Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Matthew
Book: Matthew
Chapter: 2

The Wise men's search after Christ. (1-8) The Wise men Worship
Jesus. (9-12) Jesus carried into Egypt. (13-15) Herod causes the
infants of Bethlehem to be massacred. (16-18) Death of Herod,
Jesus brought to Nazareth. (19-23)

1-8 Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of
Grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of
Christ and his Salvation. But No Curious arts, or mere human
learning, can direct men unto him. We must learn of Christ By
attending to the Word of God, as a Light that shineth in a dark
place, and By seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit. And those
in whose hearts the Day-Star is risen, to give them any thing of
the knowledge of Christ, make it their business to Worship him.
Though Herod was very old, and never had shown Affection for his
family, and was not himself likely to live till a new-born
infant had grown up to manhood, he began to be troubled with the
dread of a rival. He understood not the spiritual nature of the
Messiah's kingdom. Let us beware of a dead Faith. A Man may be
persuaded of many truths, and yet may hate them, because they
interfere with his ambition, or sinful indulgences. Such a
belief will make him uneasy, and the more resolved to oppose the
Truth and the cause of God; and he may be foolish enough to Hope
for success therein.

9-12 What joy these Wise men felt upon this sight of the Star,
none know So Well as those who, after a long and melancholy
night of Temptation and desertion, under the power of a Spirit
of Bondage, at length receive the Spirit of Adoption, witnessing
with their spirits that they are the children of God. We may
Well think what a disappointment it was to them, when they found
a Cottage was his Palace, and his own Poor mother the only
attendant he had. However, these Wise men did not think
themselves baffled; but having found the King they sought, they
presented their Gifts to him. The humble inquirer after Christ
will not be stumbled at finding him and his disciples in obscure
cottages, after having in vain sought them in palaces and
populous cities. Is a soul busy, seeking after Christ? Would it
Worship him, and does it say, Alas! I am a foolish and Poor
Creature, and have nothing to offer? Nothing! Hast thou not a
Heart, though unworthy of him, dark, hard, and foul? Give it to
him as it is, and be willing that he use and dispose of it as it
pleases him; he will take it, and will make it better, and thou
shalt never repent having given it to him. He shall frame it to
his own likeness, and will give thee himself, and be thine for
ever. The Gifts the Wise men presented were Gold, Frankincense,
and Myrrh. Providence sent these as a seasonable relief to
Joseph and Mary in their present Poor condition. Thus our
heavenly Father, who knows what his children need, uses some as
stewards to supply the wants of others, and can provide for
them, even from the ends of the Earth.

13-15 Egypt had been a House of Bondage to Israel, and
particularly cruel to the infants of Israel; yet it is to be a
place of Refuge to the holy Child Jesus. God, when he pleases,
can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes. This
was a trial of the Faith of Joseph and Mary. But their Faith,
being tried, was found firm. If we and our infants are at any
time in trouble, let us remember the straits in which Christ was
when an infant.

16-18 Herod killed all the male children, not only in
Bethlehem, but in all the Villages of that City. Unbridled
wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd
cruelties. It was No unrighteous thing with God to permit this;
every Life is forfeited to his Justice as soon as it begins. The
diseases and deaths of little children are proofs of original
Sin. But the Murder of these infants was their martyrdom. How
early did Persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin!
Herod now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament
prophecies, and the efforts of the Wise men in finding Christ;
but whatever crafty, cruel devices are in men's hearts, the
counsel of the Lord shall stand.

19-23 Egypt may serve to sojourn in, or take shelter in, for
awhile, but not to abide in. Christ was sent to the lost Sheep
of the House of Israel, to them he must return. Did we but look
upon the world as our Egypt, the place of our Bondage and
banishment, and Heaven only as our Canaan, our home, our Rest,
we should as readily arise and depart thither, when we are
called for, as Joseph did out of Egypt. The family must settle
in Galilee. Nazareth was a place held in bad esteem, and Christ
was crucified with this accusation, Jesus the Nazarene. Wherever
Providence allots the bounds of our Habitation, we must expect
to share the reproach of Christ; yet we may Glory in being
called By his name, sure that if we suffer with him, we shall
also be glorified with him.