Jesus compares God, not with a good man, but with a godless man to emphasize the vast difference between this unjust judge and the righteous God. The conduct of the unjust judge exposes the chaotic and corrupt judgments in which he had prostituted himself. No one can compel him to do anything because he feels no regard for anyone, including God. He acts purely out of self-interest. Yet, if this unjust judge could avenge a widow whom he disdained, how much more will the righteous God avenge his elect (Jeremiah 11:20)?
This parable reveals God's willingness to hear and answer the supplications of His elect (Luke 18:7), responding when they are offered according to His will. The word "avenge" (verses 5, 7-8) implies the working out of His vengeance in justice, not in retaliation. If God's elect are wrongly treated, they can be sure of vindication. So, if the unjust judge because of a selfish irritation avenges a troublesome widow, how much more will the selfless God come to our aid? We can expect substantially better treatment from a God of lovingkindness than from a heartless judge.
The widow, who speaks only five words, does not prevail because of her persuasive plea but because of her persistence. Sometimes too many words reveal a scarcity of desire or a lack of purpose. Jesus tells us long prayers and useless repetitions will not make God hear us any better (Matthew 6:7). He already knows our needs (verse 8).
God has assured us that He hears and answers prayer. We must have the faith of Christ that God can provide what we need, enjoys hearing us ask according to His will, and desires to give us abundantly what we should have.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow
Luke 18:1-8 contains the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke prefaces Jesus' narration of the story of the widow's pestering of the unjust judge with the comment that our Lord gave this parable specifically to encourage people "to pray and not lose heart." The basic subject of this passage of Scripture deals with the question: Will a person ultimately cave in, downcast and discouraged, because of the difficulties and trials he faces throughout his Christian life, forsaking all the truth and opportunities God has given him?
Christ's parable teaches us that we are to continue to pray and not falter or become dejected if our prayers do not seem to be answered right away. We are to come to understand that if a request is not granted immediately, God may be testing us, teaching us patience, or working out a purpose we cannot see. We must understand that He works on His timetable—not ours—and that He always works out what is best for us and for our particular situation (Romans 8:28). Our job, then, is to persevere in our faith in God, always trusting Him in what we ask of Him.
In the parable, we see the widow coming before the unrighteous judge with her complaint, though Christ never informs us about its specifics. We do not need to know the details; it could be any grievance. The callous judge has no pity in him, but the widow is so persistent that the judge reasons within himself that he had better avenge her lest she wear him out with her incessant visits. The phrase "weary me" literally implies striking blows and giving the recipient a pair of black eyes! This was one persistent woman!
If a reader of this parable is not careful, he could judge God as being comparable to the unjust judge, that is, that He will not answer our requests promptly unless we bother Him with constant pleas for help. Actually, Jesus is contrasting the faithfulness of our loving God to the cynical, self-serving, unrighteous judge. The latter is not in any way a good man, but a godless one who is just trying to shield himself from being annoyed.
Jesus is trying to get us to realize God's never-ending love and faithfulness to His children. We are to see that all that God is, the judge is not. God is always willing to hear us and to answer our prayers if according to His will. He always hears the cries of His own elect or chosen ones. Indeed, God will avenge or vindicate His people.
The point is that, if the unjust judge—who could not have cared less for the widow—at length responded to her cry merely to rid himself of her aggravating requests, then shall not God—who loves His chosen people and gave His Son for us—answer our prayers when we are under trial or in need?
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Will Christ Find Faith?
The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) teaches the necessity of patient, persistent, and persevering prayer, much like the Parable of the Persistent Friend (Luke 11:5-13). A mention of prayer precedes both parables. Though delivered in different situations, they both show the absolute, immeasurable contrast between God and men, and provide evidence that God yields to the saints' pleading and urging. Both parables depict a person granting a request because of his selfish motives. The Persistent Friend's persevering prayer is for necessities, while the Persistent Widow's is for protection. Both parables conclude that God will not fail us as friends and acquaintances often do.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow is especially linked with the final crisis of the last days and the painful circumstances the faithful remnant will face. Prayer will be a major resource for them. Since vengeance is God's alone, they know He will judge their oppressors, but as they wait for deliverance, persevering prayer will be their refreshment and supply of patience. The parable is preceded by Jesus' exhortation on the Christian duty to pray, dedication in prayer, and resisting the temptation to discontinue prayer. It concludes by indicating that prayer is a matter of faith.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Luke 18:3:
2 Kings 4:27-31