Luke 12:16 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentThe design and scope of our Saviour in this parable, is to show men the vileness and vanity of the sin of covetousness, or an eager and insatiable desire after the things of this world. When men heap up riches, and lay up treasures in this life, taking no care to be rich towards God in faith and good works, our Saviour illustrates this by the parable of a rich man, whom God had blessed with great plenty, yet his desire of more wealth was never satisfied, but he is projecting how he may lay up goods in store for many years.
Where note, 1. That the parable does not intimate any indirect and unjust ways of gain which this man used to increase his estate, but condemns his insatiable desire and thirst after more.
So that hence we may learn, that an eager and inordinate desire after the things of this world, though it be free from injustice, and doing wrong to others, is one species, or kind, of the sin of covetousness.
Observe, 2. How this rich man looked no farther than himself, not looking upon himself as God's steward, but his own carver; he cries out, What shall I do because I have no room where to lay my fruits? Not considering that the houses of the poor should have been his granaries for the abundance of his increase. Charity to the necessitious is the best way of bestowing our abundance. God's extraordinary bounty is to be laid out for the relief of others' necessities, not for the gratifying of our own luxurious desires.
Observe, 3. The brand of infamy which the wise God fixes upon this covetous rich man: Thou fool, says God.
Learn thence, that it is an act and instance of the most egregious folly imaginable, for persons to spend their time and strength in getting and laying up treasure upon earth; in the mean time neglecting to be rich towards God in faith and good works: Thou fool.
Observe, 4. The doleful tidings and threatening news brought unto him: This night thy soul shall be required of thee.
Learn hence, 1. That a man's wealth is not able to preserve his life, much less to save his soul: and if wealth cannot save a man's life, why should men endanger their lives, no, hazard their souls, to get or increase wealth?
Learn, 2. That God takes away men's lives many times when they least suspect it: This night, says God; many years, says he. God will not have us think of rest in a place of disquiet, nor of certainty in a condition of inconstancy; we are dependent creatures, and our time is in God's hand: This night shall thy soul be taken away from thee.
Learn, 3. That the souls of ungodly men are taken from them by force and compulsion: Thy soul shall be required of thee. Good men have the same reluctances of nature which others have, yet they sweetly resign their souls into the hands of God in a dying hour; whereas a wicked man, though he sometimes dies by his own hand, yet he never dies with the consent of his own will; he chooses rather to eat dust (with the serpent) than to return to dust.
Observe, 4. The expostulatory question: Whose then shall those things be, which thou has provided?
Intimating, 1. That they should not be his: a man's wealth lasts no longer than his life, neither has he any longer the comfort of it: lay up gold, and it perishes with thee; but treasure up grace, and it shall accompany thee: Whose shall those things be? Not thine, undoubtedly.
Note, 2. As these things shall not be thine, when thou art gone, so thou knows not whose they shall be after thou art gone; whether they shall fall into the hand of a child or a stranger; of a wise man or a fool: the wealthiest man cannot be certain who shall be his heir, and whose goods his shall be.
Observe lastly, the application which our Saviour makes of this parable to his disciples: So is every one that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.
Learn hence, that such as are not rich in grace, rich in good works, shall find no benefit by, and take no comfort in all their worldly riches in the time of their greatest need, at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
Learn farther, how brutish and unworthy of a man it was, for this person to cheer up his soul with the hopes of worldly provisions, to bid his soul eat, drink, and be merry. Alas, the soul can no more eat, drink, and be merry with carnal things, than the body can with spiritual and immaterial things; it cannot feed upon bread that perishes; but bring it to a reconciled God in Christ, to the covenant of grace, and sweet promises of the gospel; set before it the joys and comforts of the Spirit; and if it be a sanctified and renewed soul, it can make a rich feast upon these. Spiritual things are proper food for spiritual souls; deservedly then is this person branded with the name of fool, for say, Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.