Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me;
the Lord has forgotten me!”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
Even if these forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
Your builders hurry;
those who destroy and devastate you will leave you.
Look up, and look around.
They all gather together; they come to you.
As I live”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
Isaiah’s prophecies were written in a time period that overlapped the exile of the northern tribes of Israel and looked ahead to the eventual exile of the southern tribe of Judah. This section looks ahead to the eventual return of the people of Israel and Judah from exile after the southern tribe would be exiled when Babylon conquers Jerusalem. God is speaking to the city of Jerusalem about the eventual return of its inhabitants.
The imagery here is interesting because God, who is usually referred to as “Father,” uses the image of a mother’s care for her children to describe His love for the exiled inhabitants of Jerusalem. God cannot be pigeonholed into our descriptions of gender. Qualities that we distinguish as both masculine and feminine are found in Him.
When Zion (Jerusalem) fears that it has been forgotten by God, God assures it that He has not forgotten the city or its inhabitants. He gives the example of how unlikely it would be for a mother to forget her children. Even if it were possible for a mother to forget her own children, God will not forget Jerusalem or its inhabitants. He has Jerusalem’s name written in the palm of His hand. God promises that eventually the city will be rebuilt and its inhabitants will be returned.
There are times in our lives that we may feel like God has abandoned us and left us in desolation. In those times, we need to remember the motherly nature of God. Like a mother holds the thought of her children close in her heart, even when they are far away, God always holds us close to His heart and will not forget us. His desire is to be with us at all times, especially the difficult times.
- How do you respond when you feel that God may have abandoned you?