But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; the Lord has forgotten me!"
I. THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT OFTEN CONDUCE TO SUSPICIONS ON THE PART OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD CONCERNING THE LORD'S GOODNESS.
I. THE TEMPTATION. "Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me." The temptation is to ascribe the cause of feeling in our own mind to a Being outside us; forgetting that "'tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus." It does not follow, because our hearts are dry, that the fountain of comfort is sealed. It does not follow, because we feel ourselves lonely, that the good God has deserted us; nor, because we do not realize the Divine presence, that God has forgotten us. But the mind naturally leans on signs and symbols and outward manifestations. The act of faith - so simple to speak about - the "walk by faith, not by sight," is really most difficult. There are times when even the noblest of mankind are unequal to such an effort. Reason will hardly meet the case. "He that despairs," it has been said, "limits an infinite Power to a finite apprehension, and measures Providence by his own little contracted model." True; and the truth is not consoling. The sense and assurance of love alone can console.
II. DESPONDENCY MET. Not by censure, not by argument, but by the assurance of uninterrupted and undying love. It is a Divine love; surpassing, therefore, the noblest manifestations of human love - that of father or moth, or. A woman may, like a Lady Macbeth, allow some mightier passion to get the better even of maternal love. But there is no mightier passion in the heart of God than the love to his children. Human memory is infirm; but God cannot forget. The picture of Israel is graven on the palms of his hands. "It is indelible, like the sacred marks of devotees. Jehovah inverts the usual order. A worshipper needs a consecrating mark to remind him of his relation to God. Zion's God, though not needing such reminder, has condescended to grave Jerusalem on the palms of his hands. The objects of human interest are changing; God concentrates his thought on his people. "Thy walls are ever before me." The visible city was indeed destroyed, but God had his eye upon the preservation of the spiritual building for eternity. "Dost thou think that that is the city of which I said, 'I engraved thee on the palms of my hands'? Nay; that building is not now built in the midst of you. It is that which shall be revealed in my presence; it was prepared from the time when I meditated to produce a Paradise, and I showed it to Adam before he sinned; when he cast away my command, it was removed from him. And now, lo! it hath been kept by me, even as Paradise." Men's thoughts decline to the material; God is concerned with the ideal and eternal. And in this truth lies profound encouragement. Forms decay, institutions come down with a mighty crash; the building of the ages is ever going on. And it must go on by means of the labours of Zion's children. The desolate city will yet be clothed with ornaments like a lonely bride; and she who has been as a desolate widow will have a family too numerous to be contained within present narrow bounds.
III. UNFAILING HOPE IN JEHOVAH. At his bidding, and with the hearty aid of the Gentiles, the exiles shall return to their own houses, as the foster-father carries the child in the bosom of his garment. The custom is Oriental (see on 2 Kings 10). The meaning is that the princes of the Gentiles shall favour and respect Israel. Some fulfilment may be seen in the conduct of the Persian kings, of Alexander and his successors towards the Jews; another kind of fulfilment in the patronage of the Church by Constantine. But the full accomplishment of the prediction remains for the future. But incredulity breaks in. "Can the tyrant be made to disgorge his prey?" This shall take place. Jehovah shall appear in battle-might, as Avenger and Hero of Jacob, and the foes shall be put to shame. Jehovah - those that hope in him shall not be ashamed. The strain that began with the mutterings of despondency ends in the triumph of confidence and exultation. Hope in the Eternal - this must be our sure stay in the times of the nation's, the Church's, the individual's need. Our conduct cannot rise higher than our hopes, no more than the water in the pipe can rise higher than the spring-head. He who lives by the hopes of the present and passing world, acts and suffers with a strength that is less than might be his. Nothing in this world can support us against trials which threaten the loss of our worldly all. We can only be borne up by something mightier and greater than this world, not to be found in it, but in the Eternal himself. - J.
But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me.I. ZION'S BUILDING. "Zion" here signifies the true Church. Elsewhere she is called Jerusalem; and very frequently is she spoken of as a city or building.
1. If we inquire who is her builder, we find that there is but one who can properly be called by this name. The founder of the true Church is He by whom God made the worlds; therefore she is called "The city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 60:14). The plan of Zion's building is older than the world itself. The Lord buildeth up Zion, and He alone. Whenever He uses any of us as His under-builders, He first makes us sensible of our own weakness; the excellency of the power is of Him, and not of us.
2. If we inquire concerning the foundation of the true Church, an apostle meets us with an answer: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
3. If we consider the building itself, it consists of lively stones.
4. The "operations" of the great Master-builder are not uniform, but marked by "diversity." Some stones are separated from their quarry, and brought off by a preparatory process, in a gradual and gentle manner. Others again, are shivered from their worldly holds, as by the explosion of rocks. If we closely inspect the building, we find the lively stones admirable for their unity, evenness, and mutual conformity.
II. ZION'S COMPLAINT. We have heard of Zion, the city and dwelling-place of our God: and that "the Lord loveth the gates of Zion" (Psalm 87:2). But how faithfully and ardently He loves her, she herself does not always consider. Why else that complaint which now comes under our notice? It is acknowledged that circumstances may arise, under which nothing may appear more just than this complaint of Zion.
III. GOD'S PROMISE. "Can a woman forget," &c.
(F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)
1. When we recollect how often we have forgotten and forsaken Him.
2. When the aspect of providence is dark and mysterious.
3. When the mind appears to be bereft of its ordinary supports and consolations.
4. When a great and prevailing doubt obtains as to the safety of our state after all.
II. WHAT THERE IS IN GOD TO CONVINCE HIS CHURCH THAT HE NEVER WILL FORSAKE HER.
1. It is contrary to His nature — as contrary to His nature to forget and forsake His Church. as it is contrary to the nature of a kind and tender mother to forget and forsake her child. Our Lord teaches us to reason from the less to the greater. "If ye, being evil, know how to give, how shall not your Father," &c.
2. It is contrary to His promise. "Yet will I not forget thee."
3. It is contrary to the character of His dispensations, for He never has forsaken His Church.
4. It is contrary to His people's own sober expectations. For Zion does not in her heart believe her own prophetic forebodings. She still speaks of Him, not only as "the Lord" in one part of the verse, but as "my Lord" in the other — which she would never do, as a reasonable person, had she finally forgotten or forsaken God, or believed that God had finally forgotten and forsaken her.
1. Times of deep affliction; of dark and mysterious providences; days in which there is no light.
2. These are seasons oftentimes, in which, through our frailty, imperfection, sin, and sinfulness, the weakness of our faith and the strength of unbelief, the believer may be led to form some suspicions concerning the goodness of God.
3. Besides this, there may be periods of deep spiritual temptation.
4. Some laxity in the walk will oftentimes briny strength to a man's suspicions here.
5. He may be in a state of spiritual captivity.
II. THE GREAT SECURITY THAT IS HERE PLACED BEFORE US. "Can a woman forget her sucking child," &c. There cannot be a figure more tender, more comprehensive. It is the figure of a helpless babe: there is the tenderness of the tie; there is the helplessness of the child; and there is the very posture of the child; and they are all full of great and important truth; and yet according to those last words — "they may forget; yet will I not forget thee" — this is not enough. As though the Lord would say, If My love were not more than this, it would not be enough to secure thee.
III. GOD DOES GIVE PROOF THAT THIS TENDER LOVE DOES NOT FORGET. "They may forget; yet will I not forget thee." He does not forget their persons. "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands." They are borne upon the heart of the great High Priest. He forgets not the work of grace that is in them. He forgetteth not the trials of His saints. He forgetteth not the returns of His people He forgetteth not the walk of His saints. He forgetteth them not in death.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)
I. A MOURNFUL COMPLAINT. "Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me," He exercises no care over me; "and my Lord hath forgotten me," He feels towards me no affection. Let us look into this. The wicked think too much of the goodness of God; they mistake the evidences of His general bounty for the evidences of His peculiar friendship. While they live regardless of His praise, they yet hope in His mercy, and persuade themselves that He will not be rigorous to mark what they have done. The very reverse of this is the disposition of all the subjects of Divine grace. They know that self-deception is tremendous; and therefore they are afraid of self-deception; and they often carry their solicitudes here beyond the point of duty, and in reading and in hearing they will apply to themselves what was intended only for others; for, as an old divine says, "There is no beating the dogs out without making the children cry." Let us try to trace up this complaint to its source; and to see the wretchedness that conclusion must produce in the minds of all God's people. There is a philosophical notion, which is of a semi-infidel character, which supposes that the providence of God is general, and not particular. He regards the whole, and therefore must regard the parts; for the whole is always made up of parts; and He does regard the most minute parts. It is a religious despondency that affects Christians. It is not the influence of infidelity, but it is the influence, first, of unbelief, or weakness of faith. It arises also from ignorance. It springs sometimes from the suspension of Divine manifestation We may also mention conflicting with the troubles of life. We remark once more, the delay of God in the accomplishment of prayer. But who can find language properly to describe the wretchedness that such a conclusion as this, "The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me," must ever produce in the minds of the godly? The misery that the child of God feels from such a conclusion, may be accounted for by three things.
1. That he loves God.
2. He entirely relies upon Him.
3. He has enjoyed Him already. He has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and therefore prays, Evermore give us this bread.
II. THE SATISFACTORY ANSWER.
1. The improbability of the fear. This is metaphorically expressed: "Can a woman forget her sucking child," &c. There are two supposable cases here. She may be bereft of reason, or not survive, and so not be able to remember it. She may be criminally, unnaturally, led to hide herself from her own flesh.
2. The certainty of the assurance, "Yet will I not forget thee."
3. The all-sufficiency of the truth established, i.e. the perpetual regard of God towards us.Conclusion —
1. Distresses and discouragements are not incompatible with religion.
2. How concerned God is, not only for His people's safety, but for their comfort also.
3. Let His people fall in with His designs. Let them be humbled, and mourn over their ignorance, perverseness, impatience, and unbelief; that they have entertained such hard thoughts of God; that they have so often charged Him foolishly, and unrighteously, and unkindly.
4. Do not take the comfort belonging to a gracious state, unless you are the subjects of a gracious character.
1. There is the guilt of which we are conscious in our own hearts; the sense of evil desert m ourselves.
2. Then there comes in the undeniable fact of suffering in himself and all around him, which apparently, at first sight, justifies this attitude of mind, and certainly confirms it.
3. We thus discover a third source from which distrust in God springs; the perversions which have been substituted for the pure Gospel by different branches of the Christian Church
(J. N. Bennie, LL. B.)
PlacesBabylon, Syene, Zion
TopicsForgotten, Forsaken, Memory, Zion
Outline1. Christ being sent to the Jews, complains of them
5. He is sent to the Gentiles with gracious promises
13. God's love is perpetual to his church
18. The ample restoration of the church
24. The powerful deliverance out of captivity
Dictionary of Bible ThemesIsaiah 49:14
LibrarySeptember 20. "They Shall not be Ashamed that Wait" (Isa. Xlix. 23).
"They shall not be ashamed that wait" (Isa. xlix. 23). Often He calls us aside from our work for a season and bids us be still and learn ere we go forth again to minister. Especially is this so when there has been some serious break, some sudden failure and some radical defect in our work. There is no time lost in such waiting hours. Fleeing from his enemies the ancient knight found that his horse needed to be reshod. Prudence seemed to urge him without delay, but higher wisdom taught him to halt …
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