“The Proverb of Matthew 7:6”

By Semi-Retired Pastor, Jeremy Stopford


“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Matthew 7:6 (NKJV)

I read something last week in a daily email I receive from “Mikey’s Funnies”, a clean humor email sent by Mike Atkinson, a former youth director from San Diego.

[check it out at “http://www.mikeysFunnies.com/sub” I encourage you to subscribe!]. This particular day’s edition wisely looked at events in Scripture through the eyes of the modern day mindset of “don’t offend anyone at all costs.” The premise: “how would today’s media cover Biblical events if they occurred today?”. For your enjoyment:

* On Red Sea crossing: “WETLANDS TRAMPLED IN LABOR STRIKE: Enforcement Officials Killed While Pursuing Unruly Mob”

* On David vs. Goliath: “HATE CRIME KILLS BELOVED CHAMPION OF RELIEF TROOPS: Psychologist Questions Significance of Rock Used as Weapon”

* On the prophet Elijah on Mt. Carmel: “FIRE SENDS RELIGIOUS ACTIVIST INTO FRENZY: 400 Killed In Unprovoked Attack”

* On the birth of Christ: “HOTELS FULL, ANIMALS EJECTED FROM SHELTER: Animal Rights Advocates Enraged by Insensitive Couple”

* On feeding the 5,000: “LAY PREACHER STEALS CHILD’S LUNCH: Disciples Mystified Over Behavior”

* On healing of the two demon-possessed men in Gadarenes: “MADMAN CAUSES STAMPEDE: Local Farmer Faces Bankruptcy After Loss of Hogs”

That is a great introduction to this week’s offering: “The Proverb of Matthew 7:6. What was our Savior saying? What was He trying to teach us? How does it fit within His teachings of the Sermon on the Mount? And how does it possibly apply to us today? This is a real PROVERB!!! It is a mystery, to which we must dive in! The careful student of the Scriptures must ask at least 3 insightful questions!

Our first question is, WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN? The Bible – whether King James Version or even the more helpful New King James Version – uses terms which are very foreign to the 21st century child of God.

* The first word is “HOLY”. “Holy” means “to be separated from sin, and alternately to be consecrated to God.” Quoting Leviticus 11:44, the Apostle Peter writes (1 Peter 1:15-16), “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”.

* The next word is “DOGS”. The word used here is NOT a domestic pet. Rather, it is the village scavenger. It is a fierce and dangerous animal. It is half-wild. The Jews often used this term in reference to non-Jews, such as Gentiles.

* Next comes the familiar “PEARLS”. A pearl is quite valuable. It is a deposit from the juice of the pearl oyster. In Matthew 13:45-46 the Savior uses “the pearl of great price” to refer in His eyes (by application) to either the gospel or to Israel. Revelation 21:21 states that the gates of heaven are LITERALLY “gates of PEARL”. Even Paul in his marital wisdom before his son in the faith, Timothy (1 Tim. 2:9) draws a contrast between the beauty and richness of pearls and the beauty and richness of a godly woman!

I’m reminded over and over of a gift my dad gave to my wife shortly after my mother died. If I’m not mistaken on their history, as a wedding present my dad gave to my mother a pearl necklace. In turn, after mom’s passing, in love dad gave that necklace to my wife. He could have sold it. He could have kept it until his ultimate passing. Instead, for him the greatest treasure was to share this piece of beauty with a loved one, his daughter-in-law. Hence, the picture that the Savior is showing of something which is both valuable and loved.

* Finally, “SWINE”. A swine is a…HOG!!! It is a symbol to the Jew of all that is unclean!

Using the above definitions, let’s re-read Matthew 7:6:


The second question we must ask is, WHAT CAN THIS PARABLE TEACH US? At least 3 basic truths about the heart of people:

#1. The heart of the reproved is hard. Chew on these gems from Proverbs:

* Proverbs 9:8: “Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”

* Proverbs 15:12: “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise.”

* Proverbs 29:1: “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

There is a complete coldness in those without Jesus. He can come to the point where he says, “I refuse to listen”. This point is one of uselessness to the reception of the gospel. This is a very DANGEROUS condition!

#2. The heart of the sinner is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (read all of Jeremiah 17:8-10). “Dogs” and “swines” are NOT pleasant terms when referring to…PEOPLE! In Romans 3:16-18, 23 (while collectively quoting verses like Proverbs 1:16, Isa. 59:7-8, and Psalm 36:1) Paul writes:

“Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Paul later writes that the gospel is hid to the lost, whose mind is blinded by the enemy (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

#3. But the heart of the saint is PRECIOUS! Because of that, “plant the seed” of the gospel! Perhaps you will be the one who “waters the seed” showing genuine Christian love. AND perhaps you’ll be the one who leads someone to the cross, building on the previous work of others. And in everything, GOD GIVES THE INCREASE! (1 Cor. 3:7).

The third and final question that must be asked as we wisely discern this passage is an obvious one: WHAT IS JESUS ULTIMATELY SAYING?

We have seen that the Savior has a tremendous burden for the gospel! He is setting an amazing foundation for the building of His not so future church. The gospel itself is a most valuable treasure. It MUST not be treated LIGHTLY by the believer. It is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). It can change the heart of any sinner! It is not up to us to determine WHO might or might not receive that precious gospel. It is not up to us to determine WHERE to plant the seed of the gospel.

It is simply up to us to SHARE the good news of salvation! WHY?