Mark 4:27 (AV)
And should sleep¹, and rise²
night³ and day⁴,
and the seed⁵ should spring⁶
and grow up⁷,
he knoweth⁸ not how.
¹) Take rest.
²) Wake up and rise up from his bed.
³) Metaphorically “the night” is the time when work ceases, the time of death, the time for deeds of sin and shame, the time of moral stupidity and darkness, the time when the weary and also the drunken give themselves up to slumber.
⁴) Metaphorically “the day” is regarded as the time for abstaining from indulgence, vice, crime, because acts of the sort are perpetrated at night and in darkness.
⁵) That what has been sown.
⁶) To spring up, to sprout.
⁷) To make long, to lengthen. In the Bible twice of plants, to cause to grow, increase.
⁸) To know, that is: to have knowledge of, to understand, to perceive.
And then continues sleeping and rising night and day while the seed sprouts and grows and increases - he knows not how. [AMP] He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. [ESV] who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows--he has no idea how it happens. [MSB] And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. [KJV] Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. [NIV] and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer's help, [NLT] and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. [NKJV]
Some further information:
And should sleep, and rise
That is, when he has finished sowing should wait both day and night not doubting that the seed should spring forth.
So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day. Just going about his other ordinary occupations, while giving the sown seed time to germinate and come forth, leaving it to the laws of vegetation under the genial influences of heaven.
This also is the sense of “the earth bringing forth fruit of herself,” in Mark 4:28 .
The sower, when he hath sown the seed, doth nothing toward the springing up of it; He sleeps, and rises, night and day; goes to sleep at night, gets up in the morning, and perhaps never so much as thinks of the corn he hath sown, or ever looks upon it, but follows his pleasures or other business, and yet the earth brings forth fruit of itself, according to the ordinary course of nature, and by the concurring power of the God of nature.
In the same way the word of grace, when it is received in faith, is in the heart a work of grace, and the preachers contribute nothing to it. The Spirit of God is carrying it on when they sleep, and can do no business (Job 33:15, 16 ), or when they rise to go about other business.
The prophets do not live for ever; but the word which they preached, is doing its work, when they are in their graves, (Zechariah 1:5, 6).
The dew by which the seed is brought up tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men, (Micah 5:7).
Night and day,
The seed grows both by day and night.
And the seed should spring and grow up,
It grows gradually; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, (Mark 4:28). When it is sprung up, it will go forward; nature will have its course, and so will grace.
Christ’s interest, both in the world and in the heart, is, and will be, a growing interest; and though the beginning be small, the latter end will greatly increase.
He knoweth not how.
It is the duty of the ministers to work the ground with all diligence, and accredit the success to God: for the mighty work of the seed coming to blade and ear is mysterious, and is only known by the fruit that comes.
After a field is sown with corn, how soon is the surface of it altered! How pleasant doth it look, when it is covered with green!
The sower cannot describe how it comes up; it is one of the mysteries of nature; It springs and grows up, he knows not how. He sees it has grown, but he cannot tell in what manner it grew, or what was the cause and method of its growth.
In the same way we do not know how the Spirit by the word makes a change in the heart, any more than we can account for the blowing of the wind, which we hear the sound of, but cannot tell whence it comes, or whither it goes.
Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; how God manifested in the flesh came to be believed on in the world, (1 Timothy 3:16).
Now let us reflect on this
Amazingly beautiful is the image evoked here in one of the many parables spoken by the Lord Jesus. He shows us the image of the farmer who goes out in the spring to scatter the seed in the plowed field. Then his work is finished. Furthermore, the farmer has not much to do about it. In the beginning he can hoe and weed a bit, but then comes a time of just waiting. The sprouting and growing tall is not his work, but God’s work.
When his sowing work is done, he leaves the rest to his God. It is now in the care of the great Creator of all things.
In the meantime he continues his normal course for days and months on end, and in the meantime the miracle happens that the seed germinates in the earth and comes to fruition. Stalks and ears appeared; He sees that happening before his own eyes, but how it happens is a complete mystery to him. The farmer himself doesn’t know how. How it sprouted and grew was hidden from him. It is the same in the spiritual life.
Always sow, especially with our children in mind; and from the pastor with a view to his church, much can be learned from it.
We can do no more than scatter the seed of the Gospel in the field of hearts. We must do this with faith and care. But after that, we must leave it to the Lord if He wants to give fruit.
Planting and watering is our duty, especially in the Church and we are responsible for the seed we sow, but growing it is God’s work. And then we don’t know how. It can take a long time. Sometimes, you may even think it is all in vain. But the Lord will do His work, and make the seed sprout and bring it to fruit.
We ourselves cannot give that fruit. We can only pray for that growth. And then it is God who works in secret. What a miracle, when we can see how the scattered seed develops.
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