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Barnes' Notes - Commentary on Mark 2:23-28

Barnes' Notes on the New Testament on Mark 2:23-28

Verses 23-28. See Matthew 12:1-8. The corn fields. The fields sown with grain, wheat, or barley. The word corn, in the Bible, refers only to grain of that kind, and never to maize or Indian corn.

To pluck the ears of corn. They were hungry, (Matthew.) They therefore gathered the wheat, or barley, as they walked, and rubbed it in their hands to shell it, and thus to satisfy their appetite. Though our Lord was with them, and though he had all things at his control, yet he suffered them to resort to this method to supply their wants. When Jesus, thus with his disciples, suffered them to be poor, we may learn that poverty is not disgraceful; that God often suffers it for the good of his people; and that he will take care, in some way, that their wants shall be supplied. It was lawful for them thus to supply their wants. Though the property belonged to another, yet the law of Moses allowed the poor to satisfy theft wants when hungry. See Deuteronomy 23:25.

{t} "And it came" Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1
{u} "to pluck" Deuteronomy 23:25

Verse 24. That which is not lawful. That is, that which they esteemed to be unlawful on the sabbath day. It was made lawful by Moses, without any distinction of days; but they had denied its lawfulness on the sabbath. Christ shows them, from their own law, that it was not unlawful.

Verse 25. Have ye never read, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 12:3".

{v} "what David did" 1 Samuel 21:6

Verse 26. Abiathar the priest. From 1 Samuel 21:1, it appears that Ahimelech was high priest at the time here referred to. And from 1 Samuel 23:6, it appears that Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech. Some difficulty has been felt in reconciling these accounts. The probable reason why Mark says it was in the days of Abiathar, is that Abiathar was better known than Ahimelech. The son of the high priest was regarded as his successor, and was often associated with him in the duties of his office. It was not improper, therefore, to designate him as high priest, even during the life of his father, especially as that was the name by which he was afterwards known. Abiathar, moreover, in the calamitous times when David came to the throne, left the interest of Saul, and fled to David, bringing with him the ephod, one of the peculiar garments of the high priest. For a long time, during David's reign, he was high priest, and it became natural, therefore, to associate his name with that of David; to speak of David as king, and Abiathar the high priest of his time. This will account for the fact that he was spoken of, rather than his father. At the same time this was strictly true, that this was done in the days of Abiathar, who was afterwards high priest, and was familiarly spoken of as such; as we say that General Washington was present at the defeat of Braddock, and saved his army; though the title of general did not belong to him till many years afterwards.

Shewbread. See Barnes "Matthew 12:4".

{w} "shewbread" Exodus 29:32,33; Leviticus 24:9

Verse 27. The sabbath was made for man. For his rest from toil, his rest from the cares and anxieties of the world, to give an opportunity to call off his attention from earthly concerns, and to direct it to the affairs of eternity. It was a kind provision for man that he might refresh his body by relaxing his labours; that he might have undisturbed time to seek the consolations of religion to cheer him in the anxieties and sorrows of a troubled world; and that he might render to God that homage which is most justly due to him as the Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer of the world. And it is easily capable of proof, that no institution has been more signally blessed to man's welfare than the Christian Sabbath. To that we owe, more than to anything else, the peace and older of a civilized community. Where there is no Sabbath, there is ignorance, vice, disorder, and crime. On that holy day, the poor, and the ignorant, as well as the learned, have undisturbed time to learn the requirements of religion, the nature of morals, the law of God, and the way of salvation. On that day, man may offer his praises to the Great Giver of all good, and in the sanctuary seek the blessing of him whose favour is life. Where that day is observed in any manner as it should be, order prevails, morals are promoted, the poor are elevated in their condition, vice flies away, and the community puts on the appearance of neatness, industry, morality, and religion. The Sabbath was, therefore, pre-eminently intended for man's welfare, and the best interests of mankind demand that it should be sacredly regarded as an appointment of merciful heaven, intended for our best good; and, where improved aright, infallibly resulting in our temporal and eternal peace.

Not man for the sabbath. Man was made first, and then the Sabbath was appointed for his welfare, Genesis 2:1-3. The Sabbath was not first made or contemplated, and then the man made with reference to that. Since, therefore, the Sabbath was intended for man's real good, the law respecting it must not be interpreted so as to oppose his real welfare. It must be explained in consistency with a proper attention to the duties of mercy to the poor and the sick, and to those in peril. It must be, however, in accordance with man's real good on the whole, and with the law of God. The law of God contemplate man's real good on the whole; and we have no right, under the plea that the Sabbath was made for man, to do anything contrary to what the law of God admits. It would not be for our real good, but for our real and eternal injury, to devote the Sabbath to vice, to labour, or to amusement.

{x} "for man" Nehemiah 9:14; Isaiah 58:13; Ezekiel 20:12,20
{y} "Therefore" Colossians 2:16

Verse 28. Therefore the Son of man, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 12:8".

{z} "Therefore the Son" John 9:14; Ephesians 1:22; Revelation 1:10

Bibliography Information:

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 2". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament".

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