Then shall you call, and the LORD shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am…
Were these men, whose lives were spent for self, but who made a show of seeming to want God, proper persons to receive answers to their prayers? Let the Apostle James answer. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). God wants signs of right character in those whose petitions he grants; for such character is the only guarantee that what he gives is rightly accepted and rightly used. Here with special reference to the particular sins of the age, we have these conditions laid down.
1. Ceasing from stern and cruel dealings with those who serve us. "Take away the yoke" (see ver. 6).
2. Taunts of those who are recognized as the faithful servants of God, but de not make just the same expression of their piety that we do. "Putting forth the finger;" a gesture of derision. "Indicative of mockery and insolence towards the pious and persisting part of the nation" (Matthew Arnold).
3. Boasting. A spirit of self-satisfaction, which is quite inconsistent with any approach to God with expressions of need and fervent desires. "Speaking vanity." While these evils must be put away, it is made a further condition of answer to prayer, that he who prays shall be positively set upon doing good, caring for the hungry and the afflicted. As the immediate reference is to the prayers offered on the national fast-days, this homily may be made to hear specially upon national days of humiliation, Lenten times, etc. Such times are useful, and are necessary. They are called for by the Divine judgments. But the special danger of them is insincerity. The special condition of their acceptance with God is national turning from sin to righteousness and charity. Therefore, at such seasons, the work of God's ministers is to produce due convictions of national sins. Our Lord taught conditions of prayer for his individual disciples, in his sermon on the mount. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
WEB: Then you shall call, and Yahweh will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking wickedly;