Isaiah 49:15
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
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(15) Can a woman forget . . .?—The love of Jehovah for His chosen ones is more than that of a father, more tender and unchangeable even than the maternal love which exists often in the most depraved. Even that may perish, but not so His pitying affection.

Isaiah 49:15-16. Can a woman forget her sucking child — God is often represented as bearing a fatherly affection toward his people, but here the comparison is raised higher, and he speaks of himself as having a tenderness for them, similar to that which a mother hath toward the fruit of her womb. “The image is common and frequent; yet it is wrought up with so much grace, embellished with so much elegance, and expressed in such pathetic terms, that nothing can exceed it in beauty and force; nothing can convey a stronger idea of the maternal, the more than maternal regard, which God hath for his people.” Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee — The turn in this clause is more expressive than a volume. As if he had said, Earthly parents sometimes are so unnatural and monstrous; but do not entertain such unworthy thoughts of me. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms, &c. — Mine eye and heart are constantly upon thee. “This is certainly an allusion,” says Bishop Lowth, “to some practice, common among the Jews at that time, of making marks on their hands or arms by punctures on the skin, rendered indelible by fire or staining, with some sort of sign, or representation of the city or temple, to show their affection and zeal for it. It is well known that the pilgrims at the holy sepulchre get themselves marked in this manner with what are called the ensigns of Jerusalem. Maundrell, p. 75; where he tells us how it is performed: and this art is practised by travelling Jews all over the world at this day.” See also Vitringa and Michaelis’s notes. Or the allusion may be merely to the common practice of men, who use to put signs upon their hands or fingers, of such things as they especially wish to remember. Thy walls are continually before me — The ruins and desolations of my church are always in my thoughts, nor shall I forget or neglect to repair them, and grant her deliverance from her enemies, and protection at the proper time.

49:13-17 Let there be universal joy, for God will have mercy upon the afflicted, because of his compassion; upon his afflicted, because of his covenant. We have no more reason to question his promise and grace, than we have to question his providence and justice. Be assured that God has a tender affection for his church and people; he would not have them to be discouraged. Some mothers do neglect their children; but God's compassions to his people, infinitely exceed those of the tenderest parents toward their children. His setting them as a mark on his hand, or a seal upon his arm, denotes his being ever mindful of them. As far as we have scriptural evidence that we belong to his ransomed flock, we may be sure that he will never forsake us. Let us then give diligence to make our calling and election sure, and rejoice in the hope and glory of God.Can a woman forget her sucking child? - The design of this verse is apparent. It is to show that the love which God has for his people is stronger than that which is produced by the most tender ties created by any natural relation. The love of a mother for her infant child is the strongest attachment in nature. The question here implies that it was unusual for a mother to be unmindful of that tie, and to forsake the child that she should nourish and love.

That she should not have compassion - That she should not pity and succor it in times of sickness and distress; that she should see it suffer without any attempt to relieve it, and turn away, and see it die unpitied and unalleviated.

Yea, they may forget - They will sooner forget their child than God will forget his afflicted and suffering people. The phrase 'they may forget,' implies that such a thing may occur. In pagan lands, strong as is the instinct which binds a mother to her offspring, it has not been uncommon for a mother to expose her infant child, and to leave it to die. In illustration of this fact, see the notes at Romans 1:31.

15. (Isa 44:21; Ps 103:13; Mt 7:11). Earthly parents sometimes are so unnatural and monstrous; but do not entertain such unworthy thoughts of me. I will remember thee effectually, to bring thee out of Babylon, and, which is infinitely greater, to send my Son into the world to work out eternal redemption for thee.

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?.... This is the Lord's answer to the church's complaint, instancing in the care and affection of a mother to her child, thereby illustrating his love to his people; he instances in a "woman", the tender sex; in a "child" of her's, an infant, not one grown up, from which her affections might be alienated by disobedience; her suckling child, she had in her arms, and on her knees, and whom her breasts would put her in mind of; and since one that is not an own child may be suckled, it is called "the son of her womb"; and is it possible for such an one to be forgotten?

yea, they may forget; through inadvertency, want of affection, a cruel disposition, hurry of business, sickness, public calamities, &c. Lamentations 4:3, such monsters in nature there may be, though rare:

yet will I not forget thee; he cannot forget, because of is nature, on which forgetfulness cannot properly fall; he will not, because of his promise, which never fails; he may seem to his people to have forgotten them, and he may be thought to have done so by others; he forgets their sins, but not their persons; he cannot forget his love, nor his covenant with them, nor his promises made to them; nor does he forget their love to him, nor their works, words, and thoughts; the righteous are had by him in everlasting remembrance. All this suggests that the Lord stands in the relation of a parent to his people, and they stand in the relation of children to him; they are born of him, and are as it were pieces of himself, and little images of him, and dear to him as the apple of his eye; they are like sucking children, that suck in the milk of his word, and suck at the breasts of his ordinances; and they are used by him in the most tender manner, as infants are; they are kissed by him, and dandled on the knee; they are led by him, and taught to go; he delights in them when they begin to speak in prayer or praise, though in a lisping and stammering manner; all their little actions are engaging, their works done by them, though imperfect, and a great deal of childishness in them; when anything ails them, he sympathizes with them, he takes care of them, and provides for them; and it is a concern to him whenever he is obliged to chastise them, and can he therefore forget them?

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
15. Jehovah’s remembrance of Zion is more enduring than the strongest human affection. Even a mother’s pity for an infant may fail. yea, they may forget] Or, should even these forget (Cheyne).

yet will I not forget thee] See on ch. Isaiah 44:21.

Verse 15. - Can a woman forget?.... yea, they may forget. In the siege of Samaria by Benhadad, King of Syria, a mother, we are told (2 Kings 6:28, 29), boiled her son for food. In the last siege of Jerusalem similar horrors are reported (Joseph., 'Bell. Jud.,' 6:03, 4). Mothers have even been known in England who have forced their tender and innocent daughters to commit deadly sin. Yet will I not forget, The love of God surpasses that of either father or mother. "When my father and my mother forsake me," says David, "then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10). "God is love" (1 John 4:8) in his very essence; and his infinite love is deeper, tenderer, truer, than finite love can ever be. Still, that which is nearest to it upon earth is, doubtless, the love of a mother for her children (see Isaiah 66:13). Isaiah 49:15The prophet, looking back at the period of suffering from the standpoint of the deliverance, exclaims from the midst of this train of thought: Isaiah 49:14 "Zion said, Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me." The period of suffering which forces out this lamentation still continues. What follows, therefore, applies to the church of the present, i.e., of the captivity. Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 49:16 "Does a woman forget her sucking child, so as not to have compassion upon the child of her womb? Even though mothers should forget, I will not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls stand continually before me." In reply to the complaining church, which knows that her home is in Zion-Jerusalem, and which has been kept so long away from her home, Jehovah sets forth His love, which is as inalienable as a mother's love, yea, far greater than even maternal love. On עוּל, the min in mērachēm is equivalent to ὥστε μή, as in Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 33:15, etc. גּם, so far as the actual sense is concerned, is equivalent to גּם־כּי (Ewald, 362, b): "granted that such (mothers) should forget, i.e., disown, their love." The picture of Zion (not merely the name, as Isaiah 49:16 clearly shows) is drawn in the inside of Jehovah's hands, just as men are accustomed to burn or puncture ornamental figures and mementoes upon the hand, the arm, and the forehead, and to colour the punctures with alhenna or indigo (see Tafel, xii., in vol. ii. pp. 33-35 of Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians). There is the figure of Zion, unapproachable to every creature, as close to Him as He is to Himself, and facing Him amidst all the emotions of His divine life. There has He the walls of Zion constantly before Him (on neged, see at Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 24:23); and even if for a time they are broken down here below, with Him they have an eternal ideal existence, which must be realized again and again in an increasingly glorious form.
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