Matthew 13:4 MEANING

Matthew 13:4
(4) The way side--i.e., on the skirts of the broad path that crossed the field. Here the surface was hard and smooth, the grain lay on the surface, the pigeons and other birds that followed the sower reaped an immediate harvest.

Verse 4. - And when (as, Revised Version) he sowed, some seeds (α} μέν). Here (cf. vers. 5, 7, 8) the seeds are, so to speak, each singled out. But in the parallel passages they are viewed as one whole (ο{ μέν). Fell by the wayside. Along the road (παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν), which evidently was at no mere corner of the field, but ran for some distance by or through it. And the fowls (birds, Revised Version, as in modern English) came and devoured them up.

13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.And when he sowed,.... Or, "as he sowed", as the other evangelists; that is, "whilst he was sowing",

some seeds fell; either out of his hand, or out of the cart drawn by oxen; hence the (c) Talmudists distinguish between , "the falling of the hand", or what falls out of the hand; and "the falling of the oxen", or what falls from them; where the gloss is,

"in some places they sow the grain with the hand; and in other places they put the seed on a cart full of holes, and oxen draw the cart on the ploughed land, and it falls upon it.''

By the wayside; by the common road, or private paths, which led through corn fields, in which Christ and his disciples walked, Matthew 12:1 and which being beaten and trodden hard, the seed must lie open on it, and so be liable to be trampled upon by men, or devoured by the fowls of the air; and designs such hearers as are careless, negligent, and inattentive, who hear without understanding, judgment, and affection; see Matthew 13:19

and the fowls came and devoured them; the other evangelists say, "the fowls of the air"; and so the Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel, and some copies; and mean the devils; so called, because their habitation is in the air; hence they are said to be "the power of the air": and because of their ravenous and devouring nature, their swiftness to do mischief, and their flocking in multitudes, where the word is preached, to hinder its usefulness, as fowls do, where seed is sowing. Satan, and his principalities, and powers, rove about in the air, come down on earth, and seek whom they may devour, and often mix themselves in religious assemblies, to do what mischief they can; see Job 1:6.

(c) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 105. 2.

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