last lamed and helpless, and therefore compelled to trust himself and his all to God.

III. Jacob wrestled against God, but at last yielding, his soul is suffused with the blessedness of the man whose trust is in the Lord. Faber asks, with mingled beauty and force, "What is it will make us real?" and answers, "The face of God will do it." It is so. Israel is a new creation: Jacob is dead. Dark as the night was, Jacob passed through it, saw the face of God at day-dawn, and became himself, met his brother with serenity, and spent the rest of his days in the love and service of God.

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

I. In what position do we find Jacob's spiritual state up to the time of this second incident in his life? During the first period of his life he was simply a man of the world. After the vision at Bethel he was a religious man; the sense of religious influence was seen in his life; after the conflict at the ford Jabbok he became a spiritually minded man. He was going home with his sin yet weighty on his soul, unpardoned, unforgiven, uncleansed by the Divine power. Bethel was the house of God, to teach him that he could not set his foot upon a single acre of soil without finding that the Governor of the world was there; here we have the unfolding of the wider thought of the intercommunion and personal relationship between the soul of man and his Maker.

II. Those who trust in the God of Bethel and providence are looking to Him for what He gives; but the aspirations of the spiritual man are wholly different. At Bethel Jacob said, "If Thou wilt be with me and wilt do me good." At Jabbok his first thought was, "Tell me Thy name." He desired to know more of God, not to get more from God. To gain further spiritual experience — this is the thirst of the spiritual man. To make a friend of God for the good that we can get — this is the idea of the merely religious man.

(Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

I. All the evidence here goes to prove that the wonderful wrestler, who contended with Jacob, was the one only true God.

II. Being God and being man, we are right in calling Him Christ, and in placing this incident as the second of the anticipatory advents of the Messiah which lie scattered over the Old Testament.

III. As Jacob wrestled with God in human form, so it is with God in the Lord Jesus Christ that in all our spiritual conflicts, in all our deep repentances, in all our struggling prayers, we must wrestle.

IV. There were two things which Christ gave in this encounter — a wound and a blessing. The wound first and then the blessing. The wound was small and for a season; the blessing was infinite and for ever.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

We see here the supernatural appearing in the world of the natural. We see God veiling Himself in human form, as He veiled Himself in the form of Christ His Son in after years. We must look at this story of miracle in the light of the miracle of the Incarnation.

I. In this striving of the patriarch with God, and in the blessing he won at the end of the striving, we see the very height and picture of our life, if into that life has passed the life of Christ our Lord.

II. It is by wrestling that we win the Divine blessing, but whether in struggling against doubt, against temptation, or against the enemies of the Church, we must take heed that we fight wisely as well as earnestly. We may strive, and we must strive; but let us strive wisely and lawfully if we would win the blessing.

III. The homeliest, the least eventful life, may and should be a supernatural life-a life in which Christ dwells, a life which the Holy Spirit sanctifies. If we can thus strive and wrestle on, the dawn comes at last, and we are blessed of God.

(Bishop Magee.)

I. Any attempt to make Jacob a hero, or even a good man, at the time of his deception of his father, must fail. At that time he represented the very lowest quality of manhood. We can call him a man only by courtesy; while Esau, a venturous and kind-hearted child of nature, stands up as a prince, uncrowned indeed, but only because a thief had robbed him of his crown. In the fact that God chose Jacob we find the germ of the redemptive idea at work.

II. Jacob was not at once promoted to his high place. As a wanderer and a stranger, he underwent most humiliating discipline, and on this night his old and wretched past was replaced by a new name and a new hope.

III. There must be such a night in every life — a night in which the sinful past shall go down for ever into the depths of unfathomable waters. The wrestling of Jacob was




IV. The night of wrestling was followed by a morning of happy reconciliation with his brother.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Consider this incident —



1. That the great struggle of life is to know and feel after God.

2. That God reveals Himself through mystery and awe.

3. That God reveals Himself to us in blessing.

4. That God's revelation of Himself to us is intended to change our character.

5. That God is conquered by prayer and supplication.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. The germ of the Incarnation. Godhead and humanity wrestling with each other; the Godhead in the form of a man.

2. The germ of the atonement. Sacrifice of the human will.

3. The germ of justification by faith. "I will not let Thee go," etc.

4. The germ of the new-birth. Jacob, Israel.

5. The germ of the principle of love to one's enemies. The reconciliation with God, reconciliation with the world.

(J. P, Lange.)

I. His EXPERIENCE is singularly transparent, though seriously mixed.

1. We know, for one thing, he was in positive fear.

2. There was solicitude in his experience.

3. There was reminiscence in his experience.

4. There was remorse in his experience.

II. THE INGENIOUS PRECAUTIONS HE TAKES. He made the best disposal of all his affairs that he could under the circumstances. Four things there were on which he grounded some hope.

1. One was his late vision of the angels at Mahanaim.

2. His vast worldly wealth.

3. Disposition of forces.

4. Prayer.


(C. S Robison, D. D.)


1. Its loneliness.

2. Its earnestness.

(1)Earnestness which absorbed Jacob's sense of material danger.

(2)Earnestness which even bore down Jacob's dread of God.

II. THE VICTORY. "He blest him there." What was the nature of the Divine blessing?

1. A change in the man's state.

(1)Not that mere external deliverance for which Jacob first prayed.

(2)An inward deliverance. Symbolized by the new name.

(3)Outward token of the change. Jacob's history in the after ages purer than before.

(4)Imperfection even in the new man Israel.In more than a physical sense, "Jacob halted on his thigh." Whoever spends half a lifetime in sin, must not be alarmed if traces of old habit remain.

2. A change in the man's relations.

(1)Power with God.

(2)Power with man.

(S. Gregory.)


1. In the general, it is one of the most famous combats recorded in Scripture; we read, indeed, in that Divine record of sundry eminent conflicts carried on after the manner of a duel. As of that combat betwixt little David and great Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40, &c.); but in that the match was only made betwixt man and man, there was only one mortal against another, though the one was a great giant, and the other was but, in comparison of his antagonist, a little dwarf. Here is a rare show indeed. Go along with me, I beseech you, both to see and hear this great wonder in some sense, the greatest wonder that ever was in the world, that God Himself, as will appear after, should come down from His throne in heaven to wrestle a fall with man, a poor worm (Isaiah 41:14; Psalm 22:6), upon his foot-stool on earth.

2. But more particularly, in the second place, what kind of combat this was, whether corporal only, or spiritual only, or both together, is our next inquiry. There be some who say that it was only spiritual by way of vision, or in way of a dream, imaginary only. So Thomas, Rupertus, and Rabbi Levi, who thinketh that Jacob's thigh might be hurt by some other means, as by the weariness of his tedious travel, or by his catching cold while he lay that cold night upon the cold ground, rather than by any real wrestling; and he further added, that Jacob dreamed of that same hurt upon his hip. How improbable this is may be easily urged. Assuredly Jacob had little either list or leisure for sleeping, much less for dreaming, while he was so struck even with a panic fear of his bloody brother. It was, therefore, a real and corporal combat, not visional or imaginary, which appears by many reasons.(1) Because it is said, Jacob rose up that night and sent his family before him, after both which he is described to be immediately engaged, even that same night he rose up in, to wrestling work (Genesis 32:22-24), which must be when he was waking.(2) Jacob's valour and victory are both highly applauded even by God Himself; whereas, had both these been imaginary only, and transacted in a dream, such fancies are but a laughter to men.(3) The luxation of his loin, or lameness of his leg was undoubtedly real and corporal. Who will complain of an imaginary hurt?(4) As there is a reality in Jacob's valour, victory, and lameness, so there is no less in the change of his name from Jacob to Israel; it was not done in a dream or vision, or in imagination only. Accordingly must his wrestling be not visional but corporal. Yet there is a third sense, to wit, that Jacob's wrestling was both corporal and spiritual, for he did certainly contend with Christ by the force of his faith as well as by the strength of his body. The prophet Hosea gives a plain testimony that Jacob won the blessing here by weeping as well as by wrestling. He wept and made supplication with his soul as well as wrestled with his body (Hosea 12:3, 4).

II. The next part or particular of this famous history is JACOB'S VALOUR, which is conspicuously demonstrable in several circumstances.

1. It is a clear discovery hereof, if his antagonist be well considered, that he was no less than the Omnipotent Jehovah.

2. Discovery of Jacob's valour is drawn from the circumstance of time when he wrestled, as the first was from the person with whom he had his conflict. The time when was the most timorous time of all times, it was in the night time, which is accounted a time of fear.

3. Wherein Jacob's courage and valour carries a high commendation, is, in respect of the length as well as lonesomeness of it, even all the night until the dawning of the day (Genesis 32:24, 25). Though wrestling work be most wearisome work, stretching every sinew in the flesh, and every jointbone in the body, and requiring the very utmost of a man's strength and skill.

4. The fourth circumstance, which higher illustrates Jacob's valour, is the sad posture he was now in, a lame and limping man, who had but one sound leg to stand upon while he wrestled with his adversary. As his place was a solitary and disconsolate place, so his posture was a discouraging and disadvantageous posture.

5. The fifth circumstance, which further commends Jacob's courage and valour, is the lastingness of his valour, the ever and everlasting noble temper of his mind under this wounding hurt, and under all other wonderful discouragements.

III. NOW come we, from Jacob's valour, thus demonstrated, unto that which was the royal wage thereof, to wit, HIS VICTORY. Though this was, secondarily, but the just reward of his right, noble resolution. Yea, Jacob's victory and prevailing over God here was symbolical, as it was a predicting sign —

1. That his person should prevail over Esau.

2. That his posterity should prevail over Esau's offspring, the Edomites or Idumeans.

3. That Christ, springing from Jacob, should subdue all His enemies, that every knee should bow to Christ (Philippians 2:10).

4. It was also a symbol or sign that every true Christian, who are Israelites indeed (John 1:47), and the right new and now Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), should likewise conquer all their temporal and spiritual adversaries, the flesh, the world, and the devil.

IV. Though God granted Jacob the victory, yet must he have something with it to humble him, to wit, HIS LUXATION OR LAMENESS, as before, that he might not be too much puffed up with the glory of his victory, nor, as it were, drunk with his success in this single combat. The conqueror here cannot come off with his conquest alone, but he must come off halting from it. He must be made sensible both of his antagonist's potency, in being lamed by him, whereby he understood him greater than himself, therefore desired he his blessing, for the lesser is blessed of the greater (Hebrews 7:7), and also of his own impotency, and to have low thoughts of himself while he came off with flying colours in the most glorious triumph. He must, even when he had overcome the great God, understand himself to be but a sorry man, otherwise he could not have been so lamed. He was, therefore, lamed that he might not ascribe the victory to his own strength, and that he might not, notwithstanding his overcoming God, be overcome by the pride of his own heart. Pride is a weed that will grow out of any ground — like mistletoe, that will grow upon any tree — but for the most part upon the best — the oak. Of all sorts of pride, that which is spiritual is most venomous, and far worse than temporal. That pride which grows out of the ground of our own graces and duties, is more poisonous than that which flows from honour, treasure, or pleasure. The holiest have their haltings, which they carry, as Jacob did his, along with them to their dying day. God hath His redder at every man's foot, and His bridle upon all men's spirits, to rein them in from self-exaltation, that they may not mount too high by having the victory. Oh, that our former haltings may be sanctified to us, so as to work savingly in us some future humblings. Thus, holy Jacob, in this holy contention with this holy angel, by those holy weapons obtains those holy things.

1. Holy honour.

2. The holy blessing.

(C. Ness.)




(T. S. Dickson.)

I. How GOD PREVAILED WITH JACOB In regard to this Divine conflict, think of —

1. Its condescension.

2. Its necessity.

3. Its success.


1. Jacob prevailed when he had been made to feel his own weakness.

2. Jacob prevailed, not by the exercise of natural strength, but by the purely spiritual force of trustful and earnest prayer.


1. Jacob received a new name.

2. Jacob received new spiritual power.

3. Jacob received a blessing which fully compensated for unexplained mystery.

(G. J. Allen, B. A.)


1. A personal contest.

2. A protracted contest.

3. A contest with an unknown person.


1. A partial victory.

2. A victory by which he obtained a better name.

3. A victory ever to be remembered.


Man is lonely —

1. In his profoundest thoughts.

2. In his moral convictions.

3. In his greatest sorrows.

4. In his dying moments.



1. Of course I need hardly say that the wrestling of Jacob was not physical but spiritual, and that it refers to importunity in prayer, to great earnestness and perseverance in that duty. It is presumed all Christians know this much even from their cradles, Now, the time and place where this transaction occurred are worthy of notice. The time was during the night season. The place, very likely the tent of Jacob, fixed in the open country, in the spot from which the little village of Penuel, so called from this event, derives its interest. It was when all was still and hushed, and no voice was heard, perhaps, save the lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep. It was on the eve of Jacob meeting his brother when the mind of Jacob was full of anxious thought and fears.

2. Consider the Infinite Being to whom Jacob addressed his prayer, and the manner or mode of His presence. God. Spiritually present to all who seek and love Him.

3. The intense earnestness of the prayer of Jacob is called a "wrestling" with God; it was so importunate, so full of feeling, and so bent upon obtaining its request. And the felt nearness of the Divine presence; the assurance of the power and willingness of the Infinite to bestow what was wanted; and of the very simple, gentle, and loving attractiveness of the Presence, drew out all that intensity of feeling and word so fully expressed in the language of the Patriarch, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Such earnestness as here expressed, forms a striking contrast to the cold dead religious conventionalism of the age. There is great naturalness too in this earnestness of entreaty. It is what is felt oftentimes in some of our earthly affairs. For instance, let us suppose a person bent upon obtaining some particular object: say it has engaged his thoughts by night and by day, ever pressing itself upon his attention; an object of all others most desirable to be obtained. Well, let us further suppose that the moment has arrived when your wishes and hopes may be fulfilled; when he who can accomplish this is close beside you. Can you not imagine that as the person referred to becomes more and more friendly, and familiar, and endearing, that the earnestness of expectation will rise in proportion, and the determination to obtain what is longed for more and more fixed? Such too is the case with the heart in prayer with God.


1. The change of Jacob's name to Israel, a prince and a conqueror, and also a change of character. The change of character is the most important, and his altered name is the sign by which that is forestalled. Henceforth he is no longer to be known as a subtle supplanter, but as an ennobled conqueror, who has waived all intrigue and treacherous design, and fought the battle bravely, openly, and honestly.

2. To conclude, know we anything of this inner life of the soul, of this earnest and intense struggle of a praying heart, of this deep and solemn communing with the Almighty? Do we feel that He is so near us at all times in the restless, and busy, and anxious seasons of life, that we have only just to turn our hearts towards Him to realize the power and comfort of His presence? Brethren beloved, who is in reality your God and mine? Is He the God of the wrestling Jacob, drawing us into close and earnest fellowship with Himself, and inspiring us with a feeling of trust that clings to Him, that yearns after Him, and that will not let Him go until He answers our petitions? Or is it some other idol we worship — some god of this world we obey?

(W. D. Horwood.)

I. IT BRINGS TO VIEW THE HUMAN SIDE OF PRAYER. Communion with God. No true or prevalent prayer where Christ is not laid hold of.


III. Note THE MEANS BY WHICH JACOB PREVAILED. Only when he ceased to rely on his own strength, and resorted to the weapon of prayer, did he succeed. So it is ever with the Christian.



VI. How SUGGESTIVE JACOB'S MEMORIAL NAME. "Penuel." "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)


1. He represents the true Christian in that he prayed.

2. He represents the true Christian in the characteristics of his prayer.


(2)Promises pleaded.

(3)Sense of unworthiness.



3. He represents many a Christian in his anxiety.

4. He represents the judicious Christian in using all proper means that lie in his power.


1. It represents the purpose of God in all His disciplinary measures.

2. It represents the means by which faith grows to its maturity.

(1)Divine permission to carry out our own plans, to realize how vain they are.

(2)God is often compelled to bring His child into absolute helplessness before faith will take hold of God's strength.Lessons:

1. God graciously deals with each of His children according to their circumstances and temperament.

2. Wrong-doing ever brings anxiety, weakness, failure.

3. To prevail with God, faith must rely only on Him.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)


1. There must be a deep sense of personal unworthiness (ver. 10).

2. We must cherish confidence in the word and the goodness of God.

3. Perseverance should distinguish our prayers.


1. God's special protection.

2. The sensible enjoyment of an interest in God's love.

3. A blissful anticipation of glory.Conclusion:

1. A word to the sinner. Prayerless sinner, what will become of you?

2. A word to the saint. Encouragement. It is said " God blessed him there." He blessed him in the very place in which He had lamed him. And does not this intimate that when we are sunk the lowest in discouragement, that relief is just at hand that the darkest hour is the prelude to the brightest day, and that holy earnest petitions overcome heaven itself, and bring down to earth the odours of immortality and the supports of Omnipotence. Oh! believer, cleave to the example of Jacob — say, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me."

(W. Hodson.)

I. THE BELIEVER IN HIS DIFFICULTY. Rest on the promises of a loving Jehovah, and go through all your trials honouring God, and experiencing patience and peace in your souls. But, moreover, you children of God, who have had trouble, and have it at this moment, do not be cast down.


1. You will perceive in the conduct of Jacob, in the first place, peculiar wisdom. There was no presumption in the conduct of Jacob. He made use of every variety of means to appease the anger of Esau; and after he had made these most providential arrangements, he remained with God alone. Having made these arrangements, he did not depend on them; he flew to his great resource, his only sure instrumentality, and that which, after all, must be that on which all must rest — namely, prayer to God.

2. You will perceive that this prayer, from the few words in which it is presented to our notice, is remarkable for its earnestness. Further, we mention that this prayer is remarkable for its perseverance, its persevering earnestness — "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me."


(H. Allen, M. A.)

I. We have here A STRIKING ILLUSTRATION OF THE LONELINESS OF ALL REAL DISTRESS. There is a certain solitariness about every man. The proverb says that "there is a skeleton in every house," and it is equally true that there is a secret closet in every heart where the soul keeps its skeleton, and to which, after sending wife and children across the brook, it retires in times of sadness and insolation. There is something in every soul that is never told to mortal, but which, as if to make up for its being withheld from others, has a strange fascination for ourselves; and in every moment of silence it is heard sounding in our secret ear. Even those nearest and dearest to us know not of these hidden things. They are kept for solitude; nay, such is some their power over us that they draw us into retirement that they may speak to us awhile. Different exceedingly in their character may those things be that are hidden thus in the secret chamber of men's hearts. They differ in different individuals, and in the same individual at different times. In the case of Jacob here, guilt and suspense were the troubles of his soul.

II. But the narrative before us teaches us that in this dreary solitude our ONLY EFFECTUAL RESOURCE IS INCARNATE GOD. For as this mysterious one came to Jacob, so Jesus came to earth, a human brother, and, at the same time, a divine helper. And herein does He not precisely meet our need? As a man He comes, and so we need not be afraid of Him. You know the beautiful story which Homer tells in connection with the parting of Hector and Andromache. The hero was going to his last battle, and his wife accompanied him as far as the gates of the city, followed by a nurse carrying in her arms their infant child. When he was about to depart, Hector held out his hands to receive the little one, but, terrified by the burnished helmet and the waving plume, the child turned away and clung crying to the nurse's neck. In a moment, divining the cause of the infant's alarm, the warrior took off his helmet and laid it on the ground, and then, smiling through his tears, the little fellow leaped into his father's arms. Now, similarly, Jehovah of hosts, Jehovah with the helmet on, would frighten us weak guilty ones away; but in the person of the Lord Jesus He has laid that helmet off, and now the guiltiest and the neediest are encouraged to go to His fatherly embrace, and avail themselves of His support. But while thus His humanity emboldens us to apply to Him, His divinity furnishes us with the help we need. That which I cling to for strength must be something other than myself, and something stronger than myself, otherwise it will be time as worthless as a broken reed. When in the howling hurricane wave after wave is breaking over the ship and sweeping the deck from stem to stern, it will not do for the sailor to depend upon himself; neither will it avail for him to grasp his fellow, for they may together be washed into the deep; but he lays hold of the iron bulwark, making the strength of the iron for the moment to be as his own, and is upheld. So in the surges of agony that sooner or later sweep over every man, it will not do for him to depend upon himself, or even to hold by a fellow-mortal. He needs one who while, he is a brother, is mightier than any human brother; and here in Jesus Christ, the God-man, the great necessity of his heart is met; for is the omnipotence of divinity added to the accessibility of humanity. Nor is this all. Jesus Christ as God, is omniscient as well as omnipotent. He knows, therefore, precisely what is wrong with us.


1. When our earnest applications to Him appear to be met with indifference, when our repeated importunity seems only to call forth repeated repulse, when in the yearning earnestness of our entreaty, our hearts feel as if they had lost all strength, even as Jacob's limb went from beneath him when the angel touched it, let us remember that His design is either to bring our faith to the birth, or by the discipline of resistance %o develop it into greater strength, and let us cling to Him all the more, saying, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me."

2. But it is not alone for the strengthening of our faith that the answer to our application may be deferred. Jesus may design thereby to open our eyes to our real need. For observe, though it was suspense concerning Esau that was at first oppressing Jacob, there is no mention of that in this wrestling. He has discovered that he needs something far more important than reconcilation to his elder brother. He wants to know God's name, that is, his relation to Him, and he desires a blessing from Him. Thus through the apparent denial of the minor request, he is brought to feel his need of something greater than he had thought at first of asking. Now is it not thus very frequently with God's children still?

IV. I hasten to add, in the last place, that such an experience as that which we have been tracing always LEAVES ITS MARK ON THE INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS PASSED THROUGH IT, AND RENDERS MEMORABLE THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS UNDERGONE. "Jacob halted upon his thigh" — that was literal fact. But that was not the only permanent memorial of his night of wrestling which Jacob bore upon him. That was, in truth, but the corporeal indication of a spiritual result. The rocks beneath us bear the marks of the flames, to the actions of which, millenniums ago they were exposed; and in the mountain ridges of our planet we may see the record of those terrible convulsions and upheavels to which in former ages it was subjected. In like manner the spirit of a man is marked by the fires of those trials through which he has been made to pass; and we may see in the character and disposition of an individual, the indications or results of those inner struggles through which he has been brought.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

What happens to any one left alone is better worth thinking about than is anything else about him. We all live much of our lives before the world: I mean before that part of mankind which is to each of us our world. But we all live some part of our life alone. We may be utterly alone in a crowd, or even in what is called society. Anywhere, unless you are conscious of more or less sympathy, you are alone. But there are times when we are alone in body, as well as in mind. Jacob was not alone in a crowd. He was alone out of a crowd — alone literally — alone in every sense — alone with God. That which is described occurs every day to a serious and thoughtful man when he is alone. What is it? I can describe it thus. A strife between God and man, which is real but not hostile. It teaches us, if I read aright, that there is a conflict between man and God-or that there may be — which is not one of hostility, but of friendship — a conflict in which God overthrows, but only to raise us the higher. He prevails; lie weakens us; He humbles: but we get the blessing. There is a seeming contradiction in the story's teaching; but the story is true to experience. He prevails and we prevail. It is with the thought of God as with the sight of the ocean. Look at it as you see it first roll up easily upon the shore. It refreshes and it charms. But sit down and look out "alone" upon the unmeasured waste of desert water beyond. Think of the terrific might that slumbers in that vast water-power. Your mind will be held spell-bound and amazed by the overwhelming grandeur of the object. It will be paralysed. And so it is with that Almighty Power of which the ocean is the fittest symbol. The first shallow thought of God sustains and comforts the soul. It affords a standing-ground and a resting place to the reason, which is embarrassed by the problem of existence. It gives the mind a centre and point of view. It gives the explanation which man requires as a rational being. There is wanting a reason for all things that exist, and God is that reason. We go through the reasoning of first cause of laws of lawgiver. To me, and perhaps to you all, this much is clear. There must be God or nothingness: but some one may say, or think when alone — "Why, then God? and why not nothingness?" That is the wrestle. God strikes the soul. He is asked to tell what He is — "Tell me Thy name." "Wherefore is it thou askest after My name?" How crushing an answer from God to man! "But He blessed him there." This is what I have called a strife between God and man, real but not hostile. We are taught about God in our childhood. We learn afterwards to have a reason of the hope that is in us and to be able to give it. We are satisfied that God is intelligible, and, so to speak, reason, let us say, is satisfied: Revelation confirms what reason has declared.

(J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)

After Jacob had prayed to God, a happy thought strikes him which he at once puts in execution. Anticipating the experience of Solomon, that "a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city," he, in the style of a skilled tactician, lays siege to Esau's wrath, and directs against it train after train of gifts, which, like successive battalions pouring into a breach, might at length quite win his brother. This disposition of his peaceful battering trains having occupied him till sunset, he retires to the short rest of a general on the eve of battle. As soon as he judges that the weaker members of the camp are refreshed enough to begin their eventful march, he arises and goes from tent to tent awaking the sleepers and quickly forming them into their usual line of march, sends them over the brook in the darkness, and himself is left alone, not with the depression of a man who waits for the inevitable, but with the high spirits of intense activity, and with the return of the old complacent confidence of his own superiority to his powerful but sluggish-minded brother — a confidence regained now by the certainty he felt, at least for the time, that Esau's rage could not blaze through all the relays of gifts he had sent forward. Having in this spirit seen all his camp across the brook, he himself pauses for a moment, and looks with interest at the stream before him, and at the promised land on its southern bank. This stream, too, has an interest for him as bearing a name like his own — a name that signifies the" struggler," and was given to the mountain torrent from the pain and difficulty with which it seemed to find its way through the hills. Sitting on the bank of the stream, he sees gleaming through the darkness the foam that it churned as it writhed through the obstructing rocks, or heard through the night the roar of its torrent as it leapt downwards, tortuously finding its way towards Jordan; and Jacob says, so will I, opposed though I be, win my way by the circuitous routes of craft or by the impetuous rush of courage, into the land whither that stream is going. With compressed lips, and step as firm as when, twenty years before, he left the land, he rises to cross the brook and enter the land — he rises, and is seized in a grasp that he at once owns as formidable. But surely this silent close, as of two combatants who at once recognise one another's strength, this protracted strife does not look like the act of a depressed man, but of one whose energies have been strung to the highest pitch, and who would have borne down the champion of Esau's host had he at that hour opposed his entrance into the land which Jacob claimed as his own, and into which, as his glove, pledging himself to follow, he had thrown all that was dear to him in the world. It was no common wrestler that would have been safe to meet him in that mood. Why, then, was Jacob thus mysteriously held back while his household were quietly moving forward in the darkness? What is the meaning, purpose, and use of this opposition to his entrance? These are obvious from the state of mind Jacob was in. He was going forward to meet Esau under the impression that there was no other reason why he should not inherit the land but only his wrath, and pretty confident that by his superior talent, his mother-wit, he could make a tool of this stupid, generous brother of his. And the danger was, that if Jacob's device had succeeded, he would have been confirmed in these impressions, and have believed that he had won the land from Esau, with God's help certainly, but still by his own indomitable pertinacity of purpose and skill in dealing with men. Jacob does not yet seem to have taken up the difference between inheriting a thing as God's gift, and inheriting it as the meed of his own prowess. To such a man God cannot give the land; Jacob cannot receive it. He is thinking only of winning it, which is not at all what God means, and which would, in fact, have annulled all the covenant, and lowered Jacob and his people to the level simply of other nations who had to win and keep their territories at their risk, and not as the blessed of God. If Jacob is then to get the ]and, he must take it as a gift, which he is not prepared to do. And, therefore, just as he is going to step into it, there lays hold of him, not an armed emissary of his brother, but a far more formidable antagonist — if Jacob will win the land, if it is to be a mere trial of skill, a wrestling match, it must at least be with the right person. Jacob is met with his own weapons. He has not chosen war, so no armed opposition is made; but with the naked force of his own nature, he is prepared for any man who will hold the land against him; with such tenacity, toughness, quick presence of mind, elasticity, as nature has given him, he is confident he can win and hold his own. So the real proprietor of the land strips himself for the contest, and lets him feel by the first hold he takes of him, that if the question be one of mere strength he shall never enter the land. This wrestling, therefore, was by no means actually or symbolically prayer. Jacob was not aggressive, nor did he stay behind his company to spend the night in praying for them. It was God who came and laid hold on Jacob to prevent him from entering the land in the temper he was in, and as Jacob. He was to be taught that it was not only Esau's appeased wrath, or his own skilful smoothing down of his brother's ruffled temper, that gave him entrance; but that a nameless Being, who came out upon him from the darkness, guarded the land, and that by His passport only could he find entrance.

(M. Dods, D. D.)


1. He was alone when God came out of His eternity to wrestle with him. There are some whom the Omnipresent can never find alone; He has seldom or never the opportunity of revealing Himself to them.

2. It was night. That is the time the Infinite is best revealed to us.

3. He was sunk in a deep fear. When in health and prosperity you may frame elaborate theories to demonstrate the absurdity of prayer; but let death stare you in the face, let a heavy sorrow or bereavement overtake you, and you cannot help praying.


1. There was bodily wrestling on that memorable night.

2. There was mental wrestling.

3. It was a long struggle: lasting all night. Why?(1) Jacob wanted to be set right with his brother; he is taught that he must first be set right with his God. The moral relations must be first rectified, and they cannot be rectified but on condition that the whole moral nature of the man be stirred to its depths, completly turned upside down, and the roots of sin be mortally bruised.(2) Jacob possessed a vast, profound, capacious nature; there were in him, underlying his glaring faults, immense possibilities for good, dormant powers which required to be stimulated into activity. Now a crisis had arrived in his life. His dormant faculties were to be roused; his bias to evil was to receive a mighty check. It was a terrible conflict. He felt as if his nature was dissolving, and his whole existence becoming a shattered wreck. His sinews shrivelled under the touch of the Almighty.

III. JACOB PREVAILING. He desired a blessing. God granted his request — giving him a change of nature, an elevation of character — making him a better, truer, more sincere man. This is the chiefest blessing He can bestow.

(J. C. Jones, M. A.)

1. The day and the night mutually act and react. A day of meeting with angels may well be followed by a night of wrestling with God. As you go on your way, through the toil and bustle of this life, remember the thousand eyes which watch you from heaven, and let speech and act testify that your heart is true to the sanctities and solemnities of being. So live and so move as those who know that they have come to an innumerable company of angels, and to God the Judge of all. Thus, when night comes, the veil which shuts out earth will be a glory to open heaven.

2. Lastly, earnestness is the condition of success.

(Dean Vaughan.)

It strikes a great many persons with surprise that Jacob the supplanter should have been the chosen of God. The true answer to this marvel is, that God selects men for His work on earth, not on account of their personal agreeableness, but on account of their adaptation to the work that they have to perform. Now, the object in this case was to establish a nation. There was to be brought up a great seed to Abraham. They were to be established, and out of them was to issue the moral culture of the globe — as it has. Now, although Jacob was a man of many failings and of deep transgressions, yet with them he had a forecast, a shrewdness, a persevering wisdom, an organizing power, that pointed him out as the statesman. And so he was selected, not because in every respect his disposition was the best, but because he was the best instrument to execute the purpose which God had in view. The same thing is taking place continuously. God employs for His purposes instruments which are adapted to those purposes, although they may not be persons that are in harmony with God's holiness. The crime which he committed against his brother banished him. And now he is returning to his country; and his very first act is to assume the manners of a servant, and to bow down, recognizing the chieftainship of his brother. Such transformation fear makes. And yet, in the midst of this, he is shrewd and self-possessed. Fear, and then calmness; anguish, and then again management. This fluctuation, how extremely natural it is in a moment of suspense. For of all things in this world there is nothing so painful as suspense. And here was this man kept in this fiery state, waiting to know what should be developed; wondering if he should be bereft of his household, and if his property should be swept away, wondering if his brother would be peaceable. Doubtless there were running through his mind all these possibilities. If he is, then what? And if he is not, then what? It was this fiery swinging from one side to another that was the chastisement of the Lord indeed, But now we come to the first step of that great change which passed upon Jacob at this time — for he had reached a crisis, as I shall show, in his life's history, and in his character and disposition. See this man skulking in the shadow of his sin, and his sin breeding fear, and both of them exciting remorse in him- See how much this man had made by his wrongdoing! For he had struck at the confidence between man and man. He had undermined the very structure on which society stands. He had destroyed faith between brother and brother. It was a great crime, and greatly was he punished for it. How it takes hold of him through his wife, and through his children, and through all that he loves! And how has it been so since the beginning of the world! Hear this old patriarch saying, "Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children." This was a great grief. Few words were recorded; but ah! it was a great grief. After this prayer, you will see how strangely — not surprisingly, but yet strikingly — back comes his old politic spirit again. "And he lodged there that same night, and took," &c. "Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." What it was I do not know except that it was an angel-man — the angel of the covenant — that stood in God's place, and was as God to him. That Jacob knew that it was a superior personage there can be no manner of doubt; but as to what this wrestling was — the whole mode of it — we know nothing. Neither here or in any subsequent Scripture, is there light thrown upon it. He wrestled with the man "until the breaking of the day." "And when he" — that is, the celestial personage — "saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him." It is very plain that the patriarch understood that the crisis of his life had come. He had prayed to God, and here was the answer to his prayer; and it is very plain that he felt that on his persistent faith depended his whole safety. From this hour Jacob was another man. In the strength of this vision, and in the blessing which he received in this mysterious struggle, he advanced to meet his brother. The hand of the Lord was also on him. Strangely, I probably might say unexpectedly, to Jacob, he met him; and the old boyhood affection returned. They made friends; and they parted, one going one way after the interview, and the other going the other way. But that to which attention is more especially directed is, that from this hour Jacob is nowhere recorded as falling back upon his selfish, his politic, his managing career. From this hour out there is no trace of anything in him but largeness of mind, nobleness of purpose, and beauty of character. All the dross seems to have been purged away. He had met the crisis, and had risen, and gone through it; and he had come out a changed man. And now he was indeed a prince of God, and he was the principal founder of the nation of the Israelites. Jacob went, the civilizer, over into the promised land, and there established the economy for which he had been ordained, and lived revered, a beautiful specimen of an old man. And the last scenes of his life were transcendently beautiful. In view of this narrative, which I have conducted so far, let me say: Men's sins carry with them a punishment in this life. Different sins are differently punished. The degrees of punishment are not always according to cur estimate of the culpability. Many sins against a man's body go on in the body, reproducing their penalties from year to year, and from ten years to ten years. And the ignorant crime, or the knowing crime, committed when one is yet in his minority, may repent itself and repent its bitterness and its penalty when one is hoary with age. Mere repenting of sin does not dispossess the power of all sins. There are transgressions that throw persons out of the pale of society. There are single acts, the penalties of which never fail to reassert themselves. There are single wrongs that are never healed. This great trangression that seemed in the commission without any threat and without any danger, pursued this man through all his early life, and clear down until he was an old man, and returned from his exile. And even then he was quit of it only by one of those great critical transitions which take place, or may take place, in the life of a man, without which he would have gone on, doubtless expiating still his great wrong. And yet God bore no witness. It does not need that God should bear witness against a man that has committed a sin. A man may commit sins, and he may not himself be conscious that he is sinning; at any rate, he may not be conscious of the magnitude of his sins. A man may commit sins, and the customs of society may be so low that he shall not think that he is a great sinner. The sin does not depend upon your estimate of it, or on the estimate which your fellow-men put upon it, but upon its effect upon your constitution, and the constitution of human society. Jacob had had a good time, apparently. So far as his violation between himself and his brother and his father's family was concerned, he had had twenty years of rest. And yet, as with all his abundance he came trooping back to the border to go over into the promised land and take possession of it, there, hovering, haunting the banks of the Jordan, was that old wrong. In that very hour when he could least afford to meet it, when he was most open to it, when all his possessions were in danger of being seized — worse than that, when all that his heart loved lay under the stroke of his adversary — that was the time that his old sin came back to meet him. And so it is yet. Men's sins find them out. And though you put as far as between Palestine and Assyria between you and them; though your sins slumber for years and years, they will have a resurrection on earth. I do not believe that any man commits in this world any sin against the fundamental laws of his body, or against the laws of human society, by which men are knit together in faith and love, and goes unpunished, even in this world. It does not touch the question of the other. This is a primary and lower and organized arrangement quite independent of Divine and arbitrary penalties in the life to come. It is not safe, therefore, for those who have choice in this matter to trifle with right or wrong. Finally, no man need ever despair of past misdoing who is in earnest. There is no man that is suffered to do wrong without check or hindrance. Ten thousand things stop men, interrupt them, throw them upon thoughtfulness. Ten thousand things oblige men to look back, to calculate; to look forward, to anticipate. And when these seasons from God come, if any man is in earnest to do better, there is no reason why he should not. The power of God's angel, the wrestling of God's Spirit, is not only in this far-off history of the patriarch. There is many and many a man with whom this mysterious Spirit of God wrestles; and if he be in earnest, if he will not let God's Spirit go except He bless him; if he feels that his life is in the struggle and he will be blest of God, there is no man so bad, no man so wicked, but that he may become pure, and his flesh return to him again like the flesh of a little child — as in the case of Naaman the leper.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Here is —

I. SOLITARINESS OPENING AN OPPORTUNITY for a man to go "face to face" with God.

II. A CRISIS DISPOSING a man to go "face to face" with God.

III. A CONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN SENDING a man "face to face" with God.

IV. A SENSE OF MYSTERY PERVADING a man while he is "face to face" with God.

V. INTENSE REALITY CHARACTERIZING a man while he is "face to face" with God.

VI. RICHEST BLESSING FOLLOWING from being "face to face" with God.

1. Elevation of his own character.

2. Reconciliation with men.



1. The Divine desire to bless. This is the foundation of all God's dealings with us.

2. But before this blessing could be given, Jacob's strength must be destroyed.

3. To destroy this, God wrestles with him apparently as an enemy.

II. WE SEE THAT WHEN MAN IS THUS SUBDUED BY GOD, HE CAN PREVAIL WITH GOD. IS it not strange that the Divine Conqueror in this story should say to him who is thoroughly in His power, "Let Me go, for the day breaketh"?" It seems strange, but it is not; there is a sense in which God is in the hands of the soul He has subdued.

1. Notice that there is no prevailing with God till the spirit of resistance is destroyed, Until we yield to Him we can receive little from Him. That may explain much unprevailing prayer; the fact is it is not prayer: true prayer says "Thy will be done."

2. Then we see that we prevail with God when we only cling to Him in trustful prayer. That is the pleader that prevails. Thy covenant promises, Lord! Thy nature, which is love, and thus delights to bless! Thy mercy in Christ Jesus, which can bless the worthless; Thy fatherly relationship, which makes us trust Thy sympathy and depend on Thy resources, and which cannot cast Thy child back into the dark without a blessing!

3. Now to trustful prayer like this the delayed blessing is sure. But did God delay? We get an impression from this story (as I said) that God delays to bless and must be striven with, but did He delay, is there any sign of delay in the case of Jacob? None whatever after Jacob was subdued.

III. Then, we find that HAVING PREVAILED WITH GOD, MAN PREVAILS WITH ALL. Prevailing with God does not mean that we persuade Him to give us what we ask, but simply that we secure His blessing: "He blessed Him there." That may be the gift, the deliverance, the supply we desire, but it may not; it may simply be power to endure — to endure cheerfully, enrichingly, and so as to glorify Him, but it involves that in some way we prevail over the trial. There is a great truth here. If we would prevail over our trials, we must first prevail with God; we may go to meet them bravely, but there will be no enrichment, no peace, no conquest, if that be all; we must prevail with heaven if we would conquer on earth. See how then we conquer!

1. In prevailing with God, Jacob prevailed over his own troubled heart. From that time he was a new creature with a new name, and I suppose in nothing was this change more apparent than in the tranquility which possessed him.

2. Jacob also prevailed over his dreaded foe. Esau came, the Esau that he feared, with his four hundred men. But what then? Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him. God's blessing turns the foe into a friend.

(C. New.)

I. SOLITARY MUSINGS. Jacob was left alone. Before him was the river Jabbok. Beyond the river his wives and children. Still beyond them, on the march to Esau, were the presents he had sent. The servants full of wonder and fear for their master's sake. The wives and children anxious. Jacob once more alone, as many years before he was when passing the same spot (ver. 10). He would think of the past. How greatly he had been prospered. How little he had deserved. Now he feels how entirely he is in the hands of God. The disposing of his wealth is with God. It is a question whether God will own the means he has so far employed. Jacob is doubtful and perplexed. He has prayed already (vers. 9-12) and exhausted all his arguments. He can now only cast himself on the undeserved mercy of God. Night a good time for such reflections. David often meditated thus in the night watches. Jesus also spent His nights in meditation and prayer. In darkness and silence there is less to divert attention than in the daytime.

II. MIDNIGHT WRESTLING. Jacob thus musing, becomes aware of the presence of some mysterious person. Called a man because in human form and nature. The angel of the covenant in disguise. Jacob perceives who his companion is. Seizes this mysterious personage, and declares he will not let him go unless a blessing is granted. The angel struggles to be released, doubtless intending by thus wrestling to teach that prayer should be bold, earnest, importunate, persevering. Physical wrestling a type of wrestling in spirit. The angel prevailed not. He had put forth only sufficient strength to excite resistance and earnestness, without causing discouragement to Jacob's mind. Unable to release himself, he touches and disables Jacob. Thus weakened, Jacob still clings to the angel. Will not let him go without a blessing. Jacob conquers. His name is changed. Hitherto he had been a mere supplanter by human methods, now he shall prevail on higher principles. As a "God's fighter" he shall fight God's battles with spiritual weapons. Faith, prayer, &c.

III. MORNING SUNSHINE. "The sun rose upon him as he passed over Penuel." The brightest day in his life was that in which the sun rose upon him a man blessed of God, and acknowledged to be a prevailer. With his bodily infirmity, he was a stronger man than he had ever been before. "Clothed with might by His Spirit in the inner man," he was "strong" though "weak." He felt better able to meet Esau, a lame man, than he had felt before in the pride of strength. Strength of soul the highest form of strength. Without this how weak are the strongest (illus. Samson, Goliath). Learn:

1. Select fit times and themes for profitable meditation.

2. Our affairs should be all placed in the hands of God.

3. Saying a prayer not truly praying. "Wrestling importunity"

4. The dark hour of earnest humble prayer is followed by sunshine in the heart.

(J. C. Gray.)

1. Then this wrestling warned and forewarned as it were Jacob that many strugglings remained for him yet in his life to be run through and passed over, which were not to discomfort him when they happened, for as here so there he would go away with victory in the end.

2. It described out the condition not only of Jacob but of all the godly also with him, namely, that they are wrestlers by calling while they live here, and have many and divers things to struggle withal and against; some outward, some inward, some carnal, some spiritual, some of one condition, some of another, which all, yet through God they shall overcome and have a joyful victory over in conclusion, if with patience they pass on and by faith lay hold upon Him ever in whom they only can vanquish, Christ Jesus.

3. It discovered the strength whereby Jacob both had and should overcome ever in his wrestlings, even by God's upholding with the one hand when He assaileth with the other, and not otherwise; which is another thing also of great profit to be noted of us, that not by any power of our own we are able to stand, and yet by Him and through Him conquerors and more than conquerors.

4. It is said that God saw how He could not prevail against Jacob, which noteth not so much strength in Jacob as mercy in God, ever kind and full of mercy. Lastly, that Jacob saith, "He will not let Him go except He bless him." It teacheth us to be strong in the Lord whensoever we are tried, and even so hearty and comfortable that we as it were compel the Lord to bless us ere He go, that is, by His merciful sweetness to comfort our hearts and to make us more and more confirmed in all virtue and obedience towards Him, yielding us our prayer as far as it may any way stand with the same; which force and violence as it were offered on our parts to the Lord He highly esteemeth and richly rewardeth evermore.

(Bp. Babington.)

The way to get the blessing is to go to the Lord for it, resolved not to take a denial, nor to part with Him even till we get it. In prosecuting this doctrine, I shall —

1. Open up this way of getting the blessing.

2. I will show what it is that makes some souls so peremptory and resolute for the blessing, while others slight it.

3. I will show that this is the true way to obtain the blessing, and that they who take this way will come speed. I am, then —


1. We must have a lively sense of our need of it.

2. We must by faith lay hold on Christ the storehouse of blessings for it. God blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.

3. We must by fervent prayer wrestle with Him for it. How did Jacob obtain it? "Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him."

4. We must by believing the promise, keep a sure hold of the blessed Redeemer. He had said to Jacob, "I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea which cannot be numbered." And we find Jacob reminding Him of this promise (ver. 12). Now what way can we hold Him and not let Him go, but holding Him by His Word? They who hold Him by His Word, they have sure hold.

5. We must by hope wait for the blessing. "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the Lord."

6. We must leave no means untried to procure it.

7. No discouragements must cause us to faint.

8. If at any time we fall, we must resolutely recover and renew the struggle.

9. We must resolve never to give over till we get it, and so hold on. "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." This is the resolute struggle, this is the way to the blessing.Motives to urge you to this way —

1. Consider the worth of the blessing. Whatever pains, and struggles, and on-waiting it may cost, it will far more than repay the expense of all. God's blessing is God's good word to the soul, but it is big with God's grace and good deeds to the man that gets it; and that is enough to make one happy for ever.

2. Consider the need you have of it. You are by nature under the curse, and unless you get the blessing, you must for ever be under the curse.

3. If you will not be at this pains for it, you will be reckoned despisers of the blessing; and that is most dangerous, and will bring on most bitter vengeance. And you will see the day you would do anything for it when you cannot get it.

4. If you will take this way you will get the blessing.


1. Felt need engageth the soul to this course.

2. Superlative love to and esteem of Christ engageth them to this.

3. Without the blessing all is tasteless and unsatisfactory to them.

4. They see not how to set out their face in an ill world without it. They say with Moses, "If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence."

5. They see not how to face another world without it.

III. THAT THIS IS THE TRUE WAY TO OBTAIN THE BLESSING, AND THAT THEY WHO MAKE THIS WAY WILL COME SPEED. "And He blessed him there." Such as come to Christ for the blessing, they shall get it, if they hold on resolutely and will not be said nay.

1. We have many certain instances and examples of those who have obtained the blessing this way. Jacob in the text. The spouse (Song of Solomon 3). The woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:22 and downwards; see also Lamentations 3:40-50 and downwards). Would you know how to get the blessing? There is a patent way, behold the footsteps of the flock, not the footsteps of lifeless formal professors, who cannot go off their own pace for all the blessings of the covenant; but the footsteps of wrestling saints, who were resolved to have the blessing cost what it would

2. We have God's word or promise for it. "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall hath abundance."

3. It is the Lord's ordinary way to bring great things from small beginnings by degrees.

4. Consider the bountiful nature of God, who will not always flee from them that follow Him, nor offer to go away from them that will not let Him go, except He bless them.

5. None coming to Christ for the blessing ever got a refusal, but they that court it by their own indifference.

6. Our Lord allows and encourages His people to use a holy freedom and familiarity with Him, yea a holy importunity, as He teaches us (Luke 11:8, 9).

7. As importunity is usually in all cases the way to succeed, so it has special advantages in this case, which promise success.(1) Our Lord does not free Himself of such as thus hold Him, and is not this promising?(2) Nay, our Lord commands them to keep the hold which they have gotten. "Strive," says He, "to enter in at the strait gate." And is not this promising?Use

1. This lets us see why many fall short of the blessing. They have some motions of heart towards it, and if it would fall down in their bosom with ease, they would be very glad of it. They knock at God's door for it, and if He would open at the first or second call, they would be content, but they have no heart to hang on about it, and so they even let Him go without the blessing.Use

2. I exhort you all to hold on. You that have received a blessing, wait on resolutely for more. And you that are going away mourning, take up with no comfort till you get it from Himself; and be resolute that you shall never let Him go till He bless you.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

1. It does not appear to be a vision, but a literal transaction. A personage, in the form of a man, really wrestled with him and permitted him prevail so far as to gain his object.

2. Though the form of the struggle was corporeal, yet the essence and object of it were spiritual. An inspired commentator on this wrestling says, "He wept and made supplication to the angel." That for which he strove was a blessing, and he obtained it.

3. The personage with whom he strove is here called "a man," and yet in seeing Him, Jacob said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Hosea, in reference to his being a messenger of God to Jacob, calls him "the angel": yet he also describes the patriarch as having "power with God." Upon the whole, there can be no doubt but that it was the same Divine personage who appeared to him at Bethel and at Padan-aram, who, being in the form of God, again thought it no usurpation appear as God.

4. What is here recorded had relation to Jacob's distress, and may be considered as an answer to his evening supplications. By his "power with God" he had "power with men": Esau and his hostile company were conquered at Penuel.

5. The change of his name from "Jacob" to "Israel" and the "blessings" which followed signified that he was no longer to be regarded as having obtained it by supplanting his brother, but as a prince of God, who had wrestled with Him for it and prevailed. It was thus that the Lord pardoned his sin and wiped away his reproach. It is observable, too, that this is the name by which his posterity are afterwards called. Finally, the whole transaction furnishes an instance of believing, importunate, and successful prayer.

(A. Fuller.)

Sometimes God interposes between us and a greatly-desired possession which we have been counting upon as our right and as the fair and natural consequence of our past efforts and ways. The expectation of this possession has indeed determined our movements and shaped our life for some time past, and it would not only be assigned to us by men as fairly ours, but God also has Himself seemed to encourage us to win it. Yet when it is now within sight, and when we are rising to pass the little stream which seems alone to separate us from it, we are arrested by a strong, an irresistible hand. The reason is that God wishes us to be in such a state of mind that we shall receive it as His gift, so that it becomes ours by an indefeasible title. Similarly, when advancing to a spiritual possession, such checks are not without their use. Many men look with longing to, what is eternal and spiritual, and they resolve to win this inheritance. And this resolve they often make as if its accomplishment depended solely on their own endurance. They leave almost wholly out of account that the possibility of their entering the state they long for is not decided by their readiness to pass through any ordeal, spiritual or physical, which may be required of them, but by God's willingness to give it. They act as if by taking advantage of God's promises, and by passing through certain states of mind and prescribed duties, they could, irrespective of God's present attitude towards them and constant love, win eternal happiness. In the life of such persons there must therefore come a time when their own spiritual energy seems all to collapse in that painful, utter way in which, when the body is exhausted, the muscles are suddenly found to be cramped and heavy and no longer responsive to the will. They are made to feel that a spiritual dislocation has taken place, and that their eagerness to enter life everlasting no longer stirs the active energies of the soul. In that hour the man learns the most valuable truth he can learn, that it is God who is wishing to save him, not he who must wrest a blessing from an unwilling God. Instead of any longer looking on himself as against the world, he takes his place as one who has the whole energy of God's will at his back, to give him rightful entrance into all blessedness.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Esau, Isaac, Israelites, Jacob, Laban, Penuel, Seir
Edom, Jabbok River, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Mizpah, Peniel, Penuel, Seir
Alone, Ascending, Breaking, Dawn, Daybreak, Fighting, Jacob, Rising, Till, Wrestled, Wrestleth
1. Jacob's vision at Mahanaim.
3. His message to Esau.
6. He is afraid of Esau's coming.
9. He prays for deliverance.
13. He sends a present to Esau, and passes the brook Jabbok.
24. He wrestles with an angel at Peniel, where he is called Israel.
31. He halts.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 32:24

     5814   confrontation
     5901   loneliness

Genesis 32:22-26

     4918   dawn

Genesis 32:22-32

     4438   eating

Genesis 32:24-25

     5278   cripples

Genesis 32:24-28

     8672   striving with God

Genesis 32:24-30

     1443   revelation, OT
     1454   theophany
     5095   Jacob, life
     8474   seeing God

Genesis 32:24-32

     8613   prayer, persistence

Mahanaim: the Two Camps
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim' (i.e. Two camps).--GENESIS xxxii. 1, 2. This vision came at a crisis in Jacob's life. He has just left the house of Laban, his father-in-law, where he had lived for many years, and in company with a long caravan, consisting of wives, children, servants, and all his wealth turned into cattle, is journeying back again to Palestine. His road
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Twofold Wrestle --God's with Jacob and Jacob's with God
'And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

"And He Said, Let Me Go, for the Day Breaketh. " --Genesis xxxii. 26
"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh."--Genesis xxxii. 26. Let me go, the day is breaking, Dear companions, let me go; We have spent a night of waking In the wilderness below; Upward now I bend my way, Part we here at break of day. Let me go, I may not tarry, Wrestling thus with doubts and fears, Angels wait my soul to carry, Where my risen Lord appears; Friends and kindred, weep not so, If you love me let me go. We have travell'd long together, Hand in hand, and heart in heart, Both
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Of the Name of God
Exod. iii. 13, 14.--"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." We are now about this question, What God is. But who can answer it? Or, if answered, who can understand it? It should astonish us in
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

"Lord, teach us to pray."--Luke xi. 1. "Jacob called the name of the place Peniel."--Gen. xxxii. 30. ALL the time that Jacob was in Padan-aram we search in vain for prayer, for praise. or for piety of any kind in Jacob's life. We read of his marriage, and of his great prosperity, till the land could no longer hold him. But that is all. It is not said in so many words indeed that Jacob absolutely denied and forsook the God of his fathers: it is not said that he worshipped idols in Padan-aram: that
Alexander Whyte—Lord Teach Us To Pray

The Great Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. I t is not easy for those, whose habits of life are insensibly formed by the customs of modern times, to conceive any adequate idea of the pastoral life, as obtained in the eastern countries, before that simplicity of manners, which characterized the early ages, was corrupted, by the artificial and false refinements of luxury. Wealth, in those
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

We shall consider our text, then, as one of the productions of a great master in spiritual matters, and we will study it, praying all the while that God will help us to pray after the like fashion. In our text we have the soul of a successful pleader under four aspects: we view, first, the soul confessing: "I am poor and needy." You have next, the soul pleading, for he makes a plea out of his poor condition, and adds, "Make haste unto me, O God!" You see, thirdly, a soul in it's urgency, for he cries,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Explanatory and Biographical
INTRODUCTION TO [202]BOOK I English lyrical religious poetry is less easily divisible than our secular verse into well-marked periods, whether in regard to matter or to manner. Throughout its long course it has in great measure the groundwork of a common Book, a common Faith, and a common Purpose. And although incidents from human life and aspects of nature are not excluded (and have in this selection, when possible, been specially gathered, with the view of varying the garland here presented)--yet
Francis Turner Palgrave—The Treasury of Sacred Song

The Worst Things Work for Good to the Godly
DO not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse; but though they are naturally evil, yet the wise overruling hand of God disposing and sanctifying them, they are morally good. As the elements, though of contrary qualities, yet God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe. Or as in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch:
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The Angel of the Lord in the Pentateuch, and the Book of Joshua.
The New Testament distinguishes between the hidden God and the revealed God--the Son or Logos--who is connected with the former by oneness of nature, and who from everlasting, and even at the creation itself, filled up the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creation;--who has been the Mediator in all God's relations to the world;--who at all times, and even before He became man in Christ, has been the light of [Pg 116] the world,--and to whom, specially, was committed the direction
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Meditations for the Morning.
1. Almighty God can, in the resurrection, as easily raise up thy body out of the grave, from the sleep of death, as he hath this morning wakened thee in thy bed, out of the sleep of nature. At the dawning of which resurrection day, Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints; and every one of the bodies of the thousands of his saints, being fashioned like unto his glorious body, shall shine as bright as the sun (2 Thess. i. 10; Jude, ver. 14; Phil. iii. 21; Luke ix. 31;) all the angels shining
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

St. Malachy's Apostolic Labours, Praises and Miracles.
[Sidenote: 1140, October] 42. (23). Malachy embarked in a ship, and after a prosperous voyage landed at his monastery of Bangor,[576] so that his first sons might receive the first benefit.[577] In what state of mind do you suppose they were when they received their father--and such a father--in good health from so long a journey? No wonder if their whole heart gave itself over to joy at his return, when swift rumour soon brought incredible gladness even to the tribes[578] outside round about them.
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

A Treatise of the Fear of God;
SHOWING WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO. ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS. London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"--the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
1. Do no evil, though thou mightest; for God will not suffer the least sin, without bitter repentance, to escape unpunished. Leave not undone any good that thou canst. But do nothing without a calling, nor anything in thy calling, till thou hast first taken counsel at God's word (1 Sam. xxx. 8) of its lawfulness, and pray for his blessings upon thy endeavour; and then do it in the name of God, with cheerfulness of heart, committing the success to him, in whose power it is to bless with his grace
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh. "Thou Art all Fair, My Love; There is no Spot in Thee. " --Song of Solomon iv. 7.
FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH. HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

A Believer's Privilege at Death
'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Phil 1:1I. Hope is a Christian's anchor, which he casts within the veil. Rejoicing in hope.' Rom 12:12. A Christian's hope is not in this life, but he hash hope in his death.' Prov 14:42. The best of a saint's comfort begins when his life ends; but the wicked have all their heaven here. Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.' Luke 6:64. You may make your acquittance, and write Received in full payment.' Son, remember that
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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