“Mercy Upon His Afflicted”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 49:13–16)

This poetic passage provides yet another reminder of Christ’s saving role, that of protective, redeeming parent to Zion’s children. He comforts his people and shows mercy when they are afflicted, as any loving father or mother would toward a child, but, as Nephi here reminds us through Isaiah, much more than any mortal father and mother could do. Although a mother may forget her sucking child (as unlikely as any parent might think that could be), Christ will not forget the children he has redeemed or the covenant he has made with them for salvation in Zion. The painful reminders of that watch care and covenant are the marks of the Roman nails graven upon the palms of his hands.

(Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 84.)

A young woman approached me in a city far from my home and came under some pressure from her husband. She admitted to me that she had committed adultery. She was a bit hard and unyielding, and finally said: “I know what I have done. I have read the scriptures, and I know the consequences. I know that I am damned and can never be forgiven, and therefore why should I try now to repent?”
My reply to her was: “My dear sister, you do not know the scriptures. You do not know the power of God nor his goodness. You can be forgiven for this heinous sin, but it will take much sincere repentance to accomplish it.”
Then I quoted to her the cry of her Lord:
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion of the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee (Isa. 49:15).
I reminded her of the Lord’s words in our own dispensation to the effect that whoever repents and obeys God’s commandments will be forgiven (D&C 1:32). My visitor looked bewildered but seemed to be yearning as though she wanted to believe it. I continued: “Eventually forgiveness will come for all but the unpardonable sins to that transgressor who repents sorely enough, long enough, sincerely enough.”…
She wanted so much to believe it. She said she had known all her life that adultery was unforgivable. And I turned again to the scriptures and read to her the oft-repeated statement of Jesus:
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men … (Matt. 12:31–32).
She had forgotten that scripture. Her eyes lighted up. She reacted joyously to it, and asked, “Is that really true? Can I really be forgiven?” …
How great the joy to feel and know that God will forgive sinners! … This woman, who was basically good, straightened up and looked me in the eye, and in her voice was a new power and resoluteness as she said: “Thank you, thank you! I believe you. I shall really repent and wash my filthy garments in the blood of the Lamb and obtain that forgiveness.”
Not long ago, she returned to my office a new person—bright of eye, light of step, full of hope as she declared to me that, since that memorable day when hope had seen a star and had clung to it, she had never reverted to adultery nor any approaches to it.

(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969] 340–42.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon