And Reuben answered them, saying, Spoke I not to you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and you would not hear? therefore…
From this, as well as from many other passages of Scripture, may be learnt the unpardonable nature of sin, and that even penitence itself cannot always protect us from the evils which vice naturally brings in its train. And this we see to be continually the case in the world around us. We often perceive that the consequences of one false step, one single error, can never be altogether averted, by any repentance or amendment on the part of the sinner. Suspicion and distrust still cling to him through life, haunting him at every step, and blasting all his prospects. This is the natural course of things; and what is the natural course of things but the will of God, making use of human instruments to manifest to the world His utter abhorrence of even the very appearance of evil. Let us not, then, deceive ourselves in supposing that because God has opened to us a hope of forgiveness, through the death of His Son, sin has thereby lost any of its blackness in His sight. Still less let us imitate the conduct of those who do evil that good may come, and who profanely imagine that God can be glorified by their iniquities. It is true that "there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance" — but the joy arises from the unexpectedness and difficulty of his repentance, and not from his greater acceptableness in the sight of a holy God. Let it then be our earnest labour, from our earliest youth to our latest old age, to keep ourselves as much as possible undefiled in the way, and we shall still feel enough of our original frailty within us, to convince us that we are, after all, but unprofitable servants. Let the magnitude of the price which has been paid for our offences be a proof to us of the heinous nature of sin, and not an occasion of negligence. And let us learn, from the example before us, that guilt, though it may be retrieved, by repentance, from eternal punishment in the next world, will hardly ever escape from its evil consequences in this — that though the wound may be healed, yet the scar will still remain — and that though we may sin, like Reuben, from weakness rather than from vice, yet from us, like Reuben, will some bitter atonement for our transgression be hereafter required.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.