Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him…
1. Here there are apparently two things expressed — a negative and a positive, two lines of conduct expressed — a forsaking one way of living and the adoption of another, but in reality the two things are but one. They are two in thought and expression, but only one in conduct. The forsaking the wicked way and the wicked thought is no other than the returning with all our heart to God. You cannot separate them. If I were to say to a man going out to his day's work. " Now, do not go to the public-house this evening when you have done work, but return straight home to your wife and children," you will see that the two pieces of advice resolve themselves into one, and he would have only to go straight home from work to fulfil both duties. And so we can forsake no evil way or evil thought but by beginning to walk in the right way and cherishing the right thought.
2. There are two methods of forsaking evil ways and evil thoughts. The one by means of self-denial and self-repression when a man's conscience arrests him and sternly forbids him to continue any longer in his evil way of life, and he makes a strong resolve that he will root out the passion or the habit that has hitherto mastered him. Then a tremendous struggle begins between the spirit and the flesh, and by the force of sheer will he holds down the rebellious appetite. The sense of duty gives him strength for a time, but, alas I the tension of the will is too strained to last, and a rebound comes, and he says, " I cannot maintain the strife any longer. I must yield." The other method begins at a different point. Instead of fighting the evil in pitched battles, he seeks to conquer by diverting the mind into a different channel of activity, and awakening within himself a different order of sentiments and affections.
3. You observe that the wicked is not only to forsake his way, but his thoughts also, so that the regeneration is to extend not only to the outward ways, but to the very inward thoughts of the mind, indicating how thorough and universal the change is to be. Now consider how firmly established men are in evil ways and evil thoughts, and how they delight in them, and how completely they are surrendered to their power. They do not want to change, and they do not believe they are capable of it. They say human nature is human nature, and that it is Utopian to expect men to give up ways of living common to all the world and to all the ages; and so they go on beating the everlasting round of human ways and human sin, till at length life becomes weary, and they die, and go we know not where. But there are some who are seized at intervals with better thoughts and nobler desires, who see before them a good in life after which they make Convulsive snatches.
4. I want to point out to any who are lamenting their failures, who have tried to conquer themselves, but have sunk back defeated, what is the Divine method as pointed out in the Bible — both in the Old and in the New Testament. It is what I have called the positive method — not the direct, but the indirect and successful. Here it is called, Seeking the Lord while He may be found, calling upon. Him while He is near, and a returning unto the Lord. Christ calls it a coming unto Him in our weariness, believing on Him so as to come into everlasting life. It is faith, the surrender of ourselves to Him, to His goodness, to His love, to His Spirit, and example, and will.
(C. Short, M. A.)The wicked, whose name, in the Hebrew language, is derived from a word that signifies to be unquiet. This designation will agree with the turbulent dispositions for which people of this character are often remarkable. Unquiet is their name, and unquietness is with them. They cannot cease from sin, which renders them unstable and fluctuating, and ofttimes uneasy to themselves and troublesome to society. In contempt of God and His authority, they are restless and assiduous in the practice of iniquity.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.