O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways,
and hardened our heart from thy fear?
Return for thy servants’ sake,
the tribes of thine inheritance. (Isaiah 63:17)

“O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways?” i.e., Given us up to error and obstinance? Why dost thou thus punish sin with sin, for the illustration of thy justice and jealousy against us, who have rebelled and vexed thine Holy Spirit? {1} Oh, be pleased to deal with us rather according to thy mercy.

Return for thy servants’ sake“: the good people that are yet left among us; give us hearts of flesh, and lead us in the way everlasting.

Here observe that God’s best children may find in themselves hardness of heart, {2} yet not total, but mixed with softness and tenderness in every part, so that though they resist, neglect, profit not as they might do—through pride, worldliness, voluptuousness, {3, 4} hypocritical hiding of any sin, {5, 6 } letting fall the watch of the Lord {7} -yet it is not done with full consent, but with reluctance now, and repentance afterwards.

Notes:

  1. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit:
    therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Isa 63:10
  2. For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer:
    now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ho 4:16
  3. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. Mt 13:22
  4. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Lu 21:34
  5. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old
    through my roaring all the day long.
    For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me:
    my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. Ps 32:3,4
  6. Happy is the man that feareth alway:
    but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. Pr 28:14
  7. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. 2Ch 32:25

 

The painting: The Prophet Isaiah, 1726-1729 – Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
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