Jesus Christ taught his disciples and followers a lot of principles and life lessons using parables. One of such parables is the parable of the soils. He used the familiar principle of sowing and reaping to teach about how the word of God is planted and received in our hearts and lives as God’s children.
What is the Meaning of the Parable of the Soils?
In nature, there are different kinds of soil. When you plant on fertile soil, you will reap a good harvest. Likewise, when you plant your seeds in bad soil, your seeds may never grow.
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. Matthew 13:3 NKJV
The parable of the sower starts by telling how a sower went out to sow.
In today’s words, we can say that a farmer went out to plant. The farmer usually does not go out empty-handed, he carries his seeds which he plans to scatter across the soil on his farmland.
In the same way, the sower in the parable of the soil represents those people or the medium through which the word of God is planted in your heart. It can be through your pastor, a minister, a book, or the bible.
God’s word never comes to you in a vacuum, you are either reading it, listening to it, or studying it. Eventually, the seed of the word will be planted in your heart and spirit.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus was showing us that it is not just enough to hear the word of God, the state of our hearts and how we receive the word have a role to play in how the word of God impacts us as believers.
4 Types of Soil in the Parable of the Sower
In the parable of the soils, there are four types of soil listed in the story.
“ And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
A farmer goes along and scatters his seeds across his large field. The first group of seeds fell on the wayside and never got into the soil. Those seeds became quick food for the birds.
The second group of seeds found their way into the soil and began to grow. However, something went unnoticed. The soil was filled with rocks and stones and the roots could not go deep. And immediately the sun was up, the plants withered away quickly because they lacked deep roots.
The third group of seeds found themselves among thorns and weeds. So, even though they grew, the thorns did not let them thrive. The thorns choked them up as soon as they began to grow.
However, the last set of seeds were the lucky set that fell on fertile soil. Not only did they grow well, but these seeds also yielded a good harvest.
The Four Types of Soil Listed in the Parable of the Sower
- Surface soil (Pathway)
- Shallow Soil ( Rocks and Stones)
- Thorny Soil (Thorns and Weeds)
- Fertile Soil (Rich Soil)
Jesus also used this parable to teach about the state of your heart and how you receive the word of God. The seed in the parable is the word of God and the soil can be said to represent the heart of the believer.
God’s word can be planted in your heart as a believer. His word can live and grow in your heart, such that when life’s challenges come, you will have abundant storage of God’s word inside you. The question then is – what kind of heart do you have?
The different types of soil in the parable of the soils represent our hearts and how we receive the word of God (seeds) planted in our hearts.
- Surface soil (Pathway) = Frail heart
- Shallow Soil (Rocks and Stones) = Rocky Heart
- Thorny Soil (Thorns and Weeds) = Thorny Heart
- Fertile Soil (Rich Soil) = Fertile Heart
A Frail Heart
The believer with a frail heart is the one who hears the word and Satan immediately snatches the word from them. The word does not even gain entrance into their heart and spirit. He has no understanding of the word.
His heart is weak and unprepared to receive the light and freedom that comes from the word of God. The enemy shows up and takes that word away so that he doesn’t believe it.
A Heart Filled With Rocks and Stones
A rocky heart or a heart filled with stones is that heart where the word of God never gains deep roots within. You are excited and all fired up when you receive the word, but the word never settles deep into your spirit. So when temptations and challenges come, these groups of people fall away from the faith because the word was never deeply entrenched in their hearts.
A Heart Filled With Thorns and Weeds
The man who has thorns all around his heart will never see the word bear fruit in his life. His heart is choked up by the pleasures and riches of this world. The word of God that enters his heart will be crowded out of his heart and spirit by the cares and pleasures of this life. Indeed, the word will never bear fruit in his life and he will never grow to maturity.
A Fertile and Rich Heart
A fertile heart is that heart that really receives the word into their hearts. They read, reflect, and take ownership of the word in their lives. The man with a fertile heart clings to the word of God and lets the word sink deep into their spirit and the word produces results in their lives.
Like the farmer who planted on fertile soil, he will always reap a great harvest of the word.
Lessons We Learn from the Parable of the Soils
Here are a few of the applicable lessons we learn from the Parable of the Soils.
The Word of God is a Seed
When a seed is planted in the soil, within days, we start to see a budding plant. Eventually, that seed will grow into a plant or tree. So it is with the word of God when you hear it, read it or receive it. It can grow and bear good fruits in your life.
For fruits to grow, seeds must be planted. So ask yourself – how much seed of God’s word am I planting daily in my life?
God Cares about the State of our Hearts
God is a generous God who continues to pour out his grace on us richly. The seeds were planted in all kinds of soil regardless of their state. Likewise, God continues to pour his words into our hearts even in its rocky and thorny state.
He does not want our hearts to remain the way messy way he meets them. God’s desire is that your heart would be that good soil where the word can grow and produce results inside.
We Are Cultivators of Our Hearts
Even though God meets you in your messy state, it is his desire that you grow into maturity as you get to know him. Your heart may be filled with rocks, thorns, and even thin soil, but you can choose to cultivate the soil of your heart. How you cultivate your heart will determine what will grow in it.
Final Thoughts on the Parable of the Soils
From the parable of the sower, you can see that it is not enough to hear the word. How you receive the word and the state of your heart play a great role in the results you will get from the word of God. In conclusion, you will need to ask yourself these questions.
- What kind of heart do I have?
- What can I do to make my heart a fertile place for God’s word to grow?
- What are some of the weeds, thorns, and rocks that are choking out the word and not letting the word gain deep roots in my heart?
Related Posts and Resources:
- Bible Studies for Women
- How to Study the Parables
- Parable of the Good Samaritan
- Bible Study Printables
- Bible Study Tips
About the Author
I am a mom of two priceless treasures and a wife to an amazing man. I live in Lagos, Nigeria, and currently, work alongside my husband in his dental practice. I believe in the life-changing power of words, especially God-inspired words. And this is why I write – to share words of hope, healing, and encouragement. You can find me sharing God-inspired words of hope, faith, and encouragement for moms on my blog.