Matthew 25:24
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
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(24) I knew thee that thou art an hard man.—The word “hard” points to stiffness of character—St. Luke’s “austere,” to harshness and bitterness. Was the plea an after-thought, put forward as an excuse for what had been originally sloth pure and simple? On that view, the lesson taught is that neglect of loyal service leads before long to disloyal thoughts. But it may have been our Lord’s intention to represent the slothful servant as having all along cherished the thought which he now pleads in his defence. That had been at the root of his neglect. The eye sees only so far as it brings with it the power to see, and therefore he had never seen in his master either generous love or justice in rewarding. The proverb, “One soweth, another reapeth” (John 4:37), taken on its darker and more worldly side, seemed to him the rule of his master’s conduct. So in the souls of men there springs up at times the thought that all the anomalies of earthly rule are found in that of God, that He too is arbitrary, vindictive, pitiless, like earthly kings; and that thought, as it kills love, so it paralyses the energy which depends on love. So, we may believe, following the thought already thrown out, the heart of the Traitor was full of envy and bitterness because he stood so low in the company of the Twelve, and thought hardly of his Master because He thus dealt with him and yet looked for faithful service.

Matthew 25:24-25. He which received the one talent came — “This may intimate that we are accountable for the smallest advantages with which we are intrusted; but it cannot imply that they who have received much will ordinarily pass their account best; for it is too plain a fact, that most of those whose dignity, wealth, and genius give them the greatest opportunities of service, seem to forget they have either any Master in heaven to serve, or any future reckoning to expect; and many of them render themselves much more criminal than this wicked and slothful servant, who hid his talent in the earth.” — Doddridge. I knew that thou art a hard man — Here we have another, and no less certain mark of a slothful and wicked servant, his entertaining hard thoughts of his master. I knew, &c. — No: thou knewest him not. He never knew Christ who thinks him a hard master. Reaping where thou hast not sown — Requiring more of us than thou givest us power to perform. So does every obstinate sinner, in one kind or other, lay the blame of his own sins on God. And I was afraid — To risk thy money in trade, lest by some accident or other it should be lost, or miscarry under my management, and thou shouldst show me no mercy. Or rather, Lest, if I had improved my talent, I should have had more to answer for. So, from this fear, one will not learn to read, another will not hear sermons. Lo, there thou hast that is thine — If I have not made it more, as others have done, yet, this I can say, I have not made it less: and this, he thinks, may serve to bring him off, if not with praise, yet with safety. Observe, reader, many go very securely to judgment, presuming upon the validity of a plea that will be overruled as vain and frivolous. This servant thought that his account would pass well enough, because he had not wasted his lord’s money. As if he had said, “I was no spendthrift of my estate, not prodigal of my time, not a profaner of thy sabbaths, nor an opposer of good ministers and good preaching. Lord, I never despised my Bible, nor set my wits on work to ridicule religion, nor abused my power to persecute any good man; I never drowned my parts nor wasted God’s good creatures in drunkenness and gluttony; nor ever, to my knowledge, did I do an injury to any one.” Many that are called Christians build great hopes for heaven upon their being able to make such a plea; and yet all this amounts to no more than, There thou hast that is thine, as if no more were required, or would be expected.

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.The one talent - The design of this part of the parable is to show that no one is excused for neglecting his duty because he has few talents. God will require of him only according to his ability, 1 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 12:48; 2 Corinthians 8:12.

A hard man - Of a sordid, griping disposition; taking advantage of the poor, and oppressing them.

Reaping ... - This is indicative of an avaricious and overbearing disposition; compelling the poor to sow for him, and reaping all the benefit himself.

Hast not strawed - The word "straw" means to "scatter" - as people scatter seed in sowing it. It may mean, also, to "ventilate," or to "fan by ventilating" or winnowing. As "sowing" the seed is mentioned just before, it may be that this refers to gathering grain fanned or winnowed by others, while he did nothing - indicating, also, a hard or sordid disposition.

24. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man—harsh. The word in Luke (Lu 19:21) is "austere."

reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed—The sense is obvious: "I knew thou wast one whom it was impossible to serve, one whom nothing would please: exacting what was impracticable, and dissatisfied with what was attainable." Thus do men secretly think of God as a hard Master, and virtually throw on Him the blame of their fruitlessness.

See Poole on "Matthew 25:27".

Then he which had received the one talent came,.... For he that has the least gifts, is accountable for them; and therefore ought to make use of them to the good of his fellow creatures, and the interest of his Lord and Master; though these often lie neglected, and frivolous, and even wicked pretences are formed to excuse such neglect, as here:

and said, Lord, I knew that thou art an hard man; he calls him "Lord", though he had not served him, and pretends he knew him; but if he had, he would have had a true affection for him, faith in him, and would have observed his commands; and he would also have appeared altogether lovely to him, and of an amiable character, and not in such a light as he represents him; which makes it a clear case, that he was ignorant of him, or he would never have said, that he was an hard, severe, or austere man; one very difficult of being pleased, cruel and uncompassionate to his servants, unjustly withholding from them what was due unto them, and rigorously exacting service that could not be performed by them: all which is the reverse of Christ's true character; who accepts of the meanest services of his people: and takes what is done, though ever so little, as even a cup of cold water, given to the least of his disciples, as done to himself; is merciful and compassionate, both to the bodies and souls of men; and is not unrighteous to forget any labour of love, shown to him or his; and makes his strength perfect in the weakness of his servants, and his grace always to be sufficient for them: but this wicked servant goes on to traduce him, and adds,

reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: which seem to be proverbial expressions; see John 4:37, describing either a covetous man, that is desirous of that which does not belong to him; or an hard master that requires work to be done, and gives neither tools nor matter to work with; like the Egyptian task masters, who demanded the full tale of bricks, but gave no straw: whereas Christ is neither stubborn, nor exacting; he requires nothing that is not his, and gives his grace, and bestows his gifts liberally, and upbraids not; nor does he call any to service, of whatsoever sort, but he gives them grace, strength, and abilities, proportionate to it; and as he has promised, he makes it good, that as their day is, so shall their strength be.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
Matthew 25:24 f. Ἔγνων σε, ὅτι] well-known attraction. Winer, p. 581 [E. T. 781]. The aorist is not used here in the sense of the perfect, I know thee (Kuinoel), but: I knew thee, and hid.

What follows characterizes, in proverbial language (by a figure taken from farming), a man unconscionably hard to please, and demanding more than is reasonable.

συνάγων ὅθεν οὐ διεσκόρπ.] gathering (corn into the ἀποθήκη) from a place where you have not threshed (with reference to the threshing-floor of another man’s farm). διασκορπίζειν, to scatter so as to separate from each other (for the classical character of which expression see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 213), is expressly used in the present instance, because it forms a better contrast to συνάγων than λικμᾶν (Matthew 21:44). If it were to be taken as equivalent to σπείρειν, the result would be a tautological parallelism (in opposition to Erasmus, Beza, de Wette).

The entire excuse is a false pretext invented by moral indolence,—a pretext which is reduced ad absurdum in Matthew 25:26-27.

φοβηθείς] namely, of losing the talent in business, or of not being able to satisfy thee.

τὸ σόν] self-righteous.

Matthew 25:24-30.

24. came and said] This slave anticipates his lord’s condemnation; “qui s’excuse s’accuse.”

gathering where thou hast not strawed] i. e. “gathering into the garner from another’s threshing-floor where thou hast not winnowed” (Meyer); so, “exacting interest where thou hast invested no money.” The accusation was false, but the lord takes his slave at his word, “thou oughtest therefore,” for that very reason.

Matthew 25:24. Ἔγνων σε, κ.τ.λ., I knew thee, etc.) He does not know the Lord who thinks Him hard. God is LOVE.[1094] Righteousness appears unrighteousness to the ungodly. The justice of God transcends the comprehension of the creature.—σκληρὸς, hard) In Luke 19:21, we find αὐστηρὸς, austere.—This Lord was not such; but let those earthly lords who really are so, consider what servant they will resemble on the judgment day.—οὐ διεσκόρπισας, thou hast not strawed) Though, in reality, God bestows all things liberally.

[1094] And indeed it is not without appearance of good for one to dwell rather much in thought upon the Divine severity; but such thoughts are not void of all danger.—V. g.

Verse 24. - He which had received the one talent. The rest of the parable is concerned with the case of this unprofitable servant. Usually, those who have most privileges neglect or misuse them or some of them; here the man apparently least favoured is taken as the type of the useless and wicked disciple, because his task was easiest, his responsibility less, his neglect most inexcusable. He has heard the words of his two fellow servants, and the great reward which their faithful service has received; he comes with no joy and confidence to render his account; he feels fully how unsatisfactory it is, and beans at once to defend his conduct by proclaiming his view of his lord's character. I know thee that thou art an hard (σκληρὸς) man. He chooses to conceive of his lord as harsh, stern, churlish in nature, one without love, who taxes men above their powers, and makes no allowance for imperfect service, however honest. He dares to call this impudent fiction knowledge. Thus men regard God, not as he is, but according to their own perverted views; they read their own character into their conception of him; as the Lord says, in Psalm 50:21, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." Reaping where thou hast not sown (thou sowedst not), and gathering where thou hast not strawed (ὅθεν οὐ διεσκόρπισας, whence thou scatteredst not). This is a proverbial saying, implying a desire of obtaining results without sufficient means. The last verb is interpreted either of sowing or winnowing; the latter seems to be correct here, thus avoiding tautology. It is used by the Septuagint in this sense in Ezekiel 5:2, as the rendering of the Hebrew verb zarah (Edersheim). So the phrase here signifies gathering corn from a floor where thou didst not winnow. The slave virtually brings a twofold charge against his master, viz. that he enriched himself by others' toil; and that he expected gain from quarters where he had bestowed no labour. Matthew 25:24Hard (σεκληρὸς)

Stronger than the austere (αὐστηρός) of Luke 19:21 (see there), which is sometimes used in a good sense, as this never is. It is an epithet given to a surface which is at once dry and hard.

Strawed (διεσκόρπισας)

Rev., didst scatter. Not referring to the sowing of seed, for that would be saying the same thing twice. The scattering refers to the winnowing of the loosened sheaves spread out upon the threshing-floor. "The word," as Trench observes "could scarcely be applied to the measured and orderly scattering of the sower's seed. It is rather the dispersing, making to fly in every direction." Hence used of the pursuit of a routed enemy (Luke 1:51); of the prodigal scattering his goods; making the money fly, as we say (Luke 15:13); of the wolf scattering the sheep (Matthew 26:31). Wyc., spread abroad.

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