Therefore also now, said the LORD, turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
Ash Wednesday is neither a saint's day, nor a festival. It is simply the first of the forty days of Lent. On this day we read the seven penitential Psalms, and the Commination Service, and thus the day assumes a severe penitential character of its own. The text reminds us that at this time we have an inward and an outward duty to fulfil. The inward duty is, the turning of the heart to God. The outward is, the mortification of our bodily appetites.
1. Fasting is a matter very little discoursed about, and very little practised. Fasting is not for the weak, the sickly, the very young, or the very poor. Fasting is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Fasting should be observed to God. Its essence is mortification, — not the mere act of abstaining from food. The fasting we should all aim at is rather the denying ourselves in respect of whatever we know to be a superfluity. A check imposed on the curiousness of appetite; a curb submitted to in respect of the quantity eaten, this is true fasting.
2. The inward conversion of the heart to God. This is the great duty of the Lenten season. To think over one's past life, and one's present state; to review one's sins, and to loathe and forsake them; to make reparation where it is possible, and to confess one's fault when one cannot repair it — this is the fast which the Lord approveth.
(J. Burgon, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
WEB: "Yet even now," says Yahweh, "turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."