Isaiah 57:1, 2
The righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and merciful men are taken away…
Our attention is called to -
I. A PICTURE OF HUMAN GOODNESS. A good man is represented as "the righteous," as "the merciful," as one who "walketh in uprightness." These characterizations include:
1. The fear of God - reverence for his Name, the worship of his Divine Spirit, the recognition of his righteous claims, a supreme regard for his holy will.
2. The love of man - a practical acknowledgment of his claims on our sympathy and our succour, a hearty and practical desire to promote his well-being.
3. The regulation of daily life, in all stations and spheres, by the laws of truth, purity, honesty, sobriety. A righteous, merciful, and upright man is one who will be making an honest and earnest endeavour to realize all this in his character and his career. Nothing less will satisfy his aspiration.
II. A PICTURE OF HUMAN THOUGHTLESSNESS. "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart." When a community - nation or Church - has not been living and walking in the light of the Lord, it becomes dull of apprehension, spiritually blind, incapable of estimating the true character of events.
1. It fails to appreciate the worth of one good man's life. What an incalculable blessing a single true, pure, and holy life may be, and indeed must be! and what a fountain of good is dried up when one who leads such a life is taken away! It is a bad time, indicative of evil and prophetic of decline and death, when human worth is disregarded.
2. It fails to feel the injury and wrong done by arbitrary violence; it ought to resent it with keenest indignation, and to take vigorous steps to arrest and remove it.
3. It fails to recognize a valuable mitigation: "None considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." It is natural enough for men to wish to go on into the future, that they may see what is coming, and that they may help to shape the event; but the wise and thoughtful will consider that there may be a future impending from which they would earnestly pray God to save them. It was not a threat, but a promise, sent to Josiah, "I will gather thee to thy fathers... neither shall thine eyes see all the evil which I will bring upon this place" (2 Kings 22:20). Many are they who have outlived the period of prosperity and peace, to whom an earlier death would have been a happier lot. We cannot be sure that a sudden and even (what we call)a premature death may not be a most merciful removal from intolerable pain, or from overwhelming temptation, or from grievous burdens and sorrows. We sing, "Our times are in thy hand," and we do well to continue, "O God, we wish them there."
III. A PICTURE OF HUMAN REPOSE. "He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds." From the tumult and the strain, from the battle and the burden of life, even the rest of the grave is welcome. But how much more welcome to the weary spirit is that rest which Jesus Christ has revealed, and which remaineth for the people of God! - rest in the home, in the likeness, in the glory, in the untiring service of the ascended Saviour. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.