If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me…
I. WHAT IS THAT REPENTANCE WHICH GOD REQUIRES?
1. That we acknowledge our guilt. Our fathers' sins as well as our own are first grounds of national humiliation. Our own sins are the chief burden of personal contrition. But sin should be viewed in its true light, as "walking contrary to God" (Psalm 51:4).
2. That we justify God in His judgments. If we have dared to walk contrary to Him, is not He justified in "walking contrary to us"? Whatever inflictions He imposes we have reason to own it as less than our deserts (Ezra 9:13), and that His judgments are just (Revelation 16:7).
3. That we be thankful for His dealings by which He has "humbled our uncircumcised hearts." Only real contrition can produce this. It realises mercy in judgment, and love in affliction.
II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN OUR REPENTANCE AND GOD'S MERCY. Repentance is void of merit. Even obedience is destitute of merit; "when we have done all we could we are unprofitable servants." The acknowledgment of a debt is a very different thing from a discharge of that debt. A condemned criminal may be sorry for his offences, but that sorrow does not obliterate his crime, still less entitle him to rewards. Yet there is connection between repentance and pardon, and meekness in the exercise of mercy towards the penitent —
1. On God's part. For repentance glorifies God (Joshua 7:19).
2. On the part of the penitents. It incites to loathing of the sin, and to adoration of Divine grace. So God insists on the condition, "If they be humbled, then will I pardon." For then God can do it consistently with His honour, and they will make a suitable improvement of the mercy vouchsafed them.
III. THE GROUND AND MEASURE OF THAT MERCY WHICH PENITENTS MAY EXPECT. God's covenant with their ancestors was the basis and warrant of His mercy to Israel (vers. 42, 44, 45). His covenant with us in Christ is our hope and guarantee.
1. Be thankful that you are yet within reach of mercy.
2. Have especial respect unto the covenant of grace. It is to that God looks, and to that should we look also. It is the only basis on which mercy and redemption are possible.
(C. Simeon, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;