The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.
I. A contrite heart does not merely mean a broken heart; it means more. It means literally a heart crushed, a heart ground to powder. You can have no stronger word. It was this heart which God wished to breed in these rebellious Jews. A heart like Isaiah's, when he said, after having seen God's glory, "Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell among a people of unclean lips." A heart like Jeremiah's, when he said, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears." A heart like Daniel's, when he confessed before God that to him and all his people belonged shame and confusion of face.
II. With God one day is as a thousand years. In one day of bitter misery He can teach us lessons which we could not teach ourselves in a thousand years of reading and studying, or even of praying. In sorrow, He is making short work with our spirits. He grinds hearts to powder, that they may be broken and contrite before Him; but only that He may heal them; that out of the broken fragments of the hard, proud, self-deceiving heart of stone He may create a new heart of flesh, human and gentle, humble and simple. And then He will return and have mercy. He will show that He does not wish our spirits to fail before Him, but to grow and flourish before Him to everlasting life. He will show us that He was nearest when He seemed farthest off; and that just because He is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, for that very reason He dwells also with the humble and contrite heart, because that heart alone can confess His height and its own lowliness—confess its own sin and His holiness; and so can cling to His majesty by faith, and partake of His holiness by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit.
C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 302.
References: Isaiah 57:15.—J. Oswald Dykes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 52 (see also Old Testament Outlines, p. 237; C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 370; Pulpit Analyst, vol. iii., p. 592; C. Molyneux, Penny Pulpit, Nos. 280, 281; G. Brooks. Outlines of Sermons, pp. 43, 142; E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation, 1st series, p. 74; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 147. Isaiah 57:16.—D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3087; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 142. Isaiah 57:16-18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1490. Isaiah 57:18.—Ibid., vol. xxii., No. 1279; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 245. Isaiah 57:19.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1558; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 143. Isaiah 58:2.—Ibid., p. 262.
He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.
Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,
Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?
Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?
Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.
Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it.
And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.
Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved.
And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?
I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.
When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;
And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.
For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.