The Publican's Prayer
Luke 18:9-14
And he spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:…


1. The light of nature teaches man there is a God, a supreme Being, and Governor of the world. There is not a rational creature to be found upon the earth but admits this truth. And, hence, all attend to same kind of worship.

2. Revelation makes known to man the true God in His nature and attributes, and exhibits His conduct towards the children of men.

3. But we must remember that God is never savingly known, even by those who have the Volume of Divine revelation, by the unassisted powers of nature. Hence, in addition to Revelation, it is necessary that the mind be enlightened, in order to its perception of Divine truth. And to do this is the exclusive prerogative of the Holy Spirit.

II. THE SUBJECT OF HIS PETITION — "mercy"; and the description he gives of himself — "a sinner." "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

1. On the part of man, here are two things implied:(1) Misery. A sense of deep wretchedness, as being sunk in iniquity — totally depraved, and in every part polluted. The truly awakened sinner feels that he is spiritually diseased; and that, "from the crown of his head to the soul of his foot, he is wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores."(2) A deep sense of unworthiness. The truly contrite soul brings no qualifications; no merit, no sacrifice of his own; but comes as a sinner, and having for his only plea, the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.

2. There are also two things, in the exercise of mercy, on the part of God, which the spiritually enlightened sinner especially regards.

(1) Pity, or compassion. When the Holy Spirit brings the sinner to a saving knowledge of God, He enables him to look up to his heavenly Father, as the God of compassion.

(2) Pardon, or forgiveness. "I, even I," says God, "am He that pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin." The Holy Spirit teaches all true believers that the justice of God is for them, and on their side, as well as His mercy.


1. True humiliation for sin. Even after the manifestation of forgiving love, the man who enjoys it feels deeply humbled before God.

2. This prayer, when offered in a proper spirit, implies evangelical repentance. God says (Ezekiel 36:31).

3. This prayer implies submission to the righteous judgment of God.In conclusion, we learn from this subject —

1. That the ground (or cause) of a sinner's justification is out of himself.

2. Learn that no outward reformation, even though accompanied by the strictest attention to religious duties, can save the soul.

3. Learn that no sensible sinner, no humble penitent, need feel discouraged in approaching the God of mercy for pardon.

4. Learn, finally, to beware lest you make the mercy of God an excuse for your continuance in sin.

(T. Gibson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

WEB: He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others.

The Prayer of Pride
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