Verses 1–2

1. Here is Jacob’s convoy in his journey (Gen. 32:1): The angels of God met him, in a visible appearance, whether in a vision by day or in a dream by night, as when he saw them upon the ladder (Gen. 28:12), is uncertain. Note, Those that keep in a good way have always a good guard; angels themselves are ministering spirits for their safety, Heb. 1:14. Where Jacob pitched his tents, they pitched theirs about him, Ps. 34:7. They met him, to bid him welcome to Canaan again; a more honourable reception this was than ever any prince had, that was met by the magistrates of a city in their formalities. They met him to congratulate him on his arrival, as well as on his escape from Laban; for they have pleasure in the prosperity of God’s servants. They had invisibly attended him all along, but now they appeared to him, because he had greater dangers before him than those he had hitherto encountered. Note, When God designs his people for extraordinary trials, he prepares them by extraordinary comforts. We should think it had been more seasonable for these angels to have appeared to him amidst the perplexity and agitation occasioned first by Laban, and afterwards by Esau, than in this calm and quiet interval, when he saw not himself in any imminent peril; but God will have us, when we are in peace, to provide for trouble, and, when trouble comes, to live upon former observations and experiences; for we walk by faith, not by sight. God’s people, at death, are returning to Canaan, to their Father’s house; and then the angels of God will meet them, to congratulate them on the happy finishing of their servitude, and to carry them to their rest. 2. The comfortable notice he took of this convoy, Gen. 32:2. This is God’s host, and therefore, (1.) It is a powerful host; very great is he that is thus attended, and very safe that is thus guarded. (2.) God must have the praise of this protection: “This I may thank God for, for it is his host.” A good man may with an eye of faith see the same that Jacob saw with his bodily eyes, by believing that promise (Ps. 91:11), He shall give his angels charge over thee. What need have we to dispute whether every particular saint has a guardian angel, when we are sure he has a guard of angels about him? To preserve the remembrance of this favour, Jacob gave a name to the place from it, Mahanaim, two hosts, or two camps. That is, say some of the rabbin, one host of the guardian angels of Mesopotamia, who conducted Jacob thence, and delivered him safely to the other host of the angels of Canaan, who met him upon the borders where he now was. Rather, they appeared to him in two hosts, one on either side, or one in the front and the other in the rear, to protect him from Laban behind and Esau before, that they might be a complete guard. Thus he is compassed with God’s favour. Perhaps in allusion to this the church is called Mahanaim, two armies, Song 6:13. Here were Jacob’s family, which made one army, representing the church militant and itinerant on earth; and the angels, another army, representing the church triumphant and at rest in heaven.