And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
This latter clause of what might be viewed almost as one petition, though expressed in the shape of two antithetic parts, confirms what may be called the common-sense interpretation of the words, "Lead us not into temptation." All the matter of temptation is evil. The evil that is without, its material; the evil that is within, its occasion and fearful purchase. The attraction of what is good, and any readiness within us to yield to that attraction, we do not designate temptation. But now the petition, "Lead us not into temptation," all the material of which is evil, is pronouncedly followed by this other," But deliver us," i.e. draw us away, rescue us, save us, "from evil," or from the evil one, in every form and in every degree. The petition is, therefore, certainly not mere repetition of the former, nor the former put in somewhat different shape, but it is substantial addition to it. Notice, then, that the prayer -
I. BREATHES THE EARNEST DESIRE TO BE DELIVERED FROM THE WHOLE BODY OF EVIL. That which was ever round us; that which is ever too likely to he within us, though dormant, perhaps; that which might still invade our peace and safety. We need to be set free from that which has in past time, and perhaps long, dominated us.
II. EXPRESSES THE CONVICTION THAT THE FINAL, COMPREHENSIVE THING TO BE DESIRED IS TO BE DRAWN BY DIVINE POWER FROM EVIL. We need to be both
(1) weaned from the love of it and all native inclination to it, so far as it takes any shape, by virtue of which we may wish for the time to east in our lot with it; and
(2) rescued and, if need be, snatched from its tyrannical hold and merciless thraldom. The significance of the position of this petition, last of all, so placed by Christ himself, well deserves notice and enforcing.
III. RECOGNIZES AND RECORDS OUR CREED THAT EVIL HAS ITS MASTER; AND THAT WE KNOW WHO THAT MASTER ALONE IS; OUR DEPENDENCE ON HIM, AND OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO HIM. To him we rightly carry our solemn, suffering, last appeal against it, whether the fault of it be more or less chargeable on ourselves. A short life, which nevertheless dragged even its very briefness, its "days few and evil," as though tedious time needed to be "killed," may have witnessed a careless indifference to evil on our part; again, an utter misestimate of its nature, malignity, mass of resistance; again, a mere defiant attitude towards it; again, a self-confident assurance of our own power over it, when only we should choose to rise to the occasion, and put forth that supposed power; and once again, after many a shameful fall, as the natural reaction, a crouching, craven, crushed, despairing dread of it! The humbling tale of these self-condemning transformations, and of the innumerable by-victories of evil, own to one safe outcome, one only! It is this - put into our lips by Jesus himself - the sad, intensely earnest, all-trusting, last appeal against it, addressed to that Master of it, before whom itself has ever quailed, "Deliver us from evil." - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.