Coveting Prohibited
Exodus 20:17
You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant…

I. WHAT IS COVETING? The Hebrew word is really but expressive of a strong controlling desire. This is not forbidden per se in the Commandment, but a special form of coveting, determined by the objects enumerated. Prussic acid in itself is not bad — it is just as good as bread or milk; but it would be evil in me to use or seek prussic acid as my food, because its relation to me in that case would be pernicious.

II. WHAT ARE THE OBJECTS WHICH WE MUST NOT COVET? If anything belongs to our neighbour, either by the tie of property, as a house, or by the tie of domestic union, as a wife, it thereby partakes of the sacredness of his own person, and is so to be viewed by us. The coveting any such object for ourselves is directly at war with this view. It pollutes this sanctity, it destroys in our heart the harmony of things and introduces confusion. Anything appertaining to our neighbour is in such relation to us as to condemn all coveting. The elements of his wrath, his happiness, his fame, his success, are all included. His time, his talents, his opportunities, his advantages, so far as they are peculiarly his and are not common to all, are in the same category.


1. It degrades our neighbour in our heart.

2. We are nursing the brood of sin in our soul. It is spiritual corruption — gangrene. You are carefully cherishing the eggs of envy, jealousy, malice, anger, and revenge, when you indulge in your unhallowed desires; and these dire monsters will be hatched and become your irresistible masters before you are aware.

IV. HOW SHALL WE AVOID THIS EVIL COVETING? "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." The desires of the heart are not to be annihilated, man is not to be reduced to an inert lump, his passions are to burn as brightly as ever, his eager heart to beat as strongly as before, yet not for worldly jewels, but for heaven's crown. The current is to run as swiftly as before, but now in a new channel. We are to seek first — that is, as chief — the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

(H. Crosby, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

WEB: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

Coveting Driven Out by Love
Top of Page
Top of Page