The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven on the table of their heart…
When Bishop Latimer was on trial for his life, a trial which ended in his being burned at the stake, he at first answered without duly considering how much a single unguarded word might cost him. Presently he heard the pen of a secretary, who was seated behind the tapestry, taking down every expression which fell from his lips. It would be well for us all to remember that there is a pen now recording behind the curtain of the skies, our every evil deed and word and thought and that for all these things God will bring us into judgment. The iron pen suggests two thoughts.
1. The record which it makes is deep and indelible. So, also, with the items which are filling up page after page in the book of God's remembrance. A wealthy English landlord was once guilty of an act of tyrannical injustice to a poor, helpless widow, who rented a small cottage from him. The widow's son, whose blood boiled with indignation when he witnessed this, grew up to be a distinguished painter, and he portrayed the scene, and placed it where the eye of the cruel landlord must rest upon it. When the hard-hearted oppressor saw it, he turned pale, and trembled, and offered any sum for it, that the terrible picture might be destroyed.
2. The iron pen with its diamond point does not wear out. Be the record of one's sins as long as it may, that record will assuredly be made. It is a moment of profound interest in the life of an antiquarian, when he drags forth from the sands of Egypt some ancient obelisk, on which the iron pen has engraved, so many ages ago, the portraits of those who, in the shadowy past, acted their part on the crowded theatre of a bustling world. This, however, is as nothing, compared with the disclosures of that day, when, from the stillness and silence of the grave, shall be brought out into the dazzling light of noon, tablets covered with the sculptured history of the soul; a history which no power nor skill can then erase. And thus the prophet would teach us, by the striking figure of the iron pen with its diamond point, that sin is no trifling thing; that one single violation of the Divine law does not pass unnoticed; and that they who die with the guilt of sins unrepented of, and unpardoned, resting on their souls, have nothing to expect but the outpouring of God's terrible wrath. Vainly do we apologise for our shortcomings, on the ground of our natural bias to sin; or that the power of temptation proved too strong for us to resist. Forewarned, we ought to have been forearmed. Alas! who can contemplate his own sins against light and knowledge, against the strivings of conscience and the earnest pleadings of the Holy Spirit; who can count up his broken vows, and his contradictions of solemn confessions before God, and not tremble at the thought of the black catalogue which the iron pen has been writing down against him! When the great plague raged in London, in 1666, it was common to write over every infected house, "Lord, have mercy upon us!" Should the same inscription now be made over every abode where the plague of sin has entered, which of our habitations would not require to be thus labelled?
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;