Canaanite Groveling

A Canaanite woman came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her.

…“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Matthew 15:21-27)

The Canaanite woman addressed Jesus as ‘Son of David,’ and ‘Lord.’ In other words, she acknowledged Him as the Christ. She made no imperious demands, but simply stated the facts. She could hardly have been more humble.

But the Lord appeared to ignore her. She prayed; He remained silent.

Now, is God mean? Why would He remain silent when we pray?

The Lord Jesus taught us to pray importunately, like an aggrieved widow trying to get justice from a slow-moving judge. He told us that if we ask, we will receive; if we seek, we shall find; if we knock, the door will be opened. He pointed-out how evil human beings give food to their children instead of scorpions, so of course the heavenly Father will answer our prayers kindly.

So what happened? Not only did the Lord Jesus not swoop-in to help the Canaanite woman; not only did He appear to ignore her impetrations; He proceeded to insult her. He said, No—with an unequivocal brush-off.

If it were you or me, surely we would have taken umbrage at this: The food is for the children, not the dogs. You are one of the dogs. We would have said to ourselves, ‘I have my pride. Time for me to move on.’

Perhaps it really does seem familiar. We came before God, stated the facts of our case simply, left it up to a reasonable disposition on His part…and wound-up with a divine slap in the face. It all seemed pretty straightforward—‘Lord, I am not asking a lot; I am just asking for fairness. You know You owe me this. You know I deserve [such-and-such].” And then a No!–without an explanation, with a rude brush-off.

‘I have my pride,’ we say to ourselves. ‘I am not going to beg.’

If this were a matter of dealing with another human being, then maybe we would be right to turn away brusquely. But when we are dealing with God, the Canaanite woman shows us the right way.

God holds all the cards. What ‘pride’ can we have before Him? What suit can we bring against God, and to which judge? There is no Court of Appeals with the authority to issue injunctive relief for those aggrieved by the hand of Providence.

The Canaanite woman was not too proud to beg. She was not too proud to grovel. She knew that there was nowhere else to go.

In fact, the Lord acted ‘rudely’ not to abuse her, but to make a point.

Who are the true children of Israel? An Israelite takes pride in his birthright. An Israelite will grovel before no man. But a true Israelite does not hesitate to beg God like a desperate child, because Israelites never presume to know better than God.

The Lord is teaching us that citizenship in the holy nation is not acquired by birth or residency. It is acquired by self-abasing, delusion-liberating humility.

2 thoughts on “Canaanite Groveling

  1. Father Mark,

    And (don’t you just love it when I begin with “and”), it’s exactly that balance of bow to no man, but grovel before God that seems to be often missing in our (our contemporaries — and, perhaps, sometimes, us) approach to life on this sphere.

    God tells us to be persistent — with Him — and (there’s that word again) we frequently, somehow presume to, apply the same standard to man (and, by extension, to the collective things of man, principally, government).

    Thus, we have those who demand of their fellow man, and of government, those things which they could readily provide themselves (e.g., sorry; but I’m incapable of the theoretical without tempering it with reality, food when they won’t — not can’t, won’t — work; and, by the way, bei der wieden; isn’t it interesting that our society supports programs to employ those whose disabilities previously rendered them incapable of work, but don’t do so for those who just choose not to work — oops, the reply just capsized due to excessive parentheticals); and we KNOW what Paul had to say about that. We also have those who demand inappropriate things (e.g., abortion) as their right (note, not their BIRTHright, that might be a slippery slope for them).

    All of which (in the paragraph above) is a man-to-man issue. As to the God-to-man issues, we’ll just leave that to God. As to the man-to-man issues, we need to develop, both individually and collectively, more balance in applying the rules of accountability to these human situations; and we need the intestinal fortitude to apply accoutability to these situations with love and care. Of course, the only way to handle man-to-man relationships is face-to-face (and sometimes, mano-a-mano), as government’s dismal failures amply displays. So, it’s incumbent on all of us to get out there and join life, one person at a time.



  2. I love this woman. Her faith is FIERCE. LIke the first Israel, Jacob, this woman won’t let go until she gets her blessing (her child’s healing). I think she rocked Jesus’ day…

    (v 28)Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    Pride doesn’t go very far in knocking off demons…

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