I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins: return to me; for I have redeemed you.
I. A wonderful teaching as to the INMOST NATURE OF SIN. I refer especially to the two words for sin which are employed here. That translated transgression literally means "treachery" or "rebellion," and that translated sin "missing a mark." All iniquity is stamped with this damning characteristic, it is rebellion against a loving will, an infinite King, a tender Father. And all iniquity has this, by the merciful irony of Providence, associated with it, that it is a blunder as well as a crime.
II. THE PERMANENT RECORD OF SIN. "I have blotted out." That points, of course, to something that has been written, and which it promises shall be erased. It may be, perhaps, the idea rather of a stain which is covered and removed, but that I think less probable than the other one, that the evil is written down somewhere. A book written; a permanent record of my evil doing. Where is it written? Where, rather, is it not written? Written on character, written to a very large extent even on circumstances, written above all in the calm, perfect memory of the all-judging God. The book is written by ourselves, moment by moment, and day by day. We write it with invisible ink, and it only needs to be held to the fire to flash up into legibility.
III. THE DARKENING POWER OF SIN. "I have blotted out as a thick cloud." When the cloud draws its veil over the heavens, the sunshine and the blue are shut out from a man's eye, and all the flowerets close; and when the heaven is veiled the birds cease to sing. So, like a misty veil drawn across the face of the heavens are man's sins. Our only way of knowing God is by sympathy, by conformity.
IV. THE REMOVAL OF THE SIN. I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins." The erasure implies the making a clean sheet of the blurred page; the cancelling of the whole long formidable column of figures that expresses the debt. The blotting out as a cloud implies the disappearing of the misty vapour, as some thin fleecy film will do in the dry Eastern heavens, melting away as a man looks. So God, in His marvellous patience, shining on the upper side, as it were, of all the mists that wrap and darken our souls, thins these away by the process of self-communication, until they gather themselves up, routed and broken, and disappear, floating in thin fragments beneath the visual horizon. It is to no purpose to ask whether that means pardon or cleansing. It means both. Isaiah could proclaim: "I have blotted out thy transgressions," because Isaiah could also proclaim: "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." Now, mark this, that this removal of sin, in all its aspects and powers, is regarded in my text as a past accomplished fact. It is not set forth as contingent upon the man's return, but as the reason for his return. "I have redeemed thee, therefore come back to Me," not "Come back to Me that I may redeem thee." You have to take your portion of the great blessing by the simple act and exercise of faith in Jesus Christ. Then it becomes yours.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.