A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down…
This first kind of soil is the only one of the four mentioned in which nothing came of the sowing. In this alone there is a combination of causes which renders any good result impossible. Three causes are shown:
1. Before the sowing the soil was incapable of receiving the seed, for it was beaten hard by constant traffic.
2. After the seed had fallen upon it men trod it under foot and crushed out its life.
3. That which remained upon the surface the birds devoured.The connection between the three is obvious. Had the soil not been trodden hard beforehand, neither would the after-treading have destroyed the seed, nor would the birds have found it lying ready. Hid in the bosom of the earth, it would have been safe from both. It is the picture of a thoroughly worldly man — not what would commonly be called a wicked man, not a man whose life is a scandal to the society in which he moves, by reason of the grossness of his vices, or the profane or ribald licence of his conversation, but simply one who may be in all outward and social respects without a speck or flaw in his character — nay, who may even be scrupulous in performing all such external acts of religion as the world is pleased to account marks of respectability and good taste, but who is withal simply incapable of receiving any wholesome impression from the ministry of the Word of God, because he has given up his whole heart and mind to worldly things, and heart and mind under their unopposed influence have become completely hardened. Such a man hears the Word. It is beautiful to him, it is pleasant to him, just as, and in no other way, than some history, or poem, or fiction, written by the hand, inspired by the genius of a fellow-man, is pleasant or beautiful. As the work of God's hand, the revelation of God's mind, he never for a moment recognizes it; as the voice of God's Spirit speaking to and bearing witness with His own spirit he never for a moment thinks of it or feels it. And this because there is drawn over his heart and mind and spirit — over all that part of his being in which exists most fully the image of God and the counterpart of the Divine mind — that hard, callous covering of worldliness which is the common road of all that is unprofitable and vain, but is like armour of proof against the entrance of aught that is good and holy into the soil beneath.
(C. S. Turner, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.