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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Matthew 15

Verses 1-39

Matthew 15:13

If I had not had a hope fixed in me that this Cause and Business was of God, I would many years ago have run from it If it be of God, He will bear it up. If it be of man, it will tumble; as everything that hath been of man since the world began hath done. And what are all our Histories, and other Tradition of Actions in former times, but God manifesting Himself, that He hath shaken, and tumbled down, and trampled upon, everything that He had not planted?

Cromwell to the Parliament of 1655.

References. XV. 13. F. D. Maurice, Lincoln's Inn Sermons, p. 1. G. Tyrrell, Oil and Wine, p. 170. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 423. XV. 14. H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. lvi. 1906, p. 285. XV. 18-31. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No. 2481. XV. 19. Ibid. vol. xiii. No. 732. W. M. Sinclair, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. 1894, p. 328. XV. 21-28. J. Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 247. J. McNeill, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 369. Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 280. W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 295. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No. 2481; vol. xlii. No. 2446. Archer Butler, Sermons (1st Series), p. 201. Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. ii. p. 331. Kingsley, All Saints' Day, p. 76. Stopford Brooke, Spirit of Christian Life, p. 164. Stanford, Homilies on Christian Work, p. 133. Bruce, Galilean Gospel, p. 146. Guthrie, Way to Life, pp. 210 and 228. Laymen's Legacy, p. 208. Lynch, Sermons for my Curates, p. 317. Phillips Brooks, Sermons in English Churches, p. 157. C. Wordsworth, Sermons, vol. i. p. 109. Bishop Wilberforce, Four Sermons, p. 53. Pusey, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 167. W. F. Hook, On the Miracles, vol. ii. p. 33. XV. 21-31. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Matthew IX.-XVII. p. 314. XV. 21-39. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2253. XV. 22. C. Silvester Home, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvi. 1904, p. 225. C. Leach, Mothers of the Bible, p. 95. XV. 22, 23. Eugene Bersier, Twelve Sermons, p. 128. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. i. p. 129. XV. 22-28. Andrew Murray, The Children for Christ, p. 226.

Matthew 15:22

I doubt whether she had inquired after Christ, if she had not been vexed with her daughter's spirit. Our afflictions are... the files and whetstones that set an edge on our devotions.

Bishop Hall.

Divine Silence

Matthew 15:23

Have you prayed? In what way have you prayed? Have any of your prayers been unmistakably answered? It is a curious fact that some persons never look for answers to their prayers, and they, of all persons, would be most astonished if God took them at their word and granted their request. Some people make mistakes in the requests they make to God. It is absolutely necessary for us to keep before; us one or two thoughts in connexion with prayer. Prayer in this way is a science just as much as any other sciences, and having just as many special laws. You may rest assured that any legitimate prayer is never left unanswered, but the answer may not perhaps be as our special desires dictate; in fact, we sometimes look for the answer to come in at the front door when it is already in the house by the back door.

We have a wonderful illustration in connexion with the subject in the text 'He answered her not a word'. Has that been your experience?

I. It is Just Possible that You Yourselves were not Ready for the Answer. God may have seen that there was some rectification of character necessary. It may have been some inconsistency, some unworthiness, some selfishness, or even some secret sin that prevented God from answering. Here is a very good illustration. A man may be seen in a boat rowing, rowing, rowing, but the boat never moves. Why? Because the boat is anchored. The boat is floating on the surface of the water, yet the anchor holds it fast. That is the picture of a man's spiritual life. He may feel in his heart that he wants to know God, but finds his progress arrested because his real affections are fastened or anchored on to something of this world. He does not make progress, and God does not answer his prayers.

II. It is Just Possible that Your Exterior Circumstances are not Ready for the Answer. Take the case of Joseph when he was in prison. Joseph prayed that he might be delivered from the prison, but it pleased God to keep him there for a time that he might be a comfort to his fellow-prisoners. And so it may be with you. God may have His own reasons for not granting you some timely blessing at once. The circumstances may not be favourable; God may be dealing with some other member of your household at the same time; He has not completed His purpose, and the delay should not distress you or disturb you if you reflect that God may choose to confer His blessing in some special way.

III. It is Just Possible that Circumstances have to be Rearranged and Readjusted to Bring Greater Benefits. Take the case of Moses and his remarkable prayer when he besought the Lord to let him go over and see the good land which was beyond Jordan. Why did not God grant his request? Because he had something better in store for him. Was it not much better for Moses to see his Lord transfigured on the Mount than to cross over Jordan with the Israelites? There is the illustration of St. Paul when he prayed that a thorn in his flesh might be taken away from him. God did not answer his prayer. He had something better in store for him. He was going to give him more grace, and when St. Paul knew that, he said he would rather keep the thorn and have the grace. Then with regard to the woman in the text, the Lord gave her at first no encouragement whatever; but the delays and hindrances that He put in her path only increased her faith and made her more earnest and more determined to get that which she required, and she stands out as one of the great figures of all spiritual history. What a biography! only a verse or two, but the biography of a woman whose faith in the Redeemer could not be shaken. Her pleading became more earnest, and at last may I say it? the Lord is conquered by her, and then He praises her for her faith.

References. XV. 23. W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches, p. 60. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2841. XV. 24, 26. Ibid. vol. xxx. No. 1797.

Matthew 15:25

Consider: it is not failing in this or that attempt of coming to Christ, but a giving over of your endeavours, that will be your ruin.

John Owen.

References. XV. 25. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliv. No. 2597. M. Guy Pearse, Jesus Christ and the People, p. 142. XV. 26, 27. H. H. Carlisle, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxix. 1906, p. 268. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1309.

Matthew 15:27

A retort quite Greek in its readiness, its symmetry, and its point! But it was not the intellectual merit of the answer that pleased the Master. Cleverness is cheap. It is the faith He praises, which was as precious as rare.... The quickness of her answer was the scintillation of her intellect under the glow of her affection. Love is the quickening nurse of the whole nature.

George Macdonald.

References. XV. 27. W. P. Balfern, Lessons from Jesus, p. 69. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 715; vol. xxxvi. No. 2129. XV. 28. E. B. Pusey, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii. p. 167. B. F. Westcott, The Historic Faith, p. 3. R. H. McKim, The Gospel in the Christian Year, p. 184. Henry Wace, Some Central Points of Our Lord's Ministry, p. 251. S. C. Malan, Plain Preaching for a Year, vol. i. p. 262. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. ii. p. 509. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. i. p. 182. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No. 2173; vol. xxxviii. No. 2253; vol. xlii. No. 2446. XV. 29-38. J. Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 105. XV. 30, 31. Walter Brooke, Sermons, pp. 125, 135. XV. 32. B. Wilberforce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. 1897, p. 113. Hugh Black, ibid. vol. lxix. 1906, p. 189. XV. 32-39. Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 293. W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 307. XV. 33. G. F. Browne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. 1898, p. 161. J. A. Bain, Questions Answered by Christ, p. 34. James Denney, Gospel Questions and Answers, p. 61. XVI. 1-4. H. Bremner, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 87. C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 246.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 15". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/matthew-15.html. 1910.