The Lord's Prayer
By Thomas Watson
The Fourth Petition in the Lord's Prayer
"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11
In this petition there are two things observable—the order, and the
I. The ORDER of the prayer. First, we pray,
"Hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, may your will be done,"
before we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." God's glory ought to
weigh down all before it; it must be preferred before our dearest concerns.
Christ preferred his Father's glory before his own as he was man. "I honor
my Father, I seek not my own glory." John 8:49, 50. God's glory is that
which is most dear to him; it is the apple of his eye; all his riches lie
here. As Micah said, "What more have I" (Judges 18:24)—so I may say of God's
glory, what more has he? His glory is the most orient pearl of his
crown—which he will not part with. "My glory I will not give to another."
Isaiah 42:8. God's glory is more worth than heaven, more worth than the
salvation of all men's souls. It is better that kingdoms be demolished,
better men and angels be annihilated—than God lose any part of his glory!
We are to prefer God's glory before our nearest concerns.
But before we prefer God's glory to our private concerns—we must be born
again. The natural man seeks his own personal interest before God's glory.
He is "of the earth, earthly." John 3:31. Let him have peace and trading,
let the rock pour out rivers of oil—and let God's glory go which way it
will, he minds it not. A worm cannot fly and sing as a lark. Just so, a
natural man, whose heart creeps upon the earth, cannot admire God, or
advance his glory, as a man elevated by grace does.
Use. For trial. Do we prefer God's glory
before our private concerns?
(1) We must prefer God's glory before our own REPUTATION.
Reputation is a highly valued jewel; like precious ointment, it
casts a fragrant smell. But God's glory must be dearer than credit or
applause. We must be willing to have our reputation trampled upon, that
God's glory may be raised higher. The apostles rejoiced "that they were
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name;" that they were graced, so far
as to be disgraced for Christ. Acts 5:41.
(2) We must prefer God's glory before our RELATIONS.
Relations are dear, they are of our own flesh and bones; but God's glory
must be dearer. "If any man comes to me, and hates not his father and
mother—he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26. Here hatred towards one's own
kin is devotion towards God. "If my friends," says Jerome, "should persuade
me to deny Christ, if my wife should hang about my neck, I would trample
upon all and flee to Christ."
(3) We must prefer God's glory before ESTATE.
Gold is but shining dust. God's glory must weigh heavier. If it comes
to this—I cannot keep my place of profit, but God's glory will be eclipsed—I
must rather suffer in my estate than God's glory should suffer. Heb 10:34.
(4) We must prefer God's glory before our LIFE.
"They loved not their lives unto the death." Rev 12:2. Ignatius called his
fetters his spiritual jewels; he wore them as a chain of pearl.
Gordius the martyr, said, "It is to my loss, if you bate me anything of my
sufferings." This argues grace to be growing and elevated in a high degree.
Who but a soul inflamed with love to God—can set God highest on the throne,
and prefer him above all private concerns?
II. The MATTER of the petition. "Give us this
day our daily bread." The sum of this petition is, that God would give us
such a competency in outward things, as he sees most excellent for us. It is
much like that prayer of Augur, "Feed me with necessary food;" give me
enough until I come to heaven, and it suffices. Proverbs 30:8.
Let me explain the words.
 "Give us this day
our daily bread." The good things of this life are the gifts of God; he is
the donor of all our blessings. "Give us." Not faith only—but food
is the gift of God; not daily grace only is from God—but "daily
bread." Every good thing comes from God. "Every good gift is from
above, and comes down from the Father of lights." James 1:17. Wisdom
is the gift of God. "His God instructs him to discretion." Isaiah 28:26.
Riches are the gift of God. "I will give you riches." 2 Chron 1:12.
Peace is the gift of God. "He makes peace in your borders." Psalm
147:14. Health, which is the cream of life, is the gift of God. "I
will restore health unto you." Jer 30:17. Rain is the gift of God.
"Who gives rain upon the earth." Job 5:10. All comes from God; he makes the
grain to grow, and the herbs to flourish.
(1) See our own poverty and indigence. We all
live upon alms and upon free gifts—"Give us this day our daily bread." All
we have is from the hand of God's royal bounty; we have nothing but what he
gives us out of his storehouse. We cannot have one bit of bread but from
God. The devil persuaded our first parents, that by disobeying God, they
should "be as gods;" but we may now see what goodly gods we are, that we
have not a bit of bread to put in our mouths unless God give it us. Gen 3:5.
That is a humbling consideration.
(2) Is all a gift? Then we are to seek every mercy from
God by prayer. "Give us this day." The tree of mercy will not
drop its fruit unless shaken by the hand of prayer. Whatever we have, if it
does not come in the way of prayer, it does not come in the way of love; it
is given, as Israel's quails, in anger. If everything is a gift, we
do not deserve it, we are not fit for this alms. And must we go to God for
every mercy? How wicked are they, who, instead of going to God for food when
they want, go to the devil, and make a compact with him; and if he will help
them to a livelihood, they will give him their souls! Better starve than go
to the devil for provision.
(3) If all be a gift, then it is not a debt,
and we cannot say to God as that creditor who said, "Pay me what you owe."
Matthew 18:28. Who can make God a debtor, or do any act that is obliging and
meritorious? Whatever we receive from God is a gift; we can give nothing to
him but what he has given to us. "All things come of you, and of your own
have we given you." 1 Chron 29:14. David and his people offered to the
building of God's house gold and silver—but they offered nothing but what
God had given them. "Of your own have we given you." If we love God, it is
he who has given us a heart to love him; if we praise him, he both gives us
the organ of tongue, and puts it in tune; if we give alms to others, he has
given alms to us first—so that we may say, "We offer, O Lord, of your own to
you." Is all of gift, how absurd, then, is the doctrine of salvation by
merit? That was a proud speech of the friar, who said, "give me, Lord
eternal life, which you owe me." We cannot deserve a bit of bread, much less
a crown of glory. If all is a gift, then merit is exploded, and shut out of
(4) If all is a gift—then take notice of God's goodness.
There is nothing in us that can deserve or requite God's kindness; yet such
is the sweetness of his nature, that he gives us rich provision, and feeds
us with the finest of the wheat. Pindar says it was an opinion of the people
of Rhodes that Jupiter rained down gold upon the city. God has rained down
golden mercies upon us; he is upon the giving hand. Observe three things in
 He is never weary of giving. The springs
of his mercy are ever running. He not only dispensed blessings in former
ages—but he gives gifts to us; as the sun not only enriches the world with
its morning light—but keeps light for the meridian. The honeycomb of God's
bounty is still dropping.
 He delights in giving. "He delights in
mercy." Mic 7:18. As the mother delights to give the child the breast, God
loves that we should have the breast of mercy in our mouth.
 God gives to his very enemies. Who will
send in provisions to his enemies? Men spread nets for their enemies,
God spreads a table. The dew drops on the thistle, as well as the
rose; the dew of God's bounty drops upon the worst. God puts bread in the
mouths that are opened against him. Oh, the royal bounty of God! "The
goodness of God endures continually." Psalm 52:1. He puts jewels upon
swinish sinners, and feeds them every day.
(5) If all is a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men
who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they
fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him
affronts. How vile is this! Should we not cry shame on him who had a
friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure
him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget
his mercies—but abuse them. "When I had fed them to the full, they
then committed adultery." Jer 5:7. Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a
bountiful God—to bite the hand that feeds us! How many make a dart of God's
mercies—and shoot at him! He gives them wit, and they serve the devil with
it; he gives them strength, and they waste it among harlots; he gives them
bread to eat, and they lift up the heel against him. "Jeshurun waxed fat and
kicked." Deut 32:15. They are like Absalom, who, as soon as David his father
kissed him, plotted treason against him. 2 Samuel 15:10. They are like the
mule who kicks the mother after she has given it milk. Those who sin against
their giver, and abuse God's royal favors—the mercies of God will come in as
witnesses against them. What smoother than oil? But if it is heated, what
more scalding? What sweeter than mercy? But if it is abused, what more
dreadful? It turns to fury!
(6) If God gives us all, let his giving excite us to
thanksgiving. He is the founder and donor of all our blessings,
and should have all our acknowledgements. "Unto the place from whence the
rivers come, there they return again." Eccl 1:7. All our gifts come from
God, and to him must all our praises return. We are apt to burn incense to
our own net, to attribute all we have to our own second causes. Hab 1:16.
 Our own skill and industry. God is the
giver; he gives daily bread. Psalm 136:25; he gives riches. "It is he who
gives you power to get wealth." Deut 8:18. Or,
 We often ascribe the praise to second causes and
forget God. If friends have bestowed an estate, we look at them
and admire them—but not God who is the great giver. This is as if one should
be thankful to the servant, and never take notice of the master of the
family who provides all. Oh, if God gives all, our eye-sight, our food, our
clothing, let us sacrifice the chief praise to him; let not God be a loser
by his mercies. Praise is the more illustrious part of God's worship. Our
needs may send us to prayer, nature may make us beg daily bread; but it
shows a heart full of sincerity and grace, to be rendering praises to God.
In petition we act like men, in praise we act like angels.
Does God sow seeds of mercy? Let thankfulness be the crop
we bring forth. We are called the temples of God, and where should God's
praises be sounded forth, but in his temples? 1 Cor 3:16; "While I live will
I praise the Lord, I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being."
Psalm 146:2. God gives us daily bread, let us give him daily praise.
Thankfulness to our donor is the best policy; there is nothing lost by it.
To be thankful for one mercy is the way to have more. Musicians love to
sound their trumpets where there is the best echo, and God loves to bestow
his mercies where there is the best echo of praise.
Offering the calves of our lips is not enough—but we must
show our thankfulness by improving the gifts which God gives us, and as it
were putting them out to use. God gives us an estate, and we honor the Lord
with our substance. Proverbs 3:9. He gives us the staff of bread, and we lay
out the strength we receive by it in his service; this is to be thankful;
and that we may be thankful, let us be humble. Pride stops the
current of gratitude. A proud man will never be thankful; he looks upon all
he has either to be of his own procuring or deserving. Let us see that all
that we have is God's gift, and how unworthy we are to receive the least
favor; and this will make us much in doxology and gratitude; we shall be
silver trumpets sounding forth God's praise.
 Thus we argue from the word "Give", that the good
things of this life are the gifts of God. He is the founder and
donor of all good things. We also learn, that it is lawful to pray for
temporal things. We may pray for daily bread. "Feed me with the food
I need." Proverbs 30:8. We may pray for health. "O Lord, heal me; for
my bones are vexed." Psalm 6:2. As these are in themselves good things—so
they are useful for us; they are as needful for preserving the comfort of
life, as oil is needful for preserving the lamp from going out. Only let me
insert two things:
(1) There is a great difference between praying for
temporal things and spiritual things. In praying for spiritual
things we must be absolute. When we pray for pardon of sin, and the favor of
God, and the sanctifying graces of the Spirit, which are indispensably
necessary to salvation, we must take no denial; but when we pray for
temporal things, our prayers must be limited; we must pray conditionally—so
far as God sees them good for us. He sometimes sees cause to withhold
temporal things from us—when they would be snares, and draw our hearts from
him; therefore we should pray for these things with submission to God's
will. It was Israel's sin that they would be peremptory and absolute in
their desire for temporal things; God's provisions did not please them, they
must have dainties. "Who shall give us flesh to eat?" Numb 11:18. God has
given them manna, he fed them with a miracle from heaven—but their wanton
palates craved more—they must have quail. God let them have their desire—but
they had sour sauce with their quail. "While their food was yet in
their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them and slew them!" Psalm 78:31.
Rachel was importunate in her desires for a child. "Give me children, or I
die;" God let her have a child—but it was a Ben-oni, a son of my
sorrow; it cost her her life in bringing forth. Gen 30:1; Gen 35:18. We must
pray for outward things with submission to God's will, else they come in
(2) When we pray for things pertaining to this life, we
must desire temporal things for spiritual ends; we must desire these things
to be as helps in our journey to heaven. If we pray for health—it
must be that we may improve this talent of health for God's glory, and may
be fitter for his service. If we pray for a competency of estate—it must be
for a holy end, that we may be kept from the temptations which poverty
usually exposes to, and that we may be in a better capacity to sow the
golden seeds of charity, and relieve such as are in need. Temporal things
must be prayed for for spiritual ends. Hannah prayed for a child—but it was
for this end—that her child might be devoted to God. "O Lord, if you will
remember me, and will give unto your handmaid a child, then I will give him
unto the Lord all the days of his life." 1 Sam 1:11. Many pray for outward
things only to gratify their sensual appetites, as the ravens cry for food.
Psalm 147:9. To pray for outward things only to satisfy nature, is to cry
rather like ravens than Christians. We must have a higher end in our
prayers, we must aim at heaven, while we are praying for earth.
Must we pray for temporal things for spiritual ends, that
we may be fitter to serve God? Then how wicked are those who beg temporal
mercies that they may be more enabled to sin against God! "You ask that you
may consume it upon your lusts!" James 4:3. One man is sick, and he prays
for health that he may be among his cups and harlots! Another prays for an
estate; he would not only have his belly filled—but his barns; and he would
be rich that he may raise his name, or that, having more power in his hand,
he may now take a fuller revenge on his enemies. It is impiety joined
with impudence, to pray to God to give us temporal things, that we
may be the better enabled to serve the devil.
If we are to pray for temporal things, how much
more for spiritual things? If we are to pray for bread, how much more
for the bread of life? If for oil, how much more for the oil of gladness? If
to have our hunger satisfied, much more should we pray to have our souls
saved. Alas! what if God should hear our prayers, and grant us these
temporal things and no more—how would we be the better? What is it to have
food—and lack grace? What is it to have the back clothed—and
the soul naked? To have a rich land—and lack the living springs in Christ's
blood—what comfort could that be? O therefore let us be earnest for
spiritual mercies! Lord, not only feed me—but sanctify me!
Give me rather a heart full of grace—than a house full of gold.
If we are to pray for daily bread, the things of this life—much more should
we pray for the things of the life that is to come.
Some may say we have an estate already, and what need we
pray, "Give us daily bread"?
Supposing we have a plentiful estate—yet we need make the
petition, "Give us daily bread;" and that upon a double account.
(1) That we may have a blessing upon our food, and
all that we enjoy. "I will bless her provision." Psalm 132:15. "Man shall
not live by bread alone—but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of
God." Matthew 4:4. What is that but a word of blessing? Though the bread
is in our hand—yet the blessing is in God's hand—and it must be
fetched out of his hand by prayer! Well, therefore, may rich men pray, "Give
us our bread," let it be seasoned with a blessing. If God should withhold a
blessing, nothing we have would do us good; our clothes would not warm us,
our food would not nourish us. "He gave them their request—but sent leanness
into their soul;" that is, they pined away, and their food did not nourish
them. Psalm 106:15. If God should withhold a blessing, what we eat would
turn to bad effect, and hasten death. If God does not bless our riches, they
will do us more hurt than good. "Riches kept for the owners thereof to their
hurt." Eccl 5:13. So that, granting we have plentiful estates—yet we had
need pray, "Give us our bread;" let us have a blessing of what we have.
(2) Though we have estates—yet we had need pray—that we
may hereby engage God to continue these comforts to us. How many casualties
may fall out! How many have had grain in their barn, and a fire has come on
suddenly, and consumed all! How many have had losses at sea, and great
estates boiled away to nothing! "I went out full, and the Lord has brought
me home again empty." Ruth 1:21. Therefore, though we have estates—yet we
had need pray, "Give us;" Lord, give us a continuance of these comforts,
that they may not, before we are aware, take wings and fly from us. So much
for the first word in the petition, Give.
 Secondly, "Give us."
Why do we pray in the plural, "Give us"? Why is it not
said, give me?
To show that we are to have a public spirit in prayer. We
must not only pray for ourselves—but others. Both the law of God and the law
of love bind us to this, we must love our neighbor as ourselves; therefore
we must pray for them as well as ourselves. Every good Christian has a
fellow-feeling of the needs and miseries of others, and he prays God would
extend his bounty to them; especially he prays for the saints. "Praying
always for all saints." Eph 6:18. These are children of the family.
Use 1. Should we have a public spirit in
prayer? It reproves narrow spirited men who move within their own sphere
only; who look only at themselves, and mind not the case of others; who
leave others out of their prayers. If they have daily bread, they care not
though others starve; if they are clothed, they care not though others go
naked. Christ taught us to pray for others, to say, "Give us;" but selfish
people are shut up within themselves, as the snail in the shell, and never
speak a word in prayer for others. These have no commiseration or pity.
Use 2. Let us pray for others as well as for
ourselves. [A godly man benefits others as much as himself.] Spiders work
only for themselves—but bees for the good of others. The more excellent
anything is, the more it operates for the good of others. Springs refresh
others with their crystal streams; the sun enlightens others with its golden
beams. Likewise, the more a Christian is ennobled with grace, the more he
besieges heaven with his prayers for others. If we are members of the body
of Christ, we cannot but have a sympathy with others in their needs; and
this sympathy would lead us to pray for them. David had a public spirit in
prayer. "Do good, O Lord, unto those that are good." Psalm 125:4. Though he
begins the Psalm with prayer for himself, "Have mercy upon me, O God," yet
he ends the Psalm with prayer for others. "Do good in your good pleasure
unto Zion." Psalm 51:1, 18.
Use 3. It is matter of comfort to the godly,
who are but low in the world, that they have the prayers of God's people for
them; who pray not only for the increase of their faith—but their food, that
God will give them "daily bread." He is likely to be rich, who has several
stocks going. Just so, they are in a likely way to thrive, who have the
prayers of the saints going for them in several parts of the world.
 The third word in the petition is
"This day." We pray not give us bread
for a month or a year—but a day. "Give us this day."
Is it not lawful to lay up for the future? Does not the
apostle say, that he who provides not for his family, "is worse than an
infidel"? 1 Tim 5:8.
True, it is lawful to lay up for posterity; but our
Savior has taught us to pray, "Give us this day our bread," for two reasons:
(1) That we should not have anxious care for the future.
We should torment ourselves how to lay up great estates; if we have but
enough to supply for the present—it should suffice. "Give us this day."
"Don’t worry about tomorrow." Matthew 6:34. God fed Israel with manna in the
wilderness, and he fed them from hand to mouth. Sometimes all their manna
was spent; and if anyone had asked them where they would have their
breakfast next morning, they would have said, "Our care is only for the day:
God will rain down whatever manna we need. If we have bread today, let us
not distrust God's providence for the future."
(2) Our Savior will have us pray, "Give us bread this
day," to teach us to live every day as if it were our last. We are not to
pray, Give us bread tomorrow, because we do not know whether we shall live
until tomorrow; but, "Lord, give us this day;" it may be the last day
we shall live, and then we shall need no more.
If we pray for bread for a day only, then you who have
great estates have cause to be thankful. You have more than you pray
for; you pray but for bread for one day, and God has given you enough to
suffice all your life. What a bountiful God do you serve! Two things should
make rich men thankful. (1) God gives them more than they deserve. (2) He
gives them more than they pray for.
 The fourth thing in the petition is,
Why is it called "Our bread," when it is not ours—but
(1) We must understand it in a qualified sense; it is our
bread, being gotten by honest industry. There are two sorts of bread that
cannot properly be called our bread: the bread of idleness and the
bread of violence.
The bread of idleness. "She eats not the bread of
idleness." Proverbs 31:27, An idle person lives at the cost of others. "His
hands refuse to labor." Proverbs 21:25. We must not be as the drones, which
eat the honey that other bees have brought into the hive. If we eat the
bread of idleness, it is not our own bread. "There are some who walk
disorderly, working not at all; such we command that they work, and eat
their own bread." 2 Thess 3:11, 12. The apostle gives this hint, that such
as live idly do not eat their own bread.
The bread of violence. We cannot call that "our
bread" which is taken away from others; that which is gotten by stealth or
fraud, or any manner of extortion, is not "our bread," it belongs to
another. He who is a bird of prey, who takes away the bread of the widow and
fatherless, eats the bread which is not his, nor can he pray for a blessing
upon it. Can he pray God to bless that which he has gotten unjustly?
(2) It is called our bread by virtue of our title to it.
There is a twofold title to bread.  A spiritual title. In and by Christ
we have a right to the creature, and may call it "our bread." As we are
believers we have the best title to earthly things. "All things are yours;"
by what title? "you are Christ's." 1 Cor 3:23.  A civil title, which the
law confers on us. To deny men a civil right to their possessions, and make
all common, opens the door to anarchy and confusion.
See the privilege of believers. They have both a
spiritual and a civil right to what they possess. Those who can say, "our
Father," can say "our bread." Wicked men that have a legal right to
what they possess—but not a covenant right; they have it by
providence, not by promise; with God's permission, not
with his love. Wicked men are in God's eye no better than usurpers;
all they have, their money and land, is like cloth taken up at the draper's,
which is not paid for; but the sweet privilege of believers is, that they
can say, "our bread." Christ being theirs—all is theirs. Oh, how sweet is
every bit of bread dipped in Christ's blood! How well does that food relish,
which is a pledge of more! The meal in the barrel is a pledge of our angels'
food in paradise. It is the privilege of saints to have a right to earth and
 The fifth and last thing in this petition is, the
thing we pray for, "daily bread."
What is meant by bread?
Bread here, by a synecdoche, [the particular for the
whole class], is put for all the temporal blessings of this life, food,
fuel, clothing, etc. [Whatever serves for our well-being.] Augustine.
Whatever may serve for necessity or sober delight.
Learn to be contented with the allowance which God gives.
If we have the necessities of life-let us rest satisfied. We pray but for
bread, "Give us our daily bread;" we do not pray for superfluities, nor for
quails or venison—but for bread which may support life. Though we have not
so much as others—so full a crop—so rich an estate—yet if we have the staff
of bread to keep us from falling, let us be content. "If we have food and
clothing, we will be content with that." 1 Timothy 6:8. Most people are
herein faulty. Though they pray that God would give them bread, as much as
he sees expedient for them—yet they are not content with his allowance—but
greedily covet more, and with the daughters of the horse-leech, cry, "Give,
give." Proverbs 30:15. This is a vice naturally engrafted in us.
Many pray Agur's first prayer, "Give me not poverty," but
few pray his last prayer, "Give me not riches." Proverbs 30:8. They are not
content with "daily bread," but have the cancer of covetousness; they are
still craving for more. "Who enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death,
and cannot be satisfied." Hab 2:5. There are, says Agur, four things which
are never satisfied: the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the
blazing fire. And I may add a fifth thing—the heart of a covetous man.
Such as are not content with daily bread—but thirst
insatiably after more, will break over the hedge of God's command; and to
get riches will stick at no sin. Therefore covetousness is called a
radical vice. "The root of all evil." 1 Tim 6:10. [Oh cursed hunger for
gold, to what do you not drive the hearts of men?] The Greek word for
covetousness, signifies an inordinate desire of getting. Covetousness is not
only in getting riches unjustly—but in loving them inordinately, which is a
key that opens the door to all sin. It causes:
(1) Covetousness causes theft. Achan's covetous
heart made him steal the wedge of gold—which cleft asunder his soul from
God. Josh 7:21.
(2) Covetousness causes treason. What made Judas
betray Christ? It was the thirty pieces of silver! Matthew 26:15.
(3) Covetousness causes murder. It was the
inordinate love of the vineyard that made Ahab conspire Naboth's death. 1
(4) It is the root of perjury. Men shall be
covetous; and it follows, truce-breakers. 2 Tim 3:23. Love of silver will
make men take a false oath, and break a just oath.
(5) Covetousness is the spring of apostasy. "Demas
has forsaken me, having loved this present world." 2 Tim 4:10. He not only
forsook Paul's company—but his doctrine. Demas afterwards became a priest in
an idol-temple, according to Dorotheus.
(6) Covetousness will make men idolaters.
"Covetousness which is idolatry." Col 3:5. Though the covetous man will not
worship graven images in the church—yet he will worship the graven image in
(7) Covetousness makes men give themselves to the devil.
Pope Sylvester II sold his soul to the devil for a popedom. Covetous people
forget the prayer, "Give us daily bread." They are not content with that
which may satisfy nature—but are insatiable in their desire. O let us take
heed of this cancer of covetousness! Keep your lives free from the love of
money and be content with what you have." Heb 13:5.
Use. That we may be content with "daily
bread," that which God in his providence carves out to us, and not covet or
murmur—take the following considerations:
(1) God can bless a little. "He shall bless
your bread and your water." Exod. 23:25. A blessing puts
sweetness into the least morsel of bread, it is like sugar in wine. "I will
bless her provision." Psalm 132:15. Daniel, and the three Hebrew children,
ate a diet of vegetables and water—and yet they looked fairer than those who
ate of the king's food. Dan 1:12, 15. Whence was this? God infused a more
than ordinary blessing into the vegetables and water. His blessing was
better than the king's venison. A piece of bread with God's love—is angels'
(2) God, who gives us our allowance, knows what quantity
of outward things is fittest for us. A smaller provision may be
fitter for some; bread may be better than dainties. Everyone cannot bear a
high condition, any more than a weak brain can bear heavy wine. Has any one
a larger proportion of worldly things? God sees he can better manage such a
condition; he can order his affairs with discretion, which perhaps another
cannot. As he has a large estate—so he has a large heart to do good, which
perhaps another has not. This should make us content with a shorter bill of
fare. God's wisdom is what we must acquiesce in; he sees what is best for
everyone. That which is good for one, may be bad for another.
(3) In being content with daily bread, though less than
others have, much grace is seen. All the graces act their part in
a contented soul. As the holy ointment was made up of several spices, myrrh,
cinnamon, and cassia—so contentment has in it a mixture of several graces.
Exod 30:23. There is faith. A Christian believes that God does all
for the best. There is love, which thinks no evil—but takes all God
does in good part. There is patience, submitting cheerfully to what
God orders wisely. God is much pleased to see so many graces at once sweetly
exercised, like so many bright stars shining in a constellation.
(4) To be content with daily bread, though but sparing,
keeps us from many temptations which discontented people fall into.
When the devil sees a person discontented with daily bread, he says,
"Here is good fishing for me!" Satan often tempts discontented ones to
murmuring, and to unlawful means, cozening and defrauding; and he who
increases an estate by indirect means, stuffs his pillow with thorns—so that
his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die. If you would be freed
from the temptations which discontent exposes to, be content with such
things as you have—thank God for "daily bread."
(5) What a rare and admirable thing is it to be content
with "daily bread," though it be coarse, and though there be but little of
it! Though a Christian has but a little meal in the barrel—yet he
has that which gives him contentment. What he has not in the cupboard, he
has in the promise. That bit of bread he has, is with the love of God, and
that sauce makes it taste sweet. The little oil in the cruse is a pledge of
the dainties he shall have in the kingdom of God, and this makes him
content. What a rare and wonderful thing is this! It is no wonder to be
content in heaven, when we are at the fountain-head, and have all things we
can desire; but to be content when God keeps us to short fare, and we have
scarcely "daily bread," is a wonder indeed. When grace is crowning,
it is no wonder to be content; but when grace is conflicting with
straits, to be content is a glorious thing, and deserves the garland of
(6) To make us content with "daily bread," though God
straitens us in our allowance, think seriously of the danger there is in a
high, prosperous condition. Some are not content with "daily
bread," but desire to have their barns filled, and heap up silver as dust;
which proves a snare to them. "Those who will be rich fall into a snare." 1
Tim 6:9. Pride, idleness, and lust—are three worms which usually breed in
prosperity. Prosperity often deafens the ear against God. "I spoke unto
you in your prosperity—but you said, I will not hear." Jer 22:21. Soft
pleasures harden the heart. In the body, the more fat—the less vitality.
Just so, the more outward plenty—often the less piety. Prosperity has its
honey—and also its sting; like the full of the moon—it makes many lunatic.
The pastures of prosperity are idleness and excess. Anxious care
is the evil spirit which haunts the rich man, and will not let him rest.
When his chests are full of money, his heart is full of care, either how to
manage or how to increase, or how to secure what he has
gotten. Sunshine is pleasant—but sometimes it scorches.
Should it not make us content with that allowance which
God gives—if we have daily bread, though not dainties? Think
of the danger of prosperity! The spreading of a full table may be the
spreading of a snare! Many have been sunk to hell with golden weights. The
ferry-man takes in all passengers, that he may increase his fare, and
sometimes to the sinking of his boat. "People who want to get rich fall into
temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge
men into ruin and destruction." 1 Tim 6:9. The world's golden sands
are quicksands, which should make us take our daily bread, though it be but
coarse, contentedly. What if we have less prosperity—we have less snare. As
we lack the rich provisions of the world—so we lack their temptations.
(7) If God keeps us to a spare diet—if he gives us less
temporal things—he has made it up in spiritual things. He has
given us the Pearl of great price, and the holy anointing of the Spirit. The
pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus—is the quintessence of all good things.
To give us Christ, is more than if God had given us all the world. He can
make more worlds—but he has no more Christs to bestow. Christ is such a
golden mine, that the angels cannot dig to the bottom! His riches are
unsearchable! Eph 3:8. From Christ we may have justification, adoption, and
glorification. "The sea of God's mercy in giving us Christ," says Luther,
"should swallow up all our needs!"
God has anointed us with the graces, the holy unction of
his Spirit. Grace is a seed of God, a blossom of eternity. The graces are
the impressions of the divine nature, stars to enlighten us, spices to
perfume us, diamonds to enrich us! And if God has adorned the hidden man of
the heart with these sacred jewels, it may well make us content, though we
have but short fare, and that coarse too. God has given his people better
things than corn and wine; he has given those who which he cannot give in
anger, and which cannot stand with reprobation, and they may say as David,
"The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly
heritage." Psalm 16:6. Didimus was a blind man—but very holy; Anthony asked
him, if he was not troubled for the lack of his eyes, and he told him he
was; Anthony replied, "Why are you troubled? You lack that which flies and
birds have—but you have that which angels have." So I say to Christians, if
God has not given you the purse, he has given you his Spirit. If you lack
that which rich men have, God has given you that which angels have, and are
you not content?
(8) If you have but daily bread enough to suffice nature,
be content. Consider that it is not having an abundance, which
us content. It is not a fancy cage which will make the
bird sing. Having only the necessities of life may bring contentment, when
having more may make one less contentment. A staff may help the traveler—but
a bundle of staffs will be a burden to him. A great estate may be like a
long trailing garment, more burdensome than useful. Many that have great
incomes and revenues, have not so much comfort and contentment in their
lives, as some that go to hard labor. "Keep your lives free from the love of
money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I
leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
(9) If you have less daily bread, you will have less
account to give. The riches and honors of this world, make a
great show, and with their glistening, dazzle men's eyes. But they do not
consider the great account they must give to God. "Give an account of
your stewardship!" Luke 16:2. What good have you done with your estate? Have
you, as a good steward, traded your golden talents for God's glory? Have you
honored the Lord with your substance? The greater the revenues—the greater
the reckonings. Let it quiet and content us, that if we have but little
daily bread—that our account will be less.
(10) You who have but a small competence in outward
things, may be content to consider how much you look for hereafter.
God keeps the best wine until last. What though now you have a
small pittance, and are fed from hand to mouth? You look for an eternal
reward, white robes, sparkling crowns, rivers of pleasure. A son is content
though his father gives him a little money but now and then, as long as he
expects his father should settle all his wealthy estate upon him at last.
Just so, if God gives you but little at present—yet you look for that glory
which eye has not seen. The world is but a great inn. If God gives you
sufficient to pay for your charges in your inn, you may be content, you
shall have enough when you come to your own country.
How may we be content, though God cut us short in these
externals; though we have but little daily bread, and coarse?
(1) Realize that some have been much lower than you, who
have been better than you. Jacob, a holy patriarch, went
over Jordan with his staff, and lived in a poor condition a long time; he
had the clouds for his canopy, and a stone for his pillow. Moses, who
might have been rich, as some historians say, that Pharaoh's daughter
adopted him for her son, because king Pharaoh had no heir, and so Moses was
likely to have come to the crown—yet leaving the honors of the court, in
what a low, poor condition did he live in, when he went to Jethro, his
father-in-law! Musculus, famous for learning and piety, was put to
great straits, even to dig in a town ditch, and had scarcely daily bread,
and yet was content! Nay, Christ, who was heir of all, for our sakes
became poor! 2 Cor 8:9. Let all these examples make us content.
(2) Let us labor to have the interest cleared between God
and our souls. He who can say, "My God," has enough to rock his
heart quiet in the lowest condition. What can he lack who has El-Shaddai,
the all-sufficient God for his portion? Though the nether springs
fail—yet he has the upper springs. Though the bill of fare grows
short—yet an interest in God is a pillar of support to us, and we may, with
David, encourage ourselves in the Lord our God!