Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, does not light a candle, and sweep the house…
You will have noticed that whereas in the other two parables of "the sheep," and "the prodigal," it is "a man" who is represented as rejoicing over the returning one — here it is "a woman." This may, indeed, be only to show that every kind of affection combines in the joy over the penitent — the man's strength and the woman's tenderness. But there may be more. At least, almost all the ancient divines have seen another sense in it. They consider that under the female appellation is meant here, as in many other places, the Church; and that the thought intended to be conveyed is of the Church having sustained the loss, and the Church, as a Church, seeking diligently for the lost one. And yet not altogether the Church, as something distinct and independent in itself — but the Church as that in which the Holy Ghost dwells — the Holy Ghost acting through the means of grace which constitute a Church. So, in the three parables, they would see the Trinity all combined in the same feeling of love and happiness — the Son designated by the Shepherd; the Holy Spirit in the Church, by the woman; and the Father, by the parent of the prodigal. A great thought and a true one, even though the steps by which we here arrive at it may appear to some fanciful. Certain it is, that every soul which is in a condition to perish, is lost, not only to God, but to the Church. And well were it if the Church always so regarded it. And well if every member of the Church so felt it a personal loss to himself that any one single soul should die, that he could not help but stir up himself, and stir up others, to seek that soul till it was found. Would that the Holy Ghost were going forth in the one great Catholic Church, uniting in this feeling and in this resolve — that she would give herself no rest so long as there was one precious soul committed to her care which was lying undiscovered and unredeemed. For mark, brethren, the woman — different in this from the shepherd and the prodigal's father — seeks a thing which her own folly and her own carelessness had lost. First, she "lights a candle" — the well-known emblem in the Bible of three things — first, the Spirit of God in a man's soul; secondly, the Word of God; thirdly, the consistent lives of ministers and other servants of God. And these three together make the great detective force, and so ultimately the great restorative power which God uses in this world. O that every Church had lighted their candle! O that our candles were burning better! O that the Holy Ghost — prayed for and honoured, cherished and magnified in His own office — were here to be a great Illuminator in the midst of us! O that every baptized person were shining as he ought to be, in his daily walk, in good works, and kind acts, and witnesses of God's truth in this world! O think you, brethren, how then would the dark places of our land begin to grow bright again! How would the whole house shine! How would the poor lost ones be found! So, with the lighted candle, the woman went to "sweep the house." It is a great commotion and disturbance to "sweep"; but then it leads to cleanliness and order. So God's sweepings are severe things! But then it is only to brush away what had no right to be there. It is only to disclose precious things out of the rubbish. And there are precious things in our souls so covered with dust that they need sweeping. Afflictions will come, and scatter to the winds the incrusted sediment that has been so long thickening upon a man's mind. And for the time, while the sweeping is going on, the confusion and the obscurity will seem only the greater. But you will not presently complain — you will not regret the turmoil — when the costly thing, that was almost hidden, sparkles again in the hand of its great Proprietor. Sweep our house, Lord, for we need it — not with the bosom of destruction, though we deserve it — but sweep away, Lord, as thou knowest best, every "refuge of lies" where our soul lies buried! All the parables agree in the one, blessed, crowning thought — "till she find it." It is not a light achievement. It was not a day's work — it was not a week's work — or a year's work — the recovery of that soul of yours. Many an enterprise was begun and laid down again, and never ended by men, in that very interval which elapsed between the time when God — your faithful, untiring God — began to deal with your soul, and the time when He made you go to Him.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?