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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 10

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 16

AN INSINCERE CONFESSION

‘Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.’

Exodus 10:16

The words ‘I have sinned’ occur nine times in the Bible, and of the nine we may except two. 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. Of the seven that are left, four are utterly hollow and worthless; in God’s scale, wanting, unreal, and unprofitable. One of these was Pharaoh’s.

I. At what time God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart began, it is impossible exactly to determine.—But, from the first, it was judicial. It is a common story. A sin is indulged till the man is given over to his sin, then the sin is made its own punishment. It was no doubt in consequence of this hardness that Pharaoh’s repentance was never anything more than one after a worldly sort. If we allow ourselves to go through hardening processes we shall ultimately put repentance out of our power.

II. Pharaoh’s ‘I have sinned’ was—(1) A mere hasty impulse. There was no thought in it; no careful dealing with his own soul; no depth. (2) The moving principle was fear. He was agitated: only agitated. Fear is a sign of penitence, but it is doubtful whether there was ever a real repentance that was promoted by fear only. (3) Pharaoh’s thoughts were directed too much to man. He never went straight to God, and hence his confession was not thorough.

III. God accepts even the germs of repentance.—Even Pharaoh’s miserable acknowledgment had its reward. Twice, upon his confession, God stayed His hand. The loving Father welcomed even the approximation to a grace.

—Rev. Jas. Vaughan.

Illustration

‘Property was going; the land was being devastated; his empire was impoverished; and he exclaimed, “I have sinned.” He simply desired to avert a punishment that was throwing a black shadow over him!

Now, fear may be, and probably it 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.

This is the reason why so few—so very few—sick-bed repentances ever stand. They were dictated by fear only. When the Holy Ghost gives repentance, He inspires fear; and He also adds, what—if we may not yet call it love, yet has certainly some soft feeling—some desire towards God Himself.

I believe that to be essential to the grace of repentance.

That, Pharaoh had not. Again, and again—as soon as ever the chastening hand was taken off—he returned to his apathy,—to his covetousness,—to his scepticism!’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 10". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-10.html. 1876.
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