And of whom have you been afraid or feared, that you have lied, and have not remembered me, nor laid it to your heart?…
God pleads, saying, "Who filled thee with dread, or of whom wast thou afraid, when thou provedst false, and didst not remember me?" Some mental creation of God, or some false teaching concerning God, occupied the thought and the heart, and kept the men of Israel from feeling all those persuasions to repentance which come from the full and the worthy knowledge of him. Compare the expressions, "Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance;" "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Some think that the allusion is to the helpless idols in whose aid the people vainly trusted. Matthew Arnold paraphrases thus: "How could thy calamities, and the fear of thy Babylonian tyrant, make thee so superstitious and forgetful?" Illustrating the earlier method of interpreting the verse, it may be shown how wrong and imperfect thoughts of God are still the great hindrances in men's way. These wrong thoughts come either as -
I. CREATIONS OF MEN'S OWN FEARS. God too often is not to men what he really is, but what he seems to be when seen through their fears and conscience of sin. So a revelation was needed which could assure men of God's pitying mercy and forgiving love. When men, conscious of transgression and fearing judgment, try to paint God, we cannot wonder that their picture should be untrue and unworthy The thing of which it is so difficult to persuade sinners is that there is forgiveness with God, and that he delighteth in mercy.
II. MISCONCEPTIONS OF THEOLOGICAL TEACHINGS. There is always the danger to be guarded against that the exigencies of a system make us fashion a suitable God, rather than try to recognize in all simplicity the God who has been revealed. Therefore, in our day, so many resist the teachings that are known as Calvinistic. The hard, legal Deity of that system is felt to represent most imperfectly and unworthily the Father of Jesus, and Saviour of the world. But we must understand that the false representations are more often found in the statements of those who attempt to expound a system than in the system itself.
III. AS ONE-SIDED VISIONS OF TRUTH WHICH NEEDS TO BE SEEN AS A WHOLE. This mistake is often pointed out in connection with the two attributes of "mercy" and "justice." The modern tendency to dwell on the milder features of the Divine nature, and to exclude the sterner ones, is perilously keeping men from that repentance which is the only open highway to the eternal life. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?