Luke 14:9
And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
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(9) And thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.—At first sight the words seem to suggest lower motives than those by which the disciples of Christ should regulate their lives—an artificial and calculating rather than a real humility. Three explanations may be given of what is a very real difficulty—(1) That all precepts bearing directly upon social ethics start naturally, as in the Book of Proverbs (from which the form of the teaching is, indeed, directly derived, comp. Proverbs 25:6-7), from the prudential rather than the spiritual view of life. (2) That there is in this counsel an adaptation of teaching that, left to itself, would have been higher, to the weaknesses of those who listened; a method, that as we have noted elsewhere, can hardly be defined in strictly accurate language, but, in its merely human aspects, might be regarded as involving some tinge of grave and solemn irony. From their own point of view even, they were grasping at the shadow and losing the substance, poor as that substance was. Their restless vanity was suicidal. (3) There is the deep ethical truth that every victory obtained, even under the influence of a lower motive, over a dominant weakness or strong temptation, strengthens the habit of self-control, and that the power thus developed tends in the nature of things to go on to further and yet further victories.

14:7-14 Even in the common actions of life, Christ marks what we do, not only in our religious assemblies, but at our tables. We see in many cases, that a man's pride will bring him low, and before honour is humility. Our Saviour here teaches, that works of charity are better than works of show. But our Lord did not mean that a proud and unbelieving liberality should be rewarded, but that his precept of doing good to the poor and afflicted should be observed from love to him.Art bidden - Are invited.

To a wedding - A wedding was commonly attended with a feast or banquet.

The highest room - The seat at the table nearest the head.

A more honourable man - A more aged man, or a man of higher rank. It is to be remarked that our Saviour did not consider the courtesies of life to be beneath his notice. His chief design here was, no doubt, to reprove the pride and ambition of the Pharisees; but, in doing it, he teaches us that religion does not violate the courtesies of life. It does not teach us to be rude, forward, pert, assuming, and despising the proprieties of refined social contact. It teaches humility and kindness, and a desire to make all happy, and a willingness to occupy our appropriate situation and rank in life; and this is true "politeness," for true politeness is a desire to make all others happy, and a readiness to do whatever is necessary to make them so. They have utterly mistaken the nature of religion who suppose that because they are professed Christians, they must be rude and uncivil, and violate all the distinctions in society. The example and precepts of Jesus Christ were utterly unlike such conduct. He teaches us to be kind, and to treat people according to their rank and character. Compare Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17.

9. the lowest—not a lower merely [Bengel].

with shame—"To be lowest is only ignominious to him who affects the highest" [Bengel].

See Poole on "Luke 14:8"

And he that bade thee and him,.... To the feast, and who is the master of it, and has a right to dispose of, and order his guests at his table, as he thinks fit:

come and say to thee, give this man place; pray rise up, and give this honourable man this seat, which is more suitable for a person of his rank and figure, and take another:

and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room; or place, which must unavoidably fill a man with shame and confusion; because hereby his pride and vanity, in affecting the uppermost room, will be publicly exposed; and he who before sat in the chief place, will have the mortification, before all the guests, to be seated in the lowest.

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
Luke 14:9. ἐλθὼν ὁ, etc.: the guests are supposed to have taken their places before the host comes in.—ἄρξῃ: the shame would be most acutely felt at the beginning of the movement from the highest to the lowest place (Meyer).—τ. ἔσχατον τ., the lowest place just vacated by the honoured guest, who is humble in spirit though highly esteemed, who therefore in his own person exemplifies the honour and glory of being called up by the host from the lowest to the highest place.

9. thou begin with shame to take the lowest room] If, by the time that the guests are seated, it be found that some one has thrust himself into too high a position for his rank, when he is removed he will find all the other good places occupied. There is an obvious reference to Proverbs 25:6-7. How much the lesson was needed to check the arrogant pretensions of the Jewish theologians, is shewn again and again in the Talmud, where they assert no reward to be too good or too exalted for their merits. Thus at a banquet of King Alexander Jannaeus, the Rabbi Simeon Ben Shetach, in spite of the presence of some great Persian Satraps, had thrust himself at table between the King and Queen, and when rebuked for his intrusion, quoted in his defence Sir 15:5, “Exalt wisdom, and she...shall make thee sit among princes.”

Luke 14:9. Ἐλθὼν, having come) Comp. Matthew 22:11.—καὶ αὐτὸν, and him) The dignity of the guests, and the relative degrees of that dignity, depend on the ‘calling’ [ὁ σε καὶ αὐτὸν καλέσας]. The words καὶ αὐτὸν, and him, are not repeated in Luke 14:10 [but only ὁ κεκληκώς σε, He that bade or called thee]. For in this passage the words are employed as a motive for modesty [seeing that he too as well as thyself is called].—ἐρεῖ) The Indicative, shall say, after μήποτε ᾖ κεκλημένος, Subjunctive, as presently after, in Luke 14:12, μήποτε ἀντικαλέσωσινγενήσεται, where see the note.[143]—δὸς, give) There is not added Φίλε, Friend as there is in Luke 14:10.—ἄρξῃ, thou shalt begin) To be the last and lowest is not attended with ignominy, except in the case of one who aspired to a higher position.—αἰσχύνης, with shame) In antithesis to δόξα, glory [Engl. Vers. worship, in the old English sense of honour, respect], in Luke 14:10. This is appropriately so.—ἔσχατον) not merely a lower place, but the lowest of all. He who is once bidden to give place, is put away to a distance [from the Lord of the feast].

[143] The Subjunctive of the first verb, in each instance, follows the μήποτε regularly, as being contingent; but the second verb, in each instance, follows, as it is regarded as not contingent, but sure to follow as the consequence of the first.—ED. and TRANSL.

Luke 14:9Begin

Emphasizing the shame of the reluctant movement toward the lower place.

The lowest

Since the other, intervening places are all assigned.

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