|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:35-38 Jesus visited not only the great and wealthy cities, but the poor, obscure villages; and there he preached, there he healed. The souls of the meanest in the world are as precious to Christ, and should be so to us, as the souls of those who make the greatest figure. There were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the land; but they were idol shepherds, Zec 11:17; therefore Christ had compassion on the people as sheep scattered, as men perishing for lack of knowledge. To this day vast multitudes are as sheep not having a shepherd, and we should have compassion and do all we can to help them. The multitudes desirous of spiritual instruction formed a plenteous harvest, needing many active labourers; but few deserved that character. Christ is the Lord of the harvest. Let us pray that many may be raised up and sent forth, who will labour in bringing souls to Christ. It is a sign that God is about to bestow some special mercy upon a people, when he stirs them up to pray for it. And commissions given to labourers in answer to prayer, are most likely to be successful.
Verse 36. - But when he saw the multitudes. The substance of this verse is found in Mark 6:34 on the return of the apostles, equivalent to our Matthew 14:13, seq. (cf. supra). According to the context, the multitudes here spoken of are those of the various cities and villages through which he had passed. He was moved with compassion on (for, Revised Version) them (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν). After the vivid Hebrew metaphor (Genesis 43:30), which the LXX. seldom ventured to translate literally, but which is common in the New Testament writings. Because they fainted. So the Received Text (ἐκλελυμένοι, cf. Matthew 15:32), but the Revised Version, with manuscripts, "were distressed" (ἐσκυλμένοι). Σκύλλω, which in the classics is equivalent, to
(2) "mangle," is found only in the sense of
(3) "trouble or harass," in the New Testament (Mark 5:35 [parallel passage: Luke 8:49]; Luke 7:6). And were scattered abroad; Revised Version simply, and scattered. (For the thought, cf. Ezekiel 34:5; also Numbers 27:17; 2 Chronicles 18:16; and its parallel passage, 1 Kings 22:17.) The two participles express different aspects of their now normal and continuous state (η΅σαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐριμμένοι). Yet the Authorized Version margin, "and lay down," is probably nearer the meaning of ἐριμμένοι here than the Authorized Version and Revised Version; cf. 1 Macc. 11:4 (" They showed him the temple of Dagon burnt... and the bodies cast out" ); Jeremiah 14:16 (" The people... shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem... and they shall have none to bury them" ), whine the thought is hardly "scattered," but "cast out and lying prostrate." So here the people are pictured as sheep harassed and prostrated by fatigue, etc.; cf. Vulgate, vexati et jacentes. As sheep having no shepherd; not having a shepherd (Revised Version); cf. the Old Testament passages just referred to.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But when he saw the multitudes,.... As he took his circuit through the several cities, towns, and villages, he made his observations upon the large numbers that flocked to his ministry, and seemed to be desirous of spiritual instructions, in what an unhappy and melancholy situation they were; and
he was moved with compassion on them: his bowels yearned for them, he was touched with a feeling of their infirmities, as the merciful high priest, the good shepherd, and faithful prophet; being heartily concerned for the souls of men, their comfort here, and everlasting happiness hereafter:
because they fainted; being fatigued and tired, not in their bodies, through journeying from place to place, to hear the word, but in their minds; being burdened and wearied with the various traditions and doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees:
and were scattered abroad; thrown and tossed about, and divided through the different sects of religion among them; no due care was taken of them, to gather and keep them together, and feed them with wholesome doctrine; but were as abjects, outcasts, that no man regarded, and in great danger of the loss and ruin of their immortal souls: being
as sheep without a shepherd; that was good for anything, or did the office and duty of a shepherd to them: the Scribes and Pharisees were shepherds indeed, such as they were, but very bad ones; like the shepherds of Israel of old, who fed themselves, and not the flock; who strengthened not the diseased, nor healed the sick, nor bound up that which was broken; nor brought again that which was driven away, nor sought that which was lost: but on the contrary, caused them to go astray from mountain to hill; whereby they forgot their resting place, in the Messiah promised them, and who was now come.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted—This reading, however, has hardly any authority at all. The true reading doubtless is, "were harassed."
and were scattered abroad—rather, "lying about," "abandoned," or "neglected."
as sheep, having no shepherd—their pitiable condition as wearied under bodily fatigue, a vast disorganized mass, being but a faint picture of their wretchedness as the victims of pharisaic guidance; their souls uncared for, yet drawn after and hanging upon Him. This moved the Redeemer's compassion.
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