How shall I pardon you for this? your children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full…
When I had fed them to the full, etc.
I. GOD DOES THIS AT TIMES. Cf. Genesis 3:17, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake," etc.; Haggai 1:11, etc. And whenever he makes our good and pleasant things the means of our punishment. Hezekiah's riches and prosperity were the lure which drew upon him the oppressing Assyrians. And so the body which, when possessed of all its faculties and in health, ministers so much good to man, God, in judgment upon the man's sin, may for the sake of the sinful soul cause that disease, pain, impotence, may curse it. And the mind also - that may become a den of malignant, impure, profane thoughts.
II. BUT MEN DO THIS FAR MORE FREQUENTLY. The noblest physical gifts may be shattered, wrecked, by sins against the body. The mind - capable of such high service and a channel of such vast blessing - men may, do, pollute, corrupt, and pervert and so curse their blessings. The moral nature - this a great gift of God, the power to judge, choose, resolve; but see how soon man cursed that and turned his blessing into a curse. The gifts of providence are also abused in the same way (cf. text). The home. Oh, what joy comes to men through the blessings that were designed to be forever associated with that word! But how often men, by self-indulgence, neglect, evil example, utter failure in parental duty, turn the blessing of home into a curse! And even the gospel of Christ itself - God's unspeakable gift-men may make the knowledge of it to be "a savor of death unto death" for themselves. "This Child is set for the fall of many in Israel," said Simeon of our Lord.
III. BUT IT IS A CRIME WHICH GOD CANNOT AWAY WITH. "How shall I pardon thee for this?" etc. "Shall I not visit," etc.?
(ver. 9). Cf. parable of fruitless fig tree" Cut it down," etc.; the talents - "Take from him the talent," etc. And the human conscience everywhere assents to this judgment of God. We judge in like manner ourselves. We feel that such are without excuse. Let us, then, consider our blessings, and ask ourselves, "What are we doing with them? how are we using them?" Let it be our daily prayer and endeavor that we fall not into this great sin.
IV. GOD'S WAY IS TO TURN OUR CURSES INTO BLESSINGS, (Cf. Nehemiah 13:2.)
1. He has done so even with sin. What curse could be greater? Yet, by the redemption there is in Christ, even that is so made subject that now
"We may rise on stepping-stones
Of our dead selves to higher things."
2. And he has done so with sorrow. Grief had been for ages going about the world, a sad-robed, somber, and ever-tearful guest in whatever house she took up her temporary abode: and there was no house she did not visit. But since the Lord Jesus became the "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," she, in virtue of that acquaintance, has changed her very nature, and the curse is turned into a blessing. She ministers help to the soul, in releasing it from the bonds of this evil world and in uplifting it towards its true Father and home in heaven.
3. And so with death. Its sting-is taken away. To them who are in Christ he is rather a friend than a foe, for he it is who opens the door of our prison-house and lets the soul go free and rise to that place -
"Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight." C.
Parallel VersesKJV: How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
WEB: "How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and sworn by what are no gods. When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops at the prostitutes' houses.