Matthew 7:9
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
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(9) Or what man is there of you.—The meaning of the illustrations is obvious enough, yet their homeliness is noticeable as addressed to the peasants of Galilee, who found in fish and bread, as in the miracles of the Five thousand and the Four thousand, the staple of their daily food.

7:7-11 Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.Ask, and it shall be given you ... - There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God - asking, 'seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke 13:25; Revelation 3:20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, diligence, and perseverance. The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give - that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us, and most for his own honor, 1 John 5:14. Of that God is to be the judge. And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man "can" ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that he is willing to grant them.

Christ encourages us to do this by the conduct of parents. No parent turns away his child with that which would be injurious. He would not give him a stone instead of bread, or a serpent instead of a fish. God is better and kinder than the most tender earthly parents; and with what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need! Parents, he says, are evil; that is, are imperfect, often partial, and not unfrequently passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us.

Every one that asketh receiveth - That is, every one that asks aright; that prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better. A parent will not always confer the "very thing" which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good. Paul asked that the thorn from his flesh might be removed. God did not "literally" grant the request, but told him that his "grace" should be "sufficient" for him. See the notes at 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

A fish - A fish has some resemblance to a serpent; yet no parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious.

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread—a loaf.

will he give him a stone?—round and smooth like such a loaf or cake as was much in use, but only to mock him.

See Poole on "Matthew 7:11".

Or what man is there of you,.... "That is a father", as in Luke 11:11 that is, is in the relation, and has the affections of a father; and indeed is a man, and has the nature and passions of a man; unless he is become a mere brute, and devoid of all humanity,

whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? No, by no means; no man can act such a merciless, cruel part as this to a child: for though he might impose upon him by the likeness of some sort of stones with bread; yet could not hope to satisfy his hunger, or stop his mouth this way; but must expect to hear from him again with bitter complaints.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Matthew 7:9. answers to a state of mind which doubts whether God gives in answer to prayer at all, or at least gives what we desire.—τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἀν.: argument from analogy, from the human to the divine. The construction is broken. Instead of going on to say what the man of the parable will do, the sentence changes into a statement of what he will not do. Well indicated in W.H.’[47] text by a—after ἄρτον. The anacolouthon could be avoided by omitting the ἐστι of T. R. after τίς and μὴ before λίθον, when the sentence would stand: τίς ἐξ ὐμῶν ἀν., ὁν αἰτῄσει ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον, λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ. But the broken sentence, if worse grammar, is better rhetoric.—μὴ λ. ἐπιδώσει, he will not give him a stone, will he? Bread, stone; fish, serpent. Resemblance is implied, and the idea is that a father may refuse his child’s request but certainly will not mock him. Grotius quotes from Plautus: “Altera manu fert lapidem, panem ostentat altera”. Furrer suggests that by ὄφιν is meant not a literal serpent, but a scale-less fish, therefore prohibited to be eaten (Leviticus 11:12); serpent-like, found in the Sea of Galilee, three feet long, often caught in the nets, and of course thrown away like the dogfish of our waters.

[47] Westcott and Hort.

9. bread … a stone … fish … a serpent] The things contrasted have a certain superficial resemblance, but in each case one thing is good, the other unclean or even dangerous.

Matthew 7:9. , An interrogative particle, corresponding to the Latin an.[308]—ἐξ ὑμῶν, of you) Parables are especially popular, when they are addressed ad hominem.—ἄνθρωπος, a man) One, that is, who is not clearly devoid of humanity.[309]—ἄρτον, bread) A stone, which is useless for food, resembles outwardly a loaf or roll. A snake, which is noxious, resembles a fish. A child can more easily do without fish than bread, and yet he obtains even a fish by asking for it. Fishes were given then to children, as apples are now.—μὴ λίθον a stone?) Lat. Numbers lapidem, [such must be the force of μὴ[310] in this place]; for the parent, when asked, will not refuse to give either bread or a stone.

[308] The second part of a disjunctive interrogation.—ED.

[309] The arrangement of the words in the original brings this idea strongly out.—(I. B.)

[310] The interrogative particle, which expects a negative answer.—“He will not give a stone, will he?”—ED.

Verses 9, 10. - Or what man is there of you, etc.? Or. Is not what I say true? or - if you think not - what man of you yourselves would act otherwise towards his own son? Our Lord appeals to the experience and natural feelings of his hearers themselves to emphasize the readiness of the Father - "your Father," whose nature you share, and from whom you derive your feelings of fatherhood (Ephesians 3:15) - to grant the prayers of his children. Observe:

(1) Our Lord assumes that our natural feelings are of the same kind as God's.

(2) Our Lord speaks of God's children asking him for gifts (cf. Matthew 5:16, note).

(3) Our Lord does not suggest, "Will he absolutely refuse him?" but "Will he give him something which is an answer in appearance only (a stone for bread, a serpent for a fish)?" i.e. our Lord implies that God's gifts, like an earthly father's to his son, are such as really and completely to satisfy the need which is expressing itself. A blessed encouragement, for he will thus answer the underlying desire, though not necessarily the verbal expression of the prayer. So when Monica prayed that her son might not sail to Rome, God did not grant this, but gave her "the hinge of her desire," for it was Augustine's journey to Italy that was the means of his conversion (Aug., 'Conf.,' 5:15). Bread... fish. The most usual food on the Lake of Galilee (cf. Matthew 14:17; John 6:9; cf. Matthew 4:3, note). Matthew 7:9Bread, a stone (ἄρτον, λίθον)

Rev. for bread reads loaf, which is better. On the resemblance of certain stones to cakes of bread, see on Matthew 4:3.

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