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The woman was a woman of Canaan, a Gentile, a Syrophenician by nature
(Mark 7: 26), and she approached the Lord, calling Him by His title, "Son of David".
Now as Son of David He came to be King, "King of the Jews" (Matt. 2: 2; 27: 37, 42).
This sovereignty was primarily of an exclusive character. The promise to David
regarding his throne will be fulfilled in Christ, and in its primary interpretation it has no
place for any nation but Israel. When the kingdom is established and that King is
reigning, then world-wide blessing will result. So it was that the Saviour, Who so often
was moved with compassion as He contemplated fallen and suffering man, "answered her
not a word".
His reply to the disciples' request reveals the reason of this strange silence, "I am not
sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". These words, to weak faith, would
have sounded as the death knell of hope. The woman however penetrated the reply and
learned its lesson. As Son of David He could do nothing for her; she must therefore drop
that title and approach Him simply as Lord; she had no right in Him as Son of David such
as Israel had. "Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me." This
request draws from the Lord a personal answer, but what will He say? Will He grant her
request? "He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to
kunaria (little dogs)." At first sight this answer seems as forbidding as the former one.
Israel were the lost SHEEP, what had He, their shepherd, to do with DOGS? Israel were
the children of the house; surely it was not right to take the children's bread and cast it to
dogs? The faith of this woman enabled her to believe that what He spoke to her was
absolute truth, and she seized upon the word He had used for dogs. As the reader will
know, the dog is a term of reproach throughout the east, and is a symbol of all that is
depraved, forsaken and cast out, e.g., "without are dogs". The Lord in His reply said
"little dogs", or, as we say, puppies. The rule regarding the dog has an exception in the
case of the little puppy; children in the east, like children in the west, like to pet and
fondle the little puppies and for a short time they are allowed inside the house. "Truth,
Lord", replies the woman, "yet the puppies eat of the crumbs which fall from their
master's table". She knew that the exclusiveness of the Lord's ministry to Israel was not
for any mean or narrow reason; a saved Israel will be saved not for their own sake, but
that all families of the earth may be blessed in them.
The twofold aspect of this phase of God's dealings is emphasized in Rom. 15: 8, 9,
"Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to
confirm the promises made unto the fathers"--this is an exclusive ministry to Israel with
reference to promises made in the past--"and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His
mercy"--this follows as the designed sequence. So it was that the woman sought the
crumbs. She gave Israel their rightful place, they were the Masters (the very same word
twice rendered "Lord"). She was but a little dog, they sat at the table, she could only
expect the crumbs. As soon as this was recognized, blessing came. How vital to this
woman's case a correct appreciation of dispensational truth! How many to-day are
perplexed because the Lord answers not a word, simply because they are asking amiss!
The miracle clearly shows us what was the relationship between Israel and the nations at
the time of the Lord's earthly ministry. In Rom. 11: the figure changes to that of
wild olive branches grafted into the true olive. In Eph. 2: it further changes to the