And often it has cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if you can do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If thou canst do any thing.—The words are spoken almost in the accents of despair. Could He, the Master, prevail where the disciples had failed?See Poole on "Mark 9:17"
and into the waters to destroy him: when he has been near any brook, or river, it has thrown him into it, in order to drown him, as into the fire to burn him. The Ethiopic version before fire and water reads, "into the deep"; meaning either the sea or some deep pit, or off a precipice. All this is said to aggravate the case, and show the miserable condition the child was in, from the frequency of the fits, and the danger he was exposed to:
but if thou canst do any thing. This man's faith was very weak, and perhaps weaker than when he first came from home with his child. He had brought him to the disciples of Christ, and they could not cure him; the evil spirit was as strong, or stronger in him than ever; he now lay in a violent fit, and in a most miserable condition; so that he was almost ready to despair of healing: some small hopes he had that Christ might be able to relieve in this case; but he puts an if upon his power, and earnestly entreats him, if he had any, he would put it forth:
have compassion on us, and help us; his child that lay in such a deplorable condition, rolling on the ground at his feet; and himself, who was greatly afflicted for him: he tries, in very moving language, both the power and pity of Christ; and begs that if he had either, he would exert them on this occasion.And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Mark 9:22. εἴ τι δύνῃ, if Thou canst do anything (A. and R. Vv.), or better, if anyhow Thou canst help. The father speaks under the impression that the case, as he has just described it, is one of peculiar difficulty; therefore while the leper said “if Thou wilt,” he says “if Thou canst”. With reference to the form δύνῃ, Phryn. says that it is right after ἐὰν, but that at the beginning of a sentence δύνασαι must be used (p. 359).22. if thou canst] More literally, if at all Thou canst. This is a strong expression of an infirm faith, which at the beginning had been too weak, but had become more and more weak owing to the failure of the disciples to aid him.Mark 9:22. Τὸ πῦρ) This noun is without a plural: otherwise, as ὕδατα, so πῦρα might have been said in this passage: but the place of the plural is supplied by the article.—ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ, that it might destroy) either because it was promising itself power even over the dead body of the possessed, or else lest it should be cast out by Jesus: for otherwise it would gladly have remained in a human body. It had not the power of itself to destroy a man without water or fire.
Very touching. The father identifies himself with the son's misery. Compare the Syro-Phoenician, who makes her daughter's case entirely her own: "Have mercy on me" (Matthew 15:22).
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