When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are in peace:…
The Divine conqueror is here represented as not destroying, but "dividing the spoil" — i.e., employing for His own cause and glory everything that, before the conquest, Satan had been using for his own evil purposes. Now, this is the overlooked and apparently unimportant point in the parable we wish practically to consider as setting forth this simple proposition — That Christ Jesus, in the victories of His grace, whether individual or universal, turns to His own advantage, and employs for His own glory, all those physical powers and intellectual endowments — that whole array of influence and engine which previously the great adversary had perverted and made powerful for evil.
I. We begin with the INDIVIDUAL, as certainly the most obvious reference of the lesson — the case of a sinful soul conquered by Christ in the process of regeneration. And thus it serves to rectify some wrong conceptions often entertained of the nature of regeneration. Here the representation of the great change wrought in the regenerated soul, is only a change in the sovereignty that overrules it. h change, not in the house's furniture and appointments, but in their uses and ownership. The stronger man has not come to destroy what was in the fortress, but to rescue it all from the hands of the strong man, and turn it to his own purposes. Those very endowments of reason, imagination, wit, wealth, power — acquirements which before were exercised sinfully, because without godliness — Christ would now employ for man's good and God's glory; not destroying but only "dividing the spoil." To be a Christian, is simply and truly to be the highest style of man — to have all the faculties and impulses of your nature lifted from the perishing things of earth. Oh, no; He would enter only to conquer and bind the despot that enslaves you — to unshutter the darkened windows, and let in heavenly aims, and odours, and sunshine; and, reviving in all their original beauty, and replacing in all their original glory, its magnificent adornments, transform it from the haunt of a demon to the home of a God! But now let us pass from the individual to consider —
II. THE TEXT'S WIDER AND UNIVERSAL APPLICATION. This satanic despotism over the human heart is in exact analogy with his despotism over the earth as man's dwelling-place. The Bible everywhere represents this fallen spirit as practically "the god of this world." But there is a day coming when "the strong man" shall be mastered by "one stronger than he." The kingdoms and dominions under the whole heavens are to become Immanuel's, and this world become manifestly again the abode of a universally acknowledged Jehovah. All this we are assured of. But then, we do not believe that, as a result of this, earth is suddenly to be transfigured, as into another planet. Here, in the universal as in the individual, we look for this great law of conquest — that, having bound the strong man and taken away his armour, our glorious Redeemer will not destroy the spoil, but will only "divide the spoil." We judge that the world, under Messiah's reign, will be the world as it is, only redeemed from sin and reestablished in, and filled with, all righteousness. Physically it will be the same world, but instead of working disobedience to the precepts of the Divine law, all natural agents and processes shall be consecrated to Christ; and holiness to the Lord "shall be written on the bells of the horses." Intellectually it will be the same world, and all sciences and arts flourish, and poetry see visions, and eloquence utter prophecies; but literature shall embalm with sweet spices the name of the Crucified, and science shall go forth along all its broad journeyings, only searching for God. Socially and politically, it will be the same; and though all despotisms shall cease, and every oppressor's rod be broken, yet, as under the old Hebrew theocracy different civil polities successively obtained, so then there may be all present forms of government. But high above finite magistracy shall rise one Omnipotent enthronement, and monarchs, and princes, and presidents, and mighty men shall be mighty men, and presidents, and kings unto God.
(C. Wadsworth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: