William Nicholson, 1862
"As a mother comforts her child — so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Isaiah 66:13
The condescending love of God to sinners is most astonishing. Though he is the High and Lofty One — yet he knows, pities, and cares for worms of the earth — sinful, frail, dying men.
Human language is insufficient to express the heights and depths of Divine compassion. Though the most striking metaphors have been adopted by the sacred writers, they do but imperfectly express it. The chapter is pregnant with important events.
I. Believers are frequently placed in circumstances in which they need the comfort of their divine parent.Yes, from the birth of their spiritual life, to its consummation in glory — they are never without need of Divine Comfort. They are called "babes in Christ," and that term is indicative of what they need.
(1.) As babes they are weak and helpless. Even as a child comes into the world, naked, helpless, and crying — so the sinner when he is born again, is "naked, wretched," and mourns for sin, cries out in distress for mercy. They therefore need the arm of Omnipotence to uphold and defend them, and the bosom of Infinite Love to nourish and sustain them.
(2.) They are ignorant, and require to be taught of God, by his Spirit, in His school.
(3.) They are liable to error. Sometimes deceived by the crafty — they go astray — they decline in spirituality, and are occasionally in spiritual darkness. They need comfort.
(4.) They are subject to spiritual conflicts, arising from the flesh, and Satan, and the world with its allurements, its smiles and frowns, its cares and anxieties. They have conflict from wicked, persecuting men. They have conflict from afflictions, bereavements, and death. They therefore need comfort.
II. God is the source of comfort to his people."As a mother comforts her child — so will I comfort you." He is called, "The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Also, "God, who comforts the downcast" 2 Corinthians 7:6
In accordance with this view, he has provided:
A comforting atonement. Romans 5:10, 11. This is a comfortable and safe refuge — a hiding place, etc.
A comforting Advocate. "He makes intercession for us." See 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25
A comforting Spirit, to enlighten, quicken, guide, witness, sanctify, seal. John 14:16; 16:7, 13; Romans 8:14-16, 26; Galatians 5:20
His comforting presence, "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!" Matthew 28:20. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5
His comforting Word and Promises, they are "a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." "He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises." "This is my comfort in my affliction; for your word has quickened me."
His comforting Hope of Glory. "In my father's house, "An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — reserved in Heaven for you!" 1 Peter 1:4. "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away!" 1 Peter 5:4
His comforting Privileges and Ordinances. Such as prayer — fellowship — preaching — baptism — Christian fellowship — the Lord's Supper.
This comfort is superior to all human comfort. It is pure — suitable — and meets every case! He will comfort his children in every state, wherever placed, and at any time. When billow after billow rolls upon them, when temptations come in like a flood — he is there! In youth, in the troubles of life, in sickness, in old age, in death — he is there as their Comforter.
III. That divine comfort is most endearing and effective."As a mother comforts her child — so will I comfort you."
This is a beautiful and striking comparison. No other relationship can so expressively represent the parental kindness of God, as an affectionate mother caring for her beloved child.
The true friend loves at all times,
brothers and sisters often dearly love, and
the life of the father is frequently bound up in the life of the child.
But a mother is the greatest and most tender comforter. Solicitude for the welfare of her children follows her through life, and often rushes upon her mind, even amid the reflections and prospects of her dying hour.
1. God will comfort his people with all the affection and solicitude of a mother. See the mother — how she loves, strives, labors, suffers, and sacrifices for her child. See the love of God, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1. He sees his image in his children, and loves them.
A mother watches over and defends her child. So does our heavenly Father. He is a wall of fire — a refuge — a strong tower, etc. etc.
A mother is solicitous to care and provide for her child. So, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" "Casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you!"
2. God will comfort his people with all the patience and forbearance of a mother. "For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust!" Psalm 103:14. "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness!" Psalm 103:8
3. God will comfort his people with all the forgiveness and consolation of a mother. How ready to forgive her erring, wandering child! How ready to console in trouble! "The LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted." Isaiah 49:13
4. God will comfort his people with all the instruction and correction of a mother. A good and wise mother will both instruct and correct. Just so, God teaches in various ways, and whom he loves, he chastens. "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6
5. God will comfort his people with all the constancy of a mother. When does the love of a mother end? "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands!" Isaiah 49:15-16. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end!" John 13:1
IV. That this comfort is specially imparted in the house of God."As a mother comforts her child — so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem." This name is often used to denote the church of Christ. Isaiah 40:2,9; 52:1,2; etc. etc.
1. It is the place appointed for his people to wait for and receive comfort.
2. It is the place where he delights to dwell and meet his people.
3. It is there where his Spirit is poured out to comfort.
4. The performance of holy Duties there also yields comfort. Praise, prayer, study of the Word, hearing of the Word, etc. etc.
1. Are we the children of God?
2. Have we sensible tokens of his comfort?
3. How terrible must be God's frown!