Thus said the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away?…
For your iniquities have ye sold yourselves. Reference is to the right which fathers in the East possessed, of selling their children into slavery; and also to the power of judges to condemn malefactors to slavery. The Jews sold themselves to work wickedness, and the judgment which came upon them, in their being sold into the hands of their Babylonian enemies, was consequently, in fact, their own work. They might say that they were sold; God convicts them by reminding them of the truth they preferred not to see. The deeper truth was that they, sold themselves. Illustrate from Goethe's drama of ' Faust.' In Scripture a man who is fully resolved on a course of action, is said to have "sold himself" to that course (see 1 Kings 21:20); and a Divine judgment, which takes form as the conquest of a nation by its enemies, is called a "selling" to the enemy (see Judges 2:14; Judges 10:7). St. Paul even uses the same figure in Romans 7:14, saying, "The Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." The figure suggests that, by giving himself up to wilfulness, self-indulgence, and sin, a man expects to get a price, and deludes himself into the idea that the price will be worth the risk. Practical applications may be made by considering -
I. MAN, THE SELLER.
1. What has he to sell? Himself - his powers, time, gifts, relationships, influence, and possibilities.
2. Has he any right to sell? No real right, but an apparent right. It is the first sign of man's going wrong, that he claims the right to sell himself, or do what he pleases with his life. A man is really not his own. He has nothing that is his own, and so he has nothing to sell. He must take himself out of the hands of God before he can sell himself to anybody; and the possibility of doing this is the peril involved in trusting man with a limited free-will. Still, it should be clearly seen that, when any man sells himself, he sells stolen property, for a man is not his own - he is God's.
II. SELF, THE BUYER. It is the custom to personify evil, and call it Satan, and in the early stages of religious knowledge such personifications are helpful. But the worst Satan, the true Mammon, is Self. He is the purchaser; and no slave-master ever figured the tyranny with which "Self" rules the slaves he purchases.
"He is the free man whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides."
III. PLEASURE, THE PRICE. Self-gratification, indulgence of the lower over the higher powers and faculties. Is the price ever, even at first, worthy of the thing sold? Christ has redeemed us from this slavery to self. The purchase price is spoken of as "his own blood." Redeeming us for himself is really buying back for us our own true selves. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
WEB: Thus says Yahweh, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, with which I have put her away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities were you sold, and for your transgressions was your mother put away.