But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and listened not to them; as the LORD had said.
How easy it is to mistake mercy for weakness! This was Pharaoh's mistake. The moment the Lord lifted His heavy hand from the Egyptian king, Pharaoh began to forget his oath, and vow, and promise, and to harden his heart, — saying, in effect, "He can do no more; the God of the Israelites has exhausted Himself; now that He has removed His hand He has confessed His weakness rather than demonstrated His pity." We are committing the same mistake every day: whilst the plague is in the house we are ready to do anything to get rid of it! we will say prayers morning, noon and night, and send for the holy man who has been anointed as God's minister, and will read nothing but solid and most impressive books, listen to no frivolous conversation, and touch nothing that could dissipate or enfeeble the mind. How long will the plague be removed before the elasticity will return to the man and the old self reassert its sovereignty? Not a day need pass. We begin to feel that the worst is past: we say it is darkest before it is dawn, "hope springs eternal in the human breast"; and so easily do we fall back into the old swing between self-indulgence and nominal homage to God. We think we have felt all the Lord can do, and we say, "His sword is no longer; it cannot reach us now that we have removed away this little distance from its range; now and here we may do what we please, and judgment cannot fall upon us." Thus we play old Pharaoh's part day by day. He is a mirror in which we may see ourselves. There is nothing mysterious in this part of the solemn reading. However we may endeavour to escape from the line when it becomes supernatural or romantic, we are brought swiftly and surely back to it when we see these repetitions of obduracy and these renewed challenges of Divine anger and judgment.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.