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…
I. GOD HAS ENDOWED MAN WITH CAPACITIES TO ACT IN SOME MEASURE LIKE HIMSELF, INASMUCH AS BOTH HAVE THEIR "THOUGHTS AND WAYS."
1. God has His thoughts — thoughts about Himself — the universe; about all actualities and possibilities. Some of His thoughts have been embodied and their forms destroyed, centuries ago Some are now embodied in creation, In historical events, in redemption, etc. Some are yet to be embodied in new universes, etc. And some will never take form. There is an infinite ocean of thought in the Divine mind that has never yet taken form, and never will.
2. God has His ways. He has settled methods of action. He has a method of creating, governing, destroying, and saving. Hence science and art, which imply settled methods.
3. Man has his thoughts. He is full of thought, of some sort or other; he thinks by a necessity of his nature; his power to think is the glory of his nature.
4. Man too has his ways. He has his methods of doing things.
II. BETWEEN THE THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF WICKED AND UNRIGHTEOUS MEN AND THOSE OF GOD THERE IS AN IMMENSE MORAL DISPARITY. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc. We say moral disparity, for natural disparity must exist by an eternal necessity. We may mention two points of moral difference. One in relation to being in general, and the other in relation to enemies.
1. As to the former, God's thoughts and ways are concerned for the general happiness, those of wicked men for personal ends.
2. As to the latter, God's thoughts are concerned for the pardon of the offender, those of the wicked for punishment.
(1) God graciously offers pardon to the offender. Do the wicked do so?
(2) God graciously offers pardon to offenders much beneath Him. Do the wicked do so?
(3) God graciously offers pardon to offenders who have repeatedly rejected His overtures. Do the wicked do so?
(4) God graciously offers pardon through a wonderful sacrifice — His Son. Would the wicked do so?
III. THE MORAL DISPARITY BETWEEN THE THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF WICKED MEN AND THOSE OF GOD RENDERS A CHANGE ON THE PART OF THE FORMER URGENTLY NECESSARY. " Let the wicked," etc. Why? Because "My thoughts," etc. Two thoughts are implied here, and will show the strength of this reason.
1. A moral disparity of thought and way between the creature and the Creator is eternally incompatible with the creature's well-being. God's thoughts and ways are the resistless forces of the universe. He who thinks and acts contrary battles against every wind and wave of being and the mighty Spirit in all. He must be crushed.
2. The removal of this disparity will never take place by any change on God's part. The words imply this, and it is a great truth. God cannot change, and there is no need for Him to change. Here, then, is the argument; if a moral disparity exists, and if the removal is essential to our well-being, and if God cannot change, "let the wicked," etc.
IV. THIS GREAT CHANGE ON THE PART OF THE WICKED IS ENCOURAGED BY THE ASSURANCE THAT GOD WILL MERCIFULLY DEAL WITH HIM ON HIS RETURN. "He will have mercy on him;" "He will abundantly pardon."
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.