You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways: behold, you are wroth; for we have sinned…
I. THE CONFESSION. "Woe are we, for we are unclean!" Like the leper, dwelling alone without the camp (Leviticus 13:44-46), so is the people; as he is cut off from the society of men, so they from the converse of God; or as something ceremonially polluted and defiled (Leviticus 5:2; Deuteronomy 14:19), or morally defiled (Job 14:4). The language carries a feeling of intense abhorrence. Under another figure, their penal offences have "carried them away like the wind," whither Jehovah is not; and they are as the leaves fallen and faded, from which all beauty has disappeared. In this degeneracy the very conscience and the religions instinct is dead, or in a state of lethargy. "How aptly is the state of a sinful world described! How indisposed to rouse itself to call upon God!" No man rises to God without an effort; and unless men make an effort for this, they fall into the stupidity of sin as certainly as a drowsy man sinks back into deep sleep. So nerveless are they, they cannot "stir themselves" to take hold on God. He, on the other hand, seems to have hidden his face from them, and to have given them over into the hand of their sins - if this be the true rendering. Their iniquities tyrannize over them; they pine in them, and moral life seems, under such conditions, hopeless.
II. THE PLEA OF THE CHURCH.
1. She reminds him of the fatherly relation. This includes creative energy and providential will. He has made them and moulded them, as clay is moulded by the potter. He, therefore, must restore them, and he alone; for they are wholly in his hand, and under his control. "The whole verse is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God. It expresses the feeling which all have under the conviction of sin, when sensible that they are exposed to the Divine displeasure for their transgressions. Then they feel, if they are to be saved, it must be by the mere sovereignty of God; and they implore his interposition to 'mould and guide them at his will.' Only when sinners have this feeling do they hope for relief; and then they feel that if they are lost, it will be right; if saved, it will be because God moulds them as the potter does the clay."
2. She reminds him of other motives for his interference. His holy cities have become waste, the holy and splendid house of Jehovah reduced to ruins, with all its precious objects. The land and the temple were alike dedicated, consecrated to God, hallowed also by the memory of ancestral piety. And what attachment stronger than that to places of worship where our forefathers engaged in the service of God? "It would be difficult to find any passage in the Bible, or out of it, to equal this in pathos. Here was an exiled people, long suffering in a distant land, with the reflection that their homes were in ruins, their splendid temple long since fired and lying in ruins, the rank grass growing in their streets, their country overrun by beasts and with a rank vegetation. To that land they sighed to return; and here, with the deepest emotion, they plead with God on behalf of their desolate country. We should go to God with deep emotion when his Church is prostrate, and then is the time when we should use the most tender pleadings, and our heart should be melted within us." We are reminded also of the lesson of childlikeness in prayer. Why should we ever be ashamed of the child-heart and the child's utterance, "crying in the night, and with no language but a cry"? "Wilt thou hold thy peace?" If there is any meaning in the names "Father" and "child" in religion, then such language is natural, reverent, justifiable; and the energy of the soul from which it springs is prevailing with the All-powerful and the All-merciful. "Here is a model of affectionate and earnest entreaty for Divine interposition in the day of calamity. Thus may all God's people learn to approach him as a Father, and feel that they have the inestimable privilege, in times of trial, of making known their wants to the Most High. Thus pleading, he will hear us; thus presenting our cause, he will interpose to save us." - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.