The Importunate Widow

Luke 18:1-8 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4  And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6  And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?


I.    The purpose of this parable is to teach men to continue praying, even when they don’t think they are “getting anywhere.”

A.  The setting of the parable.

1.   Luke 17 records Jesus telling the disciples about the troublous times of the last days.

2.   There are days coming when it will seem to be easier to not pray than to pray.

3.   The days are coming when it will seem that the heavens are silent and like flint to our prayers.

a.   In that kind of times, we must remember that God sees and understands everything that is happening on this earth.

b.   We shouldn’t be discouraged because circumstances don’t improve after we have prayed.

c.   We should keep on praying because God knows best, and His will is going to be done.


II.   The characters of the parable - the Unjust judge and the importunate widow.

A.  Two things are said about the unjust judge.

1.   He fears not God.

a)   “Take away the fear of God, and you fill the soul with every inward sin, and make it a cage of unclean birds.”[1]

b)   This man would do nothing to please God, because he believed he wasn’t in subjection to God, nor would he ever be.

c)   There is no fear of the judgment of the world to come, nor of the judgment while in this world.

d)   This is the condition of all lost people.

1)   Romans 3:18, There is no fear of God before their eyes, is a direct quote from Psalms 36:1

2)   This is the condition of Satan because he is much more interested in trying to bring about his kingdom than in failing to bring about his kingdom and facing God after he has failed.

3)   Malachi 3:5 - This unjust judge may not fear God, but God sees and knows what he is doing, and will hold him accountable in the day of judgment.

1.   He fears not man.

a)   Take away from man “a regard for man, a proper respect for human opinion, when sound and wholesome, and you surround him with every outward sin, and make him a selfish despot, grinding out from his fellow-men whatever may contribute to his own lusts or aggrandizement, reckless of their happiness, and solicitous only for his own.  Strike from the heart of a man both these elements, and you make him a monster with a human shape but a devil’s heart.”[2]

b)     The only thing this ruler understands is cruel force.

c)     He has no heart to help anybody unless he can gain more from helping them than from not helping them.

d)     Everything in his nature is for self, nothing for others, regardless of how desperate or how admirable they are.

B.   The widow, a woman who is lacking a husband because of his death.

1.   Her situation.

a.   Probably financially improvised.  Mark 12:42 - The poor widow woman put all her living in the Lord’s treasury - two mites.

b.   Sad because of losing her husband.

c.   Powerless.

1)     Powerless to give the necessary bride to officials.

2)     Without legal representation because she couldn’t afford it.

3)     She was only one poor widow woman, thus had no “pull” with which to cause government officials to listen to her.

2.   Exodus 22:22 - Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.

a.      This passage would mean nothing at all to the unjust judge.

b.      Because he feared not God, neither regarded man, he wouldn’t care a whit about the widow woman.

3.   The widow woman wanted the unjust judge to avenge her of her adversary.

a.   The word avenge means “to vindicate, to retaliate, or to punish her adversary.

1)   She is seeking justice, not necessarily punishment.

2)   She is not seeking revenge, because “…vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord”, Heb. 10:30.

b.   An adversary is an opponent, not necessary an enemy.

1)   There is no doubt a very serious controversy between these two people, that cannot be worked out.

2)     There is no doubt in my mind that the widow is not at fault.

3)     She was right and she knew she was right.

4.   Why did this widow woman keep coming to the unjust judge?

a.      She was following the scripture - Romans 13:1-5 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

b.      She had no fear of coming before a completely unjust and unrighteous man because she knew she was right.


III. The lesson of the parable.

A.  Verse 6-8 gives the reason Christ gave the parable.

1.      He desires that we consider what the unjust judge said, and keep praying, asking, seeking, and knocking.

2.      It may be that God will “put us off” for a long time, but that shouldn’t weary us.

3.      When we really understand where the power is and where the solution to our difficulties comes from, we will keep on asking God to take care of whatever situation we find ourselves in.

a.      If we don’t really understand that God is the only one that can help us, we will soon tire of praying to him, and will try some other method that we consider better.

b.      If we don’t keep praying, it will reveal that our real intention was to do it ourselves, and not to trust God to do it for us.

B.   God wants us to be patient in praying to Him that our needs will be met.

1.   Don’t get tired of praying for your loved ones to be saved.

a.      You may have prayed for them for many years, and you may even come to the place of thinking that God won’t save them.

b.      Don’t give up.

2.   Don’t get tired of praying that God take care of national and world affairs.

a.      He is the only one that can help the social and economic factors in our nation and in our world.

b.      We may be living in the last of the last days, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop praying that he take care of us and the things we care about.

C.   Some Bible lessons showing the importance of importunity and faithful praying.

1.   Matt. 15:22-28 - The Syrophoenician woman.

a.      This woman’s daughter would not have been healed if the mother hadn’t persisted in asking Christ to heal her.

b.      She continued even when Christ told her He came only to the children of Israel.

c.      She asked Christ if it would be all right if some of the dogs got some of the crumbs that fell from the table.

2.   Luke 7:2-10 - The centurion whose servant Jesus healed.

a.   This centurion had people under him, who always did as he bid them.

b.      He was amazed that Christ would personally come to heal his servant.

c.      He met him, and said it was unnecessary for Christ to come to his home, if He just said for the servant to be healed, he knew it would happen just like that.

d.      His word was enough!

3.   Gen. 32:26 - Jacob wrestled with the angel of God all night, and refused to let him go when the day began to break.  “…And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

1.      Gen. 32:28 - Jacob prevailed with God and men.

2.      If Jacob had prayed one hour, then quit, he would not have prevailed.

3.      This is how it is with us.

4.      We must make sure we are right with God and His Word, then pray consistently until God hears and answers our prayer.

4.   James 5:16 - Elijah prayed effectually and fervently and God heard and answered his prayer.

1.      It is not so clear in James, but in II Kings 18:42-44 the Bible records that Elijah prayed at least 7 times that God would send rain and glorify Himself.

2.      It is very important that we realize that God wants us to pray more than once for those things that He would give us, especially things that glorify Himself.

C.   In these last days, all Christians need to remember that Christ is the righteous judge of the entire world.

1.      Gen. 18:25 - When Abraham was talking with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God told him, “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

2.      God will do justice, regardless of what the situation looks like to us.

3.      Very soon, Jesus Christ will return to this world, and all our adversaries will be judged by Him!

4.      Let us be encouraged, and continue to pray that God’s will be done in all things.

[1] The Parables and Prophecies of Christ Explained  J. R. Graves  Baptist Sunday School Committee, Texarkana, Ark.-Texas, 1939  Page 165

[2] The Parables and Prophecies of Christ Explained  J. R. Graves  Baptist Sunday School Committee, Texarkana, Ark.-Texas, 1939  Page 165