No man can serve two masters - The master of our heart may be fitly termed the love that reigns in it. We serve that only which we love supremely. A man cannot be in perfect indifference betwixt two objects which are incompatible: he is inclined to despise and hate whatever he does not love supremely, when the necessity of a choice presents itself.
He will hate the one and love the other - The word hate has the same sense here as it has in many places of Scripture; it merely signifies to love less - so Jacob loved Rachel, but hated Leah; i.e. he loved Leah much less than he loved Rachel. God himself uses it precisely in the same sense: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated; i.e. I have loved the posterity of Esau less than I have loved the posterity of Jacob: which means no more than that God, in the course of his providence, gave to the Jews greater earthly privileges than he gave to the Edomites, and chose to make them the progenitors of the Messiah, though they ultimately, through their own obstinacy, derived no more benefit from this privilege than the Edomites did. How strange is it, that with such evidence before their eyes, men will apply this loving and hating to degrees of inclusion and exclusion, in which neither the justice nor mercy of God are honored!
Ye cannot serve God and mammon - ממון mamon is used for money in the Targum of Onkelos, Exodus 18:21 ; and in that of Jonathan, Judges 5:19 ; 1 Samuel 8:3 . The Syriac word ממונא mamona is used in the same sense, Exodus 21:30 . Dr. Castel deduces these words from the Hebrew אמן aman , to trust, confide; because men are apt to trust in riches. Mammon may therefore be considered any thing a man confides in. Augustine observes, "that mammon, in the Punic or Carthaginian language, signified gain." Lucrum Punicè mammon dicitur . The word plainly denotes riches, Luke 16:9 , Luke 16:11 , in which latter verse mention is made not only of the deceitful mammon, ( τω αδικω ), but also of the true ( το αληθινον ). St. Luke's phrase, μαμωνα αδικιας , very exactly answers to the Chaldee דשקר ממון mamon dishekar , which is often used in the Targums. See more in Wetstein and Parkhurst.
Some suppose there was an idol of this name, and Kircher mentions such a one in his Oedip. Egyptiacus. See Castel.
Our blessed Lord shows here the utter impossibility of loving the world and loving God at the same time; or, in other words, that a man of the world cannot be a truly religious character. He who gives his heart to the world robs God of it, and, in snatching at the shadow of earthly good, loses substantial and eternal blessedness. How dangerous is it to set our hearts upon riches, seeing it is so easy to make them our God!