I Chronicles 21:15, 16; Acts 12:21-23
God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem.
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Angels are in a peculiar sense the attendants and messengers of the Almighty, whom He employs as His ministers in effecting many of those great events which take place in the administration of His providence; and particularly such as manifest His immediate interposition in the extraordinary judgments which He inflicts for the punishment of sinful nations. See Psalm 103:20 & Psalm 104:4.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Angels are employed, more than we are aware of, as ministers of God’s justice, to punish the pride and break the power of wicked men―see Revelation 15:7 & Revelation 16:1 where we read of the angels pouring out the vials of God’s wrath upon the earth.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): “The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him,” I Samuel 16:14. Sometimes God maketh the devils as hangmen, by whose hand He executeth His judgments. And this doth He as well toward His faithful servants as toward the reprobate. Saul was troubled and vexed by Satan, but the same did also befall holy Job, (Job 1:12)…In the Psalms, the punishments wherewith God doth chasten the wicked are attributed to the evil angels; yet we see how the angel which had the government of the safety of the Church smiteth the Egyptians in the first-begotten, Exodus 12:29.
MATTHEW HENRY: “He sent evil angels among them,” Psalm 78:49; not evil in their own nature, but in respect to the errand upon which they were sent; they were destroying angels, or angels of punishment, which passed through all the land of Egypt, with orders, according to the weighed paths of God’s anger, not to kill all, but the first-born only.
JOHN CALVIN: The angels are the ministers of God’s wrath, as well as of His grace…If it is objected that it is not meet that the angels, who are the ministers of grace and salvation, and the appointed guardians of the faithful, should be employed in executing judgment upon the reprobate, the explanation is simply this, that they cannot watch for the preservation of the godly without being prepared for fighting—that they cannot succour them by their aid without also opposing their enemies, and declaring themselves to be against them.
MATTHEW HENRY: Good angels become evil angels to sinners. Those that make the holy God their enemy must never expect the holy angels to be their friends―good angels are our friends, or enemies, according as God is.
JOHN CALVIN: Both the heavenly elect angels, and the fallen angels, are justly accounted the ministers or executors of calamity; but they are to be regarded as such in different senses. The former yield a prompt and willing obedience to God; but the latter, as they are always eagerly intent upon doing mischief, and would, if they could, turn the whole world upside down, are fit instruments for inflicting calamities upon men―the Scripture calleth the wicked spirits “God’s” spirits because they are obedient to His commandment, though full sore against their will.
JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Evil angels are frequently styled מלאכי חבלה―“destroying angels.”
JOHN CALVIN: But where the epithet evil is not added, as in this place [concerning Herod], we must understand the angel which doth willingly obey God…Let us therefore know, that it is not foreign to the office of elect angels, to descend armed for the purpose of executing Divine vengeance and of inflicting punishment. As the angel of the Lord destroyed, in one night, the army of Sennacherib which besieged Jerusalem, 2 Kings 19:35, so also the angel of the Lord appeared to David with his drawn sword, when the pestilence was raging against the people.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The good angels are executioners of God’s righteous judgments, as they were at Sodom, in Sennacherib’s army, and oft in the Revelation. There cannot be a better or more noble act than to do justice upon obstinate malefactors.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The good angels will function at the final judgment. Do you remember the explanation our Lord gave to the disciples of the parable of the tares? You’ll find it in Matthew 13, verses 40 to 42: “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” The angels are going to do that. Listen again to Matthew 13:49 and 50―the parable of the dragnet: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
JOHN CALVIN: If the judgments of God be so dreadful in this life, how dreadful will He be when He shall come at last to judge the world!
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Listen to Matthew 24:30, 31: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” The angels will gather the elect together to meet Him, and to begin their glory with Him. Listen to Paul saying something similar in 2 Thessalonians, chapter one: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
JOHN TRAPP: How then will wicked men bear the horror of the last day, when they shall have an angry God over them, hell gaping beneath them, an accusing conscience within them, the world all on alight fire about them, the elements melting like scalding lead upon them, the good angels testifying against them, Job 20:27, and the evil angels waiting to worry them, and hurry them to hell? Oh the unspeakable achings and quakings of heart, the terrible apprehensions, the convulsions of spirit, that shall seize and surprise them at that dreadful day!―Oh that wicked men would in their daily meditations take a turn or two in hell, and so be forewarned to flee from the wrath to come!