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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE - Chapter 18 - Verse 7
Verse 7. Shall not God avenge, &c. We are not to suppose that the character of God is at all represented by this judge, or that his principles of conduct are at all like those of the judge. This parable shows us conclusively that many circumstances of a parable are not to be interpreted closely: they are mere appendages to the narrative. The great truth which our Saviour designed to teach is what we ought to endeavour to find. In this case there can be no doubt what that truth is. He has himself told us that it is, that men ought always to pray and not to faint. This he teaches by the example in the parable; and the argument which it implies is this:
1st. A poor widow, by her perseverance only, obtained from an unjust man what otherwise she would not have obtained.
2nd. God is not unjust. He is good, and disposed to do justice and to bestow mercy. If, therefore, this wicked man by persevering prayer was induced to do justice, how much more shall God, who is good, and who is not actuated by any such selfish and base principles, do justice to them who apply to him!
Avenge. Do justice to or vindicate them. This may have a twofold reference,
1st. To the disciples in the time of Jesus, who were about to be oppressed and persecuted, and over whom calamities were about to come, as if God did not regard their cries and had forsaken them. To them Jesus gives the assurance that God would hear their petitions and come forth to vindicate them; and that, notwithstanding all these calamities, he would yet appear for their deliverance.
2nd. It may have a more general meaning. The people of God are often oppressed, calumniated, persecuted. They are few in number and feeble. They seem to be almost forsaken and cast down, and their enemies triumph. Yet in due time God will hear their prayers, and will come forth for their vindication. And even if it should not be in this life, yet he will do it in the day of judgment, when he will pronounce them blessed, and receive them for ever to himself.
His own elect. People of God, saints, Christians; so called because God has chosen them to be his. The term is usually given in the Scriptures to the true followers of God, and is a term of affection, denoting his great and peculiar love in choosing them out of a world of sinners, and conferring on them grace, and mercy, and eternal life. See Barnes "1 Th 1:4"
It signifies here that they are peculiarly dear to him; that he feels a deep interest in their welfare, and that he will therefore be ready to come forth to their aid. The judge felt no special interest in that widow, yet he heard her; God feels a particular regard, a tender love for his elect, and therefore he will hear and save.
Which cry day and night. This expresses one striking characteristic of the elect of God; they pray, and pray constantly. No one can have evidence that he is chosen of God who is not a man of prayer. One of the best marks by which the electing love of God is known is that it disposes us to pray. This passage supposes that when the elect of God are in trouble and pressed down with calamities, they will cry unto him; and it affirms that if they do, he will hear their cries and answer their requests.
Though he bear long with them. This passage has been variously interpreted, and there is some variety of reading in the manuscripts. Some read, "Will not God avenge his elect? Will he linger in their cause?" But the most natural meaning is, "Although he defers long to avenge them, and greatly tries their patience, yet he will avenge them." He tries their faith; he suffers their persecutions and trials to continue a long time; and it almost appears as if he would not interpose. Yet he will do it, and will save them.
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