Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:…
This is a plea with the murmurers, who doubtingly asked - Where are the signs of the fulfilment of these great Divine promises? Things looked black and hopeless right up to the time of Cyrus. The Lord appeared to be delaying his coming, and it was easy for unbelievers to say that God delayed because "his hand was too short to deliver, and his ear too heavy to hear" Keble renders the text thus -
"Wake, arm Divine! awake,
Eye of the only Wise!
Now for thy glory's sake,
Saviour and God, arise,
And may thine ear, that sealed seems,
In pity mark our mournful themes!
"Thus in her lonely hour
Thy Church is fain to cry
As if thy love and power
Were vanish'd from her sky;
Yet God is there, and at his side
He triumphs who for sinners died." It may suffice to answer the murmurers who remind us of the Divine delayings, and would have us misunderstand them, and join them in doubtings of the Divine power or the Divine good will, that there are high and gracious ends served by this particular method of Divine dealing. These things at least we can see -
I. IT INCREASES OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD. It teaches us that we have not just to "ask and have," but "ask and have" in accordance with God's will, in dependence on God's wisdom, and in agreement with God's time and way. We should never learn that, if we were not sometimes made to wait. We teach our children to trust us by making them wait until we think best.
II. IT ENHANCES THE VALUE OF THE EXPECTED BLESSING. What we wait long for becomes increasingly valuable in our eyes. What is obtained easily and at once is sure to be under-estimated. The value of a gift very constantly depends on the moral preparation of those who receive it; and delay is a cultivator of moral preparation.
III. IT PRODUCES A MORE EARNEST WATCHFULNESS AND MORE BELIEVING PRAYERFULNESS FOR THE DESIRED BLESSING. It does, if we regard the delay aright. It does not, if we persist in misconceiving the purpose of the delay. Then delay will weary us, and we shall leave off to watch and be sober. Delay may be borne wisely and cheerfully when we recognize it as only the hush, the stillness, the breathlessness that ushers in the glorious showers of Divine awakening and Divine comforting. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: