And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous…
There are no more beautiful words ever spoken on this earth — none to which an angel listens more complacently — none which wing their way more surely to heaven — none which more surely enter into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth — than those three — so personal, so true, so simple, and so full, "I have sinned." They occur nine times in the Bible; and of the nine we may except two. For where they stand — in the seventh chapter of Micah — they are the language, not of an individual, but of a Church. And the prodigal's use of them is, of course, not matter of fact or history; but only part of a parable. There remain, therefore, seven; seven persons of whom it is written that they said, I have sinned. Ii may surprise some of you to know that, of those seven, four are utterly hollow and worthless; in God's scales, wanting, unreal, and unprofitable. It is a humbling and teaching fact that in three only — of the seven instances in which persons are recorded in the Scriptures to have said, "I have sinned," was the confession true, and the repentance valid.
I. AT WHAT TIME GOD'S HARDENING OF PHARAOH'S HEART BEGAN, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE EXACTLY TO DETERMINE. But evidently from the first it was judicial. A common story. A sin indulged till the man is given over to his sin; and then the sin made its own punishment. It is not that if you repent you would not be forgiven; but it is that you reduce your heart to such a state that it places repentance out of your reach. You become like Esau. Esau, after he sold his birthright, never repented, nor wished to repent. He wished his father to repent, though he himself did not repent. Pharaoh could say, "I have sinned," and never felt it, — because his heart was "hard." Many of you are very young, and you have tender hearts. Take care; take care of that dew of your spiritual birth-lest it be brushed away! If you love the world, you will be "hardened." You say, "I will repent of my worldliness." You cannot. Your worldliness will have left you too "hard" to repent.
II. WHAT, THEN, WAS PHARAOH'S "I HAVE SINNED"? WHERE DID IT TEND?
1. It Was a mere hasty impulse. There was no thought in it; no careful dealing with his own soul; no depth.
2. The moving principle was nothing but fear. He was agitated — greatly agitated — only agitated. Now, fear may be, and probably must be, a part of real repentance. I do not despise fear. Fear is a sign of penitence. Fear is a very good thing. But I doubt whether there was ever a real repentance that was promoted by fear only.
3. Pharaoh's thoughts were directed far too much to man. It was not the "against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned." He never went straight to God. Hence his confession was not thorough.
III. And here comes the solemn thought — for comfort or for fear — IN EVERYTHING THAT IS TRUE, THERE IS A GERM, AND GOD SEES AND RECOGNIZES, AT ONCE, THE GERM. It may not have expanded. Perhaps the person — who has it — may not live long enough for it to be expanded in this world. But God knows that it can expand, and that it would expand. God judges by that germ. If it is not — that germ of love and holiness — the rest all goes for nothing. But if it be there — God accepts all for that germ.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.