Tuesday 09 April 2019

Bible Book:

Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. (vs. 15-16)

Isaiah 49:1-7 Tuesday 9 April 2019

Psalm: Psalm 35


The transformation of the wilderness described in this passage is an inspiring image as we journey through the season of Lent. Wilderness in the Bible is almost always a place of learning, a place of encounter, a place which leads to change.

The passage begins with words of assurance and hope for Israel. God is actively at work to answer, help, keep and establish the people. Prisoners are to be freed, those who are hiding may safely emerge; hunger, thirst and the forces of nature will no longer endanger the people. It is a wonderful passage celebrating the gathering of those who have been dispersed.  There is evidence of Jewish groups existing in Egypt as early as the 6th Century BC and Syene, mentioned in verse 12 probably equates to Aswan in Egypt.

The prophecy seems to interrupt itself briefly in verse 13 with a psalm-like shout of joyous celebration; everything in creation should be singing for joy, celebrating the comfort and compassion of God. Immediately, however, this is thrown into question as Zion (a name usually used to represent Jerusalem) challenges the diligence of God as a parent with the plaintive words of verse 14. Perhaps this recalls the present state of exile and disgrace. We may note that the prophets and poets of ancient Israel appear to be more comfortable with accusing God of neglect than most 21st century Christians.

The charge is indignantly denied as quickly as it is made, with the memorable words of verse 15, comparing God to a mother who has recently given birth and whose entire body will not allow her to forget her child. Even should this happen, God will not forget. The description in verse 16 of the engraving of the people’s names on the palm of God’s hands may project our thinking to Good Friday when we recall the nails that were driven through the hands/wrists of Jesus; "those dear tokens of his passion" as Wesley described them (in ‘Lo he comes with clouds descending’) might be interpreted to be just such a remembrance.

The passage ends with additional assurance that, in the end, all will be well, Israel will be the supreme bride she was created to be and those who mock or seek to destroy will be subject to her beauty and honour.


To Ponder:

  • The season of Lent recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Reflect on how you have marked this season so far; are there signs of learning and of transformation?
  • As you read verse 9, who may be the people in our society or in our churches who need to be assured that they can ‘come out’ and live freely and without fear?
  • Where in this passage might we be led to reflect on the ‘cost of redemption’?
Previous Page Monday 08 April 2019
Next Page Wednesday 10 April 2019