Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Matthew 4 Commentaries: Barnes • Calvin • Clarke • Chrysostom • Darby • Gill • Geneva • Guzik • JFB • KJV Translators' • Henry's Concise • Matthew Henry • People's NT • Scofield • TSK • Vincent • Wesley
Get thee hence - These temptations, and this one especially, the Saviour met with a decided rebuke. This was a bolder attack than any which had been made before. The other temptations had been founded on an appeal to his necessities, and an offer of the protection of God in great danger; in both cases plausible, and in neither a direct violation of the law of God. Here was a higher attempt, a more decided and deadly thrust at the piety of the Saviour. It was a proposition that the Son of God should worship the devil, instead of honoring and adoring Him who made heaven and earth; that he should bow down before the Prince of wickedness and give him homage.
It is written - In Deuteronomy 6:13. Satan asked him to worship him. This was expressly forbidden, and Jesus therefore drove him from his presence.
Get thee hence - Or, behind me, οπισω μου. This is added by a multitude of the best MSS., Versions, and Fathers. This temptation savoring of nothing but diabolical impudence, Jesus did not treat it as the others; but, with Divine authority, commanded the tempter to return to his own place.
In the course of this trial, it appears that our blessed Lord was tempted,
1st. To Distrust. Command these stones to become bread.
2dly. To Presumption. Cast thyself down.
3dly. To worldly Ambition. All these will Igive.
4thly. To Idolatry. Fall down and worship me, or do me homage. There is probably not a temptation of Satan, but is reducible to one or other of these four articles.
From the whole we may learn:
First. No man, howsoever holy, is exempted from temptation: for God manifested to the flesh was tempted by the devil.
Secondly. That the best way to foil the adversary, is by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17.
Thirdly. That to be tempted even to the greatest abominations (while a person resists) is not sin: for Christ was tempted to worship the Devil.
Fourthly. That there is no temptation which is from its own nature, or favoring circumstances, irresistible. God has promised to bruise even Satan under our feet.
As I wish to speak what I think most necessary on every subject, when I first meet it, and once for all, I would observe -
First, That the fear of being tempted may become a most dangerous snare.
Then saith Jesus to him, get thee hence, Satan..... In Luke 4:8 it is "get thee behind me": and so some copies read here, and is expressive of indignation and abhorrence; see Matthew 16:23 rebuking his impudence, and detesting his impiety: he had borne his insults and temptations with great patience; he had answered him with mildness and gentleness; but now his behaviour to him was intolerable, which obliged him to show his resentment, exert his power and authority, and rid himself at once of so vile a creature; giving this reason for it;
for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. The place referred to is in Deuteronomy 6:13
thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him: to fear the Lord, and to worship him, is the same thing. Worship includes both an internal and external reverence of God: the word "only" is not in the original text, but is added by our Lord; and that very justly; partly to express the emphasis which is on the word "him"; and in perfect agreement with the context, which requires it; since it follows,
ye shall not go after other Gods. Moreover, not to take notice of the Septuagint version, in which the word "only" is also added, Josephus (q), the Jewish historian, referring to this law, says, because God is one, , "therefore he only is to be worshipped". And Aben Ezra (r), a Jewish writer, explaining the last clause in the verse,
and thou shalt swear by his name, uses the word "only"; and which indeed, of right, belongs to every clause in it. The meaning of our Lord in citing it is; that since the Lord God is the alone object of worship, it was horrid blasphemy in Satan to desire it might be given to him, and which could not be done without the greatest impiety.
(q) Antiq. Jud. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 5. (r) In Deut. vi. 13.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Get thee hence, Satan. As the tempter was revealed Jesus rebukes him. The word, Get thee hence, begone, expresses abhorrence. The adversary is called by name and bidden to depart. Then his reason is added, in the words of Scripture, found in De 6:13.
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. This passage forbids every kind of religious adoration to any other object than Jehovah, whether it be idols, false gods, popes, Virgin Mary, saints, or angels. The three temptations had been met: three times the tempter had been baffled, three times the victory had been won. The first assault had been made through the door of appetite, the lust of the flesh; the second through vain glory, the lust of the eyes; the third through ambition, the pride of life (1Jo 2:16). All had appealed to Jesus to turn away from the pathway of self-denial and suffering marked out for him. All had been met by the shield of faith, and the tempter beaten back by the word of the Spirit.
Get thee hence, Satan - Not, get thee behind me, that is, into thy proper place; as he said on a quite different occasion to Peter, speaking what was not expedient. Deut 6:13.
10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan-Since the tempter has now thrown off the mask, and stands forth in his true character, our Lord no longer deals with him as a pretended friend and pious counsellor, but calls him by his right name-His knowledge of which from the outset He had carefully concealed till now-and orders him off. This is the final and conclusive evidence, as we think, that Matthew's must be the right order of the temptations. For who can well conceive of the tempter's returning to the assault after this, in the pious character again, and hoping still to dislodge the consciousness of His Sonship, while our Lord must in that case be supposed to quote Scripture to one He had called the devil to his face-thus throwing His pearls before worse than swine?
for it is written-(De ). Thus does our Lord part with Satan on the rock of Scripture.
Thou shalt worship-In the Hebrew and the Septuagint it is, "Thou shalt fear"; but as the sense is the same, so "worship" is here used to show emphatically that what the tempter claimed was precisely what God had forbidden.
the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve-The word "serve" in the second clause, is one never used by the Septuagint of any but religious service; and in this sense exclusively is it used in the New Testament, as we find it here. Once more the word "only," in the second clause-not expressed in the Hebrew and the Septuagint-is here added to bring out emphatically the negative and prohibitory feature of the command. (See Ga for a similar supplement of the word "all" in a quotation from De 27:26).
4:1-11 Concerning Christ's temptation, observe, that directly after he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, he was tempted; great privileges, and special tokens of Divine favour, will not secure any from being tempted. But if the Holy Spirit witness to our being adopted as children of God, that will answer all the suggestions of the evil spirit. Christ was directed to the combat. If we presume upon our own strength, and tempt the devil to tempt us, we provoke God to leave us to ourselves. Others are tempted, when drawn aside of their own lust, and enticed, Jas ; but our Lord Jesus had no corrupt nature, therefore he was tempted only by the devil. In the temptation of Christ it appears that our enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring; but he can be resisted. It is a comfort to us that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that our temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only. Satan aimed in all his temptations, to bring Christ to sin against God. 1. He tempted him to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care concerning him. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition; and those who are brought into straits have need to double their guard. Christ answered all the temptations of Satan with It is written; to set us an example, he appealed to what was written in the Scriptures. This method we must take, when at any time we are tempted to sin. Let us learn not to take any wrong courses for our supply, when our wants are ever so pressing: in some way or other the Lord will provide. 2. Satan tempted Christ to presume upon his Father's power and protection, in a point of safety. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Satan has no objection to holy places as the scene of his assaults. Let us not, in any place, be off our watch. The holy city is the place, where he does, with the greatest advantage, tempt men to pride and presumption. All high places are slippery places; advancements in the world makes a man a mark for Satan to shoot his fiery darts at. Is Satan so well versed in Scripture as to be able to quote it readily? He is so. It is possible for a man to have his head full of Scripture notions, and his mouth full of Scripture expressions, while his heart is full of bitter enmity to God and to all goodness. Satan misquoted the words. If we go out of our way, out of the way of our duty, we forfeit the promise, and put ourselves out of God's protection. This passage, De 8:3, made against the tempter, therefore he left out part. This promise is firm and stands good. But shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? No. 3. Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon. Christ was tempted to worship Satan. He rejected the proposal with abhorrence. Get thee hence, Satan! Some temptations are openly wicked; and they are not merely to be opposed, but rejected at once. It is good to be quick and firm in resisting temptation. If we resist the devil he will flee from us. But the soul that deliberates is almost overcome. We find but few who can decidedly reject such baits as Satan offers; yet what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Christ was succoured after the temptation, for his encouragement to go on in his undertaking, and for our encouragement to trust in him; for as he knew, by experience, what it was to suffer, being tempted, so he knew what it was to be succoured, being tempted; therefore we may expect, not only that he will feel for his tempted people, but that he will come to them with seasonable relief.
John Baptist said concerning Christ, He must increase, but I must decrease; and so it proved. For, after John had baptized Christ, and borne his testimony to him, we hear little more of his ministry; he had done what he came to do, and thenceforward there is as much talk of Jesus as ever there had been of John. As the rising Sun advances, the morning star disappears. Concerning Jesus Christ we have in this chapter, I. The temptation he underwent, the triple assault the tempter made upon him, and the repulse he gave to each assault (v. 1-11). II. The teaching work he undertook, the places he preached in (v. 12-16), and the subject he preached on (v. 17). III. His calling of disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John (v. 18-22). IV. His curing diseases (v. 23, 24), and the great resort of the people to him, both to be taught and to be healed.
We have here the story of a famous duel, fought hand to hand, between Michael and the dragon, the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, nay, the serpent himself; in which the seed of the woman suffers, being tempted, and so has his heel bruised; but the serpent is quite baffled in his temptations, and so has his head broken; and our Lord Jesus comes off a Conqueror, and so secures not only comfort, but conquest at last, to all his faithful followers. Concerning Christ's temptation, observe,
I. The time when it happened: Then; there is an emphasis laid upon that. Immediately after the heavens were opened to him, and the Spirit descended on him, and he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, the next news we hear of him is, he is tempted; for then he is best able to grapple with the temptation. Note, 1. Great privileges, and special tokens of divine favour, will not secure us from being tempted. Nay, 2. After great honours put upon us, we must expect something that is humbling; as Paul has a messenger of Satan sent to buffer him, after he had been in the third heavens. 3. God usually prepares his people for temptation before he calls them to it; he gives strength according to the day, and, before a sharp trial, gives more than ordinary comfort. 4. The assurance of our sonship is the best preparative for temptation. If the good Spirit witness to our adoption, that will furnish us with an answer to all the suggestions of the evil spirit, designed either to debauch or disquiet us.
Then, when he was newly come from a solemn ordinance, when he was baptized, then he was tempted. Note, After we have been admitted into the communion of God, we must expect to be set upon by Satan. The enriched soul must double its guard. When thou has eaten and art full, then beware. Then, when he began to show himself publicly to Israel, then he was tempted, so as he never had been while he lived in privacy. Note, The Devil has a particular spite at useful persons, who are not only good, but given to do good, especially at their first setting out. It is the advice of the Son of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 2:1), My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation. Let young ministers know what to expect, and arm accordingly.
II. The place where it was; in the wilderness; probably in the great wilderness of Sinai, where Moses and Elijah fasted forty days, for no part of the wilderness of Judea was so abandoned to wild beasts as this is said to have been, Mk. 1:13. When Christ was baptized, he did not go to Jerusalem, there to publish the glories that had been put upon him, but retired into a wilderness. After communion with God, it is good to be private awhile, lest we lose what we have received, in the crowd and hurry of worldly business. Christ withdrew into the wilderness, 1. To gain advantage to himself. Retirement gives an opportunity for meditation an communion with God; even they who are called to the most active life must yet have their contemplative hours, and must first find time to be alone with God. Those are not fit to speak of the things of God in public to others, who have not first conversed with those things in secret by themselves. When Christ would appear as a Teacher come from God, it shall not be said of him, "He is newly come from travelling, he has been abroad, and has seen the world;" but, "He is newly come out of the desert, he has been alone conversing with God and his own heart." 2. To give advantage to the tempter, that he might have a readier access to him than he could have had in company. Note, Though solitude is a friend to a good heart, yet Satan knows how to improve it against us. Woe to him that is alone. Those who, under pretence of sanctity and devotion, retire into dens and deserts, find that they are not out of reach of their spiritual enemies, and that there they want the benefit of the communion with saints. Christ retired, (1.) To make his victory the more illustrious, he gave the enemy sun and wind on his side, and yet baffled him. He might give the Devil advantage, for the prince of this world had nothing in him; but he has in us, and therefore we must pray not to be led into temptation, and must keep out of harm's way. (2.) That he might have an opportunity to do his best himself, that he might be exalted in his own strength; for so it was written, I have trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me. Christ entered the lists without a second.
III. The preparatives for it, which were two.
1. He was directed to the combat; he did not wilfully thrust himself upon it, but he was led up of the Spirit to be tempted of the Devil. The Spirit that descended upon him like a dove made him meek, and yet made him bold. Note, Our care must be, not to enter into temptation; but if God, by his providence, order us into circumstances of temptation for our trial, we must not think it strange, but double our guard. Be strong in the Lord, resist stedfast in the faith, and all shall be well. If we presume upon our own strength, and tempt the devil to tempt us, we provoke God to leave us to ourselves; but, whithersoever God leads us, we may hope he will go along with us, and bring us off more than conquerors.
Christ was led to be tempted of the Devil, and of him only. Others are tempted, when they are drawn aside of their own lust and enticed (Jam. 1:14); the Devil takes hold of that handle, and ploughs with that heifer; but our Lord Jesus had no corrupt nature, and therefore he was led securely, without any fear or trembling, as a champion into the field, to be tempted purely by the Devil.
Now Christ's temptation is, (1.) An instance of his own condescension and humiliation. Temptations are fiery darts, thorns in the flesh, buffetings, siftings, wrestlings, combats, all which denote hardship and suffering; therefore Christ submitted to them, because he would humble himself, in all things to be made like unto his brethren; thus he gave his back to the smiters. (2.) An occasion of Satan's confusion. There is no conquest without a combat. Christ was tempted, that he might overcome the tempter. Satan tempted the first Adam, and triumphed over him; but he shall not always triumph, the second Adam shall overcome him and lead captivity captive. (3.) Matter of comfort to all the saints. In the temptation of Christ it appears, that our enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring in his temptations; but it appears withal, that he is not invincible. Though he is a strong man armed, yet the Captain of our salvation is stronger than he. It is some comfort to us to think that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only, and such as may be pleased. And we have a High Priest who knows, by experience, what it is to be tempted, and who therefore is the more tenderly touch with the feelings of our infirmities in an hour of temptation, Heb. 2:18; 4:15. But it is much more a comfort to think that Christ conquered, being tempted, and conquered for us; not only that the enemy we grapple with is a conquered, baffled, disarmed enemy, but that we are interested in Christ's victory over him, and through him are more than conquerors.
2. He was dieted for the combat, as wrestlers, who are temperate in all things (1 Co. 9:25); but Christ beyond any other, for he fasted forty days and forty nights, in compliance with the type and example of Moses the great lawgiver, and of Elias, the great reformer, of the Old Testament. John Baptist came as Elias, in those things that were moral, but not in such things as were miraculous (Jn. 10:41); that honour was reserved for Christ. Christ needed not to fast for mortification (he had no corrupt desires to be subdued); yet he fasted, (1.) That herein he might humble himself, and might seem as one abandoned, whom no man seeketh after. (2.) That he might give Satan both occasion and advantage against him; and so make his victory over him the more illustrious. (3.) That he might sanctify and recommend fasting to us, when God in his providence calls to it, or when we are reduced to straits, and are destitute of daily food, or when it is requisite for the keeping under of the body, or the quickening of prayer, those excellent preparatives for temptation. If good people are brought low, if they want friends and succours, this may comfort them, that their Master himself was in like manner exercised. A man may want bread, and yet be a favourite of heaven, and under the conduct of the Spirit. The reference which the Papists make of their lent-fast to this fasting of Christ forty days, is a piece of foppery and superstition which the law of our land witnesses against, Stat. 5 Eliz. chap. 5 sect. 39, 40. When he fasted forty days he was never hungry; converse with heaven was instead of meat and drink to him, but he was afterwards an hungred, to show that he was really and truly Man; and he took upon him our natural infirmities, that he might atone for us. Man fell by eating, and that way we often sin, and therefore Christ was an hungred.
IV. The temptations themselves. That which Satan aimed at, in all his temptations, was, to bring him to sin against God, and so to render him for ever incapable of being a Sacrifice for the sins of others. Now, whatever the colours were, that which he aimed at was, to bring him, 1. To despair of his Father's goodness. 2. To presume upon his Father's power. 3. To alienate his Father's honour, by giving it to Satan. In the two former, that which he tempted him to, seemed innocent, and therein appeared the subtlety of the tempter; in the last, that which he tempted him with, seemed desirable. The two former are artful temptations, which there was need of great wisdom to discern; the last was a strong temptation, which there was need of great resolution to resist; yet he was baffled in them all.
1. He tempted him to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care concerning him.
(1.) See how the temptation was managed (v. 3); The tempter came to him. Note, The Devil is the tempter, and therefore he is Satan-an adversary; for those are our worst enemies, that entice us to sin, and are Satan's agents, are doing his work, and carrying on his designs. He is called emphatically the tempter, because he was so to our first parents, and still is so, and all other tempters are set on work by him. The tempter came to Christ in a visible appearance, not terrible and affrighting, as afterward in his agony in the garden; no, if ever the Devil transformed himself into an angel of light, he did so now, and pretended to be a good genius, a guardian angel.
Observe the subtlety of the tempter, in joining this first temptation with what went before to make it the stronger. [1.] Christ began to be hungry, and therefore the motion seemed very proper, to turn stones into bread for his necessary support. Note, It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition, in that to plant the battery of his temptations. He is an adversary no less watchful than spiteful; and the more ingenious he is to take advantage against us, the more industrious we must be to give him none. When he began to be hungry, and that in a wilderness, where there was nothing to be had, then the Devil assaulted him. Note, Want and poverty are a great temptation to discontent and unbelief, and the use of unlawful means for our relief, under pretence that necessity has no law; and it is excused with this that hunger will break through stone walls, which yet is no excuse, for the law of God ought to be stronger to us than stone walls. Agur prays against poverty, not because it is an affliction and reproach, but because it is a temptation; lest I be poor, and steal. Those therefore who are reduced to straits, have need to double their guard; it is better to starve to death, than live and thrive by sin. [2.] Christ was lately declared to be the Son of God, and here the Devil tempts him to doubt of that; If thou be the Son of God. Had not the Devil known that the Son of God was to come into the world, he would not have said this; and had he not suspected that this was he, he would not have said it to him, nor durst he have said it if Christ had not now drawn a veil over his glory, and if the Devil had not now put on an impudent face.
First, "Thou has now an occasion to question whether thou be the Son of God or no; for can it be, that the Son of God, who is Heir of all things, should be reduced to such straits? If God were thy Father, he would not see thee starve, for all the beasts of the forest are his, Ps. 50:10, 12. It is true there was a voice from heaven, This is my beloved Son, but surely it was delusion, and thou was imposed upon by it; for either God is not thy Father, or he is a very unkind one." Note, 1. The great thing Satan aims at, in tempting good people, is to overthrow their relation to God as a Father, and so to cut off their dependence on him, their duty to him, and their communion with him. The good Spirit, as the Comforter of the brethren, witnesses that they are the children of God; the evil spirit, as the accuser of the brethren, does all he can to shake that testimony. 2. Outward afflictions, wants and burdens, are the great arguments Satan uses to make the people of God question their sonship; as if afflictions could not consist with, when really they proceed from, God's fatherly love. They know how to answer this temptation, who can say with holy Job, Though he slay me, though he starve me, yet I will trust in him, and love him as a Friend, even when he seems to come forth against me as an Enemy. 3. The Devil aims to shake our faith in the word of God, and bring us to question the truth of that. Thus he began with our first parents; Yea, has God said so and so? Surely he has not. So here, Has God said that thou art his beloved Son? Surely he did not say so; or if he did it is not true. We then give place to the Devil, when we question the truth of any word that God has spoken; for his business, as the father of lies, is to oppose the true sayings of God. 4. The Devil carries on his designs very much by possessing people with hard thoughts of God, as if he were unkind, or unfaithful, and had forsaken or forgotten those who had ventured their all with him. He endeavored to beget in our first parents a notion that God forbade them the tree of knowledge, because he grudged them the benefit of it; and so here he insinuates to our Saviour, that his Father had cast him off, and left him to shift for himself. But see how unreasonable this suggestion was, and how easily answered. If Christ seemed to be a mere Man now, because he was hungry, why was he not confessed to be more than a Man, even the Son of God, when for forty days he fasted, and was not hungry?
Secondly, "Thou hast now an opportunity to show that thou art the son of God. If thou art the Son of God, prove it by this, command these stones" (a heap of which, probably, lay now before him) "be made bread, v. 3. John Baptist said but the other day, that God can out of stone raise up children to Abraham, a divine power therefore can, no doubt, out of stones, make bread for those children; if there thou has that power, exert it now in a time of need for thyself." He does not say, Pray to thy Father that he would turn them into bread; but command it to be done; thy Father hath forsaken thee, set up for thyself, and be not beholden to him. The Devil is for nothing that is humbling, but ever thing that is assuming; and gains his point, if he can but bring men off from their dependence upon God, and possess them with an opinion of their self-sufficiency.
(2.) See how this temptation was resisted and overcome.
[1.] Christ refused to comply with it. He would not command these stones to be made bread; not because he could not; his power, which soon after this turned stones into bread; but he would not. And why would he not? At first view, the thing appears justifiable enough, and the truth is, the more plausible a temptation is, and the greater appearance there is of good in it, the more dangerous it is. This matter would bear a dispute, but Christ was soon aware of the snake in the grass, and would not do any thing, First, That looked like questioning the truth of the voice he heard from heaven, or putting that upon a new trial which was already settled. Secondly, That looked like distrusting his Father's care of him, or limiting him to one particular way of providing for him. Thirdly, That looked like setting up for himself, and being his own carver; or, Fourthly, That looked like gratifying Satan, by doing a thing at his motion. Some would have said, To give the Devil his due, this was good counsel; but for those who wait upon God, to consult him, is more than his due; it is like enquiring of the god Ekron, when there is a God in Israel.
[2.] He was ready to reply to it (v. 4); He answered and said, It is written. This is observable, that Christ answered and baffled all the temptations of Satan with, It is written. He is himself the eternal Word, and could have produced the mind of God without having recourse to the writings of Moses; but he put honour upon the scripture, and, to set us an example, he appealed to what was written in the law; and he says this to Satan, taking it for granted that he knew well enough what was written. It is possible that those who are the Devil's children may yet know very well what is written in God's book; The devils believe and tremble. This method we must take when at any time we are tempted to sin; resist and repel the temptation with, It is written. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armoury (Eph. 6:17); and we may say of it as David of Goliath's sword, None is like that in our spiritual conflicts.
This answer, as all the rest, is taken out of the book of Deuteronomy, which signifies the second law, and in which there is very little ceremonial; the Levitical sacrifices and purifications could not drive away Satan, though of divine institution, much less holy water and the sign of the cross, which are of human invention; but moral precepts and evangelical promises, mixed with faith, these are mighty, through God, for the vanquishing of Satan. This is here quoted from Deu. 8:3, where the reason given why God fed the Israelites with manna is, because he would teach them that man shall not live by bread alone. This Christ applies to his own case. Israel was God's son, whom he called out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1), so was Christ (ch. 2:15); Israel was then in a wilderness, Christ was so now, perhaps the same wilderness. Now, First, The Devil would have him question his sonship, because he was in straits; no, says he, Israel was God's son, and a son he was very tender of and whose manners he bore (Acts 13:18); and yet he brought them into straits; and it follows there (Deu. 8:5), As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Christ, being a Son, thus learns obedience. Secondly, The Devil would have him distrust his Father's love and care. "No," says he, "that would be to do as Israel did, who, when they were in want, said, Is the Lord among us? and, Can he furnish a table in the wilderness? Can he give bread?" Thirdly, The Devil would have him, as soon as he began to be hungry, immediately looking out for supply; whereas God, for wise and holy ends, suffered Israel to hunger before he fed them; to humble them, and prove them. God will have his children, when they want, not only to wait on him, but to wait for him. Fourthly, The Devil would have him to supply himself with bread. "No," says Christ, "what need is there of that? It is a point long since settled, and incontestably proved, that man may live without bread, as Israel in the wilderness lived forty years upon manna." It is true, God in his providence ordinarily maintains men by bread out of the earth (Job 28:5); but he can, if he please, make use of other means to keep men alive; any word proceeding out of the mouth of God, any thing that God shall order and appoint for that end, will be a good a livelihood for man as bread, and will maintain him as well. As we may have bread, and yet not be nourished, if God deny his blessing (Hag. 1:6, 9; Mic. 6:14; for though bread is the staff of life, it is God's blessing that is the staff of bread), so we may want bread, and yet be nourished some other way. God sustains Moses and Elias without bread, and Christ himself just now for forty days; he sustained Israel with bread from heaven, angels' food; Elijah with bread sent miraculously by ravens, and another time with the widow's meal miraculously multiplied; therefore Christ need not turn stones into bread, but trust God to keep him alive some other way now that he is hungry, as he had done forty days before he hungred. Note, As in our great abundance we must not think to live without God, so in our greatest straits we must learn to live upon God; and when the fig-tree does not blossom, and the field yields no meat, when all ordinary means of succour and support are cut off, yet then we must rejoice in the Lord; then we must not think to command what we will, though contrary to his command, but must humbly pray for what he thinks fit to give us, and be thankful for the bread of our allowance, though it be a short allowance. Let us learn of Christ here to be at God's finding, rather than at our own; and not to take any irregular courses for our supply, when our wants are ever so pressing (Ps. 37:3). Jehovah-jireh; some way or other the Lord will provide. It is better to live poorly upon the fruits of God's goodness, than live plentifully upon the products of our own sin.
2. He tempted him to presume upon his Father's power and protection. See what a restless unwearied adversary the Devil is! If he fail in one assault, he tries another.
Now in this second attempt we may observe,
(1.) What the temptation was, and how it was managed. In general, finding Christ so confident of his Father's care of him, in point of nourishment, he endeavors to draw him to presume upon that care in point of safety. Note, We are in danger of missing our way, both on the right hand and on the left, and therefore must take heed, lest, when we avoid one extreme, we be brought by the artifices of Satan, to run into another; lest, by overcoming our prodigality, we fall into covetousness. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than those of despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Some who have obtained a persuasion that Christ is able and willing to save them from their sins, are then tempted to presume that he will save them in their sins. Thus when people begin to be zealous in religion, Satan hurries them into bigotry and intemperate heats.