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15 “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.
49:15 As unthinkable as it might be that a nursing mother would forget the baby at her breast, such a tragedy has occurred on occasion. The bond between God and his people, however, is so unbreakable that he can confidently promise I will not forget you (cf. 44:21; Ps 27:10). Just as verse 14 parallels “forgotten” with “forsaken,” so verse 15 parallels forget with have no compassion on. In the strictly literal sense God cannot forget. When he “remembers” as he did with Noah during the flood (Gen 8:1), this image refers to the time when he steps in to act on behalf of Noah. God will not forsake or fail to show compassion toward his people even when he must submit them to great hardships. Far from forgetting Zion, she is (figuratively) engraved on God’s palms. “Instead of the master’s name being written on the servant’s hand, the servant’s name is written on the master’s hand.” Similarly, even though Zion’s walls will fall, they are ever before God as he envisions their rebuilding.
49:15 The Lord answers this concern with a rhetorical question that everyone in his audience would naturally agree with; thus, it would have a strong persuasive quality. Is it possible that a nursing mother would forget (šākaḥ) her infant child? The obvious answer would be no, this could never happen. A second example asks if a mother could live without having any loving compassion77 for one of the children from her own womb? Most people who hear this question would say that it is almost unimaginable that such a thing could even happen. Having created a vivid picture of the ideal mother who does not forget her children, the second half of the verse compares God’s lack of forgetfulness with a mother’s lack of forgetfulness. “Even though” “these” two mothers might possibly forget (šākaḥ) their children for a brief time (2 Kgs 6:24–30; Ps 27:10; Lam 4:10), God emphatically promises that “I myself” will never forget (šākaḥ) you, meaning Zion. This is a strong affirmation of his love and care for his people. It is unconditioned by any “if” clauses and absolute in its commitment. Elsewhere God’s acts are compared to other activities of a woman (37:3; 42:14; 66:9, 13).
 Terry R. Briley, Isaiah, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub., 2000–), 191.
 Gary Smith, Isaiah 40-66, vol. 15B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2009), 364–365.