|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:13-21 Christ's kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world. Christianity does not meddle with politics; it obliges all to do justly, but wordly dominion is not founded in grace. It does not encourage expectations of worldly advantages by religion. The rewards of Christ's disciples are of another nature. Covetousness is a sin we need constantly to be warned against; for happiness and comfort do not depend on the wealth of this world. The things of the world will not satisfy the desires of a soul. Here is a parable, which shows the folly of carnal worldling while they live, and their misery when they die. The character drawn is exactly that of a prudent, worldly man, who has no grateful regard to the providence of God, nor any right thought of the uncertainty of human affairs, the worth of his soul, or the importance of eternity. How many, even among professed Christians, point out similar characters as models for imitation, and proper persons to form connexions with! We mistake if we think that thoughts are hid, and thoughts are free. When he saw a great crop upon his ground, instead of thanking God for it, or rejoicing to be able to do more good, he afflicts himself. What shall I do now? The poorest beggar in the country could not have said a more anxious word. The more men have, the more perplexity they have with it. It was folly for him to think of making no other use of his plenty, than to indulge the flesh and gratify the sensual appetites, without any thought of doing good to others. Carnal worldlings are fools; and the day is coming when God will call them by their own name, and they will call themselves so. The death of such persons is miserable in itself, and terrible to them. Thy soul shall be required. He is loth to part with it; but God shall require it, shall require an account of it, require it as a guilty soul to be punished without delay. It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.
Verses 17, 18. - And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater. "No place to bestow my fruits." Well answers St. Ambrose," Thou hast barns - the bosoms of the needy, the houses of the widows, the mouths of orphans and of infants." Some might argue, from the sequel of the story, that God looks with disfavour on riches as riches. St. Augustine replies to such a mistaken deduction, "God desires not that thou shouldest lose thy riches, but that thou shouldest change their place" ('Serm.,' 36:9). The Greek word rendered "barns" (ἀποθήκας - whence our word "apothecary") has a broader signification than merely barns; it signifies store or warehouses of all kinds, thus suggesting that the hero of the story was more than a mere wealthy farmer - he was probably also a trader. And there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. As he grew richer, he grew more covetous. Absolutely no care or thought for anything save his loved possessions seems to have crossed the threshold of that poor mistaken heart of his. This strange hunger after riches for riches' sake is, alas! a very usual form of soul-disease. Can it be cured? Alas! it is one of the most hopeless of soul-maladies. This unhappy love in countless cases becomes a passion, and twines itself round the heart, and so destroys all the affections and higher aspirations.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And, he thought within himself,.... And foolish thoughts they were; he did not think of God, or that there was one, and much less that he was the author, of all his outward prosperity and plenty; and was still further off of thinking of returning thanks to God for it: or of asking counsel of him, what he should do with it; but he consults himself only, and thought only within, and for himself; and not at all of his poor neighbours, or for the good of others; nor did he think even of his own soul, but altogether about his worldly substance:
saying, what shall I do? he does not say what shall I do for God? for his interest service, and glory? for the poor, the hungry, and thirsty, and naked? or for my own soul, that that may be eternally saved? but what shall I do with my goods?
because I have no room where to bestow my fruits: he had gathered in his harvest, and filled his barns as full as they could hold, so that they had no room for more; and yet had still an abundance to lay up, and about which he was anxiously concerned; not thinking of the empty bellies, barns, and houses of the poor, where he might have stowed much.
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