2 Samuel 14:14
For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither does God respect any person…
I. GOD'S BANISHED ONES. Strip away the metaphor, and it just comes to this — you cannot be blessedly and peacefully near God unless you are far away from sin. If you take two polished plates of metal and lay them together they will adhere. If you put half a dozen tiny grains of sand or dust between them they will fall apart. And so our sins have separated between us and our God. They trove not separated God from us. His thought, and His knowledge, and His tenderness, all come to every soul of man. But they have rent us apart from Him, in so far as they make us unwilling to be near Him, incapable of receiving the truest nearness and blessedness of His presence. That banishment is self-inflicted. God spurns away no man, but men spurn Him, and flee from Him. Many of us know what it is to pass whole days, and weeks, and years, practical Atheists. God is not in all our thoughts. Away down in the luxurious islands of the Southern Sea you will find degraded Englishmen who have chosen rather to cast in their lot with savages than to have to strain and work and grow. Those poor beach-combers of the Pacific, not happy in their degradation, but wallowing in it, are no exaggerated pictures of the condition, in reality, of thousands of us who dwell fat from God, and far, therefore, from righteousness and peace.
II. GOD'S YEARNING OVER HIS BANISHED ONES. The woman in our story hints at, or suggests, a parallel which, though inadequate, is deeply true. David was Absalom's father and Absalom's king; and the two relationships fought against each other in his heart. The king had to think of law and justice; the father cried out for his son. The young man's offence had neither altered his relationship nor affected the father's heart. All that is true, far more deeply, blessedly true, in regard to our relation, the wandering exile's relation, to God. The whole preciousness of the Revelation of God in Scripture is imperilled unless we frankly recognise this, that His love is like ours, delights in being returned like ours, and is like ours in that it rejoices in presence and knows a sense of loss in absence. And it is you, you, that He wants back; you that He would fain rescue from your aversion to good and your carelessness of Him.
III. THE FORMIDABLE OBSTACLES TO THE RESTORATION OF THE BANISHED. The words "banished" and "expelled" in my text are in the original the same; and the force of the whole would be better expressed if the same English word was employed as the equivalent of both. Now, note that the language of this "wise woman," unconsciously to herself, confesses that the parallel that she was trying to draw did not go on all fours; for what she was asking the king to do was simply by an arbitrary act to sweep aside law and to remit penalty. She instinctively feels that that is not what can be done by God, and so she says that He "devises means" by which He can restore His banished. If there are to be any pardon and restoration at all, they must be such as will leave untouched the sovereign majesty of God's law, and untempered with the eternal gulf between good and evil. God's law is the manifestation of God's character; and that is no flexible thing which can be bent about at the bidding of a weak, good nature. The motto on the blue cover of the Edinburgh Review, for a hundred years now, is true, "The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted." David struck a fatal blow at the prestige of his own rule when he weakly let his son off his penalty. And, if it were possible to imagine such a thing, God Himself would strike as fatal a blow at the justice and judgment which are the foundations of His throne if His forgiveness was such as to be capable of being confounded with love which was too weakly indulgent to be righteous.
2. Further, if there are to be forgiveness and restoration at all, they must be such as will turn away the heart of the pardoned man from his evil. The very story before us shows that it is not every kind of pardon which makes a man better.
3. If there are to be forgiveness and restoration at all, they must come in such a fashion as that there shall be no doubt whatsoever of their reality and power.
IV. THE TRIUMPHANT, DIVINE SOLUTION OF THESE DIFFICULTIES. The work of Jesus Christ, and the work of Jesus Christ alone, meets all the requirements. That work of Christ's is the only way by which it is made absolutely certain that sins forgiven shall be sins abhorred; and that a man once restored shall cleave to his Restorer as to his life. God has devised a means. None else could have done so. We are all exiles from God unless we have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. In Him, and in Him alone, can God restore His banished ones. In Him, and in Him alone, can we find a pardon which cleanses the heart, and ensures the removal of the sin which it forgives. In Him, and in Him alone, can we find, not a peradventure, not a subjective certainty, but an external fact which proclaims that verily, there is forgiveness for us all.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.