And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:…
1. The greatness or nearness of the danger. There are some souls that there is no delaying or dallying with them; but if ye will save them at all, ye must save them quickly; ye must deal roundly and nimbly with them if ever ye intend them any good. The Spirit of God, He speaks quick, and He speaks often, again and again, where He would prevent from danger.
2. The security of the person warned. Peter was not more in danger than he was insensible of his danger.
3. The affection of the Monitor or person that gives the warning; that is also in the doubling of the appellation. It is a sign Christ's heart was much in it, and that He bore a singular love and respect to Peter, in that He does thus passionately admonish him. Love is full of solicitude and carefulness for the party beloved. The matter of the admonition or the warning itself.
1. The persons aimed at. They are here said to be you. He spake before to Peter in the singular, Simon, Simon; now it is you, in the plural. To signify thus much unto us; that there's the same condition of all believers as of one. That which befalls one Christian it is incident to all the rest. The reason of it is this — because they all consist of the same natures, and are acted by the same principles.
(1) You believers, rather than other men. Satan's aim is especially at such, to get them. As for wielded and ungodly persons, who are yet in their unregenerate condition, he has them already. And there are two considerations especially which do lay ground to this practice in him.
(a) That absolute antipathy and hatred and contrariety which is in him to goodness itself, yea, to God Himself, who is the chiefest good. The devil, because he hates goodness itself, therefore he assaults it wherever he finds it.
(b) It proceeds from that envy and pride which is in him.
(2) You eminent believers rather than other Christians. This is the manner of Satan to cast his sticks most at those trees which are fullest of fruit; where he spies more grace than ordinary, there especially to lay his chiefest assaults. There is a double reason for it which does encourage him to it — First, it is the greater victory; and secondly, it is the greater advantage. He does more, both in it and by it. The use of this to ourselves is — First, to teach Christians not to trust to their own habitual graces nor to the number or measure of them. Secondly, we learn, hence, not to pass uncharitable censures upon the servants of God which are under temptations, as to conclude them therefore to be none of His servants.
(3) You apostles and ministers rather than other eminent believers.
I. The DESIGN itself — Satan hath desired you. As here is Satan's restraint, so moreover his malice and boldness of attempt.
1. Here is implied Peter's ignorance and present unadvisedness. He was not aware of this attempt of Satan. So is it likewise with many others of God's servants. Satan does secretly lay siege unto their souls, and they do not discern it. It is a great piece of skill to know indeed when we are tempted, and to be apprehensive that we are under a temptation.
2. We see here also the love of Christ, who helps our ignorance in this particular, and advises us where we are less regardful
3. Here is also, as sometimes, the eminency and conspicuousness of the temptation.
(1) To have you to corrupt you.
(2) This were enough to make us look about us; that Satan would have us to corrupt us, but yet that is not all — he would have us to afflict us too. As Satan would weaken our faith, so also darken our comfort; and as he would draw us into sin, so likewise trouble us and torment us for it.
II. The AMPLIFICATION of it. And to sift or winnow you as wheat.
1. Take it in an ill sense; as Satan's intent, so to winnow you, is to shake and remove you. This expression shows the unweariedness of Satan in his attempts upon the godly, and his several courses which he takes with them, to annoy them. He shifts them and he removes them from one temptation to another. But —
2. It may also be taken in a good sense; and so, as expressing to us the event of Satan's practices, though beyond his own desire and intention. The winnowing of the corn in the fan, it is not for the hurt of it, but for the good of it. And they fit them also for future service. We see here how also God outwits Satan and destroys his own plots by himself.
(J. Horton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: