Daily Thought for: 13th October

SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN

Matthew 15. 21-28; Mark 7. 24-30

The Lord’s encounter with this remarkable woman appears to have taken place on the only occasion that the Lord moved out of Jewish territory and into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. This Canaanite woman approached the Saviour and asked Him to heal her demon-possessed daughter. It is important to realise that this woman was a Gentile. As a Gentile, she did not enjoy the same privileges as God’s chosen people. 

As the incident unfolds, so does the woman’s character and faith. From the agony of this mother’s heart, she cried for mercy, addressing the Lord as, ‘O Lord, thou Son of David’. A Gentile had no right to use this title and to approach Him on the grounds that He was the Jew’s Messiah. 

This is probably the reason why the Lord was silent, and the disciples wanted to send her away. Then the Lord explained that He was sent only to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. The woman was still persistent, however. If she could not come to Him as a Jew to her Messiah, then undeterred she would come as a suppliant to the Sovereign. This time, she dropped the title, ‘Son of David’, and came and worshipped Him saying, ‘Lord, help me’, Matt. 15. 25. 

To probe further the reality of her faith, the Lord told her that it was not good for Him to turn aside from feeding the Jewish children in order to give bread to Gentile dogs. If initially this seems somewhat harsh, we need to understand that the Jews looked upon the Gentiles as scavenging dogs, but the Lord used the word for ‘dog’ that would suggest a pet rather than an aggressive, scavenging cur. 

The woman’s answer was startling and she completely acknowledged her unworthiness. She accepted herself as one of the little dogs under the table, and at the same time commented that sometimes crumbs fall from the master’s table to the floor so that the dogs benefit thereby. 

This answer reveals so much about the poor woman’s character, and humility of spirit. The Lord recognised and rewarded her ‘great faith’, Matt. 15. 28, and her daughter was healed that very hour. 

 

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