The Course of the Soul
Isaiah 57:17-21
For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth…

These words of Isaiah indicate the course which the human spirit often takes in its downward and upward path. We have -

I. THE ESSENCE OF INIQUITY - THIS IS SELFISHNESS. "The iniquity of his selfishness," as it may be rendered. Whether it takes the specific form of rapacity, of unholy ambition, of self-indulgence or of any other special sin, you may trace iniquity home to the evil spirit of selfishness - the withholding from God, for self, of that which is due to him. Those who are transgressing none of the ten commandments in the letter, but are yet living to themselves, are living in iniquity.

II. DIVINE DISPLEASURE AND REBUKE. "I was wroth and smote him: I hid me." Our wilful departure from God and refusal of our hearts and lives excite his profound displeasure, his sacred grief - call forth his parental wrath and displeasure. In a very solemn sense "God is angry with the wicked;" they abide under his "wrath." He is compelled to withhold from them the light of his countenance; he rebukes them; he sends the penalty which is due to sin, and Which is appropriate to the particular sin which is being committed. He hides his face; he withdraws his blessing; he causes pain, disappointment, sorrow, to visit the doer, to afflict the heart.

III. HUMAN RESENTMENT AND INCREASED REBELLIOUSNESS OF SPIRIT. "He went on frowardly in the way of his heart." That which is intended to draw near, sometimes drives away. Godly sorrow works repentance; but sorrow, taken ill and treated wrongly, works death. If the heat does not melt, it hardens.

IV. THE VICTORY OF DIVINE LOVE. Still, in spite of a growing waywardness, the pity of God pursues the wandering soul. And though deceived and led astray, man travels far and wanders long, God "sees his ways;" he stretches forth the hand of power and grace, and he "heals him;" he leads him home and comforts him with the priceless blessings which are under the Father's roof. These blessings are:

1. Reconciliation: the being spiritually healed, being restored to God after the saddest of all separations - spiritual distance from God.

2. Peace: peace offered and granted to those who were more distant and also to those less far removed from truth and righteousness and purity - the peace of conscious acceptance.

3. Praise: "the fruit of the lips," joyful ascription unto him that redeemed and restored; the daily song of gratitude that wells up from a heart filled with gratitude and love.

V. A POWERFUL INCENTIVE TO RETURN. Perhaps it may be taken as one "fruit of the lips" that the healed and restored soul now speaks for God to men; now becomes his spokesman; now teaches transgressors his way (Psalm 51:12, 13). And one convincing and impressive truth which a home-brought wanderer can enforce better than an unfallen angel is the hardness of the transgressor's road, the weariness of the way to him who is leaving God for the far country, the restlessness of a heart that is separated from its Divine Source and Friend; the truth that the mirth of unhallowed enjoyment is very shallow and short-lived, that fast on the heels of guilty pleasure come pursuing pain of body and misery of soul; the fact that there is no peace to the wicked, no lasting joy to any one who has abandoned the fountain of living waters for the broken cisterns of earth and time. The plaintive cry which comes from the aching hearts and troubled lives of guilt is answered by one voice alone - by that of him who stands before all generations of men, and says, in the accents of sweet and sovereign pity "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and struck him; I hid [my face] and was angry; and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.

A Cluster of Promises
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