|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:14-30 Christ keeps no servants to be idle: they have received their all from him, and have nothing they can call their own but sin. Our receiving from Christ is in order to our working for him. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. The day of account comes at last. We must all be reckoned with as to what good we have got to our own souls, and have done to others, by the advantages we have enjoyed. It is not meant that the improving of natural powers can entitle a man to Divine grace. It is the real Christian's liberty and privilege to be employed as his Redeemer's servant, in promoting his glory, and the good of his people: the love of Christ constrains him to live no longer to himself, but to Him that died for him, and rose again. Those who think it impossible to please God, and in vain to serve him, will do nothing to purpose in religion. They complain that He requires of them more than they are capable of, and punishes them for what they cannot help. Whatever they may pretend, the fact is, they dislike the character and work of the Lord. The slothful servant is sentenced to be deprived of his talent. This may be applied to the blessings of this life; but rather to the means of grace. Those who know not the day of their visitation, shall have the things that belong to their peace hid from their eyes. His doom is, to be cast into outer darkness. It is a usual way of expressing the miseries of the damned in hell. Here, as in what was said to the faithful servants, our Saviour goes out of the parable into the thing intended by it, and this serves as a key to the whole. Let us not envy sinners, or covet any of their perishing possessions.
Verse 25. - I was afraid. He took as certain the conception which he had formed of his master's character, as harsh, exacting, and unsympathizing, and therefore feared to speculate with his money, or to put it to any use whereby it might be lost or diminished. This is his excuse for negligence. He endeavours to cast the fault from his own shoulders to those of his superior. So evil men persuade themselves that God asks from them more than they can perform, and content themselves by doing nothing; or they consider that their powers and means are their own, to use or not as they like, and that no one can call them to account for the way in which they treat them. Hid thy talent in the earth (see on ver. 18). Put it away for safety, that it might come to no harm, and not be employed for evil purposes. He recognizes not any duty owed to the giver in the possession of the money, nor the responsibility for work which it imposed. Lo, there thou hast that is thine; lo! thou hast thy own. This is sheer insolence; as if he had said, "You cannot complain; I have not stolen or lost your precious money; here it is intact, just as I received it." What a perverse mistaken view of his own position and of God's nature! The talent was given to him, not to bury, but to use and improve for his lord's profit. Hidden away, it was wasted. The time, too, during which he had the talent in his possession was wasted; he had not honestly used it in his master's service, or laboured, as he was bound to do. He ought to have had much more to show than the original endowment. To vaunt that, if he had done no good, at least he had done no harm, is condemnation. He might not thus shirk his responsibility. His answer only aggravated his fault.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I was afraid,.... The Persic version adds, "to negotiate with thy money": he was afraid, lest by trading he should not gain what his Lord expected; and most of all, lest he should lose the talent itself; and dreaded his Lord's austerity, should that be the case, fearing that he would have no mercy on him. This was his pretence; but the true causes were sloth and earthly mindedness:
and went and hid thy talent in the earth; that it might not be lost, though it lay useless, and turned to no account. The Arabic version renders it, "and buried thy goods in the earth": he owned the money to be his Lord's, and thought he did very well, and enough, that he preserved it, though he had not improved it; and this he hoped would be a sufficient excuse, and on which he laid the greatest stress:
lo! there thou hast that is thine: he again acknowledges, that the gifts he had were not his own, but his master's; and whereas he had kept them entire, as he had received them, and there was the full sum he was intrusted with, he hoped no more would be required: but it is not sufficient to retain what is given, it must be made use of and improved; for every spiritual gift is given to profit with: and besides, there seems to be a degree of rudeness in these words; he does not bring the talent with him, and return it, but only signifies that he had hid it in the earth, in such a place, and "there" it was, where his Lord might take it, and have it again, if he pleased.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. And I was afraid—of making matters worse by meddling with it at all.
and went and hid thy talent in the earth—This depicts the conduct of all those who shut up their gifts from the active service of Christ, without actually prostituting them to unworthy uses. Fitly, therefore, may it, at least, comprehend those, to whom Trench refers, who, in the early Church, pleaded that they had enough to do with their own souls, and were afraid of losing them in trying to save others; and so, instead of being the salt of the earth, thought rather of keeping their own saltness by withdrawing sometimes into caves and wildernesses, from all those active ministries of love by which they might have served their brethren.
Thou wicked and slothful servant—"Wicked" or "bad" means "falsehearted," as opposed to the others, who are emphatically styled "good servants." The addition of "slothful" is to mark the precise nature of his wickedness: it consisted, it seems, not in his doing anything against, but simply nothing for his master.
Thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed—He takes the servant's own account of his demands, as expressing graphically enough, not the hardness which he had basely imputed to him, but simply his demand of a profitable return for the gift entrusted.
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