|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:31-37 Here is a cure of one that was deaf and dumb. Those who brought this poor man to Christ, besought him to observe the case, and put forth his power. Our Lord used more outward actions in the doing of this cure than usual. These were only signs of Christ's power to cure the man, to encourage his faith, and theirs that brought him. Though we find great variety in the cases and manner of relief of those who applied to Christ, yet all obtained the relief they sought. Thus it still is in the great concerns of our souls.
Verse 33. - And he took him aside from the multitude privately. This was done, no doubt, to fix the attention of the afflicted man upon himself, and upon the fact that he was about to act upon his ears and his tongue. And he put (ἔβαλε) - literally, cast or thrust - his fingers into his ears. The action was very significant. It was as though he said, "I am about to open a passage for hearing through these ears." And he spat, and touched his tongue; that is, he touched his tongue with saliva from his own sacred lips. These symbolical actions must have had a great meaning for the afflicted man. They were a tableau vivant, an acted metaphor, teaching him what he might expect from the mercy of Christ. The analogy of the miracle recorded in St. John (John 9:6) should be noticed here. It is an interesting circumstance (noticed in the 'Speaker's Commentary') that, in the Latin Church, the officiating priest touches the nostrils and ears of those who are to be baptized, with saliva from his own mouth. We may be assured that, in the case before us, these signs used by our Lord were intended to awaken the afflicted man's faith, and to stir up in him the lively expectation of a blessing.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he took him aside from the multitude,.... To shun all appearance of ostentation and vain glory:
and put his fingers into his ears; the finger of his right hand into his left ear, and the finger of his left hand into his right ear:
and he spit and touched his tongue; that is, either he spit upon his tongue, for so the Vulgate Latin renders it, "spitting he touched his tongue"; and the Persic version thus, "he cast his spittle on his tongue"; or rather, he spit on his finger, and touched his tongue with it. These actions were not done as means of healing, or as having any natural virtue, or tendency in them, to effect a cure; but to show the power of Christ, that by the mere touch of his finger, and by the spittle of his mouth, as well as by laying on of hands, as was desired, and by a word speaking, he could at once remove this, or any such disorder. The taking this man aside from the multitude, is an emblem of the Lord's separating his people from the rest of the world, when he calls them by his grace; for as they are distinguished from others, in the choice of them in Christ, and in redemption by him; so in the effectual calling, they are bid to come out from among them, and by the power of divine grace, they are brought out from among them, and give up themselves to Christ, and to his churches: and Christ's putting his fingers into the ears of this man, represents the exertion of his power, and his removing by the finger of his Spirit, the obstructions of spiritual hearing; or rather, the planting of the spiritual ear, or forming a principle ot spiritual nearing in the soul: and his touching his tongue with the spittle of his mouth, may lead us to observe the application of his word, through the efficacy of his grace, as a means of loosing his tongue and opening his lips to show forth his praise.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
33. And he took him aside from the multitude—As in another case He "took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town" (Mr 8:23), probably to fix his undistracted attention on Himself, and, by means of certain actions He was about to do, to awaken and direct his attention to the proper source of relief.
and put his fingers into his ears—As his indistinct articulation arose from his deafness, our Lord addresses Himself to this first. To the impotent man He said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" to the blind men, "What will ye that I shall do unto you?" and "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" (Joh 5:6; Mt 20:32; 9:28). But as this patient could hear nothing, our Lord substitutes symbolical actions upon each of the organs affected.
and he spit and touched his tongue—moistening the man's parched tongue with saliva from His own mouth, as if to lubricate the organ or facilitate its free motion; thus indicating the source of the healing virtue to be His own person. (For similar actions, see Mr 8:23; Joh 9:6).
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