Who is a God like to you, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?…
In the Gospel of our salvation, all God's moral perfections are developed and glorified. No one of them is sacrificed to another, nor eclipsed by another's splendour. Each has its own special office, but freely accords their claims to all the rest. But there is one of these perfections on which the sacred writers dwell with peculiar pleasure — mercy, the first need of the fallen, the everlasting song of the redeemed. It is the theme of the Old Testament prophecy, and the charm of the New Testament history. In this text the prophet asserts, not merely that God is merciful, but that "He delighteth in mercy." Develop the thought of the peculiarity of the Divine mercy in the forgiveness of human guilt.
I. WHO PARDONETH AT SO GREAT A COST? Take parable of sending only son to the rebellious husbandman. The affection of a father for an only son, though the best that human relations can furnish, is a poor emblem of God's ineffable delight in His co-equal and co-eternal Beloved. And from the first He foresaw what His Son must suffer.
II. WHO PARDONETH ON SO EASY A CONDITION? Offenders are frequently forgiven in consideration only of some valuable service rendered. Many imagine that they can merit Divine mercy by their moral virtues. It is a fatal delusion. Man is a creature. His Creator has the unquestionable right to all he is, and all he has. When the creature has done his utmost, he is still an unprofitable servant. And man is a fallen and guilty creature. As such, he is already in arrears with God. His perfect obedience being always due, he can never make up any deficiencies. There is no possibility of doing anything beyond our bounden duty, to be set down to our credit over against any record of former delinquency. Moreover, the fallen creature cannot keep the Divine law, without the grace of its Divine Author — His prevenient grace to prepare the way — His cooperative grace to assist the effort. Not through any worthiness of our own can we hope for absolution. What is the condition of a sinner's pardon? Simple faith in Christ. What is the justifying faith? It is accepting the record which God hath given of His Son, and relying upon that Son's mediatorial merit with an undoubting trust. It is receiving Christ as the one only suitable and sufficient Saviour, and thus appropriating His purchased and proffered salvation. It is quite conceivable that other and altogether different conditions might have been imposed. But what other could have been so merciful in God, so suitable to sinners, and so easy of performance as this?
III. WHO PARDONETH WITH SO CORDIAL A LIBERALITY? What heathen divinity? What human government? What prince or potentate? Often, in the exercise of human clemency, the rich and the powerful are preferred to offenders of inferior rank; and generally, small offences are more readily forgiven than greater. But God pardoneth without partiality, and without respect of persons. Alike, to His all-forgiving love, is the debt of fifty pence, and the debt of five hundred. Though men may pardon a second or third offence, they are not likely to pardon the same offence in its frequent repetition. But God pardoneth a thousand times, pardoneth the same crime a thousand times committed. Monarchs and governors require to be petitioned and importuned for mercy: often it is necessary that others with their intercessions should enforce the plea of the offender, and even thus pardon is obtained with great difficulty, and after long delay. But God waiteth to be gracious, hasteth to be merciful, more ready to forgive than sinners are to be forgiven. Men pardon one offence out of many, and leave the rest for punishment; or they forgive, but never forget. But God pardons all offences at once, and blots them from His memory forever. You may pardon the offender, without giving him any intimation of the fact. But God absolves when He forgives. Such is the mercy of God in the forgiveness of human guilt — rich beyond all parallel in earth or heaven — admirable beyond all expression of men or angels. Then who can despair? Who can even doubt?
(J. Cross, D. D. , LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.