And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:…
I. THE INTRODUCTORY PREFACE. "But God said unto him."
1. God interrupts him. He speaks to him while he is speaking to himself. Thus it pleases the Lord to deal with men many times in such cases as these are: He graciously interposes Himself in their sinful courses, and in their vain projects, and in their foolish imaginations; He puts them out of their track; He lays a rub in their way; He will not suffer them to go on; He so sweetly guides and overrules them by the hand of His providence, that He prevents their commission of those sins which their hearts lust after, and in a manner takes them off. And happy were it with us if we would observe His dealings in this kind. God's interruptions are promotions. The more He hinders us, the more He puts us forward; and so we should make account. There cannot be a greater mercy than to be stopped and interrupted in sin, as there cannot be a greater judgment than not to observe this interruption.
2. God opposes or contradicts him in this his speech.
(1) The rich man spake to himself by way of applause; God spake to him by way of reproach.
(2) The rich man so spake to himself as that he did promise himself ease, and pleasure, and contentment; God so spake to him as that He threatened him with dissolution.
(3) The rich man promised himself ease, and pleasure, and contentment for many years; God threatened him with dissolution that very night.
(4) The rich man did appropriate all this provided peace, and comfort, and contentment to his own soul; God questioned who should have the things which he had provided. We see the opposition before us.
II. THE DISGRACEFUL APPELLATION. "Thou fool." With men honesty is folly, and conscience is folly, and plain dealing is folly, and preaching is folly. These are foolishness with men; but they are not so with the Lord. God calls fool, as one that can judge of folly; God calls fool, as one that will punish folly.
1. Fools peremptorily conclude upon that which is uncertain.
2. Fools absolutely neglect that which is necessary.
3. Fools altogether prefer and provide for that which is superfluous.
III. THE THREATENING TIDINGS. "This night thy soul shall be required of thee."
1. The punishment. Not the loss of his goods, but the loss of his soul.
2. God does not tell him who should do it; but, by a Hebraism, leaves it indefinite — "they." It is no matter to thee who. It may be these very goods of thine, it may be thy barns, it may be thy servants, it may be thy friends.
3. The manner of the execution. Thou shalt not give up thy soul unto them; they shall snatch it from thee, and take it away by force.
4. The time — "this night." It is not, as Jeremiah to Hananiah, Thou shalt die this year; nor is it, as Hosea of the revolting Israelites, A month shall devour them; nor is it as the Lord to Adam, Thou shalt die this day. But different from all these, it is this night. This night, in opposition to this day; not at noon, but, for greater horror, at night. This night, in opposition to another night; not to-morrow night, not the next night, nor the night after, but this very night, which follows thine applauding of thyself.
IV. THE EXPOSTULATORY INFERENCE. "Then, whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"
1. They shall not be thine. A man's wealth lasts no longer than his life, neither has he longer comfort from it.
(1) Seeing men have their wealth for no longer time than their lives, it concerns them then to enjoy it, and use it to the best advantage. There is a vanity and a curse which God has laid upon many men, that they shall be rich, and nothing the better for it. They are not the better for it here, because they do not use it; and they cannot be better for it hereafter, because the nature of the things will not permit it. They vex themselves to get their wealth, they vex themselves to keep it, and yet have no comfort by it. Who would provide such things, as for which he should never be the better?
(2) And again, let us then learn to provide for a better estate, to lay hold on eternal life, and to lay up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come.
2. Thou shalt not know whose they shall be. The wealthiest man that is cannot be sure who shall be his heir. No man when he goes out of the world can tell whose his goods shall be; this is another affliction. For a man might be ready to say, "Though I shall not have the benefit myself, yet I shall leave them to those that shall, my children and my posterities after me"; nay, but, says God, "Thou knowest not whose they shall be"; neither whose, if ye take it numerically, for the particular individual persons; nor whose, if ye take it qualitatively, for the nature and condition of the persons; neither of these persons dost thou know.
(Thomas Horton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: