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God’s Day of Vengeance and Redemption 1 Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.”
1. Barnes, “Who is this - The language of the people who see Yahweh returning as a triumphant conqueror from Idumea. Struck with his stately bearing as a warrior; with his gorgeous apparel; and with the blood on his raiment, they ask who he could be? This is a striking instance of the bold and abrupt manner of Isaiah. He does not describe him as going forth to war nor the preparation for battle; nor the battle itself, nor the conquests of cities and armies; but he introduces at once the returning conqueror having gained the victory - here represented as a solitary warrior, moving along with majestic gait from Idumea to his own capital, Jerusalem. Yahweh is not unfrequently represented as a warrior (see the notes at Isa_42:13). From Edom - On the situation of Edom, and for the reasons of the animosity between that country and Judea, see the Aanlysis to Isa. 34. With dyed garments - That is, with garments dyed in blood. The word rendered here ‘dyed’ ( חמוּץchâmûts), is derived from חמץchâmats, to be sharp and pungent, and is usually applied to anything that is sharp or sour. It is applied to color that is bright or dazzling, in the same manner as the Greeks use the phrase χρῶµα ὀξύ chrōma oxu - a sharp color - applied to purple or scarlet. Thus the phrase πορφύραι ὀξύταται porphurai oxutatai means a brilliant, bright purple (see Bochart, Hieroz. i. 2. 7). It is applied to the military cloak which was worn by a warrior, and may denote here either that it was originally dyed of a scarlet color, or more probably that it was made red by the blood that had been sprinkled on it. Thus in Rev_19:13, the Son of God is
represented as clothed in a similar manner: ‘And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.’ In Isa_63:3, the answer of Yahweh to the inquiry why his raiment was red, shows that the color was to be attributed to blood. From Bozrah - On the situation of Bozrah, see the notes at Isa_34:6. It was for a time the principal city of Idumea, though properly lying within the boundaries of Moab. In Isa_34:6, Yahweh is represented as having ‘a great sacrifice in Bozrah;’ here he is seen as having come from it with his garments red with blood. This that is glorious in his apparel - Margin, ‘Decked.’ The Hebrew word ( הדוּרhâdûr) means “adorned, honorable, or glorious.” The idea is, that his military apparel was gorgeous and magnificent - the apparel of an ancient warrior of high rank. Traveling in the greatness of his strength - oyes renders this, ‘Proud in the greatness of his strength,’ in accordance with the signification given by Gesenius. The word used here (צעה tsâ‛âh) means properly “to turn to one side, to incline, to be bent, bowed down as a captive in bonds” Isa_51:14; then “to bend or toss back the head as an indication of pride” (Gesenius). According to Taylor (Concord.) the word has ‘relation to the actions, the superb mien or manner of a triumphant warrior returning from battle, in which he has got a complete victory over his enemies. And it may include the pomp and high spirit with which he drives before him the prisoners which he has taken.’ It occurs only in this place and in Isa_51:14; Jer_2:20; Jer_48:12. The Septuagint omits it in their translation. The sense is doubtless that Yahweh is seen returning with the tread of a triumphant conqueror, flushed with victor, and entirely successful in having destroyed his foes. There is no evidence, however, as Taylor supposes, that he is driving his prisoners before him, for he is seen alone, having destroyed all his foes. I that speak in righteousness - The answer of the advancing conqueror. The sense is, ‘It is I, Yahweh, who have promised to deliver my people and to destroy their enemies, and who have now returned from accomplishing my purpose.’ The assurance that he speaks in righteousness, refers here to the promises which he had made that be would rescue and save them. Mighty to save - The sentiment is, that the fact that he destroys the foes of his people is an argument that he can save those who put their trust in him. The same power that destroys a sinner may save a saint; and the destruction of a sinner may be the means of the salvation of his own people.
2. Clarke, “Who is this that cometh from Edom - Probably both Edom and Bozrah are only figurative expressions, to point out the place in which God should discomfit his enemies. Edom signifies red, and Bozrah, a vintage. Kimchi interprets the whole of the destruction of Rome. I that speak in righteousness “I who publish righteousness” - A MS. has המדברhammedabber, with the demonstrative article added with greater force and emphasis: The announcer of righteousness. A MS. has צדקהtsedakah, without בbe prefixed; and so the Septuagint and Vulgate. And thirty-eight MSS. (seven ancient) of Dr. Kennicott’s, and many of De Rossi’s, and one of my own, add the conjunction וvau to רבrab, and mighty; which the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate confirm. - L. 2B. Spurgeon, “By the words "to save" we understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire onward to complete sanctification. The words are multum in parro: indeed, here is all mercy in one word. Christ is not only "mighty to save" those who repent, but he is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but he is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who
hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of his name to bend the knee before him. ay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after-work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by "the Mighty God." The bush burns, but is not consumed. He is mighty to keep his people holy after he has made them so, and to preserve them in his fear and love until he consummates their spiritual existence in heaven. Christ's might doth not lie in making a believer and then leaving him to shift for himself; but he who begins the good work carries it on; he who imparts the first germ of life in the dead soul, prolongs the divine existence, and strengthens it until it bursts asunder every bond of sin, and the soul leaps from earth, perfected in glory. Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is "mighty to save." You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm, and rouse it to put forth its strength. Does your own case trouble you? Fear not, for his strength is sufficient for you. Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is "mighty to save;" the best proof of which lies in the fact that he has saved you. What a thousand mercies that you have not found him mighty to destroy! 3. Gill, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?.... These are not the words of the angels at the time of Christ's ascension to heaven; or of the people of Israel; but rather of the prophet, or of the church he represents; by whom this question is put, not concerning Michael the archangel returning from fighting the king of Persia, for what has Edom and Bozrah to do with Persia? nor concerning Judas Maccabaeus, in whose times it seems a victory was obtained over the Edomites: the description is too grand and august to agree with any mere man; rather therefore it is to be understood of God himself taking vengeance on the wicked, many of the characters agreeing with the description of him in Isa_59:16 though it seems best of all to interpret it of the Messiah. Aben Ezra observes, that there are some that say this is the Messiah; others that it is Michael; but, says he, it is right that it respects the glorious name, that is, Jehovah himself; the first sense he gives is most correct. Several Jewish writers, ancient as well as modern, interpret this of the Messiah, whom they yet expect to come from Rome to the land of Israel, which they suppose is meant by Edom. So says one (n) of their writers, "when the King Messiah shall come, he will be clothed in purple, beautiful to look at, which in colour shall be like to wine for the clothing of the King Messiah shall be silk, red as blood; and it shall be worked with the needle in various colours, and he shall be the Head of Israel; and this is what is said in Isa_63:1 "wherefore art thou red in thy apparel?"'' And, say others of their ancient writers (o), the Ishmaelites or Turks shall fight three battles in the latter day; one in the forest of Arabia; another in the sea; and a third in the great city Rome, which shall be greater than the other two; and from thence shall spring the Messiah, and he shall look upon the destruction of the one and of the other, and from thence shall he come into the land of Israel, as it is said, "who is this that comes from Edom?" &c. So Abarbinel (p) asserts, that the Ishmaelites or Turks shall come against Rome, and destroy it; and then shall be revealed the Messiah, the son of David, and shall complete the redemption of the Lord, according to Dan_12:1 and then quotes the above passage of their wise men; and upon it observes, that from thence it appears that Messiah, the son of David, shall be of the Jews that are in the captivity of Edom (or Rome), for so they explain Isa_63:1 "who is this that comes from Edom?" &c.; and so Kimchi interprets the prophecy of time to come: but though the Messiah is intended, this is to be understood not of his first coming, which was out of Zion, out of the tribe of Judah, and out of Bethlehem Ephratah; nor of his ascension to heaven, after his bloody sufferings and death, and the victory he had obtained over all our spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell;
for that was from the land of Judea, from Mount Olivet, near to Jerusalem, the place of his sufferings and death; but of his spiritual coming, which is yet future, to take vengeance on antichrist, and all the antichristian powers. It is usual in Scripture for the enemies of the church and people of God in Gospel times to be expressed by such who were the known and implacable enemies of the people of Israel; and such were the Edomites, the inhabitants of Idumea, of which Bozrah was a principal city; see Psa_137:7 and were a lively emblem of antichrist and his followers, for their relation to the people of Christ, their cruelty to them, and contempt of them; from the conquest and slaughter of which Christ is here represented returning as a victorious and triumphant conqueror; see Isa_34:5 hence he is said to come from thence "with dyed garments", or "stained" (q); that is, with the blood of his enemies; so Jarchi interprets it dyed in blood, or dipped in it; to which agrees the apparel of Christ in Rev_19:18, where he is said to be clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; which chapter is the best commentary upon this passage, referring to the same time and case: it follows, this that is glorious in his apparel; for though it was thus stained and discoloured with the blood of his enemies, yet was glorious to himself, having gotten such a complete victory over all his and his church's enemies, and so was glorious to them to behold; and especially, since on this vesture, and on his thigh, is a name written, "King of kings, and Lord of lords", Rev_19:16, travelling in the greatness of his strength? marching in great stateliness and majesty at the head of his victorious troops, he nor they having nothing to fear from their enemies, being all vanquished and destroyed. Strength, and the greatness of it, may well be ascribed to Christ, who is the mighty God, yea, the Almighty; the mighty man, made strong by the Lord for himself; and the mighty Mediator, having all power in heaven and earth: he travelled in the greatness of his strength from heaven to earth, by the assumption of our nature; while here he went about continually doing good; with the utmost intrepidity he went forth to meet his foes, and death itself, at the proper time, and without fear passed through the valley of the shadow of death; when raised again, in his ascension to heaven, he marched through the territories of Satan, the air, in great triumph, dragging him and his principalities and powers at his chariot wheels; and when he had poured down his Spirit plentifully, he went forth into the Gentile world in the ministration of the Gospel, conquering and to conquer; and in the latter day he will come and take vengeance on all the antichristian states, and return in triumph, to which this passage refers; see Rev_17:14 the answer to the question follows, I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save; these are the words of Christ describing himself, by his speech and by his power, by his word and by his works: he "spoke in righteousness", at the making of the covenant of grace in eternity, some things by way of request for his elect, others by way of promise for them; all which he has faithfully and righteously performed: under the Old Testament dispensation, he spake many things in righteousness by his prophets, and by his Spirit in them; yea, he often appeared in a human form, and spoke to the patriarchs and others: when here on earth, he spoke "in" or "of righteousness" (r); of the righteousness of God he came to declare; of his own righteousness he came to bring in; and of the happiness of those who sought it, and were justified by it; and of the insufficiency of man's righteousness to bring him to heaven: here it seems to have a more especial respect to the promises made to the church, of her salvation from her enemies, and of the destruction of them; which will now be accomplished, and appear to be the true and faithful sayings of Christ, Rev_19:9 and that he is "mighty to save" appears from the spiritual salvation of his people he has already wrought out: God laid help on one that is mighty, and he being mighty undertook it, and has accomplished it; and which work required strength, even almighty power, since sin was to be atoned for by bearing it, the law to be
fulfilled, justice to be satisfied, the wrath and curse of God to be endured, and innumerable enemies to be engaged with; and of such a nature was that salvation, that neither angels nor men could ever have effected it: and this his power to save will be further manifest, when the beast and false prophet, antichrist, and all the antichristian powers, shall be destroyed by him, and his people entirely delivered out of their hands, Rev_11:18. The Targum of the whole is, "who hath said these things that shall bring the blow upon Edom, the strong vengeance on Bozrah, to execute the vengeance of the judgment of his people, as he hath sworn unto them by his word? he saith, behold I appear as I spake in righteousness, much power is before or with me to save'' 4. Henry, “It is a glorious victory that is here enquired into first and then accounted for. 1. It is a victory obtained by the providence of God over the enemies of Israel; over the Babylonians (say some), whom Cyrus conquered and God by him, and they will have the prophet to make the first discovery of him in his triumphant return when he is in the country of Edom: but this can by no means be admitted, because the country of Babylon is always spoken of as the land of the north, whereas Edom lay south from Jerusalem, so that the conqueror would not return through that country; the victory therefore is obtained over the Edomites themselves, who had triumphed in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Psa_137:7) and cut off those who, making their way as far as they could from the enemy, escaped to the Edomites (Oba_1:12, Oba_1:13), and were therefore reckoned with when Babylon was; for no doubt that prophecy was accomplished, though we do not meet in history with the accomplishment of it (Jer_49:13), Bozrah shall become a desolation. Yet this victory over Edom is put as an instance or specimen of the like victories obtained over other nations that had been enemies to Israel. This over the Edomites is named for the sake of the old enmity of Esau against Jacob (Gen_27:41) and perhaps with an allusion to David's glorious triumphs over the Edomites, by which it should seem, more than by any other of his victories, he got himself a name, Psa_60:1-12, title, 2Sa_8:13, 2Sa_8:14. But this is not all: 2. It is a victory obtained by the grace of God in Christ over our spiritual enemies. We find the garments dipped in blood adorning him whose name is called The Word of God, Rev_19:13. And who that is we know very well; for it is through him that we are more than conquerors over those principalities and powers which on the cross he spoiled and triumphed over. In this representation of the victory we have, I. An admiring question put to the conqueror, Isa_63:1, Isa_63:2. It is put by the church, or by the prophet in the name of the church. He sees a mighty hero returning in triumph from a bloody engagement, and makes bold to ask him two questions: - 1. Who he is. He observes him to come from the country of Edom, to come in such apparel as was glorious to a soldier, not embroidered or laced, but besmeared with blood and dirt. He observes that he does not come as one either frightened or fatigued, but that he travels in the greatness of his strength, altogether unbroken. Triumphant and victorious he appears, And honour in his looks and habit wears. How strong he treads! how stately doth he go! Pompous and solemn is his pace, And full of majesty, as is his face; Who is this mighty hero - who! - Mr. orris The question, Who is this? perhaps means the same with that which Joshua put to the same
person when he appeared to him with his sword drawn (Jos_5:13): Art thou for us or for our adversaries? Or, rather, the same with that which Israel put in a way of adoration (Exo_15:11): Who is a God like unto thee? He tells who he is: I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. He is the Saviour. God was Israel's Saviour out of the hand of their oppressors; the Lord Jesus is ours; his name, Jesus, signifies a Saviour, for he saves his people from their sins. In the salvation wrought he will have us to take notice, (1.) Of the truth of his promise, which is therein performed: He speaks in righteousness, and will therefore make good every word that he has spoken with which he will have us to compare what he does, that, setting the word and the work the one over against the other, what he does may ratify what he has said and what he has said may justify what he does. (2.) Of the efficacy of his power, which is therein exerted: He is mighty to save, able to bring about the promised redemption, whatever difficulties and oppositions may lie in the way of it. 'Tis I who to my promise faithful stand, I, who the powers of death, hell, and the grave, Have foil'd with this all-conquering hand, I, who most ready am, and mighty too, to save. - Mr. orris
5. Jamison, “Isa_63:1-19. Messiah coming as the avenger, in answer to His people’s prayers. Messiah, approaching Jerusalem after having avenged His people on His and their enemies, is represented under imagery taken from the destruction of “Edom,” the type of the last and most bitter foes of God and His people (see Isa_34:5, etc.). Who — the question of the prophet in prophetic vision. dyed — scarlet with blood (Isa_63:2, Isa_63:3; Rev_19:13). Bozrah — (See on Isa_34:6). travelling — rather, stately; literally, “throwing back the head” [Gesenius]. speak in righteousness — answer of Messiah. I, who have in faithfulness given a promise of deliverance, am now about to fulfil it. Rather, speak of righteousness (Isa_45:19; Isa_46:13); salvation being meant as the result of His “righteousness” [Maurer]. save — The same Messiah that destroys the unbeliever saves the believer.
5B. Ron Teed, “When the Lord returns two questions will be asked of Him: “Who is this?” and “Why are Your garments red?” He will be coming from Edom (Isaiah 34:5-9), the wicked nation southeast of Israel that often opposed God’s people and therefore is under God’s wrath (Malachi 1:4), and from Bozrah, Edom’s capital city, which is now Buseirah (Busayrah) in modern-day Jordan. Here Edom is representative of the people of the world who hate God. Coming from there, Jesus’ garments will be crimson and red because they are stained with blood from slaughtering His enemies in Edom. The phrase in verse 1, “majestic in His apparel,” can also be translated “Robed in splendor” and signifies Christ’s power and glory as He will stride forward toward Israel to save and deliver her (Romans 11:26).[fn] Isaiah’s vision of the Messiah in bloody robes, trampling the nations as a farmer tramples grapes to make wine, is the background for our Civil War’s most famous song, “The Battle Hymn of the
Republic.” Despite the complaints of those who cannot conceive of a God of love taking vengeance, the image of God’s Servant, the Messiah, putting down mankind’s rebellion to establish justice is fully in keeping with the Old Testament’s revelation of the character of God. What should give us major concern is not this vision of divine judgment, but our own insensitivity to the injustices God hates.[fn] At the Messiah’s coming, He will execute His wrathful judgment on the unbelieving enemies of his people. The picture presented by the prophet was of a divine warrior returning from judgment. His garments were red from the blood of those He had judged. The imagery is precisely that of Revelation 14:18–20 and 19:3.[fn] The Lord’s garments spattered with blood will appear red as if He had been in a winepress. A winepress was usually a shallow pit with a hole on the side leading out to a container. As individuals trampled on grapes in the press, the juice flowed through the hole into the container. Obviously some juice would also splatter on the workers’ clothes. As the Lord will fight and defeat the nations (Isaiah 34:2) in the Battle of Armageddon,[fn] He will take vengeance on them[fn] in His anger and wrath. God’s wrath is also pictured as being like a winepress in Revelation 14:19-20. Though that day will bring doom to Jesus’ enemies, it will mean deliverance, redemption, and salvation, for those of His covenant people who turn to Him.[fn] The scene here is the same as in Rev 14:18, 19. A Christ-rejecting, Gospel-spurning world leaves the Lord no other alternative but to send fearful and terrible destruction when the time of His longsuffering is past
6. K&D, “This is the smallest of all the twenty-seven prophecies. In its dramatic style it resembles Psa_24:1-10; in its visionary and emblematical character it resembles the tetralogy in Isaiah 21:122:14. The attention of the seer is attracted by a strange and lofty form coming from Edom, or more strictly from Bozrah; not the place in Auranitis or Hauran (Jer_48:24) which is memorable in church history, but the place in Edomitis or Gebal, between Petra and the Dead Sea, which still exists as a village in ruins under the diminutive name of el-Busaire. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, in deep red clothes from Bozrah? This, glorious in his apparel, bending to and fro in the fulness of his strength?” The verb châmats means to be sharp or bitter; but here, where it can only refer to colour, it means to be glaring, and as the Syriac shows, in which it is generally applied to blushing from shame or reverential awe, to be a staring red (ὀξέως). The question, what is it that makes the clothes of this new-comer so strikingly red? is answered afterwards. But apart from the colour, they are splendid in their general arrangement and character. The person seen approaching is ( בּלְבוּשׁ ֹו הָדוּרcf., Arab. ḥdr and hdr, to rush up, to shoot up luxuriantly, ahdar ִ used for a swollen body), and possibly through the medium of hâdâr (which may signify primarily a swelling, or pad, ὄγκος, and secondarily pomp or splendour), “to honour or adorn;” so that hâdūr signifies adorned, grand (as in Gen_24:65; Targ. II lxx ὡραῖος), splendid. The verb tsâ‛âh, to bend or stoop, we have already met with in Isa_51:14. Here it is used to denote a gesture of proud self-consciousness, partly with or without the idea of the proud bending back of the head (or bending forward to listen), and partly with that of swaying to and fro, i.e., the walk of a proud man swinging to and fro upon the hips. The latter is the sense in which we understand tsō‛eh here, viz., as a syn. of the Arabic mutamâli, to bend proudly from one side to the other (Vitringa: se huc illuc motitans). The person seen here produces the impression of great and abundant strength; and his walk indicates the corresponding pride of self-consciousness. “Who is this?” asks the seer of a third person. But the answer comes from the person himself, though only seen in the distance, and therefore with a voice that could be heard afar off. “I am he
that speaketh in righteousness, mighty to aid.” Hitzig, Knobel, and others, take righteousness as the object of the speaking; and this is grammatically possible ( = בּπερί, e.g., Deu_6:7). But our ְ prophet uses בצדקin Isa_42:6; Isa_45:13, and בצדקהin an adverbial sense: “strictly according to the rule of truth (more especially that of the counsel of mercy or plan of salvation) and right.” The person approaching says that he is great in word and deed (Jer_32:19). He speaks in righteousness; in the zeal of his holiness threatening judgment to the oppressors, and promising salvation to the oppressed; and what he threatens and promises, he carries out with mighty power. He is great ( ,רבnot ;רבS. ὑπερµαχῶν, Jer. propugnator) to aid the oppressed against their ַ ָ oppressors. This alone might lead us to surmise, that it is God from whose mouth of righteousness (Isa_45:23) the consolation of redemption proceeds, and whose holy omnipotent arm (Isa_52:10; Isa_59:16) carries out the act of redemption. 7. Dr. Constable, "Having described the exaltation of Zion and her enlargement through the influx of the Gentiles, the prophet turns to describe the destruction ofZion's enemies." "The oracle is most dramatic. The only OT passage that in any way resembles it is the account of Joshua's encounter with the angelic captain of the Lord's host (Josh. 5:13—6:5). There too, as here, there are two questions and two answers; and there is a similar anxious inquiry: 'Are you for us or for our enemies?'" 63:1 Isaiah described a watchman observing a Warrior coming from the southeast, the direction of Edom (red) and its capital Bozrah (vintage; cf. 52:8). Edom was Israel's perennial enemy, but here it quite clearly represents, by synecdoche, all Israel's enemies.” “Watts viewed this warrior as follows. He is "a symbol of Persian imperial power fightingJerusalem's and Yahweh's battles for them. Perhaps he is best thought of as Megabyzus, the redoubtable Persian general who served as satrap of Beyond the River during this period [i.e., the post-exilic period] . . . 8. Calvin, “Who is this that cometh from Edom? This chapter has been violently distorted by Christians, as if what is said here related to Christ, whereas the Prophet speaks simply of God himself; and they have imagined that here Christ is red, because he was wet with his own blood which he shed on the cross. But the Prophet meant nothing of that sort. The obvious meaning is, that the Lord comes forth with red garments in the view of his people, that all may know that he is their protector and avenger; for when the people were weighed down by innumerable evils, and at the same time the Edomites and other enemies, as if they had been placed beyond the reach of all danger, freely indulged in wickedness, which remained unpunished, a dangerous temptation might arise, as if these things happened by chance, or as if God did not care for his people, or chastised them too severely. If the Jews were punished for despising God, much more the Edomites, and other avowed enemies of the name of God, ought to have been punished. The Prophet meets this very serious temptation by representing God the avenger as returning from the slaughter of the Edomites, as if he were drenched with their blood. There is great liveliness and energy in a description of this sort, Who is this? for that question raises the hearts of the hearers into a state of astonishment, and strikes them more forcibly than a plain narrative. On this account the Prophet employed it, in order to arouse the hearts of the Jews from their slumbering and stupefaction. We know that the Edomites were somewhat related to the Jews by blood; for they were descended from the same ancestors, and derived their name from Esau, who was also called Edom. (Genesis 36:1, 8, 9.) Having corrupted the pure worship of God, though they bore the same mark of circumcision, they persecuted the Jews with deadly hatred. They likewise inflamed the rage of other enemies against the Jews, and shewed that they took great pleasure in the ruin of that people, as is evident; from the encouraging words addressed by them
to its destroyers. “Remember, O Lord, (says the Psalmist,) the children of Edom, who, in the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, said, Raze, raze it even to the foundations.” (Psalm 137:7.) The Prophet, therefore, threatens that judgment shall be passed on the Edomites, that none may imagine that they shall escape punishment for that savage cruelty with which they burned towards their brethren; for God will punish all wicked men and enemies of the Church in such a manner as to shew that the Church is the object of his care. Beautiful in his raiment. Because spots of blood pollute and stain the conquerors, Isaiah affirms that God will nevertheless be “beautiful in his raiment,” after having taken vengeance on the enemies. In like manner, we have seen in other passages (Isaiah 34:6) that the slaughter of the wicked is compared to sacrifices, because the glory of God shines brightly in them; for can we conceive of any ornament more lovely than judgment? Thus, in order to impress men with reverence for God’s righteous vengeance, he pronounces the blood with which he was sprinkled, by slaying and destroying the wicked, to be highly beautiful and ornamental. As if he had said, “Think not that God will resemble a person of mean rank. Though he be drenched with blood, yet this will not prevent his glory and majesty from shining brightly.” Marching in the greatness of his strength. Various expositions of the word (tzogneh) are given by the Jews. Some view it in a transitive sense, as referring to the people whom the Lord brought back from captivity. Others refer it to the nations whom the Lord will remove to another country, though they appear to have a settled habitation. But I consider it to he more agreeable to the context to give to it an absolute sense as a noun. The Prophet, therefore, describes God’s majestic march and heroic firmness, by which he displays vast power. I who speak. The Lord himself replies; and this carries much more authority than if the Prophet spoke in his own person. Believers are reminded by him of former predictions, that they may know that in the judgments of God not only his justice and goodness, but likewise his faithfulness is manifested. As if he had said, “Behold, ye now see fulfilled what I have already and frequently testified to you by my servants. This effect of my promises clearly shews that I am true, and that I speak justly and sincerely, and not for the purpose of deceiving you.” The vision would have been little fitted to strike their minds, if the Jews had not remembered those promises which they formerly heard; but since the design of it was, that they should rely on God’s salvation, he at the same time claims for himself no ordinary power to save. 9. Ironside, “This passage has often been misapplied. The words, “I have trodden the winepress alone,” have often been used of our blessed Lord going through the agony of Gethsemane’s Garden, and there is a sense in which one might think of Him there as “treading the winepress,” but the whole context here shows it is treading the winepress in judgment on the foes of Israel. It links with Revelation 14:15-20, where we have the vintage, and the vine of the earth is fully ripe and is cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God. It is the Eastern figure. They gathered their grapes, threw them into a great winepress, and then, taking off part of their garments, with bare feet the young men stepped into the winefat, trod out the fruit, and became spattered with the red blood of the grapes. It was always a time of great rejoicing.” 10. F. B. Meyer, “WE CA never speak of our Lord as we would! We select the richest metaphors of Scripture, the ideals of poets, the masterpieces of the rarest art; but none of them suffice. We steep our thought with fragments from the diaries and autobiographies of the saints. We meditate on His words till our hearts begin to burn! But we come back to the light of common days, and the summons of daily tasks, knowing that we have Him, but what He is neither tongue can tell
nor heart conceive. We await, therefore, with some impatience, till the veil will part asunder and we shall see Him as He is. The wistful yearning after Christ, which has characterised every age, has broken out again and again in transcendent expression, but among all the imaginings of sanctified and glowing souls, it is hard to find one more suggestive and inspiring than this pre-vision of Isaiah. He is standing on the foothills of the Judean table-land, looking due south toward Edom, when he is startled by an unexpected and extraordinary spectacle. A mighty Conqueror is descried in the distance, of commanding appearance traversing slowly and majestically the desert-wastes, His back toward Edom, His face toward the Judean frontier. He is clearly alone. Whether He had led an army, or had completed His work without an army, is not immediately apparent; but He approaches, travelling in the greatness of His strength. It is only natural that the astonished seer should challenge Him with the cry: "Who is this that cometh from Edom?" Across the intervening space the answer comes: "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save!" Clearly, then, He is no enemy, but an Ally, and much more! The word save suggests that there is no reason for fear, but every reason to hope. otice the special aspect of Jesus Christ which appears in this scene. It is not Jesus on the Cross, but in His Resurrection and Ascension glory. He it is who stands Sentry between us and the power of the flesh, for which Edom stands. He is not simply the Forgiver of Sin, but the Conqueror over all Sin. He is more than a Conqueror for Himself--He is responsible for all who trust Him.
11. Alexander Maclaren, “‘Mighty to save.’—ISAIAH lxiii. 1. We have here a singularly vivid and dramatic prophecy, thrown into the form of a dialogue between the prophet and a stranger whom he sees from afar striding along from the mountains of Edom, with elastic step, and dyed garments. The prophet does not recognise him, and asks who he is. The Unknown answers, ‘I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Another question follows, seeking explanation of the splashed crimson garments of the stranger, and its answer tells of a tremendous act of retributive destruction which he has recently launched at the nations hostile to ‘My redeemed.’ ow we note that this prophecy follows, both in the order of the book and in the evolution of events, on those in chapter lxi., which referred to our Lord’s work on earth, and in chapter lxii., which has for part of its theme His intercession in heaven. And we are entitled to take the view that the place as well as the substance of this prophecy referred to the solemn act of final Judgment in which the returning Lord will manifest Himself. Very significant is it that the prophet does not recognise in this Conqueror, with blood-bespattered robes, the meek sufferer of chapter liii., or Him who in chapter lxi. came to bind up the broken-hearted. And very instructive is it that the title in our text comes from the stranger’s own lips, as relevant to the tremendous act of judgment from which He is seen returning. The title might seem rather to look back to the former manifestation of Him as bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows. It does indeed, thank God, look back to that never-to-be-forgotten miracle of mercy and power, but it also brings within the sweep of His saving might the judgment still to come. I. The mighty Saviour as made known in the past and present. We think much of the meek and gentle side of Christ’s character. Perhaps we do not think enough of the strength of it. We trace His great sacrifice to His love, and we can never sufficiently adore that incomparable manifestation of a love deeper than our plummets can fathom. But probably we do not sufficiently realise what gigantic strength went to the completion of that sacrifice. We know the solemn imagining of a great artist who has painted a colossal Death
overbearing the weak resistance of a puny Love; but here love is the giant, and his sovereign command brings Death obedient to it, to do his work. Yes, that weak man hanging on the Cross is therein revealed as ‘the power of God.’ Strange clothing of weakness which yet cannot hide the mighty limbs that wear it! And if we think of our Lord’s life we see the same combination of gentleness and power. His very name rings with memories of the captain whose one commanded duty was to ‘be strong and of a good courage.’ In Him was all strength of manhood—inflexible, iron will, unchanging purpose, strength from consecration, strength from righteousness. In Him was the heroism of prophets and martyrs in supreme degree. In Him was the strength of indwelling Divinity. He fought and conquered all man’s enemies, routed sin, and triumphed over Death. In the Cross we see divine power in operation in its noblest form, in its intensest energy, in its widest sweep, in its most magnificent result. He is able to save, to save all, to save any. He is mighty to save, and is able to save unto the uttermost, because He lives for ever, and His power is eternal as Himself. II. The mighty Saviour as to be manifested in the future. Clearly the imagery of the context describes a tremendous act of judgment. And as clearly the Apocalyptic Seer understood this prophecy as not only pointing to Christ, but as to be fulfilled in the final act of judgment. He quotes its words when he paints his magnificent vision of the Conqueror riding forth on his white horse, with garments sprinkled with blood and treading the ‘winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.’ And the vision is interpreted unmistakably when we read that, though this Conqueror had a name unknown to any but Himself, ‘His name is called the Word of God.’ So the unity of person in the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, full of grace and of this Mighty One girt for battle, is taught. Keeping fast hold of this clue, the contrast between the characteristics of the historical Jesus and of the rider on the white horse becomes solemn and full of warning. And the contrast between the errand of the historical Jesus and that of the Conqueror bids us ponder on the possibilities that may sleep in perfect love. We have to widen our conceptions, if we have thought of our Jesus only as love, and have thought of love as shallow, as most men do. We are sometimes told that these two pictures, that of the Christ of the Gospels and that of the Christ of the Apocalypse, are incapable of being fused together in one original. But they can be stereoscoped, if we may say so. And they must be, if we are ever to understand the greatness of His love or the terribleness of His judgments. ‘The wrath of the Lamb’ sounds an impossibility, but if we ponder it, we shall find depths of graciousness as well as of awe in it. Let us learn that the righteous Judge is logically and chronologically the completion of the picture of the merciful Saviour. In this age there is a tendency to treat sin with too much pity and too little condemnation. And there is not a sufficiently firm grasp of the truth that divine love must be in irreconcilable antagonism with human sin, and can do nothing but chastise and smite it. III. The saving purpose of even that destructive might. Through the whole Old Testament runs the longing that God would ‘awake’ to smite evil. The tragedy of the drowned hosts in the Red Sea, and Miriam and her maidens standing with
their timbrels and shrill song of triumph on the bank, is a prophecy of what shall be. ‘Ye shall have a song as in the night a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goeth with a pipe to come unto the mountain of the Lord.’ And at the thought of that solemn act of judgment they who love the Judge, and have long known Him, ‘may lift up their heads’ in the confidence that ‘their redemption draweth nigh.’ That is the last, and in some sense the mightiest, greatest act by which He shows Himself ‘mighty to save His redeemed.’ So we may, like the prophet, see that swift form striding nearer and nearer, but, unlike the prophet, we need not to ask, ‘Who is this that cometh?’ for we have known Him from of old, and we remember the voice that said, ‘This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.’ ‘Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness before Him in the day of judgment.’
2 Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress?
1. Barnes, “Wherefore art thou red? - The inquiry of the people. Whence is it that that gorgeous apparel is stained with blood? And thy garment like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? - Or rather the ‘wine-press.’ The word used here ( גתgath) means the place where the grapes were placed to be trodden with the feet, and from which the juice would flow off into a vat or receptacle. Of course the juice of the grape would stain the raiment of him who was employed in this business, and would give him the appearance of being covered with blood. ‘The manner of pressing grapes,’ says Burder, ‘is as follows: having placed them in a hogshead, a man with naked feet gets in and tread the grapes; in about an hour’s time the juice is forced out; he then turns the lowest grapes uppermost, and tread them for about a quarter of an hour longer; this is sufficient to squeeze the good juice out of them, for an additional pressure would even crush the unripe grapes and give the whole a disagreeable flavor.’ The following statement of I. D. Paxton, in a letter from Beyrout, March 1, 1838, will show how the modern custom accords with that in the time of Isaiah: ‘They have a large row of stone vats in which the grapes are thrown, and beside these are placed stone troughs, into which the juice flows. People get in and tread the grapes with their feet. It is hard work, and their clothes are often stained with the Juice. The figures found in Scripture taken from this are true to the life.’ This method was also employed in Egypt. The presses there, as represented on some of the paintings at Thebes, consisted of two parts; the lower portion or vat, and the trough where the men with naked feet trod the fruit, supporting themselves by ropes suspended from the roof (see Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians, ii, 155). Vitringa also notices the same custom. Huc, pater O Lenae, veni; nudataque musto Tinge nero mecum direptis crura cothurnis. Georg. ii. 7, 8 This comparison is also beautifully used by John, Rev_14:19-20 : ‘And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press even unto the horses’ bridles.’ And in Rev_19:15, ‘And he treadeth the wine-press of
the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.’ The comparison of blood to wine is not uncommon. Thus in Deu_32:14, ‘And thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.’ Calvin supposes that allusion is here made to the wine-press, because the country around Bozrah abounded with grapes.
2. Clarke, “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel - For ללבושךlilebushecha, twenty-nine MSS. (nine ancient) of Kennicott’s, and thirty of De Rossi s, and one edition, have ללבושיך lilebusheycha in the plural; so the Septuagint and Syriac. And all the ancient Versions read it with מmem, instead of the first לlamed. But the true reading is probably מלבושךmalbushecha in the singular, as in Isa_63:3. - L.
3. Gill, “ Wherefore art thou red in thy apparel,.... Christ having satisfied the church as to her first question, concerning his person, who he was; she puts a second to him, about the colour of his garments, which was red, and the reason of it. His garments at his transfiguration were white as snow, whiter than any fuller on earth could whiten them; his robe of righteousness is fine linen, clean and white; the garment of his human nature, or his form as man, was white and ruddy; but this, through his bloody sufferings, became red, being all over bloody through the scourges he received, the crown of thorns he wore, the piercing of his hands, feet, and sides, with the nails and spear; but here it appears of this colour not with his own blood, but with the blood of his enemies, as is hereafter explained: and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? or winepress, into which clusters of grapes are cast, and these are trodden by men, the juice of which sparkles on their garments, and stains them, so that they become of a red colour. 4. Henry, “The other question it, “Wherefore art thou red in thy apparel? What hard service hast thou been engaged in, that thou carriest with thee these marks of toil and danger?” Is it possible that one who has such majesty and terror in his countenance should be employed in the mean and servile work of treading the wine-press? Surely it is not. That which is really the glory of the Redeemer seems, primâ facie - at first, a disparagement to him, as it would be to a mighty prince to do the work of the wine-dressers and husbandmen; for he took upon him the form of a servant, and carried with him the mark 5. Jamison, “The prophet asks why His garments are “dyed” and “red.” winefat — rather, the “wine-press,” wherein the grapes were trodden with the feet; the juice would stain the garment of him who trod them (Rev_14:19, Rev_14:20; Rev_19:15). The image was appropriate, as the country round Bozrah abounded in grapes. This final blow inflicted by Messiah and His armies (Rev_19:13-15) shall decide His claim to the kingdoms usurped by Satan, and by the “beast,” to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the hostile Gentiles, as His first coming was a day of judgment to the unbelieving Jews.
6. K&D, “The seer surmises this also, and now inquires still further, whence the strange red colour of his apparel, which does not look like the purple of a king's talar or the scarlet of a chlamys. “Whence the red on thine apparel, and thy clothes like those of a wine-presser?” מַדּוַּע inquires the reason and cause; ,למָּהin its primary sense, the object or purpose. The seer asks, ָ
“Why is there red ('âdōm, neuter, like rabh in Isa_63:7) to thine apparel?” The Lamed, which might be omitted (wherefore is thy garment red?), implies that the red was not its original colour, but something added (cf., Jer_30:12, and lâmō in Isa_26:16; Isa_53:8). This comes out still more distinctly in the second half of the question: “and (why are) thy clothes like those of one who treads (wine) in the wine-press” (begath with a pausal á not lengthened, like baz in Isa_8:1), i.e., saturated and stained as if with the juice of purple grapes? 7. Calvin, “Wherefore is thy raiment red? He proceeds with the same subject; but, as it would have impaired the force of the narrative, he does not immediately explain whence came the red color of God’s garments, but continues to put questions, that he may arouse their minds to the consideration of what is strange and uncommon. He means that this sprinkling of blood is something remarkable and extraordinary. The comparison drawn from a “wine-press” is highly appropriate; for the town Bozrah, which he mentioned a little before, lay in a vine-bearing district. As if he had said, “There will be other vintages than those which are customary; for blood shall be shed instead of the juice of the grapes.”
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.
1. Barnes, “I have trodden the wine-press alone - I, Yahweh, have indeed trod the wine-press of my wrath, and I have done it alone (compare the notes at Isa_34:5-6). The idea here is, that he had completely destroyed his foes in Idumea, and had done it by a great slaughter. For I will tread - Or rather, I trod them. It refers to what he had done; or what was then past. And their blood shall be sprinkled - Or rather, their blood was sprinkled. The word used here ( נצחnētsach) does not commonly mean blood; but splendor, glory, purity, truth, perpetuity, eternity. Gesenius derives the word, as used here, from an Arabic word meaning to sprinkle, to scatter; and hence, the juice or liquor of the grape as it is sprinkled or spirted from grapes when trodden. There is no doubt here that it refers to blood - though with the idea of its being spirted out by treading down a foe. And I will stain all my raiment - I have stained all my raiment - referring to the fact that the slaughter was extensive and entire. On the extent of the slaughter, see the notes at Isa_34:6-7, Isa_34:9-10.
2. Clarke, “And of the people there was none with me - I was wholly abandoned by them: but a
good meaning is, o man has had any part in making the atonement; it is entirely the work of the Messiah alone. o created being could have any part in a sacrifice that was to be of infinite merit. And I will stain “And I have stained” - For אגאלתיegalti, a verb of very irregular formation, compounded, as they say, of the two forms of the preterite and future, a MS. has אגאלהוegalehu, the regular future with a pleonastic pronoun added to it, according to the Hebrew idiom: “And all my raiment, I have stained it.” The necessity of the verb’s being in the past tense seems to have given occasion to the alteration made in the end of the word. The conversive וvau at the beginning of the sentence affects the verb, though not joined to it; of which there are many examples: anithani עניתני remim רמים umikkarney ומקרני
“And thou wilt hear me (or hear thou me) from among the horns of the unicorns,” Psa_22:22. - L. Instead of על בגדיal begadai, upon my garments, one of my ancient MSS. has לארץ בגדיlarets begadai, to the earth: but this word is partly effaced, and עלal written in the margin by a later hand.
3. Gill, “I have trodden the winepress alone,.... This is an answer to the question before put, and confirms what was observed, that his garments were like one that treadeth in the winepress; this was very true, he had trodden it, and trodden it alone, and that was the reason his garments were of such a hue; what others did by their servants, he did by himself, alone and without them. The winepress is a symbol of the wrath of God; not of what Christ bore himself as the sinner's surety, for then he was trodden as a vine, or the clusters of it, himself; but of what he executed on others. Wicked men are compared to clusters of the vine; the winepress into which they are cast is the wrath of God, and Christ is the treader of it; particularly he will be in the latter day, when antichrist and his followers will be destroyed by him; see Rev_14:18. And of the people there was none with me; either fighting with him, that could oppose him, any more than the clusters of grapes can resist the treaders of them; or to assist him in taking vengeance on his enemies: for though the armies of heaven follow him in white, these are little more than attendants and spectators, at most but instruments; all the power to conquer and destroy is from himself, and owing to the twoedged sword proceeding out of his mouth, Rev_19:14 even as when he stood in the legal place and stead of his people there were none of them with him; he alone was the author of salvation, none could bear the wrath of God but himself, or engage with spiritual enemies, or work out salvation for them. But of this the texts speaks not, only of the destruction of the enemies of Christ and his church: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; with great eagerness, with all his might and strength; and this is the reason why his garments were so stained, even with the blood of his enemies, trodden and trampled under foot by him in this furious manner; as a person in a winepress alone, and treading it with all his might, has his garments more sparkled and stained with the juice of the grape, than when there are many, and these tread lightly. The words being in the future tense show that they respect time to come; and the manner of speaking ascertains the accomplishment of them, and which is further confirmed by what follows:
and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment; just as the garments of those that tread in the winepress are sprinkled and stained with the juice of the grape; this will have its accomplishment when he shall appear in a vesture dipped in blood, or shall be as bloody, with the blood of his enemies, as if it was dipped in it, Rev_19:13. 4. Henry, “He tells how he came to appear in this hue (Isa_63:3): I have trodden the wine-press alone. Being compared to one that treads in the wine-fat, such is his condescension, in the midst of his triumphs, that he does not scorn the comparison, but admits it and carries it on. He does indeed tread the wine-press, but it is the great wine-press of the wrath of God (Rev_14:19), in which we sinners deserved to be cast; but Christ was pleased to cast our enemies into it, and to destroy him that had the power of death, that he might deliver us. And of this the bloody work which God sometimes made among the enemies of the Jews, and which is here foretold, was a type and figure. Observe the account the conqueror gives of his victory. (1.) He gains the victory purely by his own strength: I have trodden the wine-press alone, Isa_63:3. When God delivered his people and destroyed their enemies, if he made use of instruments, he did not need them. But among his people, for whom the salvation was to be wrought, no assistance offered itself; they were weak and helpless, and had no ability to do any thing for their own relief; they were desponding and listless, and had no heart to do any thing; they were not disposed to give the least stroke or struggle for liberty, neither the captives themselves nor any of their friends for them 5. Jamison, “Reply of Messiah. For the image, see Lam_1:15. He “treads the wine-press” here not as a sufferer, but as an inflicter of vengeance. will tread ... shall be ... will stain — rather preterites, “I trod ... trampled ... was sprinkled ... I stained.” blood — literally, “spirited juice” of the grape, pressed out by treading [Gesenius]. 6. Calvin, “Alone have I pressed the wine-press. The Prophet now explains the vision, and the reason why the Lord was stained with blood. It is because he will take vengeance on the Edomites and other enemies who treated his people cruelly. It would be absurd to say that these things relate to Christ, because he alone and without human aid redeemed us; for it means that God will punish the Edomites in such a manner that he will have no need of the assistance of men, because he will be sufficiently able to destroy them. The Jews might have objected that the Edomites are powerful, and are not harassed by any wars, but are in a flourishing and tranquil condition. The Prophet shews that this does not prevent the Lord from inflicting punishment on them whenever he shall think proper. Human means were, indeed, employed by him when he took vengeance on the Edomites, but in such a manner that it was made evident to all that it was entirely directed by his hand, and that no part of it could be ascribed to human forces or counsels. They were overwhelmed by sudden and unlooked-for destruction, of which the people ought not to have doubted that God, who had so often warned them of it, was the author. And of the peoples there was none with me. 173 This is added in order to intimate that, although “peoples” will arise out of the earth in order to destroy the nation of Edom, yet the work of God shall be separate from them, because nothing was farther from the design of heathen nations than to inflict punishment on the Edomites for their unjust cruelty. For this reason the Lord wishes his judgment to be known and to be illustriously displayed amidst the din of arms and tempestuous commotions.
For I will tread them. I willingly retain the future tense; for the Prophet speaks of events that are future and not yet accomplished; and although the Edomites were living in prosperity and at their ease, yet God would severely punish them on account of their cruelty. Why the Prophet makes use of the metaphor of a bloody wine-press, which is a shocking and melancholy sight, we have already in part explained; but it ought likewise to be added, that the punishments and vengeance which God inflicts on enemies are appropriately called his vintage, as if he gathered them when he ruins or destroys them. In like manner, such punishment is called in another passage (Isaiah 34:6) a solemn sacrifice; that we may learn that glory ought to be ascribed to God, not less when he executes his judgments than when he exhibits tokens of compassion. And I will stain all my raiment. He nevertheless describes his amazing love toward the Jews, in deigning to sprinkle himself with the blood of enemies on their account; and that is the reason why he makes use of the word stain. In my wrath. He shews that this is of itself sufficient for destroying the Edomites, that the Lord is angry with them; as if he had said that there will be none to rescue them, when the Lord shall be pleased to chastise, Hence we may infer that the destruction of men proceeds from nothing else than the wrath of God; as, on the other hand, on his graco alone depends our salvation. In a word, God intended here to testify that the Edomites shall not remain unpunished for having persecuted the Church of God.” 6B. Calvin's editor, ““The treading of the wine-press alone is an expression often applied in sermons, and in religious books and conversation, to our Savior’s sufferings. This application is described as customary in his own time by Vitringa, who considers it as having led to the forced exposition of the whole passage by the fathers and Cocceius as a description of Christ’s passion. While the impossibility of such a sense in the original passage cannot be too strongly stated, there is no need of denying that the figure may be happily accommodated in the way suggested; as many expressions of the Old Testament may be applied to different objects with good effect, provided we are careful to avoid confounding such accommodations with the strict and primary import of the passage.” — Alexander. It may be proper to add that “the exposition of the whole passage” is still the subject of much controversy, and that a full and candid discussion of it by some person of competent learning and ability would do incalculable good. — Ed. 7. K&D, “ so that the juice of the grapes had saturated and coloured his clothes, and his only. When he adds, that of the nations no one was with him, it follows that the press which he trode was so great, that he might have needed the assistance of whole nations. And when he continues thus: And I trod them in my wrath, etc., the enigma is at once explained. It was to the nations themselves that the knife was applied. They were cut off like grapes and put into the wine-press (Joe_3:13); and this heroic figure, of which there was no longer any doubt that it was Jehovah Himself, had trodden them down in the impulse and strength of His wrath. The red upon the clothes was the life-blood of the nations, which had spirted upon them, and with which, as He trode this wine-press, He had soiled all His garments. ētsach, according to the more recently accepted derivation from nâtsach, signifies, according to the traditional idea, which is favoured by Lam_3:18, vigor, the vital strength and life-blood, regarded as the sap of life. ( ויֵזcompare the ְ historical tense ויִּזin 2Ki_9:33) is the future used as an imperfect, and it spirted, from nâzâh (see ַ at Isa_52:15). ( אֶ גְאָלְתִּ יfrom ,גָּאַל = גּעַלIsa_59:3) is the perfect hiphil with an Aramaean inflexion ָ (compare the same Aramaism in Psa_76:6; 2Ch_20:35; and ,הלְאָנִיwhich is half like it, in ֶ Job_16:7); the Hebrew form would be .הגְאָלְתִּ י ִ
( ote: The Babylonian MSS have אִ גאלתיwith chirek, since the Babylonian (Assyrian) system of punctuation has no seghol.) AE and A regard the form as a mixture of the perfect and future, but this is a mistake. This work of wrath had been executed by Jehovah, because He had in His heart a day of vengeance, which could not be delayed, and because the year (see at Isa_61:2) of His promised redemption had arrived. ( גְּאּלַיthis is the proper reading, not ,גְּאוּלַיas some codd. have it; and this was the reading which Rashi had before him in his comm. on Lam_1:6) is the plural of the passive participle used as an abstract noun (compare היִּיםvivi, vitales, or rather viva, vitalia = vita). And He only had ַ accomplished this work of wrath. Isa_63:5 is the expansion of ,לבַדִּ יand almost a verbal repetition ְ of Isa_59:16. The meaning is, that no one joined Him with conscious free-will, to render help to the God of judgment and salvation in His purposes. The church that was devoted to Him was itself the object of the redemption, and the great mass of those who were estranged from Him the object of the judgment. Thus He found Himself alone, neither human co-operation nor the natural course of events helping the accomplishment of His purposes. And consequently He renounced all human help, and broke through the steady course of development by a marvellous act of His own. He trode down nations in His wrath, and intoxicated them in His fury, and caused their life-blood to flow down to the ground. The Targum adopts the rendering “et triturabo eos,” as if the reading were ,וָאֲ שַׁ בְּרםwhich we find in Sonc. 1488, and certain other editions, as well as ֵ in some codd. Many agree with Cappellus in preferring this reading; and in itself it is not inadmissible (see Lam_1:15). But the lxx and all the other ancient versions, the Masora (which distinguishes ואשׁכרםwith ,כas only met with once, from ואשׁברםmorf , with בin Deu_9:17), and the great majority of the MSS, support the traditional reading. There is nothing surprising in the transition to the figure of the cup of wrath, which is a very common one with Isaiah. Moreover, all that is intended is, that Jehovah caused the nations to feel the full force of this His fury, by trampling them down in His fury. Even in this short ad highly poetical passage we see a desire to emblematize, just as in the emblematic cycle of prophetical night-visions in Isaiah 21:1-22:14. For not only is the name of Edom made covertly into an emblem of its future fate, אֱ ד ֹםbecoming אָד ֹםupon the apparel of Jehovah the avenger, when the blood of the people, stained with blood-guiltiness towards the people of God, is spirted out, but the name of Bozrah also; for bâtsar means to cut off bunches of grapes (vindemiare), and botsrâh becomes bâtsı̄r, i.e., a vintage, which Jehovah treads in His wrath, when He punishes the Edomitish nation as well as all the rest of the nations, which in their hostility towards Him and His people have taken pleasure in the carrying away of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem, and have lent their assistance in accomplishing them. Knobel supposes that the judgment referred to is the defeat which Cyrus inflicted upon the nations under Croesus and their allies; but it can neither be shown that this defeat affected the Edomites, nor can we understand why Jehovah should appear as if coming from Edom-Bozrah, after inflicting this judgment, to which Isa_41:2. refers. Knobel himself also observes, that Edom was still an independent kingdom, and hostile to the Persians (Diod. xv 2) not only under the reign of Cambyses (Herod. iii. 5ff.), but even later than that (Diod. xiii. 46). But at the time of Malachi, who lived under Artaxerxes Longimanus, if not under his successor Darius othus, a judgment of devastation was inflicted upon Edom (Mal_1:3-5), from which it never recovered. The Chaldeans, as Caspari has shown (Obad. p. 142), cannot have executed it, since the Edomites appear throughout as their accomplices, and as still maintaining their independence even under the first Persian kings; nor can any historical support be found to the conjecture, that it occurred in the wars between the Persians and the Egyptians (Hitzig and Köhler, Mal. p. 35). What the prophet's eye really saw was fulfilled in the time of the Maccabaeans, when Judas inflicted a total defeat upon them, John Hyrcanus compelled them to become Jews, and Alexander Jannai completed
their subjection; and in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when Simon of Gerasa avenged their cruel conduct in Jerusalem in combination with the Zelots, by ruthlessly turning their well-cultivated land into a horrible desert, just as it would have been left by a swarm of locusts (Jos. Wars of the Jews, iv 9, 7). The ew Testament counterpart of this passage in Isaiah is the destruction of Antichrist and his army (Rev_19:11.). He who effects this destruction is called the Faithful and True, the Logos of God; and the seer beholds Him sitting upon a white horse, with eyes of flaming fire, and many diadems upon His head, wearing a blood-stained garment, like the person seen by the prophet here. The vision of John is evidently formed upon the basis of that of Isaiah; for when it is said of the Logos that He rules the nations with a staff of iron, this points to Psa_2:1-12; and when it is still further said that He treads the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God, this points back to Isaiah 63. The reference throughout is not to the first coming of the Lord, when He laid the foundation of His kingdom by suffering and dying, but to His final coming, when He will bring His regal sway to a victorious issue. evertheless Isa_63:1-6 has always been a favourite passage for reading in Passion week. It is no doubt true that the Christian cannot read this prophecy without thinking of the Saviour streaming with blood, who trode the wine-press of wrath for us without the help of angels and men, i.e., who conquered wrath for us. But the prophecy does not relate to this. The blood upon the garment of the divine Hero is not His own, but that of His enemies; and His treading of the wine-press is not the conquest of wrath, but the manifestation of wrath. This section can only be properly used as a lesson for Passion week so far as this, that Jehovah, who here appears to the Old Testament seer, was certainly He who became man in His Christ, in the historical fulfilment of His purposes; and behind the first advent to bring salvation there stood with warning form the final coming to judgment, which will take vengeance upon that Edom, to whom the red lentil-judgment of worldly lust and power was dearer than the red life-blood of that loving Servant of Jehovah who offered Himself for the sin of the whole world. There follows now in Isaiah 63:7-64:11 a prayer commencing with the thanksgiving as it looks back to the past, and closing with a prayer for help as it turns to the present. Hitzig and Knobel connect this closely with Isa_63:1-6, assuming that through the great event which had occurred, viz., the overthrow of Edom, and of the nations hostile to the people of God as such, by which the exiles were brought one step nearer to freedom, the prophet was led to praise Jehovah for all His previous goodness to Israel. There is nothing, however, to indicate this connection, which is in itself a very loose one. The prayer which follows is chiefly an entreaty, and an entreaty appended to Isa_63:1-6, but without any retrospective allusion to it: it is rather a prayer in general for the realization of the redemption already promised. Ewald is right in regarding Isaiah 63:7-66:24 as an appendix to this whole book of consolation, since the traces of the same prophet are unmistakeable; but the whole style of the description is obviously different, and the historical circumstances must have been still further developed in the meantime. The three prophecies which follow are the finale of the whole. The announcement of the prophet, which has reached its highest point in the majestic vision in Isa_63:1-6, is now drawing to an end. It is standing close upon the threshold of all that has been promised, and nothing remains but the fulfillment of the promise, which he has held up like a jewel on every side. And now, just as in the finale of a poetical composition, all the melodies and movements that have been struck before are gathered up into one effective close; and first of all, as in Hab, into a prayer, which forms, as it were, the lyrical echo of the preaching that has gone before. 8. Alexander Maclaren, “‘Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone.’—ISAIAH lxiii. 2, 3. The structure of these closing chapters is chronological, and this is the final scene. What follows
is epilogue. The reference of this magnificent imagery to the sufferings of Jesus is a complete misapprehension. These sufferings were dealt with once for all in chapter liii., and it is Messiah triumphant who has filled the prophet’s vision since then. I. The treading of the winepress. The nations are flung into the press, as ripe grapes. The picture is plainly a figure of some tremendous judgment in which the powers that oppose the majestic march of the triumphant Messiah will be crushed and trampled to ruin. They are trodden ‘in Mine anger, and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments.’ It is He who crushes, not He who is crushed. The winepress which He treads is the ‘winepress of the wrath of Almighty God,’ and His treading of it is His executing of God’s judgments on those whose antagonism to Him and to His ‘redeemed’ has brought them within their sweep. The prophetic imagination kindles and casts its thought into that terrible picture, which some fastidious people would think coarse, of a peasant standing up to his knees in a vat heaped with purple clusters, and fiercely trampling them down, while the red juice splashes upon his girt-up clothes. The prophet does not date his vision. It has been realised many a time, and will be many a time still. Wherever opposition to Christ and His kingdom has reached ripeness, wherever antagonistic tendencies have borne fruit which has matured, the winepress is set up and the treading begins. ‘Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.’ ‘Immediately he putteth in the sickle because the harvest is done.’ The judgments tarry long, and Christ’s servants, oppressed or hard pressed, get impatient, and cry ‘How long, O Lord, dost Thou not judge? It is time for Thee to work.’ But long patience precedes the divine awaking, for it is not God’s way nor Christ’s to cut down even a cumbering tree, until the possibility of its bearing fruit is plainly ended, and the last use that He makes of anything is to burn it. The repeated settings up of Christ’s winepress have all been one in principle, and they all point onwards to a final one. There have been many ‘days of the Lord,’ and if men were wise and ‘observed these things,’—which most of them are not,—they would see that these lesser ‘days’ made a ‘final great and terrible day of the Lord’ supremely probable, and in perfect analogy with all that experience and history have testified as to the method of the divine government. Surely it is strange that the groundless expectation of the unbroken continuance of the present order should be so strong that many should utterly ignore the truth taught by such teachers as these, and reiterated by science, which declares that the physical universe had a beginning and will have an end, and confirmed by Jesus Himself. There will come a to-morrow when the sun will not rise. There will come a to-morrow which will be ‘the day of the Lord,’ of which all these earlier and partial epochs of judgment were but precursors and prophets. II. The Treader of the Winepress. The context clearly shows that, in the prophet’s view, the suffering Messiah in His exalted royalty is the agent of this, as of all divine acts. He is clothed with majesty, and it is ‘in His hand,’ or through His agency, that all ‘the pleasure of the Lord’ is brought to pass. The contrast with the figure in chap. liii. is ever to be kept in view. The lowliness, the weales and bruises, the form without comeliness are gone, and for these we see a conqueror, glorious in apparel and striding onwards in conscious strength. But the access of majesty does not imply the putting off of lowliness and meekness. There is much that is severe and terrible in the figure that rises here before the prophet’s vision, but both aspects equally belong to the glorified Christ, and that duality in His character makes each element more impressive. His long-suffering mercy and more than human tenderness do not hamper His arm when it is bared to smite; His judicial severity does not dam up the flow of His
mercy and tenderness. When He was on earth, He wept over Jerusalem, but His tears did not hinder His pronouncing woe on the city. His love leads Him to warn before He smites, but it does not contradict His threatenings, nor augur our impunity. ay rather, love compels Him to smite. And, more terrible still, it is His very love that smites most severely hearts that have rejected it and learn their folly and sin too late. III. Why the winepress is trodden. The context tells us. The triumphant figure, seen by the prophet striding onwards from Edom, answers the question as to His identity with, ‘I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Then the treading of the winepress, from which He is represented as coming, is regarded as an exemplification of both these characteristics. It is a great act of righteousness. It is a great act of salvation. Similarly, He is represented as having been moved to that destructive judgment by the ‘vengeance’ that burned in His heart, and by His seeing that there were none to help His ‘redeemed.’ So, then, the destructive act is a manifestation of Righteousness, which in such a connection means retributive justice. Awe-inspiring as it may be, the thunderstorm brings relief to a world sweltering in a stagnant atmosphere, and each blinding flash freshens the air. ‘When the wicked perish, there is shouting.’ The destruction of some hoary evil that has long afflicted humanity and blocked the progress of the kingdom which is ‘righteousness and peace and joy,’ is a good. Christ’s ‘terrible things’ are all ‘in righteousness,’ and meant to set Him forth as ‘the confidence of all the ends of the earth.’ To clear His character and government from all suspicion of moral indifference, to demonstrate by facts which the blindest can see, that it is not all the same to Him whether men are good or bad, to write in great letters which, like the capitals on a map, stretch across a whole land, ‘The Judge of all the earth shall do right’—surely these are worthy ends to move even the loving Christ to tread the winepress. Further, His destructive judgments, however terrible, will always be accurately measured by righteousness. They are not outbursts of feeling; they are in exact correspondence with the evils that bring them down. The lava flows according to its own density and the lie of the land which it covers. These judgments are deformed by no undue severity; no base elements of temper, no errors as to the degree of criminality mar them. They are calm and absolutely accurate judgments of Him who is not only just but Justice. But the context further teaches us that the true point of view from which to regard Christ’s treading of the winepress is to think of it as redemptive and contributory to the salvation of ‘My redeemed.’ Therefore there follows immediately on this picture of the conqueror treading the peoples in His fury and pouring their life-blood on the earth, the song of the delivered. Up through the troubled air, heavy with thunder-clouds, soars their praise, as a lark might rise and pour its strains above a volcano in eruption—‘I will mention the loving kindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us and the great goodness toward the house of Israel which He hath bestowed on them, according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His loving kindnesses.’ Pharaoh is drowned in the Red Sea; Miriam and her maidens on the bank clash their cymbals, and lift shrill voices in their triumphant hymn. Babylon sinks like a millstone in the great waters—‘and I heard as it were a great voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, Hallelujah; salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and righteous are His judgments.’ The innermost impulse of judgment is love.”
4 It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come.
1. Barnes, “For the day of vengeance - (See the notes at Isa_34:8). And the year of my redeemed is come - The year when my people are to be redeemed. It is a year when their foes are all to be destroyed, and when their entire liberty is to be effected. 2. Gill, “For the day of vengeance is in my heart,.... Resolved on with him, fixed by him, and which is desirable to him; he has it at heart, and longs as it were till the time is come to avenge the blood of his saints on the Romish antichrist, whom he will destroy with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming; see 2Th_2:8 and when he shall pour out all his vials on the antichristian states, and revenge the cause and quarrel of his people, Rev_16:1, and the year of my redeemed is come; the time when those who are already redeemed by the blood of Christ, and so are his property, whom he claims as his own, being the purchase of his blood, shall be redeemed again from antichristian bondage and slavery, shall be called and brought out of Babylon; and when those, who have led them captive, shall go into captivity themselves: this will be a jubilee year to the saints; a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; when, being rid of all their persecuting enemies, they will enjoy the utmost peace, prosperity, and safety; see Rev_13:10. 3. Henry, “He had a zeal against his and his people's enemies: The day of vengeance is in my heart (Isa_63:4), the day fixed in the eternal counsels for taking vengeance on them; this was written in his heart, so that he could not forget it, could not let it slip; his heart was full of it, and it lay as a charge, as a weight, upon him, which made him push on this holy war with so much vigour. ote, There is a day fixed for divine vengeance, which may be long deferred, but will come at last; and we may be content to wait for it, for the Redeemer himself does so, though his heart is upon it. [2.] He had a zeal for his people, and for all that he designed to make sharers in the intended salvation: “The year of my redeemed has come, the year appointed for their redemption.” There was a year fixed for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and God kept time to a day (Exo_12:41); so there was for their release out of Babylon (Dan_9:2); so there was for Christ's coming to destroy the works of the devil; so there is for all the deliverances of the church, and the deliverer has an eye to it. Observe, First, With what pleasure he speaks of his people; they are his redeemed; they are his own, dear to him. Though their redemption is not yet wrought out, yet he calls them his redeemed, because it shall as surely be done as if it were done already. Secondly, With what pleasure he speaks of his people's redemption; how glad he is that the time has come, though he is likely to meet with a sharp encounter. “ ow that the year of my redeemed has come, Lo, I come; delay shall be no longer. ow will I arise, saith the Lord. ow thou shalt see what I will do to Pharaoh.” ote, The promised salvation must be patiently waited for till the time appointed comes; yet we must attend the promises with our prayers. Does Christ say, Surely I come quickly; let our hearts reply, Even so come; let the year of the redeemed come. 4. Jamison, “is — rather, “was.” This assigns the reason why He has thus destroyed the foe
(Zep_3:8). my redeemed — My people to be redeemed. day ... year — here, as in Isa_34:8; Isa_61:2, the time of “vengeance” is described as a “day”; that of grace and of “recompense” to the “redeemed,” as a “year.” 5. Calvin, “For the day of vengeance is in my heart. In the former clause of this verse Isaiah intimates that God does not cease to discharge his office, though he does not instantly execute his judgments, but, on the contrary, delays till a seasonable time, which he knows well; and that it does not belong to us to prescribe to him when or how he ought to do this or that, but we ought to bow submissively to his decree, that he may administer all things according to his pleasure. Let us not, therefore, imagine that he is asleep, or that he is idle, when he delays. And the year of my redeemed is come. In this latter clause he shews that all these things are done for the sake of believers. “Day” and “year” are here used by him in the same sense; but by the word “year” is denoted the long duration of the captivity, that the Jews may not despair or grow faint and weary, if the redemption be long delayed. The Lord therefore punishes and destroys wicked men for the purpose of delivering the godly and of redeeming his Church, for which he has a special regard. Finally, by the slaughter and destruction of them he opens up a way for his grace. And this tends to our consolation, that whenever we see tokens of God’s wrath toward the wicked, we may know that the fruit of the punishment which they endure will come to us; for in this way it is clearly seen that our groans are heard, and that God, when he wishes to relieve the afflicted, is armed with strength to put to flight all the enemies of his Church. Wherefore, although the cross be heavy to us, yet by hearing patiently let us learn to lift up our minds by hope to that “year” which God hath appointed for executing his vengeance.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.
1. Barnes, “And I looked and there was none to help - The same sentiment is expressed in Isa_59:16 (see the note at that verse). one to uphold - one to sustain or assist. The design is to express the fact that he was entirely alone in this work: that none were disposed or able to assist him. Though this has no direct reference to the plan of salvation, or to the work of the Messiah as a Redeemer, yet it is true of him also that in that work he stood alone. o one did aid him or could aid him; but alone he ‘bore the burden of the world’s atonement.’ My fury, it upheld me - My determined purpose to inflict punishment on my foes sustained me. There is a reference doubtless to the fact that courage nerves the arm and sustains a man in
deadly conflict; that a purpose to take vengeance, or to inflict deserved punishment, animates one to make efforts which he could not otherwise perform. In Isa_59:16, the sentiment is, ‘his righteousness sustained him;’ here it is that his fury did it. There the purpose was to bring salvation; here it was to destroy his foes.
2. Clarke, “And my fury “And mine indignation” - For וחמתיvachamathi, nineteen MSS. (three ancient) of Kennicott’s, nine of De Rossi’s, and one of mine, and four editions, have וצדקתי vetsidkathi, and my righteousness; from Isa_59:16, which I suppose the transcriber retained in his memory. It is true that the Versions are in favor of the common reading; but that noticed above seems to stand on good authority, and is a reading both pleasing and impressive. Opposite, in the margin, my MS. has the common reading by a later hand.
3. Gill, “And I looked, and there was none to help,.... As, in the first redemption and salvation by Christ here on earth, there were none among the angels, nor any of the sons of men, to help him and assist him therein, none but Jehovah the Father; so, in this latter salvation, the church and people of God will be reduced to such a low, helpless, and forlorn condition, that there will be none to lend an assisting hand; their deliverance will appear most manifestly to be the sole work of almighty power: and I wondered that there was none to uphold; not the Saviour and Redeemer, he needed none; but his people under their sufferings, trials, and exercises, and his sinking, dying, cause and interest: this is spoken after the manner of men, and to make the salvation appear the more remarkable, distinguishing, and great, and solely his own work; for otherwise expectation and disappointment, consternation and amazement, as the word (r) signifies, cannot be properly ascribed to this great Redeemer: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; to himself, his mystical self, his church and people, and for his own glory; a salvation which his own omnipotent arm could only effect; See Gill on Isa_59:16, and my fury it upheld me; his zeal for his church and people, and his indignation against their enemies, excited his almighty power on their behalf, and carried him through the work of their deliverance and salvation he engaged in; see Isa_9:7. 4. Henry, ““I looked, and there was none to help, as one would have expected, nothing of a bold active spirit appeared among them; nay, there was not only none to lead, but, which was more strange, there was none to uphold, none that would come in as a second, that had the courage to join with Cyrus against their oppressors; therefore my arm brought about the salvation; not by created might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, my own arm.” ote, God can help when all other helpers fail; nay, that is his time to help, and therefore for that very reason he will put forth his own power so much the more gloriously. But this is most fully applicable to Christ's victories over our spiritual enemies, which he obtained by a single combat. He trod the winepress of his Father's wrath alone, and triumphed over principalities and powers in himself, Col_2:15. Of the people there was none with him; for, when he entered the lists with the powers of darkness, all his disciples forsook him and fled. There was non to help, none that could, none that
durst; and he might well wonder that among the children of men, whose concern it was, there was not only none to uphold, but that there were so many to oppose and hinder it if they could. He undertakes the war purely out of his own zeal. It is in his anger, it is in his fury, that he treads down his enemies (Isa_63:3), and that fury upholds him and carries him on in this enterprise, Isa_63:5. God wrought salvation for the oppressed Jews purely because he was very angry with the oppressing Babylonians, angry at their idolatries and sorceries, their pride and cruelty, and the injuries they did to his people, and, as they increased their abominations and grew more insolent and outrageous, his anger increased to fury. Our Lord Jesus wrought out our redemption in a holy zeal for the honour of his Father and the happiness of mankind, and a holy indignation at the daring attempts Satan had made upon both; this zeal and indignation upheld him throughout his whole undertaking. Two branches there were of this zeal that animated him: 5. Calvin, “I looked, and there was none to help. Although the Jews were destitute of all assistance, and no one aided them by word or deed, yet he shews that the arm of the Lord is alone sufficient to punish enemies, and to set his people at liberty. He shews, therefore, that from God alone they ought to expect salvation, that they may not gaze around in every direction, but may have their eyes wholly fixed on God, who has no need of the assistance of others. And I wondered. He represents God as amazed that there is none to stretch out a hand to him, when he wishes to execute his judgments, that he may impress more deeply on the minds of believers this doctrine, that God has no need of human aid, and that he is sufficient of himself for procuring salvation to his people. By this circumstance he magnifies still more the assistance which he had determined to render to his people, partly to correct their distrust, and partly to exhort them to gratitude in future; for God assumes a different character, when he says that he stood like one astonished; because this stupidity belonged literally to the Jews, who scarcely believed what could not be done by the power of men. With every assistance, therefore, he contrasts his own arm, with the invincible power of which he says that he will be satisfied, both that he may be seen to be their Savior, and that he may scatter and lay low all the wicked.”
6 I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.”
1. Barnes, “And I will tread them down - Or rather, ‘I did tread them down.’ The allusion here is to a warrior who tramples on his foes and treads them in the dust (see the notes at Isa_25:10). And made them drunk - That is, I made them reel and fall under my fury like a drunken man. In describing the destruction of Idumea in Isa_34:5, Yahweh says that his sword was made drunk, or that it rushed intoxicated from heaven. See the notes on that verse. But here he says that the people, under the terrors of his wrath, lost their power of self-command, and fell to the earth like an intoxicated man. Kimchi says that the idea is, that Yahweh extended the cup of his wrath for them to drink until they became intoxicated and fell. An image of this kind is several times used in the Scriptures (see the notes at Isa_51:17; compare Psa_75:8). Lowth and oyes
render this, ‘I crushed them.’ The reason of this change is, that according to Kennicott, twentyseven manuscripts (three of them ancient) instead of the present Hebrew reading ואשׁכרם va'ăshakerēm, ‘And I will make them drunk,’ read ואשׁברםva'ăshaberēm, ‘I will break or crush them.’ Such a change, it is true, might easily have been made from the similarity of the Hebrew letters, ( כk) and ( בb). But the authority for the change does not seem to me to be sufficient, nor is it necessary. The image of making them stagger and fall like a drunken man, is more poetic than the other, and is in entire accordance with the usual manner of writing by the sacred penman. The Chaldee renders it, ‘I cast to the lowest earth the slain of their strong ones.’ And I will bring down their strength - I subdued their strong places, and their mighty armies. Such is the sense giver, to the passage by our translators. But Lowth and oyes render it, more correctly, ‘I spilled their life-blood upon the ground.’ The word which our translators have rendered ‘strength’ ( נצחnētsach), is the same word which is used in Isa_63:3, and which is rendered there ‘blood’ (see the note at that verse). It is probably used in the same sense here, and means that Yahweh had brought their blood to the earth; that is, he had spilled it upon the ground. So the Septuagint renders it, ‘I shed their blood (κατήγαγον τὸ αίµα katēgagon to haima) upon the earth.’ This finishes the vision of the mighty conqueror returning from Edom. The following verse introduces a new subject. The sentiment in the passage is, that Yahweh by his own power, and by the might of his own arm, would subdue all his foes and redeem his people. Edom in its hostility to his people, the apt emblem of all his foes, would be completely humbled; and in its subjugation there would be the emblem and the pledge that all his enemies would be destroyed, and that his own church would be safe. See the notes at Isa. 34; Isa_35:1-10.
2. Clarke, “And make them drunk in my fury “And I crushed them in mine indignation” - For ואשכרםvaashkerem, and I made them drunken, twenty-seven MSS., (three ancient), twelve of De Rossi’s, and the old edition of 1488, have ואשברםvaashabberem, and I crushed them: and so the Syriac and Chaldee. The Septuagint have omitted this whole line.
3. Gill, “ And I will tread down the people in mine anger,.... See Gill on Isa_63:3, and make them drunk in my fury; or with it (s) the wrath of God is signified by a cup, which he gives wicked men to drink, and which is an inebriating one to them, Psa_75:8, and here it signifies the cup of the wine of the fierceness of God's wrath, which shall be given to mystical Babylon, to antichrist and his followers, Rev_14:10, and I will bring down their strength to the earth; their strong kingdoms, fortified cities, and mighty men, their wealth and riches, of which they boasted, and in which they trusted; see Isa_26:5. The eighteenth chapter of the Revelation is a commentary on these words. 4. Henry, “He will obtain a complete victory over them all. [1.] Much is already done; for he now appears red in his apparel; such abundance of blood is shed that the conqueror's garments are all stained with it. This was predicted, long before, by dying Jacob, concerning Shiloh (that is, Christ), that he should wash his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes, which perhaps this alludes to, Gen_49:11. With ornamental drops bedeck'd I stood,
And wrote my vict'ry with my en'my's blood. - Mr. orris In the destruction of the antichristian powers we meet with abundance of blood shed (Rev_14:20, Rev_19:13), which yet, according to the dialect of prophecy, may be understood spiritually, and doubtless so may this here. [2.] More shall yet be done (Isa_63:6): I will tread down the people that yet stand it out against me, in my anger; for the victorious Redeemer, when the year of the redeemed shall have come, will go on conquering and to conquer, Rev_6:2. When he begins he will also make an end. Observe how he will complete his victories over the enemies of his church. First, He will infatuate them; he will make them drunk, so that there shall be neither sense nor steadiness in their counsels; they shall drink of the cup of his fury, and that shall intoxicate them: or he will make them drunk with their own blood, Rev_17:6. Let those that make themselves drunk with the cup of riot (and then they are in their fury) repent and reform, lest God make them drunk with the cup of trembling, the cup of his fury. Secondly, He will enfeeble them; he will bring down their strength, and so bring them down to the earth; for what strength can hold out against Omnipotence?
5. Jamison, “Rather, preterites, “I trod down ... made them drunk.” The same image occurs Isa_51:17, Isa_51:21-23; Psa_75:8; Jer_25:26, Jer_25:27. will bring down ... strength to ... earth — rather, “I spilled their life-blood (the same Hebrew words as in Isa_63:3) on the earth” [Lowth and Septuagint].
6. Calvin, “And I will tread down the peoples. From the preceding statement he draws the conclusion, that God’s wrath is sufficiently powerful to destroy the wicked, without calling for the assistance of others; and he does so in order that the Jews may not be deterred from cherishing favorable hopes by the strength that is arrayed against them. And will make them drunk. The expression, “make drunk,” must here be taken in a different sense from what it formerly had in some passages. We have seen that sometimes we are made drunk, when God strikes us with fury or madness, (Isaiah 29:9,) or with a spirit of giddiness, (Isaiah 19:14,) or, in a word, “gives us up to a reprobate mind.” (Romans 1:28.) But here it means nothing else than “to fill,” and to strike even to satiety, or, as we commonly say, (tout leur saoul,) “to their heart’s content;” a metaphor which the prophets frequently employ. And will cast down their strength to the earth. That is, though they think that they are invincible, yet I will cast down and destroy them. The meaning may be thus summed up. “The Jews, when they are afflicted, must not call in question their salvation, as if God hated them, and must not be amazed at the chastisements which they endure, as if they happened by chance; for other nations, by whom they are now oppressed, shall be punished, there shall be a revolution of affairs, and they shall not escape who chant a triumph before the time. He produces as an example the Edomites, because they were nearer and better known than others, and were also the most injurious.” 7. K&D, “He had indeed trodden the wine-press (pūrâh = gath, or, if distinct from this, the pressing-trough as distinguished from the pressing-house or pressing-place; according to Fürst, something hollowed out; but according to the traditional interpretation from pūr = pârar, to crush, press, both different from yeqebh: see at Isa_5:2), and he alone; so that the juice of the grapes had saturated and coloured his clothes, and his only. When he adds, that of the nations no one was with him, it follows that the press which he trode was so great, that he might have needed
the assistance of whole nations. And when he continues thus: And I trod them in my wrath, etc., the enigma is at once explained. It was to the nations themselves that the knife was applied. They were cut off like grapes and put into the wine-press (Joe_3:13); and this heroic figure, of which there was no longer any doubt that it was Jehovah Himself, had trodden them down in the impulse and strength of His wrath. The red upon the clothes was the life-blood of the nations, which had spirted upon them, and with which, as He trode this wine-press, He had soiled all His garments. ētsach, according to the more recently accepted derivation from nâtsach, signifies, according to the traditional idea, which is favoured by Lam_3:18, vigor, the vital strength and life-blood, regarded as the sap of life. ( ויֵזcompare the historical tense ויִּזin 2Ki_9:33) is the ְ ַ future used as an imperfect, and it spirted, from nâzâh (see at Isa_52:15). ( אֶ גְאָלְתִּ יfrom ,גָּאַל = גּעַל ָ Isa_59:3) is the perfect hiphil with an Aramaean inflexion (compare the same Aramaism in Psa_76:6; 2Ch_20:35; and ,הלְאָנִיwhich is half like it, in Job_16:7); the Hebrew form would be ֶ .הגְאָלְתִּ י ִ ( ote: The Babylonian MSS have אִ גאלתיwith chirek, since the Babylonian (Assyrian) system of punctuation has no seghol.) AE and A regard the form as a mixture of the perfect and future, but this is a mistake. This work of wrath had been executed by Jehovah, because He had in His heart a day of vengeance, which could not be delayed, and because the year (see at Isa_61:2) of His promised redemption had arrived. ( גְּאּלַיthis is the proper reading, not ,גְּאוּלַיas some codd. have it; and this was the reading which Rashi had before him in his comm. on Lam_1:6) is the plural of the passive participle used as an abstract noun (compare היִּיםvivi, vitales, or rather viva, vitalia = vita). And He only had ַ accomplished this work of wrath. Isa_63:5 is the expansion of ,לבַדִּ יand almost a verbal repetition ְ of Isa_59:16. The meaning is, that no one joined Him with conscious free-will, to render help to the God of judgment and salvation in His purposes. The church that was devoted to Him was itself the object of the redemption, and the great mass of those who were estranged from Him the object of the judgment. Thus He found Himself alone, neither human co-operation nor the natural course of events helping the accomplishment of His purposes. And consequently He renounced all human help, and broke through the steady course of development by a marvellous act of His own. He trode down nations in His wrath, and intoxicated them in His fury, and caused their life-blood to flow down to the ground. The Targum adopts the rendering “et triturabo eos,” as if the reading were ,וָאֲ שַׁ בְּרםwhich we find in Sonc. 1488, and certain other editions, as well as ֵ in some codd. Many agree with Cappellus in preferring this reading; and in itself it is not inadmissible (see Lam_1:15). But the lxx and all the other ancient versions, the Masora (which distinguishes ואשׁכרםwith ,כas only met with once, from ואשׁברםmorf , with בin Deu_9:17), and the great majority of the MSS, support the traditional reading. There is nothing surprising in the transition to the figure of the cup of wrath, which is a very common one with Isaiah. Moreover, all that is intended is, that Jehovah caused the nations to feel the full force of this His fury, by trampling them down in His fury. Even in this short ad highly poetical passage we see a desire to emblematize, just as in the emblematic cycle of prophetical night-visions in Isaiah 21:1-22:14. For not only is the name of Edom made covertly into an emblem of its future fate, אֱ ד ֹםbecoming אָד ֹםupon the apparel of Jehovah the avenger, when the blood of the people, stained with blood-guiltiness towards the people of God, is spirted out, but the name of Bozrah also; for bâtsar means to cut off bunches of grapes (vindemiare), and botsrâh becomes bâtsı̄r, i.e., a vintage, which Jehovah treads in His wrath, when He punishes the Edomitish nation as well as all the rest of the nations, which in their hostility towards Him and His people have taken pleasure in the carrying away of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem, and have lent their assistance in accomplishing them. Knobel supposes that the judgment referred to is the defeat which Cyrus inflicted upon the nations under Croesus
and their allies; but it can neither be shown that this defeat affected the Edomites, nor can we understand why Jehovah should appear as if coming from Edom-Bozrah, after inflicting this judgment, to which Isa_41:2. refers. Knobel himself also observes, that Edom was still an independent kingdom, and hostile to the Persians (Diod. xv 2) not only under the reign of Cambyses (Herod. iii. 5ff.), but even later than that (Diod. xiii. 46). But at the time of Malachi, who lived under Artaxerxes Longimanus, if not under his successor Darius othus, a judgment of devastation was inflicted upon Edom (Mal_1:3-5), from which it never recovered. The Chaldeans, as Caspari has shown (Obad. p. 142), cannot have executed it, since the Edomites appear throughout as their accomplices, and as still maintaining their independence even under the first Persian kings; nor can any historical support be found to the conjecture, that it occurred in the wars between the Persians and the Egyptians (Hitzig and Köhler, Mal. p. 35). What the prophet's eye really saw was fulfilled in the time of the Maccabaeans, when Judas inflicted a total defeat upon them, John Hyrcanus compelled them to become Jews, and Alexander Jannai completed their subjection; and in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when Simon of Gerasa avenged their cruel conduct in Jerusalem in combination with the Zelots, by ruthlessly turning their well-cultivated land into a horrible desert, just as it would have been left by a swarm of locusts (Jos. Wars of the Jews, iv 9, 7). The ew Testament counterpart of this passage in Isaiah is the destruction of Antichrist and his army (Rev_19:11.). He who effects this destruction is called the Faithful and True, the Logos of God; and the seer beholds Him sitting upon a white horse, with eyes of flaming fire, and many diadems upon His head, wearing a blood-stained garment, like the person seen by the prophet here. The vision of John is evidently formed upon the basis of that of Isaiah; for when it is said of the Logos that He rules the nations with a staff of iron, this points to Psa_2:1-12; and when it is still further said that He treads the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God, this points back to Isaiah 63. The reference throughout is not to the first coming of the Lord, when He laid the foundation of His kingdom by suffering and dying, but to His final coming, when He will bring His regal sway to a victorious issue. evertheless Isa_63:1-6 has always been a favourite passage for reading in Passion week. It is no doubt true that the Christian cannot read this prophecy without thinking of the Saviour streaming with blood, who trode the wine-press of wrath for us without the help of angels and men, i.e., who conquered wrath for us. But the prophecy does not relate to this. The blood upon the garment of the divine Hero is not His own, but that of His enemies; and His treading of the wine-press is not the conquest of wrath, but the manifestation of wrath. This section can only be properly used as a lesson for Passion week so far as this, that Jehovah, who here appears to the Old Testament seer, was certainly He who became man in His Christ, in the historical fulfilment of His purposes; and behind the first advent to bring salvation there stood with warning form the final coming to judgment, which will take vengeance upon that Edom, to whom the red lentil-judgment of worldly lust and power was dearer than the red life-blood of that loving Servant of Jehovah who offered Himself for the sin of the whole world. There follows now in Isaiah 63:7-64:11 a prayer commencing with the thanksgiving as it looks back to the past, and closing with a prayer for help as it turns to the present. Hitzig and Knobel connect this closely with Isa_63:1-6, assuming that through the great event which had occurred, viz., the overthrow of Edom, and of the nations hostile to the people of God as such, by which the exiles were brought one step nearer to freedom, the prophet was led to praise Jehovah for all His previous goodness to Israel. There is nothing, however, to indicate this connection, which is in itself a very loose one. The prayer which follows is chiefly an entreaty, and an entreaty appended to Isa_63:1-6, but without any retrospective allusion to it: it is rather a prayer in general for the realization of the redemption already promised. Ewald is right in regarding Isaiah 63:7-66:24 as an appendix to this whole book of consolation, since the traces of the same prophet are
unmistakeable; but the whole style of the description is obviously different, and the historical circumstances must have been still further developed in the meantime. The three prophecies which follow are the finale of the whole. The announcement of the prophet, which has reached its highest point in the majestic vision in Isa_63:1-6, is now drawing to an end. It is standing close upon the threshold of all that has been promised, and nothing remains but the fulfilment of the promise, which he has held up like a jewel on every side. And now, just as in the finale of a poetical composition, all the melodies and movements that have been struck before are gathered up into one effective close; and first of all, as in Hab, into a prayer, which forms, as it were, the lyrical echo of the preaching that has gone before. 7. Dr. Constable, “This is a picture of Messiah on earth following His second advent having defeated Israel's enemies (cf. 52:7-12; Zech. 14:3; Rev. 14:17-20; 16:16; 19:13, 15-21). The enemies are unbelievers living in the Great Tribulation who refuse to accept the Warrior's previous self-sacrifice for their sins, hostile enemies of the Israelites (cf. Rev. 12:15-19).
7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
1. Barnes, “I will mention - This is evidently the language of the people celebrating the praises of God in view of all his mercies in former days. See the analysis to the chapter. The design of what follows, to the close of Isa_64:1-12, is to implore the mercy of God in view of their depressed and ruined condition. They are represented as suffering under the infliction of long and continued ills; as cast out and driven to a distant land; as deprived of their former privileges, and as having been long subjected to great evils. Their temple is destroyed; their city desolate; and their whole nation afflicted and oppressed. The time is probably near the close of the captivity; though Lowth supposes that it refers to the Jews as scattered over all lands, and driven away from the country of their fathers. They begin their petitions in this verse with acknowledging God’s great mercies to their fathers and to their nation; then they confess their own disobedience, and supplicate, by various arguments, the divine mercy and favor. The Chaldee commences the verse thus, ‘The prophet said, I will remember the mercy of the Lord.’ But it is the language of the people, not that of the prophet. The word rendered ‘mention’ (' אזכירazekiyr), means properly, I will cause to remember, or to be remembered (see the notes at Isa_62:6). And the praises of the Lord - That is, I will recount the deeds which show that he is worthy of thanksgiving. The repetitions in this verse are designed to be emphatic; and the meaning of the whole is, that Yahweh had given them abundant cause of praise, notwithstanding the evils which they endured.
2. Clarke, “I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord - The prophet connects the preceding mercies of God to the Jews with the present prospect he has of their redemption by the Messiah; thus making a circle in which eternal goodness revolves. The remaining part of this chapter, with the whole chapter following, contains a penitential confession and supplication of the Israelites in their present state of dispersion, in which they have so long marvellously subsisted, and still continue to subsist, as a people; cast out of their country; without any proper form of civil polity or religious worship, their temple destroyed, their city desolated and lost to them, and their whole nation scattered over the face of the earth, apparently deserted and cast off by the God of their fathers, as no longer his peculiar people. They begin with acknowledging God’s great mercies and favors to their nation, and the ungrateful returns made to them on their part, that by their disobedience they had forfeited the protection of God, and had caused him to become their adversary. And now the prophet represents them, induced by the memory of the great things that God had done for them, as addressing their humble supplication for the renewal of his mercies. They beseech him to regard them in consideration of his former loving-kindness, they acknowledge him for their Father and Creator, they confess their wickedness and hardness of heart, they entreat his forgiveness, and deplore their present miserable condition under which they have so long suffered. It seems designed as a formulary of humiliation for the Israelites, in order to their conversion. The whole passage is in the elegiac form, pathetic and elegant; but it has suffered much in our present copy by the mistakes of transcribers. The praises of the Lord “The praise of Jehovah” - For תהלותtehilloth, plural, twenty-nine MSS. (three ancient) and two editions, have תהלתtehillath, in the singular number; and so the Vulgate renders it; and one of the Greek versions, in the margin of Cod. Marchal. and in the text of MSS. Pachom. and 1. D. 2: την αινεσιν Κυριου, “the praise of the Lord.” - L.
3. Gill, “ I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord,.... These are the words of the prophet, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe; who, having heard what the Lord would do for his church and people in later times, by avenging them on their enemies, calls to mind the favours bestowed on Israel of old; and determines to make mention of them, and put the saints in mind of them, as types, earnests, and pledges of what would be done for them; and to encourage their faith and hope in the performance of what was promised them: these he calls "the lovingkindnesses of the Lord"; meaning not only the instances of his providential goodness in bringing them out of Egypt, leading them through the Red sea and wilderness, and settling them in Canaan's land, after particularly mentioned; but also those of his special grace and goodness to the chosen of God among them; called in the plural number "lovingkindnesses", being the acts of all the three Persons displayed in election, redemption, and sanctification; and because these are many and various, and an abundance of grace and love is manifested in them: and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us; which are due to him from all creatures, angels and men, and especially the saints; and which belong to each divine Person, according to the various gifts of grace freely bestowed by them; such as the gift of God himself to his people; the gifts of his Son, and of the blessed Spirit, with all his graces, faith, hope, love, repentance, &c.; and all the blessings of grace; as pardon, justification, adoption, and eternal life; a right unto it, and meetness for it all which call for praise and thankfulness: and the great goodness towards the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his
mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses; the gifts of grace are bestowed, not according to the merits of men, for then they would not be free grace gifts; and, besides, there is no merit in a creature; the best works of the best of men are not meritorious, of anything at the hand of God; but all they have flow from mere sovereign mercy, pure grace, and free unmerited love, which is abundant, yea, boundless, and even infinite. A heap of words is here made use of, and all little enough to express the wonderful kindness of God in the acts of his grace and goodness to his church and people; which ought always to be had in sight and mind, and to be remembered and spoken of in private and in public. 4. Henry, “The prophet is here, in the name of the church, taking a review, and making a thankful recognition, of God's dealings with his church all along, ever since he founded it, before he comes, in the latter end of this chapter and in the next, as a watchman upon the walls, earnestly to pray to God for his compassion towards her in her present deplorable state; and it was usual for God's people, in their prayers, thus to look back. I. Here is a general acknowledgment of God's goodness to them all along, Isa_63:7. It was said, in general, of God's prophets and people (Isa_62:6) that they made mention of the Lord; now here we are told what it is in God that they do especially delight to make mention of, and that is his goodness, which the prophet here so makes mention of as if he thought he could never say enough of it. He mentions the kindness of God (which never appeared so evident, so eminent, as in his love to mankind in sending his Son to save us, Tit_3:4), his loving-kindness, kindness that shows itself in every thing that is endearing; nay, so plenteous are the springs, and so various the streams, of divine mercy, that he speaks of it in the plural number - his loving-kindnesses; for, if we would count the fruits of his loving-kindness, they are more in number than the sand. With his lovingkindnesses he mentions his praises, that is, the thankful acknowledgments which the saints make of his loving-kindness, and the angels too. It must be mentioned, to God's honour, what a tribute of praise is paid to him by all his creatures in consideration of his loving-kindness. See how copiously he speaks, 1. Of the goodness that is from God, the gifts of his loving-kindness - all that the Lord has bestowed on us in particular, relating to life and godliness, in our personal and family capacity. Let every man speak for himself, speak as he has found, and he must own that he has had a great deal bestowed upon him by the divine bounty. But we must also mention the favours bestowed upon his church, his great goodness towards the house of Israel, which he has bestowed on them. ote, We must bless God for the mercies enjoyed by others as well as for those enjoyed by ourselves, and reckon that bestowed on ourselves which is bestowed on the house of Israel. 2. Of the goodness that is in God. God does good because he is good; what he bestowed upon us must be traced up to the original; it is according to his mercies (not according to our merits) and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses, which can never be spent. Thus we should magnify God's goodness, and speak honourably of it, not only when we plead it (as David, Psa_51:1), but when we praise it. 5. Jamison, “Israel’s penitential confession and prayer for restoration (Psa_102:17, Psa_102:20), extending from Isa_63:7 to Isa_64:12. loving-kindnesses ... praises ... mercies ... loving-kindnesses — The plurals and the repetitions imply that language is inadequate to express the full extent of God’s goodness. us — the dispersed Jews at the time just preceding their final restoration. house of Israel — of all ages; God was good not merely to the Jews now dispersed, but to Israel in every age of its history.
6. K&D, “The prophet, as the leader of the prayers of the church, here passes into the expanded style of the tephillah. Isa_63:7 “I will celebrate the mercies of Jehovah, the praises of Jehovah, as is seemly for all that Jehovah hath shown us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel, which He hath shown them according to His pity, and the riches of His mercies.” The speaker is the prophet, in the name of the church, or, what is the same thing, the church in which the prophet includes himself. The prayer commences with thanksgiving, according to the fundamental rule in Psa_50:23. The church brings to its own remembrance, as the subject of praise in the presence of God, all the words and deeds by which Jehovah has displayed His mercy and secured glory to Himself. ( חסְדֵ יthis is the correct pointing, with דprotected by gaya; cf., כַּדְ כ ֹדin Isa_54:12) are the ַ many thoughts of mercy and acts of mercy into which the grace of God, i.e., His one purpose of grace and His one work of grace, had been divided. They are just so many tehillōth, selfglorifications of God, and impulses to His glorification. On ,כּעַלas is seemly, see at Isa_59:18. ְ There is no reason for assuming that וְרב־טוּבis equivalent to ,רב־טוב וּכעַלas Hitzig and Knobel do. ַ ְ רב־טובcommences the second object to ,אַזְכִּירin which what follows is unfolded as a parallel to the first. Rabh, the much, is a neuter formed into a substantive, as in Psa_145:7; rōbh, plurality or multiplicity, is an infinitive used as a substantive. Tūbh is God's benignant goodness; rachămı̄m, His deepest sympathizing tenderness; chesed (root ,חסused of violent emotion; cf., Syr. chăsad, chăsam, aemulari; Arab. ḥss, to be tender, full of compassion), grace which condescends to and comes to meet a sinful creature. After this introit, the prayer itself commences with a retrospective glance at the time of the giving of law, when the relation of a child, in which Israel stood to Jehovah, was solemnly proclaimed and legally regulated. 7. Spurgeon, “- Isaiah 63:7 “And canst thou not do this? Are there no mercies which thou hast experienced? What though thou art gloomy now, canst thou forget that blessed hour when Jesus met thee, and said, "Come unto me"? Canst thou not remember that rapturous moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said, "I came to break thy bonds and set thee free"? Or if the love of thine espousals be forgotten, there must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee? What, didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did he not restore thee? Wert thou never poor before, and did he not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did he not deliver thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant- faith may float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Canst thou not remember the hill Mizar? Did the Lord never meet with thee at Hermon? Hast thou never climbed the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never been helped in time of need? ay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old. " Are you, dear friends, mentioning the lovingkindnesses of the Lord; or are you silent about them? Learn a lesson from the prophet Isaiah. Talk about what God has done for you, and for his people in all time: "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord." Let this be the resolve of every one of us who has tasted that the Lord is gracious. "Awake, my soul, in joyful lays, And sing thy great Redeemer's praise: He justly claims a song from me, His lovingkindness, oh, how free!
"He saw me ruin'd in the fall, Yet loved me, notwithstanding all; He saved me from my lost estate, His lovingkindness, oh, how great!"
8. Calvin, “I will keep in remembrance the compassions of Jehovah. Isaiah brings consolation to his people in distressed and calamitous circumstances, and by his example bids the Jews, when they were oppressed by afflictions, call to remembrance God’s ancient benefits, and betake themselves to prayer; that they may not be like hypocrites, who only in prosperity feel the goodness of God, and are so much cast down by adversity as to remember no benefit. But when the Lord chastises us, we ought to mention and celebrate his benefits, and to cherish better hopes for the future; for the Lord is always the same, and does not change his purpose or his inclination; and therefore if we leave room for his compassion, we shall never be left destitute. Such appears to me to be the scope of the context, though others view it in a different light, namely, that the Prophet, having hitherto spoken of the destruction of the people, comforts himself by this confident hope of compassion, that God wishes to save some of them. But they are mistaken in supposing that Isaiah has hitherto spoken of the Jews, as if God punished them only, whereas he testified that he would likewise punish other nations, that they might not think that they alone were hated by God; and accordingly, he now exhorts them to celebrate the remembrance of those benefits which God had formerly bestowed on the fathers, that by their example they may know better the love of God toward them. From the context it will also appear clearly, that the Jews are joined with their fathers, that the covenant which belongs to them in common with their fathers, may encourage them to hope well. As upon all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us. He employs the particle of comparison, As, in order to shew that in adversity we ought instantly to remember those benefits which the Lord bestowed on his people, as if they were placed before our eyes, though they appear to be buried by extreme old age; for if they do not belong to us, the remembrance of them would be idle and unprofitable. He confirms this also by saying on us. Because the Jews were members of the same body, he justly reckons them the descendants of their grandfathers and other ancestors. Isaiah did not, indeed, experience those benefits which he mentions; but because they had been bestowed on the Church, the fruit of them came partly to himself, because he was a member of the Church. And undoubtedly that communion of saints which we profess to believe, ought to be so highly valued by us, as to lead us to think that what the Church has received from the hand of God has been given to us; for the Church of God is one, and that which now is has nothing separate from that which formerly was. In the multitude of kindness toward the house of Israel. By these words Isaiah more fully explains his meaning. Since therefore the Lord shewed himself to be kind and bountiful toward his people, we ought to hope for the same thing in the present day, because we are “fellow-citizens,” and members of the very same Church. (Ephesians 2:19.) Although we feel that God is angry with us on account of our sins, yet our hearts ought to be encouraged by hope and armed by confidence; because he cannot forsake his Church. Yet it ought to be carefully observed, that the Prophet extols and magnifies in lofty terms the mercy of God, that we may know that the foundation of our salvation and of all blessings is laid on it; for this excludes the merits of men, that nothing may in any way be ascribed to them.
That this doctrine may be better understood, we must take into account the time of which Isaiah speaks. At that time righteousness and godliness chiefly flourished; for although the people were exceedingly corrupted, yet Moses, Aaron, and other good men, gave illustrious examples of unblamable and holy lives. Yet the Prophet shews that all the blessings which the Lord. bestowed on Moses and others ought to be ascribed, not to their merits, but to the mercy of God. But what are we in comparison of Moses, that we should deserve anything from God? This repetition, therefore, of kindness, mercies, and compassions, as it raises feeble minds on high, that they may rise above stupendous and formidable temptations, ought also to remove and swallow up all thought of human merits.”
8 He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior.
1. Barnes, “For he said - Yahweh had said. That is, he said this when he chose them as his unique people, and entered into solemn covenant with them. Surely they are my people - The reference here is to the fact that he entered into covenant with them to be their God. Children that will not lie - That will not prove false to me - indicating the reasonable expectation which Yahweh might have, when he chose them, that they would be faithful to him. So he was their Saviour - Lowth renders this, ‘And he became their Saviour in all their distress;’ connecting this with the first member of the following verse, and translating that, ‘it was not an envoy, nor an angel of his presence that saved them.’ So the Septuagint renders it, ‘And he was to them for salvation εἰς σωτηρίαν eis sōtērian) from all their affliction.’ The Chaldee render it, ‘And his word was redemption ( פריקpâriyq) unto them.’ But the true idea probably is, that he chose them, and in virtue of his thus choosing them he became their deliverer.
2. Clarke, “So he was their Savior. In all their affliction “And he became their Savior in all their distress” - I have followed the translation of the Septuagint in the latter part of the eighth, and the former part of the ninth verse; which agrees with the present text, a little differently divided as to thee members of the sentence. They read מכלmiccol, out of all, instead of בכלbechol, in all, which makes no difference in the sense; and צרtsar they understand as צירtsir. Και εγενετο αυτοις εις σωτηριαν εκ πασης θλιψεως αυτων· ου πρεσβυς, ουδε αγγελος·. “And he was salvation to them in all their tribulation; neither an ambassador nor an angel, but himself saved them.” An angel of his presence means an angel of superior order, in immediate attendance upon God. So the angel of the Lord says to Zacharias, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God,” Luk_1:19. The presence of Jehovah, Exo_33:14, Exo_33:15, and the angel, Exo_33:20, Exo_33:21, is Jehovah himself; here an angel of his presence is opposed to Jehovah himself, as an angel is in the following passages of the same book of Exodus. After their idolatrous worshipping of the golden calf, “when God had said to Moses, I will send an angel before thee - I will not go up
in the midst of thee - the people mourned,” Exo_33:2-4. God afterwards comforts Moses, by saying, “My presence (that is I myself in person, and not by an angel) will go with thee,” Exo_33:14. Αυτος προπορευσοµαι σου, “I myself will go before thee, “as the Septuagint render it. The MSS. and editions are much divided between the two readings of the text and margin in the common copies, לאlo, not, and לוlo, to him. All the ancient Versions express the chetib reading, לאlo, not. “And he bare then and carried them all the days of old And he took them up, and he bore them, all the days of old”
3. Gill, “For he said, surely they are my people,.... ot in common with the rest of mankind, being his creatures, and the care of his providence; but his special people, whom he had chosen to be such, and had made a covenant with; he had avouched them for his people, and they had avouched him to be the Lord their God; and this covenant interest was the ground and foundation of the actual donation and application of all the blessings of grace and goodness to them before mentioned. These are the words of Jehovah himself, related by the prophet; and are applicable to all the elect of God, whom he has chosen in Christ; taken into the covenant of grace made with him; and who appear manifestly to be his peculiar people by their effectual calling; when it is a sure and certain thing, that they, who were not known by themselves or others to be the people of God, are evidently so; and the Lord himself makes no scruple of acknowledging them as such, even though their conduct and behaviour towards him is not altogether as it should be, and which was the case of the people of Israel; however, he is willing to hope well of them, as parents do of their children, speaking after the manner of men, and that they will behave better for the future, being by fresh mercies laid under obligation to him, as he did of Israel of old: children that will not lie; not the children of Satan, as liars are, who was a liar from the beginning, and the father of lies; as wicked men are, who go astray from the womb, speaking lies; but children of God by adopting grace, and through faith in Christ; and therefore should not lie to God, nor to men, nor to one another, as being unbecoming their relation as children: this opinion the Lord entertains of his children, speaking after the manner of men, that they will not deal deceitfully and hypocritically with him, but serve him in sincerity, and worship him in spirit and in truth; that their hearts will be right with him, and they steadfast in his covenant: thus he hoped well of Israel of old, and so he does of all his spiritual Israel, his special people, and dear children: so he was their Saviour; in this view and expectation of things, as he is of all men in a providential way, and especially of them that believe; he was the Saviour of literal Israel in a temporal manner, in Egypt, the Red sea, and wilderness; and of his chosen people among them, in a spiritual manner, as he is of all his elect in Christ Jesus; and even though they do not entirely answer the just expectations expressed concerning them. 4. Henry, “The expectations God had concerning them that they would conduct themselves well, Isa_63:8. When he brought them out of Egypt and took them into covenant with himself he said, “Surely they are my people, I take them as such, and am willing to hope they will approve themselves so, children that will not lie,” that will not dissemble with God in their covenantings with him, nor treacherously depart from him by breaking their covenant and starting aside like a broken bow. They said, more than once, All that the Lord shall say unto us we will do and will be
obedient; and thereupon he took them to be his peculiar people, saying, Surely they will not lie. God deals fairly and faithfully with them, and therefore expects they should deal so with him. They are children of the covenant (Act_3:25), children of those that clave unto the Lord, and therefore it may be hoped that they will tread in the steps of their fathers' constancy. ote, God's people are children that will not lie; for those that will are not his children but the devil's. 5. Jamison, “he — Jehovah “said,” that is, thought, in choosing them as His covenant-people; so “said” (Psa_95:10). ot that God was ignorant that the Jews would not keep faith with Him; but God is here said, according to human modes of thought to say within Himself what He might naturally have expected, as the result of His goodness to the Jews; thus the enormity of their unnatural perversity is the more vividly set forth. lie — prove false to Me (compare Psa_44:17). so — in virtue of His having chosen them, He became their Savior. So the “therefore” (Jer_31:33). His eternal choice is the ground of His actually saving men (Eph_1:3, Eph_1:4).
6. K&D, ““He said, They are my people, children who will not lie; and He became their Saviour.” ַא is used here in its primary affirmative sense. יְשַׁ קִּרוּis the future of hope. When He made them His people, His children, He expected from them a grateful return of His covenant grace in covenant fidelity; and whenever they needed help from above, He became their Saviour (mōshı̄ ă‛). We can recognise the ring of Exo_15:2 here, just as in Isa_12:2. Mōshı̄ ă‛) is a favourite word in chapters 40-66 (compare, however, Isa_19:20 also).
7. Calvin, “For he said, Surely they are my people. He mentions the election of the people, and represents God as speaking of it, that we may keep in view the end of our calling., that he wished to have a peculiar people, who should call upon him. And yet he accuses the people of ingratitude, in having disappointed God of his expectation; not that the Lord can be deceived, for he dearly foresaw what they would become, and also declared it (Deuteronomy 32:15) by Moses; but Scripture speaks in this manner, when it is altogether owing to the ingratitude of men that they, disappoint God, as we formerly saw, “I looked that it should yield grapes, and it hath yielded wild grapes.” (Isaiah 5:4.) or does he treat of God’s secret decree, but speaks after the manner of men about the mutual consent between God and believers, that all to whom he deigns to offer himself as their Father, may answer to God when he calls; “for the foundation standeth sure, that none of the elect shall perish, because the Lord knoweth who are truly his. (2 Timothy 2:19.) Children that do not lie. We know that the end of our calling is, that we may lead a holy and blameless life, as the whole of Scripture testifies, and as we have often stated at former passages. (Isaiah 43:21; 55:5.) Justly, therefore, does the Lord say that he elected the people, that they might be holy and true, that he might have children who were averse to falsehood and vanity. But the people did not keep their promise, and were far removed from that simplicity which they ought to have followed; for everything was full of deceit and hypocrisy. Yet nevertheless he holds out the hope of pardon, provided that they fly to God and humble themselves by sincere repentance. Therefore he became their Savior. The Prophet shews what is the chief part of the service of God; namely, to have a pure and upright heart. Hence it follows that God forsakes us, because we are treacherous and are covenant-breakers. Seeing therefore that this people took pleasure in their vices, it was proper first to convict them of their unbelief, that being afterward
converted to God, they might find him to be their Savior.” 8. Constable, “63:8 God had elected Israel as His son. This was not due to anything in Israel but totally due to God's loving selection of Abraham and his descendants for special blessing (cf. 1 Cor. 15:9-10). God had a right to expect that the nation, so chosen, would respond with loyalty and integrity toward Him. This mutual commitment would have resulted in God delivering His people whenever they needed salvation. ote that the result would not be God insulating the Israelites from difficulties but delivering them from them.”
9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.[a] In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
1. Barnes, “In all their affliction he was afflicted - This is a most beautiful sentiment, meaning that God sympathized with them in all their trials, and that he was ever ready to aid them. This sentiment accords well with the connection; but there has been some doubt whether this is the meaning of the Hebrew. Lowth renders it, as has been already remarked, ‘It was not an envoy, nor an angel of his presence that saved him.’ oyes, ‘In all their straits they had no distress.’ TheSeptuagint renders it, ‘It was not an ambassador (ου ̓ πρέσβυς ou presbus), nor an angel (οὐδὲ ἄγγελος oude angelos), but he himself saved them.’ Instead of the present Hebrew word (צר tsâr, ‘affliction’), they evidently read it, צירtsiyr, ‘a messenger.’ The Chaldee renders it, ‘Every time when they sinned against him, so that he might have brought upon them tribulation, he did not afflict them.’ The Syriac, ‘In all their calamities he did not afflict them.’ This variety of translation has arisen from an uncertainty or ambiguity in the Hebrew text. Instead of the present reading ( לאlo', ‘not’) about an equal number of manuscripts read לו lô, ‘to him,’ by the change of a single letter. According to the former reading, the sense would be, ‘in all their affliction, there was no distress,’ that is, they were so comforted and supported by God, that they did not feel the force of the burden. According to the other mode of reading it, the sense would be, ‘in all their affliction, there was affliction to him;’ that is, he sympathized with them, and upheld them. Either reading makes good sense, and it is impossible now to ascertain which is correct. Gesenius supposes it to mean, ‘In all their afflictions there would be actually no trouble to them. God sustained them, and the angel of of his presence supported and delivered them.’ For a fuller view of the passage, see Rosenmuller. In the uncertainty and doubt in regard to the true reading of the Hebrew, the proper way is not to attempt to change the translation in our common version. It expresses an exceedingly interesting truth, and one that is suited to comfort the people of God; - that he is never unmindful of their sufferings; that he feels deeply when they are afflicted; and that he hastens to their relief. It is an idea which occurs everywhere in the Bible, that God is not a cold, distant, abstract being; but that he takes the deepest interest
in human affairs, and especially that he has a tender solicitude in all the trials of his people. And the angel of his presence saved them - This angel, called ‘the angel of the presence of God,’ is frequently mentioned as having conducted the children of Israel through the wilderness, and as having interposed to save them Exo_23:20, Exo_23:31; Exo_32:34; Exo_33:2; um_20:16. The phrase, ‘the angel of his presence,’ (Hebrew, פניו מלאך פmale'âk pânâyv, ‘angel of his face,’ or ‘countenance’), means an angel that stands in his presence, and that enjoys his favor, as a man does who stands before a prince, or who is admitted constantly to his presence (compare Pro_22:29). Evidently there is reference here to an angel of superior order or rank, but to whom has been a matter of doubt with interpreters. Jarchi supposes that it was Michael, mentioned in Dan_10:13-21. The Chaldee renders it, ‘The angel sent ( שׁליחshelı̂ yach) from his presence.’ Most Christian interpreters have supposed that the reference is to the Messiah, as the manifested guide and defender of the children of Israel during their long journey in the desert. This is not the place to go into a theological examination of that question. The sense of the Hebrew here is, that it was a messenger sent from the immediate presence of God, and therefore of elevated rank. The opinion that it was the Son of God is one that can be sustained by arguments that are not easily refuted. On the subject of angels, according to the Scripture doctrine, the reader may consult with advantage an article by Dr. Lewis Mayer, in the Bib. Rep., Oct. 1388. He redeemed them - (See the notes at Isa_43:1). And he bare them - As a shepherd carries the lambs of the flock, or as a nurse carries her children; or still more probably, as an eagle bears her young on her wings Deu_32:11-12. The idea is, that he conducted them through all their trials in the wilderness, and led them in safety to the promised land (compare the notes at Isa_40:11). All the days of old - In all their former history. He has been with them and protected them in all their trials.
2. . Gill, “ In all their affliction he was afflicted,.... That is, God, who said the above words; not properly speaking; for to be afflicted is not consistent with his nature and perfections, being a spirit, and impassible; nor with his infinite and complete happiness; but this is said after the manner of men, and is expressive of the sympathy of God with his afflicted people, and his tender care of them, and concern for them under affliction, as one friend may have for another: afflictions belong to the people of God; they come to them, not by chance, but according to the will of God; and are not in wrath, but in love; they are many and various; there is an "all" of them, yet not one too many, and in everyone of them God is afflicted, or sympathizes with them: as he looked upon the affliction of the people of Israel, in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and had compassion upon them, and saved them, so he visits all his people when afflicted, and pities them, and speaks comfortably to them; knows and owns their souls in adversity; makes known himself to them; grants them his gracious presence; puts underneath them his everlasting arms; makes their bed in their affliction, and supplies their wants; and this sympathy arises from their union to him, from his relation to them as a Father, and from his great love to them. There is a double reading of these words; the marginal reading is, "in all their affliction there is affliction to him" (t); or, "he was afflicted"; which our version follows: the textual reading is, "there is no affliction"; or, "he was not afflicted" (u); he seemed to take no notice of their affliction, or be concerned at it, that he might the sooner bring them to a sense of themselves and their sins, Hos_5:15. The Targum follows this reading, and renders it actively, "and he afflicted them not" (w): they were indeed in affliction, but they, and not he, brought it upon them, and by their sins. Some render it, "he was no enemy" (x); though he afflicted them,
yet not in wrath, but love; or, "in all their straits there was no strait" (y); the Israelites were in straits when Pharaoh's army pursued them behind, the rocks were on both sides them, and the sea before them, and yet there was no strait as it were, they were so soon delivered out of it; and so it may be read, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction"; there is so much love in the afflictions of God's people, and they work so much for their good, and they are so soon delivered out of them, that they scarce deserve the name of afflictions; and so both readings may be taken in, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction to him"; or to them, to Israel, to the people of God: and the Angel of his presence saved them; not Michael, as Jarchi; but the Messiah is here meant; the Angel of the covenant, the Angel which went before the Israelites in the wilderness, Exo_23:20 not a created angel, or an angel by nature, but by office; being sent of God, as the word signifies, on the errand and business of salvation; called "the Angel of God's presence", or "face", because his face was seen in him; his name, and nature, and perfections were in him; he is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person besides, the presence of God was always with him; he is the "Ithiel", the Word that was with God, and with whom God always was; who lay in the bosom of his Father, and was ever with him; and who also, as Mediator, introduces his people into the presence of God, and always appears in it for them as their advocate and intercessor: now to him salvation is ascribed; he saved Israel out of Egypt, and out of the hands of all their enemies in the wilderness; and which salvation was typical of the spiritual, eternal, and complete salvation, which is only by Christ, and issues in eternal glory: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and from all their enemies, which was owing to his great love to them, which operated in a way of mercy, pity, and compassion, Hos_11:1, and it is he who has redeemed the spiritual Israel of God, not by power only, but by price, from sin, Satan, and the law, death, and hell, with a spiritual and eternal redemption, and which flows from his love to those persons; hence he undertook to be their Redeemer; came in their nature to redeem them; and gave himself for them for that purpose; which love is wonderful and matchless, and showed itself in pity and compassion; he became a merciful as well as a faithful high priest; he saw them in their low estate, pitied them, and delivered them out of it: and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old; he bore them in his bosom, and in his arms, as a nursing father his child; he carried them, as on eagles' wings, from the time of their coming out of Egypt, to their settlement in Canaan's land, um_11:12 he bore with their manners for forty years, and carried them through all their trials and difficulties, and supported them under them, and brought them out of them all, Act_13:18 and so he bears all his people on his heart, and in his hands, and bears them up under all their temptations and afflictions; and, from the time of their conversion, carries on his work in them, and carries them safe to heaven, as the great Captain of their salvation, and never leaves them, nor forsakes them; see Isa_46:3. 3. Henry, “The favour he showed them with an eye to these expectations: So he was their Saviour out of the bondage of Egypt and all the calamities of their wilderness-state, and many a time since he had been their Saviour. See particularly (Isa_63:9) what he did for them as their Saviour. (1.) The principle that moved him to work salvation for them; it was in his love and in his pity, out of mere compassion to them and a tender affection for them, not because he either needed them or could be benefited by them. This is strangely expressed here: In all their affliction he was afflicted; not that the Eternal Mind is capable of grieving or God's infinite blessedness of
suffering the least damage or diminution (God cannot be afflicted); but thus he is pleased to show forth the love and concern he has for his people in their affliction; thus far he sympathizes with them, that he takes what injury is done to them as done to himself and will reckon for it accordingly. Their cries move him (Exo_3:7), and he appears for them as vigorously as if he were pained in their pain. Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? This is matter of great comfort to God's people in their affliction that God is so far from afflicting willingly (Lam_3:33) that, if they humble themselves under his hand, he is afflicted in their affliction, as the tender parents are in the severe operations which the case of a sick child calls for. There is another reading of these words in the original: In all their affliction there was no affliction; though they were in great affliction, yet the property of it was so altered by the grace of God sanctifying it to them for their good, the rigour of it was so mitigated and it was so allayed and balanced with mercies, they were so wonderfully supported and comforted under it, and it proved so short, and ended so well, that it was in effect no affliction. The troubles of the saints are not that to them which they are to others; they are not afflictions, but medicines; saints are enabled to call them light, and but for a moment, and, with an eye to heaven as all in all, to make nothing of them. (2.) The person employed in their salvation - the angel of his face, or presence. Some understand it of a created angel. The highest angel in heaven, even the angel of his presence, that attends next the throne of his glory, is not thought too great, too good, to be sent on this errand. Thus the little ones' angels are said to be those that always behold the face of our Father, Mat_18:10. But this is rather to be understood of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, that angel of whom God spoke to Moses (Exo_23:20, Exo_23:21), whose voice Israel was to obey. He is called Jehovah, Exo_13:21; Exo_14:21, Exo_14:24. He is the angel of the covenant, God's messenger to the world, Mal_3:1. He is the angel of God's face, for he is the express image of his person; and the glory of God shines in the face of Christ. He that was to work out the eternal salvation, as an earnest of that, wrought out the temporal salvations that were typical of it. (3.) The progress and perseverance of this favour. He not only redeemed them out of their bondage, but he bore them and carried them all the days of old; they were weak, but he supported them by his power, sustained them by his bounty; when they were burdened, and ready to sink, he bore them up; in the wars they made upon the nations he stood by them and bore them out; though they were peevish, he bore with them and suffered their manners, Act_13:18. He carried them as the nursing father does the child, though they would have tired any arms but his; he carried them as the eagle her young upon her wings, Deu_32:11. And it was a long time that he was troubled with them (if we may so speak): it was all the days of old; his care of them was not at an end even when they had grown up and were settled in Canaan. All this was in his love and pity, ex mero motu - of his mere good-will; he loved them because he would love them, as he says, Deu_7:7, Deu_7:8. 4. Jamison, “he was afflicted — English Version reads the Hebrew as the Keri (Margin), does, “There was affliction to Him.” But the Chetib (text) reads, “There was no affliction” (the change in Hebrew being only of one letter); that is, “In all their affliction there was no (utterly overwhelming) affliction” [Gesenius]; or, for “Hardly had an affliction befallen them, when the angel of His presence saved them” [Maurer]; or, as best suits the parallelism, “In all their straits there was no straitness in His goodness to them” [Houbigant], (Jdg_10:16; Mic_2:7; 2Co_6:12). angel of his presence — literally, “of His face,” that is, who stands before Him continually; Messiah (Exo_14:19; Exo_23:20, Exo_23:21; Pro_8:30), language applicable to no creature (Exo_32:34; Exo_33:2, Exo_33:14; um_20:16; Mal_3:1). bare them — (Isa_46:3, Isa_46:4; Isa_40:11; Exo_19:4; Deu_32:11, Deu_32:12). 5. Constable, “The Israelites had responded to God's grace in electing them by committing
themselves to Him (Exod. 19:8). Consequently, Yahweh had participated in their afflictions with them and rescued His people from them throughout their history. The identity of "the angel of His presence" is the messenger who came from the Lord's presence to deliver His people. This is the only place in the Bible where this title appears. This may refer to an angel, but it probably refers to the second person of the Trinity, the primary agent of salvation according to the ew Testament. "Verse 9 is one of the most moving expressions of the compassionate love of God in the OT, reminding the reader of some of the great passages in Hosea, Isaiah's older contemporary." "Just as a man can feel pain, and yet in his personality keep himself superior to it, so God feels pain without His own happiness being thereby destroyed." 6. K&D, “The next v. commemorates the way in which He proved Himself a Saviour in heart and action. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His face brought them salvation. In His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and lifted them up, and bare them all the days of the olden time.” This is one of the fifteen passages in which the chethib has ,לאthe keri .לוֹIt is only with difficulty that we can obtain any meaning from the chethib: “in all the affliction which He brought upon them He did not afflict, viz., according to their desert” (Targ., Jer., Rashi); or better still, as tsâr must in this case be derived from tsūr, and tsăr is only met with in an intransitive sense, “In all their distress there was no distress” (Saad.), with which J. D. Michaelis compares 2Co_4:8, “troubled on every side, yet not distressed.” The oxymoron is perceptible enough, but the ,)להֶם )צר לאwhich is indispensable to this expression, is wanting. Even with the ָ explanation, “In all their affliction He was not an enemy, viz., Jehovah, to them” (Döderlein), or “ o man persecuted them without the angel immediately,” etc. (Cocceius and Rosenmüller), we miss להֶםor .א ֹתָ םThere are other still more twisted and jejune attempts to explain the passage ָ with ,לאwhich are not worth the space they occupy. Even in the older translators did not know how to deal with the לאin the text. The Sept. takes tsăr as equivalent to tsı̄ r, a messenger, and renders the passage according to its own peculiar interpunctuation: οὐ πρέσβυς οὐδὲ ἄγγελος ἀλλ ̓ αὐτὸς ἔσωσεν αὐτούς (neither a messenger nor an angel, but His face, i.e., He Himself helped them: Exo_33:14-15; 2Sa_17:11). Everything forces to the conclusion that the keri לוis to be preferred. The Masora actually does reckon this as one of the fifteen passages in which לוֹis to be read for .לא ( ote: There are fifteen passages in which the keri substitutes לוֹfor .לאSee Masora magna on Lev_11:21 (Psalter, ii. 60). If we add Isa_49:5; 1Ch_11:20; 1Sa_2:16, there are eighteen (Comm. on Job, at Job_13:15). But the first two of these are not reckoned, because they are doubtful; and in the third, instead of לּוֹbeing substituted for לא, אis substituted for ( לוֹGes. Thes. 735, b). 2Sa_19:7 also is not a case in point, for there the keri is לוּfor ).לא Jerome was also acquainted with this explanation. He says: “Where we have rendered it, 'In all their affliction He was not afflicted,' which is expressed in Hebrew by lo, the adverb of negation, we might read ipse; so that the sense would be, 'In all their affliction He, i.e., God, was afflicted.' “ If we take the sentence in this way, “In all oppression there was oppression to Him,” it yields a forcible thought in perfect accordance with the Scripture (compare e.g., Jdg_10:16), an expression in harmony with the usage of the language (compare tsar-lı̄ , 2Sa_1:26), and a construction suited to the contents ( = לוֹipsi). There is nothing to surprise us in the fact that God should be said to feel the sufferings of His people as His own sufferings; for the question whether God can feel pain is answered by the Scriptures in the affirmative. He can as surely as everything originates in Him, with the exception of sin, which is a free act and only originates in Him so far as the possibility is concerned, but not in its actuality. Just as a man can feel pain, and yet in his personality keep himself superior to it, so God feels pain without His own happiness being
thereby destroyed. And so did He suffer with His people; their affliction was reflected in His own life in Himself, and shared Him inwardly. But because He, the all-knowing, all-feeling One, is also the almighty will, He sent the angel of His face, and brought them salvation. “The angel of His face,” says Knobel, “is the pillar of cloud and fire, in which Jehovah was present with His people in the march through the desert, with His protection, instruction, and guidance, the helpful presence of God in the pillar of cloud and fire.” But where do we ever read of this, that it brought Israel salvation in the pressure of great dangers? Only on one occasion (Exo_14:19-20) does it cover the Israelites from their pursuers; but in that very instance a distinction is expressly made between the angel of God and the pillar of cloud. Consequently the cloud and the angel were two distinct media of the manifestation of the presence of God. They differed in two respects. The cloud was a material medium - the evil, the sign, and the site of the revealed presence of God. The angel, on the other hand, was a personal medium, a ministering spirit (λειτουργικὸν πνεῦµα), in which the name of Jehovah was indwelling for the purpose of His own self-attestation in connection with the historical preparation for the coming of salvation (Exo_23:21). He was the mediator of the preparatory work of God in both word and deed under the Old Testament, and the manifestation of that redeeming might and grace which realized in Israel the covenant promises given to Abraham (Gen 15). A second distinction consisted in the fact that the cloud was a mode of divine manifestation which was always visible; whereas, although the angel of God did sometimes appear in human shape both in the time of the patriarchs and also in that of Joshua (Jos_5:13.), it never appeared in such a form during the history of the exodus, and therefore is only to be regarded as a mode of divine revelation which was chiefly discernible in its effects, and belonged to the sphere of invisibility: so that in any case, if we search in the history of the people that was brought out of Egypt for the fulfilment of such promises as Exo_23:20-23, we are forced to the conclusion that the cloud was the medium of the settled presence of God in His angel in the midst of Israel, although it is never so expressed in the thorah. This mediatorial angel is called “the angel of His face,” as being the representative of God, for “the face of God” is His self-revealing presence (even though only revealed to the mental eye); and consequently the presence of God, which led Israel to Canaan, is called directly “His face” in Deu_4:37, apart from the angelic mediation to be understood; and “my face” in Exo_33:14-15, by the side of “my angel” in Exo_32:34, and the angel in Exo_33:2, appears as something incomparably higher than the presence of God through the mediation of that one angel, whose personality is completely hidden by his mediatorial instrumentality. The genitive ,פניוtherefore, is not to be taken objectively in the sense of “the angel who sees His face,” but as explanatory, “the angel who is His face, or in whom His face is manifested.” The הוּאwhich follows does not point back to the angel, but to Jehovah, who reveals Himself thus. But although the angel is regarded as a distinct being from Jehovah, it is also regarded as one that is completely hidden before Him, whose name is in him. He redeemed them by virtue of His love and of His chemlâh, i.e., of His forgiving gentleness (Arabic, with the letters transposed, chilm; compare, however, chamūl, gentle-hearted), and lifted them up, and carried them ( נִשָּׂ אthe consequence of ,נִטֵּ לwhich is similar in sense, and more Aramaean; cf., tollere root tal, and ferre root bhar, perf. tuli) all the days of the olden time. The prayer passes now quite into the tone of Ps 78 and 106, and begins to describe how, in spite of Jehovah's grace, Israel fell again and again away from Jehovah, and yet was always rescued again by virtue of His grace. For it is impossible that it should leap at once in והמָּהto the people ֵ ְ who caused the captivity, and ויִּזְכּ ֹרhave for its subject the penitential church of the exiles which ַ was longing for redemption (Ewald). The train of thought is rather this: From the proofs of grace which the Israel of the olden time had experienced, the prophet passes to that disobedience to Jehovah into which it fell, to that punishment of Jehovah which it thereby brought upon itself,
and to that longing for the renewal of the old Mosaic period of redemption, which seized it in the midst of its state of punishment. But instead of saying that Jehovah did not leave this longing unsatisfied, and responded to the penitence of Israel with ever fresh help, the prophet passes at once from the desire of the old Israel for redemption, to the prayer of the existing Israel for redemption, suppressing the intermediate thought, that Israel was even now in such a state of punishment and longing.
7. Calvin, “In all their affliction he was afflicted. He enlarges on the goodness of God toward his people,and shews that he was kind to the fathers, so long as they permitted themselves to be governed by him, and was so careful about them that he himself bore their distresses and afflictions. By speaking in this manner, he declares the incomparable love which God bears toward his people. In order to move us more powerfully and draw us to himself, the Lord accommodates himself to the manner of men, by attributing to himself all the affection, love, and (συµπαθεία) compassion which a father can have. And yet in human affairs it is impossible to conceive of any sort of kindness or benevolence which he does not immeasurably surpass. I acknowledge that (lo) with (aleph) literally signifies not; and therefore I do not altogether reject a different interpretation, that the people in their afflictions were not afflicted, because God always applied some remedy to alleviate their sorrows. But since , (aleph,)in many passages, is manifestly changed into , (vau,) learned commentators justly, in my opinion, view it as equivalent to the pronoun , (lo,) to him. In this sense the Prophet testifies that God, in order to alleviate the distresses and afflictions of his people, himself bore their burdens; not that he can in any way endure anguish, but, by a very customary figure of speech, he assumes and applies to himself human passions. And the angel of his face saved them. Of the care which he took of them he next explains the effect, by saying that he always delivered them by the hand of his angel, whom he calls “the angel of his face,” because he was the witness of the presence of God, and, as it were, his herald to execute his commands; that we may not think that angels come forth of their own accord, or move at their own suggestion, to render assistance to us; for the Lord makes use of their agency, and makes known to us his presence by means of them. Angels can do nothing of themselves, and give no assistance, except so far as the Lord commissions them “to be ministers of our salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14.) Let us not, therefore, fix our whole attention on them, for they lead us straight to God. If it be thought preferable to interpret this phrase as describing the lively image of God, because that angel, being the leader and guardian of the people, shewed the face of God as in a mirror, that meaning will be highly appropriate. And indeed I have no doubt that the office of Savior is ascribed to Christ, as we know that he was the angel of highest rank, by whose guidance, safeguard, and protection, the Church has been preserved and upheld. In his love. He shews what was the cause of so great benefits; namely, his love and undeserved kindness, as Moses also teaches. “How came it that God adopted thy fathers, but because he loved them, and because his heart clave to them?” (Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:7, 8.) Moses wishes to set aside entirely the lofty opinion which they might entertain of themselves, because they were proud and haughty, and claimed more for themselves than they had a right to claim; and therefore he shews that there was no other cause for so great benefits than the absolute and undeserved goodness of God.
He bore them and carried them. He next makes use of the same metaphor which Moses employs in his song, when he says that God “carried his people in the same manner as an eagle bears her young on her wings.” (Deuteronomy 32:11.) Or perhaps some may choose to refer it to sheep, as we have seen elsewhere, “He will lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11.) Yet it is more natural to view this as a comparison to a mother, who not only carries the child in the womb, but rears it till it arrive at full strength. The meaning may be thus summed up. “The people experienced the grace of God, not only once, when they were redeemed, but during the whole course of their life, so that to him alone ought to be ascribed all the benefits which they have received.” And therefore he adds — All the days of the age; that is, in an uninterrupted succession of many years; for God is not wearied in doing good, nor is it only to a single age that he shews his kindness; for he has never ceased to adorn and enrich his Church with various gifts.” 7B. Calvin's editor, ““In all their distress there was distress to him, or, as the English Version renders it, ‘In all their affliction he was afflicted.’ This explanation, with the text on which it is founded, and which is exhibited by a number of manuscripts and editions, is approved by Luther, Vitringa, Clericus, Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Hendewerk, and Knobel. It is favored, not only by the strong and affecting sense which it yields but by the analogy of Judges 10:16; 11:7, in one of which places the same phrase is used to denote human suffering, and in the other God is represented as sympathizing with it. The objections to it are, that it gratuitously renders necessary another anthropopathic explanation; that the natural collocation of the words, if this were the meaning, would be , (tzar lo) as in 2 Samuel 1:26; that the negative is expressed by all the ancient versions; and that the critical presumption:
8. GREAT TEXTS OF THE BIBLE The Angel of His Presence. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them. —ISA. 63:9. These words occur in the course of a most affecting and pathetic prayer which the prophet utters. In the course of his prayer he recalls the wonderful love of Jehovah for His people during their early afflictions, His patience with their waywardness, and His surpassing gentleness and care while on their way to Palestine. He is the same mighty Helper as of old, and His mercy is not restrained. It is an argument from God's own past, an argument which never fails to sustain His suffering saints, and it is no less cheering to us than to the captive Jews ; nay, more so, all the records of His dealings with His ancient people are still witnesses to us, and from them we can gather with what manner of Saviour we have to do. We have had the clearer light of the Cross to illuminate the Christian story. We can make the use of the ew Testament doubly precious when we can trace the connection between the God of the Old and ew Testament. The media-
torial office of Christ did not begin in the manger. It travels back to the door of history, before the birth of human souls. It is one Person all along the line, one character of patient lovingkindness and mercy that is revealed to us in both Testaments — more obscurely in the prophecies of the Old, more abundantly in the fulfillment of the ew.
HIS SYMPATHY. " In all their affliction he was afflicted." Wonderful are those words. The more carefully they are studied, the more surprising do they appear. It is only gradually that their meaning grows upon the mind, either filling it with increasing wonder or, where faith is strong enough to receive it, awakening overpowering feelings of gratitude and adoration. It must be understood at the outset that God's suffering is sympathetic. He shares in our afflictions, inasmuch as He has sympathy with us therein. We are so dear to Him as His children that He feels both with and for us. 1. An afflicted God. — There is no ground for the objection that suffering is impossible to God, because of the perfection of His nature. To be unsympathetic is no proof of perfection in any being. The most perfect father is by no means he who is most heedless of the feelings, and unaffected by the sufferings, of his children ; nor the most perfect king he who is indifferent to, and unmoved by, the state of his subjects. And certainly it is a most arbitrary and groundless view of the perfection of the Divine Being, which pronounces it impossible for Him to be painfully affected by the sufferings of His own. So far as we know anything of moral perfection, we see that it is sympathetic just in proportion as it rises in degree. Love is the glory of God, as it is the goodness of man, and love is essentially sympathetic. May it not be that this suffering is essential to the very highest blessedness ? Is it not manifestly far more consistent with it, to say the least, than indifference or insensibility ? With Bushnell, we cannot help thinking that such suffering must be joy itself, the fullest, and profoundest, and sublimest joy conceivable. There was never a being on earth so deep in His peace and so essentially blessed as Jesus Christ. Even His agony itself is scarcely an exception. There is no joy so grand as that which has a form of tragedy. We are never so happy, so essentially blessed, as when we suffer well, wearing out our life in sympathies spent on the evil and undeserving, burdened heavily in our prayers, struggling on through secret Gethsemanes, and groaning before God, in groans audible to God alone, for those who have
no mercy on themselves. What man of the race ever finds that in such love as this he has been made unhappy ? Therefore, when we say that God suffers in sympathy with His people, we do not deny that He is the ever-blessed God ; we do rather by implication affirm His infinite blessedness. 2. Afflicted in all our afflictions. — " In all their affliction he was afflicted." Consider how many there are who suffer — and how varied their sufferings are. Think of the long procession of Zion's pilgrims who have watered their course with tears, and left on the flinty rock or the burning sand the marks of their bleeding feet. Think of the sighing and groaning of the prisoners, the victims of human oppression, which have reached the Divine ear. Think of the noble army of martyrs, who after suffering inhuman tortures have sealed their testimony with their blood. Think of the sufferers in less public spheres who have had wearisome nights and troublesome days appointed to them. Think of the Christian homes which have been darkened by poverty and suffering and bereavement, and of the myriads of Christian hearts on which from time to time dark shadows have fallen. Think of the many afflictions of the righteous, and of God as sharing in them all. And then say what individual sufferer can know anything of the extent of His, who has shared in the aggregated sufferings of His people throughout all generations, taking upon Himself the individual sorrows of every one, so that, " In all their affliction he was afflicted." 3. The fulfillment in Christ. — Here we have one of the tenderest conceptions of God that the Old Testament can give us : the conception of God suffering for and with His people. It would not be correct to say that this was a prediction of Christ ; but it would be true to say that, here as elsewhere, Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil ; that, in His person, He did fulfil the highest and deepest conceptions of God as, shall we say, capable of feeling with men, of descending, as it were, to their level, of bearing their burdens, of fighting their battles — and in this sense is not this picture an anticipation, an unconscious anticipation, of the Incarnation and the Passion of God as exhibited in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord? When Jesus came and lived among us the heart of God was laid bare, and every one can see in the Gospel that patient wistful love which inhabits the secret place of the universe. As the father sits upon the housetop, and watches the crest of the hill, that he may catch the first glimpse of the returning prodigal ; as the householder makes ready his feast and sends
for his ungrateful guests ; as the vine master appeals to his disloyal tenants by his own son, we learn the expectation of God. As Jesus takes into His arms little children whom superior people have despised, and casts His charity over penitent women whom Pharisees cannot forgive, and mourns at the tomb of Lazarus over a friend whom He cannot afford to lose, one learns the graciousness of God. As Jesus turns sadly from azareth, the city of his youth, which had refused Him, and reproaches Capernaum, the city of His choice, which did not believe in Him, and weeps openly over Jerusalem, which knew not the day of her visitation, one learns the regret of God. And as Jesus appeals to the disciples, " "Will ye also go away ? " and prophesies with a sad heart that every one of His friends will forsake Him, and is cast into a deep gloom by the betrayal of Judas, we learn what is almost incredible, but most comfortable, the dependence of God. The Cross is not only in the heart of human life, it is also in the heart of God. He is the chief of all sufferers, because He is the chief of all lovers. There are two great afflictions in which our Savior may be said to have been afflicted. (1) There is, in the first place, the affliction of sin. It is a wonderful and overwhelming truth that God in the person of Christ chose to learn by a personal experience the power of evil. This, surely, is the meaning of the temptation, and, perhaps, of the agony and the bloody sweat. It was not that Christ for one moment yielded in deed or thought to the Power of Darkness, to the temptations of evil, but, as the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, " He suffered being tempted." It was not a mere dramatic representation, the contest of Christ with Satan. It was real. The victory was real, but it was a victory gained not without pain and effort. or was it only by the forces of evil combined against His own life that Christ was afflicted in our affliction. He saw all around Him the evidence of the sin of man. When He beheld the city He wept over it. " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! " " He was afflicted in their affliction ! " And so ever more and more He, the sinless One, bears the sins of men upon His own heart, feels them even as if they were His own, until at last they seem even to obscure the Father's face. . . . What else is the meaning of the cry, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ! " . . . What does it mean except that, in that darkest hour, the Son of God had so completely identified Himself with His sinful brethren that " in all their affliction he was afflicted " ? It is this that gives Him His power to-day ; the fact that
He stooped to learn by a personal experience all the strength of evil, that He descended to enter into the common human struggle, and in issuing victorious to be the leader against the forces of evil everywhere. " For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," says the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, " but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (2) The other great affliction is the affliction of suffering. Sin and suffering — of one kind and another — do not these two words comprehend and cover the whole range of human ills ? Do we not feel the suffering of the world to be one of our great difficulties in the way of believing in the goodness of God — the undeserved suffering of the world ? Are we not impatient at the pious commonplaces that are hurled at us, that " all is for the best," that " God knows what is good for us " ? " It is all very well," we can imagine men saying — " it is all very well to say that God knows what is best for us, but what does God know of suffering ? Is He not high above the suffering of the universe, incapable of feeling it ? what can His perfection know of all this anguish?" That is a natural thought. The mystery of pain is one which baffles us, but at least the great and awful truth of Passiontide saves us from supposing that God is above or beyond the sphere of our suffering. " In all their affliction He was afflicted." Bright February days have a stronger charm of hope about them than any other days in the year. One likes to pause in the mild rays of the sun, and look over the gates at the patient ploughhorses turning at the end of the furrow, and think that the beautiful year is all before one. The birds seem to feel just the same ; their notes are as clear as the clear air. There are no leaves on the trees and hedgerows, but how green all the grassy fields are ! and the dark purplish brown of the ploughed earth and of the bare branches is beautiful too. What a glad world this looks like as one drives or rides along the valleys or over the hills ! I have often thought so when, in foreign countries, where the fields and woods have looked to me like our English Loamshire — the rich land tilled with just as much care, the woods rolling down the gentle slopes to the green meadows — I have come on something by the roadside which has reminded me that I am not in Loamshire : an image of a great agony — the agony of the Cross. It has stood perhaps by the clustering apple blossoms, or in the broad sunshine by the cornfield, or at a turning by the wood where a clear brook was gurgling below ; and surely, if there came a traveler to this world who knew nothing of the story of man's life upon it, this image of agony would') seem to him
strangely out of place in the midst of this joyous nature. He would not know that hidden behind the apple-blossoms, or among the golden corn, or under the shrouding boughs of the woods, there might be a human heart beating heavily with anguish ; perhaps a young blooming girl, not knowing where to turn for refuge from swift-advancing shame. . . . Such things are sometimes hidden among the sunny fields, and behind the blossoming orchards, and the sound of the gurgling brook, if you came close to one spot behind a small bush, would be mingled for your ear with a despairing human sob. o wonder man's religion has much sorrow in it ; no wonder he needs a suffering God.^ Believing in Jesus, we can travel on, through one wild parish after another, upon English soil, and see, as I have done, the laborer who tills the land worse housed than the horse he drives, worse clothed than the sheep he shears, worse nourished than the hog he feeds — and yet not despair; for the Prince of sufferers is the laborer's Savior; He has tasted hunger, and thirst, and weariness, poverty, oppression, and neglect ; the very tramp who wanders houseless on the moorside is His brother ; in his sufferings the Savior of the world has shared, when the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, while the Son of God had not where to lay His head. Think not thou canst sigh a sigh, And thy Maker is not by : Think not thou canst weep a tear, And thy Maker is not near. ' George Eliot, Adam Bede. Oh, He gives to ius His joy, That our grief He may destroy : Till our grief is fled and gone He doth sit by us and moan. Outside holy Scripture there has not been a more intimate apprehension of the fellow-suffering of God than these words of BlakeHe doth sit by us and moan. He might have built a palace at a word, Who sometime had not where to lay His head. Time was, and He who nourished crowds with bread, Would not one meal unto Himself afford;
Twelve legions girded with angelic sword Were at His beck — the scorned, the buffeted. He healed another's scratch, His own side bled. Side, feet, and hands with cruel piercings gored ! Oh ! wonderful the wonders left undone ! And scarce less wonderful than those He wrought ! Oh ! self-restraint, passing all human thought To have all power and He as having none ! Oh ! self-denying love, which felt alone For needs of others — never for its own.^
II. HIS PERSO AL PRESE CE. " And the angel of his presence saved them." This must be understood, not as an angel of the Presence, who went out from the Presence to save the people, but, as it is in other Scriptures, God's own Presence, God Himself ; and so interpreted, the phrase falls into line with the rest of the verse, which is one of the most vivid expressions that the Bible contains of the personality of God. The Semites had a horror of painting the Deity in any form. But when God had to be imagined or described, they chose the form of a man and attributed to Him human features. Chiefly they thought of His face. To see His face, to come into the liglit of His countenance, was the way their hearts expressed longing for the living God. (Ex. xxxiii, 14; Ps. xxxi, 16, xxxiv. 16, Ixxx. 7). But among the heathen Semites, God's face was separated from God Himself, and worshiped as a separate god. In heathen Semitic religions there are a number of deities who are the faces of others. But the Hebrew writers, with every temptation to do the same, maintained their monotheism, and went no further than to speak of the angel of God's face. And in all the beautiful narratives of Genesis, Exodus, and Judges, about the glorious Presence that led Israel against their enemies, the angel of God's face is the equivalent of God Himself. Jacob said, the " God which hath fed me, and the angel which hath redeemed me, bless the lads." In Judges this angel's word
is God's Word. 1. The angel of His Presence. — This singularly beautiful expression carries with it associations which must be dear to every heart. " The angel of his presence " — how the mind loves to linger on the music of those words, and how near they seem to bring us to high and holy things, things unspeakably precious and helpful to our souls ! o one can stand in much doubt as to what they mean, strange and unaccustomed though the phrase may be. The " angel of the Lord " is an expression often used in the Old Testament to denote a special manifestation of God Himself ; it does not denote a messenger coming from God ; it frequently signifies a coming of God into human affairs. The still stronger phrase, " the angel of his presence " certainly denotes any form under which God chooses to make His immediate presence felt by His children. The form chosen may, or may not, be that of an angelic being or a human instrument, but it is always a means whereby God Himself comes right into human experience to help and heal and save. Scarcely has God made a new covenant than Jehovah, in the guise of a man, is found in Abraham's tent, and the Judge of all the earth was there. From that day we grow familiar, as we read, with a form which seems, as it were, to haunt the world, and a form like unto the Son of Man — a form which comes and goes in fitful glimpses, speaks in Jehovah's name, expects the worship due to the Most High, and yet calls Himself the angel of the presence of God. Especially during the Exodus this mysterious messenger appears to keep close company with His chosen flock as they march onward to their rest under His guidance. It was the " messenger of God " who went before Israel in the Red Sea, and spoke to Moses face to face. This was the visible Presence which commanded Moses to bring up the people, and to whom Moses said, " If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight ? Is it not in that thou goest with us ? " And of whom we read, " Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not ; for he will not pardon your transgressions : for my name is in him." In these wonderful words, which might have been obscure at the time, but the meaning of which it is not now difficult to see, it is not hard to discover Jesus Christ, who was faithful, like Moses, though not like a servant of Moses, but as the Son of God. In His life and body He redeemed His people, and He guided them and helped them in the days of old. Well might St. Paul see in the Church in the wilderness a parallel of the Church of the ew Testament. Well might he see in the
manna and the water of refreshment a symbol of the Messiah. That rock from whence the water sprung was Christ, the same great patient Savior. Our theories about God are our theology. It is well to value them, to be careful of them, to try our best to keep them pure and high. But the deeper question is, "What is our religion ? What are our real thoughts of God ? In that deep and secret place of our inmost consciousness, where all our desires and feelings and hopes and aspirations are born, what is God to us ? " This is the great question, the searching question. And on the answer to it our peace, our happiness, our usefulness depend. We say that God is perfect in wisdom. But do we feel that He is wise for us ? Do we trust His wisdom to guide and direct us ? Do we think of Him as the One who always knows what is best for us ? We say that God is perfect in righteousness. But do we know Him as " the Lord, our righteousness " ? Do we trust assuredly in Him to cleanse us from guilt and deliver us from the power of sin ? Do we yield ourselves to His will and purpose to purify and perfect us by the discipline of life ? We say that God is omnipresent: — His dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. It is a grand doctrine, an inspiring doctrine, this of the Divine omnipresence. But do we think of God as present with us personally in all the experiences of life ? Such a thought of Him is infinitely more needful, infinitely more precious than any theory of His omnipresence.^ But the angel of His Presence cannot mean anything to us unless we realize what kind of a presence it is of which the prophet speaks. And surely this ought not to be hard to discover and understand. He looks backward over the tribulations and distresses of Israel, this man of God, himself a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as he surveys the long story of troubles and suffering he sees God's presence shining through it all, like the face of a friend. (1) A friendly presence. — It means, first of all, a gracious,
friendly, loving, sympathising presence. God is with us in our troubles, not merely because He has to be there, since He is everywhere. He is there because He wants to be. Just as truly as you desire to be near your friends, your children, when they suffer, just so truly does God desire and choose to be near us in our afflictions. He would not be away from us even LE He could. He is not present as a mere spectator, looking at us curiously while we suffer. That cold and distant conception of Him as the great onlooker, — Who sees with equal eyes as God of all A hero perish or a sparrow fall, is not the thought of the Bible. He is with us as one who has the deepest interest in it all, feels all that happens to us, cares infinitely for us through it all. or is He present merely as the author of our pains and sorrows, who could have spared us from them if He would, but who insists upon inflicting them on us, whatever it may cost us to bear them. It costs Him as much as it costs us. " He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." There is a wondrous power in the precise words in which the prophet voices this profound truth. They may be translated, " In all their adversity He was no adversary." Our Lord Jesus Christ has become to the world in which we live the angel of the Presence, the Presence that saves. In Him God has laid bare His own heart and shown us the Divine that indwells. ever again can we think of God except in terms of Jesus. This is really the most tremendous thing that has ever happened in the long, slow, toilsome, painful unfolding of the spiritual consciousness of the human race. Time was when men could think of God as strong but not as kind, but they cannot do that now. It is a God of love or none. (2) A promised presence. — God's presence is promised and promised for ever, for all time and in every experience. The text teaches us this. The angel of His face is none other than the angel of the covenant in whom God's pledge to be with His people for ever is redeemed. Turn back to the ancient Scriptures and hear Him give this pledge to Jacob : " Behold, I am with thee, and wll keep thee in all places whither thou goest, ... for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." Hear His promise to Joshua : " I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." Hear His promise through Isaiah : " I the Lord will hear thee ; I the God of Israel will not forsake thee. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. And even to your old age I am He ; and even to
hoar hairs will I carry you ; I have made, and I will bear ; even I will carry, and will deliver you." And then hear the pledge of Jesus Christ : " I will not leave you comfortless : I will come to you. Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." 2. The angel of His Presence saved them. The power of such a thought of God always with us, and most of all in our times of weakness and trial and trouble, must be a redeeming delivering, upbearing power. Some time ago a friend took me to his country house, where. amidst other interesting things, he showed me the method by which his household and other households near it were supplied with water. He had located an inexhaustible supply, pure and good, at a great depth underground. How far it extended he did not know, but beyond his property, at any rate. He had sunk a shaft, and had placed above it an iron reservoir which would open for inspection at any time, a conspicuous object on his particular piece of property. It stood on a raised platform so that any one could easily see it and gaze upon its contents. From that reservoir pipes were led under the turf to all the rooms where water was fitted, though there were fields between, and there it gushed forth freely at any level the moment the taps were turned on. It is not an inappropriate symbol to me of our relationship to our blessed Lord and Master. The life of God is like that water supply underlying all our being, nourishing and sustaining it as the underground springs nourishing my friend's fields and gardens, without which they would be neither fields nor gardens, but only deserts. Without God there would be no humanity to go wrong ; without God not for one moment could you draw your breath in the thinking of a thought, good or ill. There it was all the time, only hidden underground. Jesus Christ has drawn it from the depths and made it immediate. He is like the visible reservoir from which the pipes are laid that convey the Water of Life to every heart. A little boy of mine came home one day bearing the marks of battle. Of course it was very wrong, but let me tell you fathers and mothers, the boy who does not sometimes get into a scrimmage and come out on the right side is not likely to do much in this world! My boy came home, and, of course, I rebuked him — only officially. I found he had been in conflict with a boy much bigger than himself. I said, " Were you frightened, Arthur ? " He said, " o." I said, " You ought to have been. The boy was bigger than you." " I wasn't, dad," he replied. " You see, orman (his big brother) was only just round the corner ! " It is a grand thing to have a brother in reserve ! Oh, my brothers, reverently I can tell the poorest, vilest, weakest man in London that if only he
will set his face toward the light, though all the powers of heU give him battle, he has a big omnipotent redeeming Brother, not round the corner, but in the heart ! (1) His Presence must save us, first of all, from the sense of meanness, littleness, unworthiness which embitters life and makes sorrow doubly hard to bear. The Presence of God must bring a sense of dignity, of elevation into our existence. It was a great king who once said, " Where I sleep, there is the palace." The life that has the Presence of God in it can be neither trivial nor unworthy. (2) The angel of God's face saves also from that feeling of reckless indifference, dumb carelessness, which sometimes tempts us to let our lives go blundering and stumbling along on the lower levels. It brings a new conscience into our thoughts, desires, and efforts, awakens a noble dissatisfaction with our halfhearted work, quickens within us a longing to be more fit for the Divine companionship. It is one mark of a good friend that he makes you wish to be at your best while you are with him. The blessed persons who have this influence are made in the likeness of that heavenly Friend whose Presence is at once a stimulus and a help to purity of heart and nobleness of demeanor. A man's reputation is what his fellow-men think of him. A man's character is what God knows of him. When we feel that the angel of His face is with us, a careless life, a superficial life no longer satisfies us. We long to be pure in heart, strong in purpose, clean in deed, because we know that nothing else will satisfy Him. (3) The angel of God's face saves us from the sense of weakness, ignorance, incompetence, which overwhelms us in the afflictions of life. We feel not only that we are powerless to protect ourselves against trouble, but that we are not able to get the good out of it that ought to come to us. We cannot interpret our sorrows aright. We cannot see the real meaning of them. We cannot reach our hand through the years to catch " the far-off interest of tears." We say to ourselves in despair, " God only knows what it means." And if we do not believe that God is with us, then that thought shuts us up in the darkness, puts the interpretation of the mystery far away from us, locks us up in the prison house of sorrow and leaves the key in heaven. But if we believe that God is with us, then the word of despair becomes a word of hope. (4) The angel of God's face saves us from the sense of loneliness, which is unbearable. Companionship is essential to happiness. A solitary Eden would have been no Paradise.
The deepest of all miseries is the sense of absolute isolation. There are moments in the experience of most of us when the mysterious consciousness of the law which made all human souls separate, like islands — And bade betwixt their shores to be The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea, fills us with heaviness of heart. In this painful solitude the present friendship of God is the only sure consolation. othing can divide us from Him — not misunderstanding, nor coldness, nor selfishness, nor scorn — for none of these things are possible to Him. othing can divide us from Him except our own sin, and that He has forgiven and taken away and blotted out by His great mercy in Christ. IF A few years ago a man of great talent, famous for his eloquence, but even better known for the entire unbelief in God which he proclaimed, was called to deliver a funeral address over the grave of his brother. In words of sombre pathos he compared this life to a narrow, green valley between the cold peaks of two eternities. We walk here for a little while in company with those whom we love. Then our hands are loosed and our companions vanish. We can see but a little way. Beyond the encircling hills all is gloom and nothingness. How different is the voice of one whose heart has known and trusted the angel of the face of God ! " Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for Thou art with me ; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." ^ Strange that men should be saved by a Presence ; it is such a quiet thing. Salvation might be thought to require something strong, potent, compelling; we are surprised at an influence so gentle. Yet, I think, the most potent thing in the world is just a Presence. What is it that determines the rank in society ? It is the answer to the question, " Who are there ? " What is it that brings condolence to an hour of bereavement ? It is just the saying of one to another, " I am with you." It is not what is spoken ; it is not what is done ; it is the sense that some one is there. So is it with my Father. I am not anxious to know the why, but only the where, of God. It matters little to me for what purpose He walks upon the storm, nor is it of deadly consequence whether or not He shall say, " Peace, be still." The all-important thing is that the feet upon the sea should be His feet — His, and not another's. Tell me that, and I ask no more. There is all the difference in the world between a silent room and an empty room. There is a companionship where there is no voice. Is it not written, " In thy presence is fulness of joy " ? In the very sense that my Father is there, though He speak not,
though He whisper not, though He write not His message in a book, there comes to my heart a great calm.^ IF In his book called The Kingdom of Heaven, which is a detailed statement of the writer's own personal faith, Peter Rosegger tells us of a Styrian farmer who was known to his neighbors by the nickname of "The Pair." He was always engaged in converse with some unseen friend. If he came to a part of the road where there was a rough path and a smooth, he took the rough path and left the other for his unseen companion. When he came to an inn he always ordered two glasses of wine, one for himself and one for his friend who was with him, and the friend's glass of wine had always to be served on the best utensil the inn could provide. And when paying his bill he would give directions that the friend's glass of wine, left behind, should be given to the first poor man who came that way. In his own home, at every meal, he always reserved the seat of honor at his right hand for this unseen friend, and before this vacant chair there was placed the best that his home could provide. And so he lived a most peaceful and cheerful life. At last he came to lie down on what proved to be the bed of his last sickness ; and while lying there he had a vacant chair placed by him, and kept his right hand out, holding the hand of his unseen friend, and maintained with him low-toned converse. Men asked him who was there, and he said, " Don't you know ? He is there ; " and they came to understand that he believed, that he knew, that Jesus Christ was there. And so he died ; and on the day of his funeral, Rosegger tells us, in his own beautiful and touching way, the grave was opened near a large marble figure of the Good Shepherd. It was a lovely day ; the sun was shining brightly upon the marble figure, and a white shaft of light shot from the marble figure into the heart of the grave, and this Styrian farmer, who had lived this life of faith in the unseen, but very real. Son of God, was laid in that grave with the white light of heaven illuminating his darkness, a fitting termination to a life so pure and trustful.”
10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
1. Barnes, “But they rebelled - Against God. This charge is often made against the Jews; and indeed their history is little more than a record of a series of rebellions against God. And vexed - Or rather ‘grieved.’ The Hebrew word ‛ עצבâtsab, in Piel, means to pain, to afflict, to grieve. This is the idea here. Their conduct was such as was suited to produce the deepest pain - for there is nothing which we more deeply feel than the ingratitude of those who have been benefited by us. Our translators have supposed that the word conveyed the idea of provoking to wrath by their conduct (thus the Septuagint renders it παρώξυναν τὸ πνεύµα, κ.τ.λ. parōxunan to pneuma, etc.; but the more appropriate sense is, that their conduct was such as to produce pain or grief. Compare Eph_4:30 : ‘Grieve not (µὴ λυπεῖτε mē lupeite) the Holy Spirit.’ Psa_78:40; Psa_95:10. Heb_3:10-17. His Holy Spirit - The Chaldee renders this, ‘But they were unwilling to obey, and they irritated (provoked, blasphemed רגזrâgaz) against the words of the prophets.’ But the reference seems rather to be to the Spirit of God that renewed, comforted, enlightened, and sanctified them. Grotius, Rosenmuller, and Gesenius, suppose that this means God himself - a Spirit of holiness. But, with the revelation of the ew Testament before us, we cannot well doubt that the real reference here is to the third person of the Trinity - the renewer and sanctifier of the people of God. It may be admitted, perhaps, that the ancient Hebrews would refer this to God himself, and that their views of the offices of the different persons in the divine nature were not very clearly marked, or very distinct. But this does not prove that the real reference may not have been to ‘the Holy Spirit.’ The renewer and sanctifier of the human heart at all times has been the same. And when any operations of the mind and heart pertaining to salvation are referred to in the Old Testament, nothing should forbid us to apply to the explanation of the expressions and the facts, the clear light which we have in the ew Testament - in the same way as when the ancients speak of phenomena in the physical world, we deem it not improper to apply to the explanation of them the established doctrines which we now have in the physical sciences. By this we by no means design to say that the ancients had the same knowledge which we have, or that the language which they used conveyed the same idea to them which it now does to us, but that the events occurred in accordance with the laws which we now understand, and that the language may be explained by the light of modern science. Thus the word eclipse conveyed to them a somewhat different idea from what it does to us. They supposed it was produced by different causes. Still they described accurately the facts in the case; and to the explanation of those facts we are permitted now to apply the principles of modern science. So the Old Testament describes facts occurring under the influence of truth. The facts were clearly understood. What shall hinder us, in explaining them, from applying the clearer light of the ew Testament? Admitting this obvious principle, I suppose that the reference here was really to the third person of the Trinity; and that the sense is, that their conduct was such as was suited to cause grief to their Sanctifier and Comforter, in the same way as it is said in the ew Testament that this is done now. He was turned - He abandoned them for their sins, and left them to reap the consequences. And he fought against them - He favored their enemies and gave them the victory. He gave them up to a series of disasters which finally terminated in their long and painful captivity, and in the destruction of their temple, city, and nation. The sentiment is, that when we grieve the Spirit of God, he abandons us to our chosen course, and leaves us to a series of spiritual and temporal disasters.
2. Gill, “But they rebelled,.... Against the Lord, not withstanding he thought so well of them; did so many good things for them; sympathized with them, and showed them so many favours; wretched ingratitude! they rebelled against the Lord in the times of Moses, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, by their murmurings, unbelief, and idolatry; wherefore he calls them a rebellious people, and says they were such from the day he had been with them; and so in later times, in the times of the judges, and of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, they rebelled against God their Parent, Protector, and King; see Deu_9:7 and so they did in the times of Christ, whom they rejected as the Messiah, and disowned as their King, and still continue in their rebellion, Luk_19:14, and vexed his Holy Spirit; the Spirit of God the Father, who pitied them in all their afflictions; or the Spirit of the Angel of his presence, that redeemed and saved them; for the Spirit is both the Spirit of the Father and of the Son; and he is holy in his nature and operations, and the author of sanctification in the hearts of his people; him they vexed and provoked to anger against them, speaking after the manner of men, by their sins and transgressions; rejecting his counsels and instructions by Moses, and by the prophets in later times, in and by whom he spake unto them, and by the apostles in Gospel times; for the Jews, as their fathers before them ever did, resisted the Holy Spirit of God in the evidence he gave of the Messiah, which must be very provoking, Act_7:51. The Targum paraphrases it, the word of his holy prophets; and so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it; and according to some, in Aben Ezra, the Angel of glory is meant, who went before the people of Israel, whom they were charged not to provoke, Exo_23:20, therefore he was turned to be their enemy; not that there is any change in God, or any turn in him from love to hatred; but he may, and sometimes does, so appear in his providential dispensations towards his people, as to seem to be their enemy, and to be thought to be so by them, Job_13:24. The Targum is, and his Word became their enemy; compare with this Luk_19:27, and he fought against them; as he threatened he would when they behaved ill towards him; and as he actually did when he brought the sword upon them, gave them up into the hands of their enemies, as often in the times of the judges, and particularly when the king of Babylon came against them; see Lev_26:25 and as the Messiah did when he brought the Roman armies against them, and destroyed their city, to which times this prophecy is thought by some to have respect, and not without reason. 3. Henry, “Their disingenuous conduct towards him, and the trouble they thereby brought upon themselves (Isa_63:10): But they rebelled. Things looked very hopeful and promising; one would have thought that they should have continued dutiful children to God, and then there was no doubt but he would have continued a gracious Father to them; but here is a sad change on both sides, and on them be the breach. (1.) They revolted from their allegiance to God and took up arms against him: They rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit with their unbelief and murmuring, besides the iniquity of the golden calf; and this had been their way and manner ever since. Though he was ready to say of them, They will not lie, though he had done so much for them, borne them and carried them, yet they thus ill requited him, like foolish people and unwise, Deu_32:6. This grieved him, Psa_95:10. The ungrateful rebellions of God's children against him are a vexation to his Holy Spirit. (2.) Thereupon he justly withdrew his protection, and not only so, but made war upon them, as a prince justly does upon the rebels. He who had been so much their friend was turned to be their enemy and fought against them, by one judgment after another, both in the wilderness and after their settlement in Canaan. See the malignity and
mischievousness of sin; it makes God an enemy even to those for whom he has done the part of a good friend, and makes him angry who was all love and pity. See the folly of sinners; they wilfully lose him for a friend who is the most desirable friend, and make him their enemy who is the most formidable enemy. This refers especially to those calamities that were of late brought upon them by their captivity in Babylon for their idolatries and other sins. That which is both the original and the great aggravation of their troubles was that God was turned to be their enemy. 5. Jamison, “vexed — grieved (Psa_78:40; Psa_95:10; Act_7:51; Eph_4:30; Heb_3:10, Heb_3:17). he fought — rather, “He it was that fought,” namely, the angel of His presence [Horsley], (Lam_2:5). 5B. Constable, “Even though the Israelites pledged themselves to follow the Lord faithfully, they rebelled against Him and so grieved His Holy Spirit. This verse helps us understand what grieving the Holy Spirit involves, namely, rebelling against the Lord (cf. Eph. 4:30). This verse, the next, and Psalm 51:11 are the only places in the Old Testament where "holy" describes God's "Spirit." We offend the holiness of God when we rebel against Him. Of course, we also offend His love since we "grieve" or "hurt" Him. Holy behavior is impossible without a will that is compliant rather than rebellious toward God. "Most commentators recognize that the understanding of the Holy Spirit here and in v. 11 is close to the fully developed T concept of the third person of the Trinity. Here he is clearly a person who is capable of being hurt by human behavior, and in v. 11 he is the empowering and enabling presence in the human spirit.” 6. K&D, “Israel's ingratitude. “But they resisted and vexed His Holy Spirit: then He turned to be their enemy; He made war upon them.” ot only has ( ועצְּבוּto cause cutting pain) קָדְ שׁוֹ אֶ ת־רוּחas its ִ ְ ַ object, but מָרוּhas the same (on the primary meaning, see at Isa_3:8). In other cases, the object of merōth (hamrōth) is Jehovah, or His word, His promise, His providence, hence Jehovah himself in the revelations of His nature in word and deed; here it is the spirit of holiness, which is distinguished from Him as a personal existence. For just as the angel who is His face, i.e., the representation of His nature, is designated as a person both by His name and also by the redeeming activity ascribed to Him; so also is the Spirit of holiness, by the fact that He can be grieved, and therefore can feel grief (compare Eph_4:30, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God”). Hence Jehovah, and the angel of His face, and the Spirit of His holiness, are distinguished as three persons, but so that the two latter derive their existence from the first, which is the absolute ground of the Deity, and of everything that is divine. ow, if we consider that the angel of Jehovah was indeed an angel, but that he was the angelic anticipation of the appearance of God the Mediator “in the flesh,” and served to foreshadow Him “who, as the image of the invisible God” (Col_1:15), as “the reflection of His glory and the stamp of His nature” (Heb_1:3), is not merely a temporary medium of self-manifestation, but the perfect personal self-manifestation of the divine pânı̄ m, we have here an unmistakeable indication of the mystery of the triune nature of God the One, which was revealed in history in the ew Testament work of redemption. The subject to ויֵּהפis Jehovah, whose Holy Spirit they troubled. He who proved Himself to be their ֵ ָ ַ Father (cf., Deu_32:6), became, through the reaction of His holiness, the very reverse of what He wished to be. He turned to be their enemy; ,הוּאHe, the most fearful of all foes, made war against them. This is the way in which we explain Isa_63:10, although with this explanation it would have to be accentuated differently, viz., ויהפךmahpach, להםpashta, לאויבzakeph, הואtiphchah, נלחם־בם silluk. The accentuation as we find it takes נלחם־בם הואas an attributive clause: “to an enemy, who made war against them.”
7. Calvin, “But they were rebellious. The Prophet now comes down to the second clause, in which he states that the Lord ceased to shew kindness to his people, because they revolted, and turned aside from him. The question turns on this point: “God exercised his kindness towards our fathers for a long time; why do not we experience the same kindness? Is he unlike himself?” By no means; but we ourselves, by our rebellion, refuse and even drive away his goodness. Yet the Prophet not only accuses the men of his own age, but likewise condemns former ages. We see how, even when they had Moses for their leader, they murmured against God and rebelled. (Exodus 17:5; umbers 11:1;20:3.) Therefore he became an enemy to them. He shews that the effect of their rebellion was, that God, who had loved them tenderly, yet, in consequence of their obstinacy, “became an enemy to them.” Let them accuse themselves, therefore, for suffering the punishment of their transgressions; for God is by nature disposed to shew kindness, and nothing is more agreeable to him than to bestow his favors. And they provoked his Holy Spirit. We are said to irritate “the Holy Spirit” by our wickedness; and this form of expression, after the manner of men, is intended to produce in us stronger abhorrence against sin, which provokes God’s wrath and hatred. ow, since it is the same Spirit that performs the work of our salvation, the Prophet suggests that God is alienated from us by our sins, which break asunder the bond of union. To this belongs the exhortation of Paul, “Grieve not; the Spirit of God, by whom ye have been sealed to the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30.) It ought also to be observed here, that we have no reason for blaming men, who hate and persecute us, seeing that the Lord makes war with us, and punishes our transgressions by their hand. We ought therefore to accuse and condemn our transgressions; for they are the cause of all the evils which we endure.” 8. Constable points out a paradox that runs through Isaiah, and, in fact, all of Scripture and history. Things seem to be going so good, and then they fall apart. There never seems to be an end of how man can mess up and make a good thing go bad. He wrote, “"The Isaianic literature is characterized by a wonderful perception of the future, yet every time we are brought to the point where all seems to be fulfilled we meet a 'not yet'. Chapter 12 sings in joy over the glory of the coming king (chapters 6—11), but chapters 13—27 intervene to remind us of the scale in time and space on which the Lord is working. Again, we trace the work of the Servant to the point where all is done and only the enjoyment of the Messianic banquet remains (chapter 55), and then we discover (56:1) that salvation is still to come. Finally, we reach the sombre, but marvelous, 63:1-6. Surely now, with the overthrow of every foe, the redeeming work is fully done! But no, the remembrancers take their place on the walls to give the Lord no rest till he fulfills all that ispromised.""The glories of chapters 60—62 and the vision of the decisive action in 63:1-6 stir the prophet to one of the most eloquent intercessions of the Bible as he surveys the past goodness of God and the present straits of his people."
11 Then his people recalled[b] the days of old, the days of Moses and his people— where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them,
1. Barnes, “Then he remembered - He did not forget his solemn premises to be their protector and their God. For their crimes they were subjected to punishment, but God did not forget that they were his people, nor that he had entered into covenant with them. The object of this part of the petition seems to be, to recall the fact that in former times God had never wholly forsaken them, and to plead that the same thing might occur now. Even in the darkest days of adversity, God still remembered his promises, and interposed to save them. Such they trusted it would be still. Moses and his people - Lowth renders this, ‘Moses his servant,’ supposing that a change had occurred in the Hebrew text. It would be natural indeed to suppose that the word ‘servant’ would occur here (see the Hebrew), but the authority is not sufficient for the change. The idea seems to be that which is in our translation, and which is approved by Vitringa and Gesenius. ‘He recalled the ancient days when he led Moses and his people through the sea and the wilderness.’ Where is he - The Chaldee renders this, ‘Lest they should say, Where is he?’ that is, lest surrounding nations should ask in contempt and scorn, Where is the protector of the people, who defended them in other times? According to this, the sense is that God remembered the times of Moses and interposed, lest his not doing it should bring reproach upon his name and cause. Lowth renders it, ‘How he brought them up;’ that is, he recollected his former interposition. But the true idea is that of one asking a question. ‘Where now is the God that formerly appeared for their aid? And though it is the language of God himself, yet it indicates that state of mind which arises when the question is asked, Where is now the former protector and God of the people? That brought them up out of the sea - The Red Sea, when he delivered them from Egypt. This fact is the subject of a constant reference in the Scriptures, when the sacred writers would illustrate the goodness of God in any great and signal deliverance. With the shepherd of his flock - Margin, ‘Shepherds.’ Lowth and oyes render this in the singular, supposing it to refer to Moses. The Septuagint, Chaldee, and Syriac, also read it in the singular. The Hebrew is in the plural ( רעיro‛ēy), though some manuscripts read it in the singular. If it is to be read in the plural, as the great majority of manuscripts read it, it probably refers to Moses and Aaron as the shepherds or guides of the people. Or it may also include others, meaning that Yahweh led up the people with all their rulers and guides. Where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? - (see the notes at Isa_63:10). Hebrew, בקרבו beqirebô - ‘In the midst of him,’ that is, in the midst of the people or the flock. They were then under his guidance and sanctifying influence. The generation which was led to the land of Canaan was eminently pious, perhaps more so than any other of the people of Israel (compare Jos_24:31; Jdg_2:6-10). The idea here is, that God, who then gave his Holy Spirit, had seemed to
forsake them. The nation seemed to be abandoned to wickedness; and in this state, God remembered how he had formerly chosen and sanctified them; and he proposed again to impart to them the same Spirit.
2. Clarke, “Moses and his people “Moses his servant” - For עמוammo, his people, two MSS. (one of them ancient) and one of my own, (ancient), and one of De Rossi’s, and the old edition of 1488, and the Syriac, read עבדוabdo, his servant. These two words have been mistaken one for the other in other places; Psa_78:71, and Psa_80:5, for עמוammo, his people, and עמךammecha, thy people, the Septuagint read עבדוabdo, his servant, and עבדךabdecha, thy servant. Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where etc. “How he brought them up from the sea, with the shepherd of his flock; how,” etc. - For איה aiyeh, how, interrogative, twice, the Syriac Version reads איךeich, how, without interrogation, as that particle is used in the Syriac language, and sometimes in the Hebrew. See Rth_3:18; Ecc_2:16. The shepherd of his flock - That is, Moses. The MSS. and editions vary in this word; some have it רעהroeh, in the singular number; so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee. Others רעיroey, plural, the shepherds. - L.
3. Gill, “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people,.... Which may be understood either of the Lord, who remembered his lovingkindnesses towards these people, and his tender mercies which had been ever of old; the covenant he made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the wonders he did for them in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, by the hand of Moses; his intercession to him on their behalf, and the many great and good things he did for them; and therefore determined not now to cast them off altogether, but to do as he had done before; and, to stir up himself thereunto, puts the following questions: where is he? &c.; so the Targum paraphrases it, "he had mercy for the glory of his name, and because of the remembrance of his goodness of old, the mighty things he did by the hands of Moses to his people;'' and adds, "lest they should say;'' that is, the Gentiles, as Aben Ezra also explains it, lest they should by way of taunt and reproach say, as follows: "where is he?" &c.; compare with this Deu_32:26. Gussetius (z) thinks the last words should be rendered, "the extractor of his people"; or, he that drew out his people; that is, out of many waters, delivered them from various afflictions, as in Psa_18:16 and to be understood not of Moses, only in allusion to him, who had his name from being drawn out of the waters; but of a divine Person, who is said to do all the following things; so Ben Melech says the word here has the signification of drawing, or bringing out, as in the above psalm: or else these are the words of the people themselves; at least of some of the truly good and gracious, wise and faithful, among them, in this time of their distress; calling to mind former times, and former appearances of God for them, using them as pleas and arguments with him, and as an encouragement to their faith and hope; and right it is to
remember the years of the right hand of the most High, Psa_77:10 so Jarchi takes them to be the words of the prophet in his distress, bemoaning and saying, in a supplicating way, what is after expressed; and Kimchi interprets them of Israel in captivity; it seems to be the language of the believing Jews a little before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, or about the time of their conversion in the latter day: saying, where is he that brought them up out of the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? or "shepherds" (a), according to another reading; that is, Moses and Aaron, by the hands of whom the Lord led his people Israel as a flock of sheep, and which were his, and not the property of those shepherds; they were only instruments by, and with whom, he brought them through the sea, and out of it, which was a wonderful work of God, and often mentioned as a proof of his power, as it is here; for what is it he cannot do who did this? see Psa_77:20. where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? either within Moses, the shepherd of the flock, as Aben Ezra; or within Israel, the flock itself, as Jarchi; for the Spirit of God was not only upon Moses, but upon the seventy elders, and upon all the people at Sinai, as Kimchi observes; and indeed the Holy Spirit was given to the body of the people to instruct and teach them, according to eh_9:20 now these questions are put, not by way of jeer, but by way of complaint, for want of the divine presence as formerly; and by way of inquiry where the Lord was; and by way of expostulation with him, that he would show himself again, as in the days of old. 4. Henry, “ A particular reflection made, on this occasion, upon what God did for them when he first formed them into a people: Then he remembered the days of old, Isa_63:11. (1.) This may be understood either of the people or of God. [1.] We may understand it of the people. Israel then (spoken of as a single person) remembered the days of old, looked into their Bibles, read the story of God's bringing their fathers out of Egypt, considered it more closely than ever they did before, and reasoned upon it, as Gideon did (Jdg_6:13), Where are all the wonders that our fathers told us of? “Where is he that brought them up out of Egypt? Is he not as able to bring us up out of Babylon? Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Where is the Lord God of our fathers?” This they consider as an inducement and an encouragement to them to repent and return to him; their fathers were a provoking people and yet found him a pardoning God; and why may not they find him so if they return to him? They also use it as a plea with God in prayer for the turning again of their captivity, like that Isa_51:9, Isa_51:10. ote, When the present days are dark and cloudy it is good to remember the days of old, to recollect our own and others' experiences of the divine power and goodness and make use of them, to look back upon the years of the right hand of the Most High (Psa_77:5, Psa_77:10), and remember that he is God, and changes not. [2.] We may understand it of God; he put himself in mind of the days of old, of his covenant with Abraham (Lev_26:42); he said, Where is he that brought Israel up out of the sea? stirring up himself to come and save them with this consideration, “Why should not I appear for them now as I did for their fathers, who were as undeserving, as ill-deserving, as they are?” See how far off divine mercy will go, how far back it will look, to find out a reason for doing good to his people, when ho present considerations appear but what make against them. ay, it makes that a reason for relieving them which might have been used as a reason for abandoning them. He might have said, “I have delivered them formerly, but they have again brought trouble upon themselves (Pro_19:19); there I will deliver them no more,” Jdg_10:13. But no; mercy rejoices against judgment, and turns the argument the other way: “I have formerly delivered them and therefore will now.”
(2.) Which way soever we take it, whether the people plead it with God or God with himself, let us view the particulars, and they agree very much with the confession and prayer which the children of the captivity made upon a solemn fast-day ( eh_9:5. etc.), which may serve as a comment on these verses which call to mind Moses and his people, that is, what God did by Moses for his people, especially in bringing them through the Red Sea, for that is it that is here most insisted on; for it was a work which he much gloried in and which his people therefore may in a particular manner encourage themselves with the remembrance 5. Jamison, “remembered — otwithstanding their perversity, He forgot not His covenant of old; therefore He did not wholly forsake them (Lev_26:40-42, Lev_26:44, Lev_26:45; Psa_106:45, Psa_106:46); the Jews make this their plea with God, that He should not now forsake them. saying — God is represented, in human language, mentally speaking of Himself and His former acts of love to Israel, as His ground for pitying them notwithstanding their rebellion. sea — Red Sea. shepherd — Moses; or if the Hebrew be read plural, “shepherds,” Moses, Aaron, and the other leaders (so Psa_77:20). put ... Spirit ... within him — Hebrew, “in the inward parts of him,” that is, Moses; or it refers to the flock, “in the midst of his people” ( um_11:17, um_11:25; eh_9:20; Hag_2:5).
6. K&D 11-14, “According to the accentuation before us, Isa_63:11 should be rendered thus: “Then He (viz., Jehovah) remembered the days of the olden time, the Moses of His people” (lxx, Targ., Syr., Jerome). But apart from the strange expression “the Moses of His people,” which might perhaps be regarded as possible, because the proper name mōsheh might suggest the thought of its real meaning in Hebrew, viz., extrahens = liberator, but which the Syriac rejects by introducing the reading ‛abhdō (Moses, His servant), we have only to look at the questions of evidently human longing which follow, to see that Jehovah cannot be the subject to ויִּזְכּ ֹר ַ (remembered), by which these reminiscences are introduced. It is the people which begins its inquiries with ,אַ יֵּהjust as in Jer_2:6 (cf., Isa_51:9-10), and recals “the days of olden time,” according to the admonition in Deu_32:7. Consequently, in spite of the accents, such Jewish commentators as Saad. and Rashi regard “his people” (‛ammō) as the subject; whereas others, such as AE, Kimchi, and Abravanel, take account of the accents, and make the people the suppressed subject of the verb “remembered,” by rendering it thus, “Then it remembered the days of olden time, (the days) of Moses (and) His people,” or in some similar way. But with all modifications the rendering is forced and lame. The best way of keeping to the accents is that suggested by Stier, “Then men (indef. man, the French on) remembered the days of old, the Moses of His people.” But why did the prophet not say ,ויִּזְכְּרוּas the proper sequel to Isa_63:10? We prefer to adopt ַ the following rendering and accentuation: Then remembered (zakeph gadol) the days-of-old (mercha) of Moses (tiphchah) His people. The object stands before the subject, as for example in 2Ki_5:13 (compare the inversions in Isa_8:22 extr., Isa_22:2 init.); and mosheh is a genitive governing the composite “days of old” (for this form of the construct state, compare Isa_28:1 and Rth_2:1). The retrospect commences with “Where is He who led them up?” etc. The suffix of ( המּעלֵםfor ,המעלָםlike ר ֹדֵ םin Psa_68:28, and therefore with the verbal force predominant) refers ֲ ַ ַ to the ancestors; and although the word is determined by the suffix, it has the article as equivalent to a demonstrative pronoun (ille qui sursum duxit, eduxit eos). “The shepherd of his flock” is added as a more precise definition, not dependent upon vayyizkōr, as even the accents prove. אֵ תis rendered emphatic by yethib, since here it signifies unâ cum. The Targum takes it in
the sense of instar pastoris gregis sui; but though עִםis sometimes used in this way, אֵ תnever is. Both the lxx and Targum read ;רֹעֵהJerome, on the other hand, adopts the reading ,רֹעֵיand this is the Masoretic reading, for the Masora in Gen_47:3 reckons four ,רֹעֵהwithout including the present passage. Kimchi and Abravanel also support this reading, and orzi very properly gives it the preference. The shepherds of the flock of Jehovah are Moses and Aaron, together with Miriam (Ps. 77:21; Mic_6:4). With these (i.e., in their company or under their guidance) Jehovah led His people up out of Egypt through the Red Sea. With the reading ,רֹעֵיthe question whether beqirbô refers to Moses or Israel falls to the ground. Into the heart of His people ( eh_9:20) Jehovah put the spirit of His holiness: it was present in the midst of Israel, inasmuch as Moses, Aaron, Miriam, the Seventy, and the prophets in the camp possessed it, and inasmuch as Joshua inherited it as the successor of Moses, and all the people might become possessed of it. The majestic might of Jehovah, which manifested itself majestically, is called the “arm of His majesty;” an anthropomorphism to which the expression “who caused it to march at the right hand of Moses” compels us to give an interpretation worthy of God. Stier will not allow that תִּ פְאַרתּוֹ זְרֹעis to be taken as the object, and exclaims, “What a marvellous figure of speech, an arm ַ ְ walking at a person's right hand!” But the arm which is visible in its deeds belongs to the God who is invisible in His own nature; and the meaning is, that the active power of Moses was not left to itself, but he overwhelming omnipotence of God went by its side, and endowed it with superhuman strength. It was by virtue of this that the elevated staff and extended hand of Moses divided the Red Sea (Exo_14:16). בּוֹקעhas mahpach attached to the ,בand therefore the tone ַ ֵ drawn back upon the penultimate, and metheg with the tsere, that it may not be slipped over in the pronunciation. The clause וגו לעֲשׂוֹתaffirms that the absolute purpose of God is in Himself. ַ But He is holy love, and whilst willing for Himself, He wills at the same time the salvation of His creatures. He makes to Himself an “everlasting name,” by glorifying Himself in such memorable miracles of redemption, as that performed in the deliverance of His people out of Egypt. According to the general order of the passage, Isa_63:13 apparently refers to the passage through the Jordan; but the psalmist, in Psa_106:9 (cf., Psa_77:17), understood it as referring to the passage through the Red Sea. The prayer dwells upon this chief miracle, of which the other was only an after-play. “As the horse gallops over the plain,” so did they pass through the depths of the sea ( יִכָּשֵׁ לוּ אa circumstantial minor clause), i.e., without stumbling. Then follows another beautiful figure: “like the beast that goeth down into the valley,” not “as the beast goeth down into the valley,” the Spirit of Jehovah brought it (Israel) to rest, viz., to the menūchâh of the Canaan flowing with milk and honey (Deu_12:9; Psa_95:11), where it rested and was refreshed after the long and wearisome march through the sandy desert, like a flock that had descended from the bare mountains to the brooks and meadows of the valley. The Spirit of God is represented as the leader here (as in Psa_143:10), viz., through the medium of those who stood, enlightened and instigated by Him, at the head of the wandering people. The following כֵּןis no more a correlate of the foregoing particle of comparison than in Isa_52:14. It is a recapitulation, and refers to the whole description as far back as Isa_63:9, passing with ָ נִהגְתּinto the direct tone ַ of prayer.
7. Calvin, “And he remembered the days of old. This is the design of the chastisement, that the people may be roused from their lethargy, and may call to remembrance those things which they had formerly forgotten; for we are so intoxicated by prosperity that we altogether forget God. And therefore chastisements bring back this thought, which had been defaced in us, “Where is God who bestowed so many benefits on our fathers?” For I refer these things to the past time; and therefore I have translated (gnolam) “of old.” and not “of the age,” which would be
unsuitable to this passage, seeing that he mentions those times in which Moses governed the people of God. Wherefore, the true meaning is, that the Jews, being wretchedly oppressed, thought of “the times of old,” in which the Lord displayed his power for defending his people. As to the opinion of some commentators, who refer it to God, as if he contended with the wickedness of the people, because he chose rather to bestow his favors improperly on ungrateful persons, than not to complete what he had begun, it appears to be too harsh and unnatural; and therefore the Prophet rather utters the groans and complaints of a wretched people, when they have learned from chastisements how miserable it is to lose God’s protection. With the shepherd of his flock. By “the shepherd” he means Moses, and I see no good reason for translating it in the plural rather than the singular number. That put his Holy Spirit in the midst of him. He describes also the manner; namely, that he endowed him with a remarkable grace of the Holy Spirit; for “to put the Spirit in the midst of him” means nothing else than to display the power of his Spirit. Others prefer to view it as referring to the people; and I do not object to that opinion. But when the Lord chose Moses, and appointed him to be the leader of the whole people, in him especially the Lord is said to have “put his Spirit.” ow, he gave his Spirit to him for the benefit of the whole people, that he might be a distinguished minister of his grace, and might restore them to liberty. At the same time, the power of the Spirit of God was seen in the midst of the whole people. 8. Spurgeon on 11 to 14, “told you, in the reading, that Israel had a golden age, a time of great familiarity with God, when Jehovah was very near to his people in their sufferings, and was afflicted in their affliction, when he helped them in everything they did, and the angel of his presence saved them. But after all that the Lord had done for them, there came a cold periods. The people went astray from the one living and true God. They fell into the ritualism of the golden calf. They must have something visible, something that they could see and worship. Even after they were brought into the promised land, and the Lord had wrought great wonders for them, they turned aside to false gods, till they worshiped strange deities, that were no gods; and provoked Jehovah to jealousy. "They rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them." ot that he ceased to love his chosen, but he must be just, and he could not patronize sin, so he sent their enemies against them, and they were sorely smitten, and brought very low. Then it was that they began to remember the days of old, and to sigh for him whom they had treated so ill, and they said one to another, "Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble? As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord cause him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people to make thyself a glorious name." I have but a short time, as the communion service is to follow, and therefore I must leave much unsaid that I think your own imaginations will make up to you at home. But I shall ask you to notice, first, that the text contains a sacred, loving remembrance. It dwells very much upon what God did in the old times, when he was familiar with his people, and they walked in the light of his countenance. After that, I shall call your attention to an object clearly shining in the text. We get it twice over. In the twelfth verse, we read, "To make himself an everlasting name." In the fourteenth verse, "To make thyself a glorious name." When I have spoken of those two things, I shall dwell more at length upon an anxious enquiry, which is put
here twice: "Where is he?" In the eleventh verse you get this repeated question, "Where is he? Where is he?" I. So then, to begin with, we go back to God's dealings with his people, and with us, and we have A SACRED, LOVI G REMEMBRA CE. The people remembered what God did to them. What was it? As it is here described, he first of all gave them leaders. "Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock?" Moses and Aaron, and a band of godly men who were with them, were the leaders of the people, through the sea and through the wilderness. Brethren, we are apt to think too little of our leaders. First of all we think too much of them, and afterwards we think too little of them. We seem to swing like a pendulum between these two extremes. Man is reckoned as if he were everything to some, and God becomes nothing to such; but, without unduly exalting man, we can truly say that it really is a great blessing to the church when God raises up men who are qualified to lead his people. Israel did not go out of Egypt as a mob; they were led out by their armies. They did not plunge into the Red Sea as an undisciplined crowd; but Moses stood up there with his uplifted rod, and led them on that memorable day. We may as well sigh for the glorious days of old, when God gave his people mighty preachers of his Word. There have been epochs in history that were prolific of great leaders of the Christian church. o sooner did Luther give his clarion call, than God seemed to have a bird in every bush; and Calvin, and Farel, and Melancthon, and Zwingle, and so many besides that I will not attempt to make out the list, joined with him in his brave protest against the harlot-church of Rome. "The Lord gave the Word: and great was the company of those that published it." The church remembers those happy days, with earnest longing for their return. They were giants in those days; mighty men of renown, well fitted by the Lord to lead his people. We are next told that God put his spirit within these shepherds. They would have been nothing without it. Where is he that put his Holy Spirit within them? A man with God's Holy Spirit within him, can anybody estimate his worth? God says that he will make a man more precious that the gold of Ophir; but, to a man filled with his Spirit, mines of rubies or of diamonds cannot be set in comparison. When the eleven apostles went forth, on the day of Pentecost, endowed by the Spirit of God, there were forces in the world whose very tramp might make it quiver beneath their feet. God send us once more many of his servants, within whom he has put his Spirit in an eminent and conspicuous manner, and then we shall see bright days indeed! The command to such still is, "Tarry until ye be endued with power from on high." Then there was, in the next place, as a happy memory for the church, a great manifestation of the divine power. "That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name." "The right hand of Moses," by itself, was no more than your right hand or mine; but when God's glorious arm worked by the right hand of Moses, the sea divided, and made a way for the hosts of Israel to pass over. As the Psalmist sings, "He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as a heap." The right hand of Moses could not have wrought that miracle; but the glorious arm of the Lord did. What we want to-day, brethren, is a manifestation of divine power. Some of us are praying for it day and night. We have expected it. We do expect it. We are longing for it with a hunger and a thirst insatiable. Oh, when will Jehovah pluck his right hand out of his bosom? When will he make bare his arm, as one that goeth to his work with might and main? Pray, O ye servants of God, for leaders filled with the Spirit, and with the power of God working with them, that multitudes may be converted unto Christ, and the sea of sin be dried up in the advance of his kingdom! Then, there came to God's people a very marvellous deliverance: "That led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble." Understand by the word "wilderness" here, an expansive grassy plain; a place of wild grass and herbs, for so it means.
And as a horse is led where it is that and level, and he does not stumble, so were the hosts of Israel led through the Red Sea. The bottom of the sea may be stony or gravelly, or it may be full of mire and mud. Probably, there will be huge rocks standing up in the middle of the stream. There may be a sudden fall from one stratum of rock to the other; and to come up from the sea on the further bank would be hard work for struggling people carrying burdens, as these Israelites did; for they went out of Egypt harnessed and laden, bearing their kneading-troughs in their clothes upon their shoulders. But God made that rough sea bottom to be as easy travelling for them as when a horse is led across a flowery meadow. Beloved, God has done so with his church in all time. Her seas of difficulty have had no difficulty about them. He has come in all the glory of his power, and smoothed the way for the ransomed to pass over. Has it not been so with you, my brethren? And, as a blessed ending to their trials, God brought them into a place of rest: "As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord causeth him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people." In the desert they rested a good deal; but in Canaan they rested altogether. As the cattle come down from the mountains, where they have been picking up their food, when the plains are fat with grass, and they feed to their full, and lie down and rest, so did God deal with his people, bringing them from all the mountains of their trouble into a sweet valley, a land that flowed with milk and honey, where they might rest. This is a memorial, a sketch of the past. I read it, first, literally as a sketch of Israel's history. I read it, next, as a sketch of the church's history. There have been times with the church as at Pentecost, and the Reformation, when, though she had wandered, God returned to her, and made bare his arm, and raised up shepherds, and put his Spirit upon them, and then led his people straight ahead through every difficulty, and gave them rest. You are most of you acquainted with the history of the period before Luther's day. It did not seem likely then that the gospel would be preached everywhere throughout orthern Europe; but it was so, and God singularly preserved the first Reformers' lives when they were very precious. Zwingle died in battle; but he should not have been fighting, and he might have died a natural death. But Calvin, and Luther, and the rest of them, for the most part, remained until their work was done, and they quietly passed away; and the churches, despite long persecution, had comparative rest. It was so here, and it was so across the border in our sister church of Scotland. She cannot forget the covenanting blood, and the putting to death of those who were for the Crown Rights of King Jesus; but, at last, she had her time of rest. Time would not fail me to tell you the long list of shepherds that God gave to his covenanting church, the mighty men who, being dead, yet speak to us by their works, and who, while they lived, made the church of God in Scotland to be glorious with the presence of her Lord. Well now, the same thing has happened also to us as individuals. We have had our cloudy and dark day, but God has appeared for our help. Some of you could tell how God led you through the deep as through a prairie. You went a way that you never knew, a new way, an untrodden path, as though it were the bottom of a sea but newly dry; but the Lord led you as a groom leads a horse, so that you did not stumble, and before long you came up out of the depths unharmed. With Moses and the children of Israel, you sang the praises of him who had triumphed gloriously; and then you began to learn another song, not so martial, but very sweet: "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." In conflicts for the God of Israel, and his everlasting truth, some of us have been counted as the mire of the streets; but therein we do rejoice, and will rejoice; for Jehovah liveth, and he will bring up his people again from Bashan. He will bring them up from the depths of the sea, and there shall be rest again in the midst of Israel, if men are but faithful to God, and faithful to his truth. Thus much upon the sacred memory of the past. II. But now, in the second place, I want you to notice, A OBJECT CLEARLY SHI I G,
like the morning star. I see, through the text, God's great motive in working these wonders for his people. It was God who did it all; my text is full of God. He brought them up out of the sea. He put his Holy Spirit within them. He led them with his glorious arm. He led them through the deep. He caused them to rest. He did it all. When the history of the church is written, there will be nothing on the page but God. I know that her sin is recorded; but he hath blotted that out; and at the end, there will remain nothing but what God has done. When your life and mine shall ring out as a psalm amid the harps of glory, it will be only, "Unto him that loved us and laved us, be glory and dominion for ever and ever." " on nobis, Donine." " ot unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." So will sing all of us who are the Lord's redeemed, when we have come up out of the great tribulation, and have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. But then, why had God done all this? Did he do it because of his people's merits, or numbers, or capacities? He tells them, many a time, " ot for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel." God finds in himself the motive for blessing men who have no merits. If God looked for any motive in us, he would find none. He would see in us many reasons why he should condemn us; but only in himself could he discover the motive for his matchless mercy. God works his great wonders of grace with the high motive of making known to his creatures his own glory, manifesting what he is and who he is, that they may worship him. He tells us in the text that he "led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name." So he has done, for to this day the highest note of praise to God that we know of, is the one that tells of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and when this world is burnt up, the song will go up to God in heaven will be the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb. Still, if we want a figure and a foretaste of the ultimate victories of God over all his people's enemies, we have to go back to the Red Sea, and look at Miriam's twinkling feet, and hear her fingers making the timbrel sound as she cries, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." He did it to make himself an ever-enduring name, and he has succeeded in that object. Isaiah adds that the Lord led his people, and brought them into their rest, to make himself "a glorious name." God is glorious in the history of Israel. God is glorious in the history of his church. God is glorious in the history of every believer. The life of a true believer is a glorious life. For himself he claims no honor, but by his holy life he brings great glory to God. There is more glory to God in every poor man and woman saved by grace, and in the one unknown obscure person, washed in the Redeemer's blood, than in all the songs of cherubim and seraphim, who know nothing of free grace and dying love. So you see, beloved, the motive of God in all that he did; and I dwell upon it, though briefly, yet with much emphasis, because this is a motive that can never alter. What if the church of to-day be reduced to a very low condition, and the truth seems to be ebbing out from her shores, while a long stretch of the dreary mud of modern invention lies reeking in the nostrils of God; yet he that wrought such wonders, to make himself a name, still has the same object in view. He will be glorious. He will have men know that he is God, and beside him there is none else. Thus saith the Lord God, "All flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." "The earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." O brethren, he is a jealous God still; and when the precious blood of Christ is insulted, God hears it, and forgets it not. When the inspiration of the blessed Book is denied, the Holy Ghost hears it and is grieved, and he will yet bestir himself to defend his truth. When we hear the truth that we love, the dearest and most sacred revelations from our God, treated with a triviality that is nothing less than profane, if we are indignant, so is he, and shall not God avenge his own elect. Which cry day and night unto him? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily, though he bear long with his adversaries. God's motive is his own
glory. He will stand to that, and he will vindicate it yet; and we need to have no doubt, nor even the shadow of a fear, about the ultimate result of a collision between God and the adversaries of his truth. Shall not the moth, that dashes at the candle, die in that flame? How shall the creatures of a day stand out against our God, who is a consuming fire? Here, then, is the hope of the people of God, the constant persistent, invariable motive of God to make himself glorious in the eyes of men. III. My third point is, A A XIOUS E QUIRY, which I find twice over in my text. Believing in what God has done, and believing that his motive still remains the same, we begin to cry, "Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?" This question suggests that there is some faith left. "Where is he?" He is somewhere. Then, he lives. Beloved, the Lord God omnipotent still liveth and reigneth. Many usurpers have tried to turn him from his throne; but he still sits upon it, and reigns amongst his ancients gloriously. He was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty; "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." He is; but where is he? The question implies that some were beginning to seek him. Where is he? Those were brave days when he was here on the moors, or on the hills of Scotland, or at the stakes of Smithfield, or the prisons of Lambeth Palace. Those were glorious days when Christ was here, and his people knew it, and rejoiced in him. Then the virgin daughter of Zion shook her head at the harlot of Rome, and laughed her to scorn; for she lay in the bosom of her King, and rejoiced in his love. O beloved, do we begin to long after him again? I hope that we do. I trust the cry of many loyal hearts is, "Come back, king Jesus! When thou art away, all things languish. Adown the streets of Mansoul ride again, O Prince Emmanuel! Then shall the city ring with holy song, and every house shall be bedecked with everything that is beautiful and fair. Only come back!" If the King may but have his own again, I shall be content to sing old Simeon's song, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word!" The church longs for the King's coming. Where is he? Where is he? It shows now, dear friends, that she has begun to mourn over his absence. I like the reduplicated word. "Where is he? Where is he?" ot, "Where is Moses? Where are the leaders? The fathers, where are they?" Let them keep where they are. But where is he that made the fathers? Where is he that sent us Moses and Aaron? Where is he that divided the waters, and led his people safely? Where is he? Oh, it is a question that I put to all your hearts! Oh, if he were here! One hour of his glorious arm; just a day of his almighty working; and what should we not see? We will not ask for tongues of fire, or mighty rushing winds. Let him be here as he may; but if he only be here, the battle is turned at the gate, and the day of his redeemed is come. We sigh for his appearing. Where is he, then? As the text asks. Well, he is hidden because of our sins. The church has been tampering with his truth. She has given into the hands of critics the Word of God, to cut it with a penknife, to rend away this and tear out that. She has been dallying with the world. She has tried to gain money for her objects by the basest of means. She has played the harlot in what she has done; for there are no amusements too vile or too silly for her. Even her pastors have filled a theatre of late, to sit there and mark with their applause the labours of the play-actors! To this pass have we come at last, to which we never came before—no, not in Rome's darkest hour; and if you, who profess to be God's servants, do not love Christ enough to be indignant about it, the Lord have mercy upon you! The time has surely come when there should go up one great cry unto the Lord Jehovah that he would make bare his arm again; for well may we say, "Where is he? Where is he?" For your comfort, the next verse to my text tells you where he is. He is in heaven. They cannot expel him from his throne. "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." By every
possible contrivance, in these modern days, they have tried to drive Christ out of his own church. A Christless, bloodless gospel defiles many a pulpit, and Christ is thus angered; but he is in heaven still. At the right hand of God he sits; and let this be our continual prayer to him, "Look down from heaven, O Lord! Cast an eye upon thy failing, faltering, fickle church. Look down from heaven." "Where is he?" Well, he is himself making an enquiry; for, as some read the whole passage, it is God himself speaking. He remembered the days of old, Moses and his people; and when he his himself, and would not work in wrath, yet he said to himself, "Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock?" When God himself, who is always a stranger here, —for are we not strangers with him and sojourners, as all our fathers were?—When God himself begins to ask where he is, and to regret those happier days, something will come of it. "Ye that make mention of the Lord—ye that are the Lord's remembrances—keep not silence, and give him no rest,—take no rest, and give him no rest,—till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." "That little cloud", said one of old, when Julian the apostate threatened to extirpate Christianity, "That little church will soon be gone." All that I see to-day of darkness, is but a wave of smoke. Behold, the Lord God himself shall chase it away with a strong west wind. He doth but blow with his wind, and the clouds disappear; and what stands before us to-day shall be as nothing. I thought, as I came here to-night, that the man who drives the tram car gave me a lesson on how I should look upon all future time. He starts, say at Clapham, with his car. If he could have a view of all that was on the road between Clapham and the Elephant and Castle, the carts, the waggons, and other traffic that are exactly where he wants to go, and he were to add all those obstacles together, he might be foolish enough to say, "I shall not complete my course to-night;" but, you see, he starts, and if anything is on the rails, it moves off; and if, perhaps, some sluggish, heavily-laden coal waggon is slow to move, he puts his whistle to his mouth, and gives a shrill blast or two, and lo, it is gone! So when the church, serving her God, begins to look far ahead through prophecy, which she never did understand, and never will, she will think she will never reach her journey's end. But she will; for God has laid the line. We are on the rails, and the rails do not come to an end till the journey's end is reached; and as we go along, we shall find that everything in our way will move before us; and if it does not, we will pray a bit. We will blow our whistles, and the devil himself will have to move, though all his black horses shall be dragging along the brewer's dray, or what else belongs to him. He will have to get off our track, assuredly as God lives; for if Jehovah sends us on his errands, we cannot fail. The old Romans picture Jove as hurling thunderbolts. Sometimes God makes his servants thunderbolts, and when he hurls them, they will go crashing through everything until they reach their mark. Wherefore; be not for a moment discouraged; but trust you in God, and be glad without a shadow of fear. If any here have never trusted in God, never made him their Friend, or been reconciled to him by the death of his Son, I pray them to think of their present condition. Opposed to God! You are standing in the way of an express train. You are urged to get out of the way. You will not! You are going to throw that train off the rails, you say. Poor fool, I could put mine arms about your neck, and forcibly drag you from the iron way; for assuredly, if you remain there, nothing can come of it but your everlasting destruction. Wherefore, flee, flee, I pray you, from the wrath to come. The train of divine judgment comes thundering along the iron road even now. It shakes the earth. Awake! Rise! Flee! God help you to do so! Behold, the Saviour stands with open arms to be your shelter. Fly to him, and trust in him, and live for ever! Amen.
12 who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown,
1. Barnes, “That led them by the right hand of Moses - (See the notes at Isa_41:10-13; Isa_45:1). Dividing the water before them - Exo_14:21. To make himself an everlasting name - He designed to perform a work which, it would be seen, could not be performed by any false god or by any human arm, and to do it in such circumstances, and in such a manner, that it might be seen everywhere that this was the true God (compare the notes at Isa_45:6). The deliverance from Egypt was attended with such amazing miracles, and with such a sudden destruction of his foes, that none but the true God could have performed it. Egypt was at that time the center of all the science, civilization, and art known among mankind; and what occurred there would be known to other lands. God, therefore, in this signal manner, designed to make a public demonstration of his existence and power that shall be known in all lands, and that should never be forgotten.
2. Gill, “That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm,.... That is, through the Red sea, as the next clause shows: this was done by the right hand of Moses, and the rod in it, to which Kimchi thinks respect is had; who, by divine order, lifted up his rod, and stretched out his hand over the sea, and divided it, and so led the people through it: but, lest this should be attributed to Moses and his rod, the glorious arm of the Lord is made mention of, which held and guided the right hand of Moses, and from whence came all that power that was exerted on this occasion. Aben Ezra interprets this of the Angel of the Lord, that went before them: it seems to design the arm of omnipotence, which was gloriously displayed, Exo_15:6, dividing the water before them; the waters of the sea, so that they rose up as a wall on each side them, through which they passed as on dry land: to make himself an everlasting name? or to get himself everlasting honour and glory, as he did on Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen, Exo_14:17 and which wonderful action of his has been and ever will be spoken of to the glory of his name, which was the end he had in view. 3. Henry, “It was not Moses that led them, any more than it was Moses that fed them (Joh_6:32), but God by Moses; for it was he that qualified Moses for, called him to, assisted and prospered him in that great undertaking. Moses is here called the shepherd of his flock; God was the owner of the flock and the chief shepherd of Israel (Psa_80:1); but Moses was a shepherd under him, and he was inured to labour and patience, and so fitted for this pastoral care, by his being trained up to keep the flock of his father Jethro. Herein he was a type of Christ the good shepherd, that lays down his life for the sheep, which was more than Moses did for Israel, though he did a great
deal for them. [2.] He put his holy Spirit within him; the Spirit of God was among them, and not only his providence, but his grace, did work for them. eh_9:20, Thou gavest thy good Spirit to instruct them. The spirit of wisdom and courage, as well as the Spirit of prophecy, was put into Moses, to qualify him for that service among them to which he was called; and some of his spirit was put upon the seventy elders, um_11:17. This was a great blessing to Israel, that they had among them not only inspired writings, but inspired men. [3.] He carried them safely through the Red Sea, and thereby saved them out of the hands of Pharaoh. First, He divided the water before them (Isa_63:12), so that it gave them not only passage, but protection, not only opened them a lane, but erected them a wall on either side. 5. Jamison, “The right hand of Moses was but the instrument; the arm of God was the real mover (Exo_15:6; Exo_14:21). dividing the water — ( eh_9:11; Psa_78:13).
6. Calvin, “Who led them. Here he goes on to describe the miraculous deliverance of the people, who were led out of Egypt under the guidance of Moses; and he goes on to relate the complaints which might occur to the minds of the afflicted Jews. Here we see two things connected; namely, the right hand of Moses and the arm of God’s majesty. The Lord employs the labors and ministry of men in such a manner that his praise and glory must not be in any degree diminished or obscured; for, while these things are transacted under Moses as the leader, everything is ascribed to God. Just as, when the ministers of the Gospel are said to “forgive sins,” (John 20:23,) which nevertheless belongs to God alone, does this detract from his authority and majesty? ot at all; for they are only his instruments, and lend their labor to God, to whom the undivided praise ought to be rendered. And indeed, what could the hand of a single man have accomplished, if it had not been wielded by the arm of God? Accordingly, he expressly adds the design, that God performed miracles at that time, in order that he might gain for himself an everlasting name; and if we are not at liberty to deprive him of this, it will not be lawful to transfer to man even the smallest portion of praise.
13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble;
1. Barnes, “That led them through the deep - They went through the deep on dry land - the waters having divided and left an unobstructed path. As an horse in the wilderness - As an horse, or a courser, goes through a desert without stumbling. This is a most beautiful image. The reference is to vast level plains like those in Arabia, where there are no stones, no trees, no gullies, no obstacles, and where a fleet courser bounds over the plain without any danger of stumbling. So the Israelites were led on their way without falling. All obstacles were removed, and they were led along as if over a vast smooth
plain. Our word ‘wilderness,’ by no means expresses the idea here. We apply it to uncultivated regions that are covered with trees, and where there would be numerous obstacles to such a racehorse. But the Hebrew word ( מדברmidbâr) rather refers to “a desert, a waste” - a place of level sands or plains where there was nothing to obstruct the fleet courser that should prance over them. Such is probably the meaning of this passage, but Harmer (Obs. i. 161ff) may be consulted for another view, which may possibly be the correct one.
2. Clarke 13-14, “That led them through the deep - As a beast goeth down into the valley - In both these verses there is an allusion to the Israelites going through the Red Sea, in the bottom of which they found no more inconvenience than a horse would in running in the desert, where there was neither stone nor mud; nor a beast in the valley, where all was plain and smooth.
3. Gill, “That led them through the deep,.... The depths, the bottom of the sea; not through the shallow, but where the waters had been deepest, the descent greatest; and at the bottom of which might have been expected much filth and dirt to hinder them in their passage, yet through this he led them: as an horse in the wilderness; or rather, "in a plain", as the word (b) sometimes signifies; and so Kimchi renders it a plain land, and Jarchi smooth land. The sense is, that the Israelites passed through the sea with as much ease, and as little difficulty, as a good horse will run over a plain, where there is nothing to stop his course: that they should not stumble? there being no clay to stick in, no stone to stumble at, but all like an even plain. 4. Henry, “Secondly, He led them through the deep as a horse in the wilderness, or in the plain (Isa_63:13); they and their wives and children, with all their baggage, went as easily and readily through the bottom of the sea (though we may suppose it muddy or stony, or both) as a horse goes along upon even ground; so that they did not stumble, though it was an untrodden path, which neither they nor any one else ever went before. If God make us a way, he will make it plain and level; the road he opens to his people he will lead them in. Thirdly, To complete the mercy, he brought them up out of the sea, Isa_63:11. Though the ascent, it is likely, was very steep, dirty, slippery, and unconquerable (at least by the women and children, and the men, considering how they were loaded, Exo_12:34, and how fatigued), yet God by his power brought them up from the depths of the earth; and it was a kind of resurrection to them; it was as life from the dead. [4.] He brought them safely to a place of rest: As a beast goes down into the valley, carefully and gradually, so the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest. Many a time in their march through the wilderness they had resting-places provided for them by the direction of the Spirit of the Lord in Moses, Isa_63:11. And at length they were made to rest finally in Canaan, and the Spirit of the Lord gave them that rest according to the promise. It is by the Spirit of the Lord that God's Israel are caused to return to God and repose in him as their rest. [5.] All this he did for them by his own power, for his own praise. First, It was by his own power, as the God of nature, that has all the powers of nature at his command; he did it with his glorious arm, the arm of his gallantry, or bravery; so the word signifies. It was not Moses's rod, but God's glorious arm, that did it. Secondly, It was for his own praise, to make himself an everlasting name (Isa_63:12), a glorious
name (Isa_63:14), that he might be glorified, everlastingly glorified, upon this account. This is that which God is doing in the world with his glorious arm, he is making to himself a glorious name, and it shall last to endless ages, when the most celebrated names of the great ones of the earth shall be written in the dust.
5. Jamison, “deep — literally, “the tossing and roaring sea.” wilderness — rather, the “open plain” [Horsley], wherein there is no obstacle to cause a horse in its course the danger of stumbling.
6. Calvin, “Who made them walk through the depths. These things are added for the purpose of setting that benefit in a stronger light. He likewise brings forward comparisons, in order to describe that extraordinary power of God: “As a horse in the desert, As a beast into a plain;” that is, he led out his people as gently as if one were leading a horse into a plain. By the word “desert” is not meant the wilderness of Paran in which the people dwelt forty years; but, in accordance with the ordinary usage of the Hebrew tongue, it denotes pasture, in which herds and flocks wander at large. This is still more evident from the following verse, —
14 like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.
1. Barnes, “As a beast that goeth down into the valley - As a herd of cattle in the heat of the day descends into the shady glen in order to find rest. In the vale, streams of water usually flow. By those streams and fountains trees grow luxuriantly, and these furnish a cool and refreshing shade. The cattle, therefore, in the heat of the day, naturally descend from the hills, where there are no fountains and streams, and where they are exposed to an intense sun, to seek refreshment in the shade of the valley. The figure here is that of resting in safety after exposure; and there are few more poetic and beautiful images of comfort than that furnished by cattle lying quietly and safely in the cool shade of a well-watered vale. This image would be much more striking in the intense heat of an Oriental climate than it is with us. Harmer (Obs. i. 168ff) supposes that the allusion here is to the custom prevailing still among the Arabs, when attacked by enemies, of withdrawing with their herds and flocks to some sequestered vale in the deserts, where they find safety. The idea, according to him, is, that Israel lay thus safely encamped in the wilderness; that they, with their flocks and herds and riches, were suffered to remain unattacked by the king of Egypt; and that this was a state of grateful repose, like that which a herd feels after having been closely pursued by an enemy, when it finds a safe retreat in some quiet vale. But it seems to me that the idea first suggested is the most correct - as it is, undoubtedly the most poetical and
beautiful of a herd of cattle leaving the hills, and seeking a cooling shade and quiet retreat in a well-watered vale. Such repose, such calm, gentle, undisturbed rest, God gave his people. Such he gives them now, amidst sultry suns and storms, as they pass through the world. The Spirit of the Lord - (See the note at Isa_63:10). So didst thou lead - That is, dividing the sea, delivering them from their foes, and leading them calmly and securely on to the land of rest. So now, amidst dangers seen and unseen, God leads his people on toward heaven. He removes the obstacles in their way; he subdues their foes; he ‘makes them to lie down in green pastures, and leads them beside the still waters’ Psa_23:2; and he bears them forward to a world of perfect peace.
2. Clarke, “The Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest “The Spirit of Jehovah conducted them” For תניחנוtenichennu, caused him to rest, the Septuagint have ὡδηγησεν αυτους, conducted them; they read תנחםtanchem. The Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate read תנחנוtanchennu, conducted him. Two MSS. have the word without the יyod in the middle.
3. Gill, “ As a beast goeth down into the valley,.... Softly and gently, especially when laden; which may have some respect to the descent of the Israelites into the sea, into which they entered without any fear and dread, and without any hurry and precipitation, though Pharaoh's host was behind them; or rather, "as a beast goes along a valley", or "plain" (c); with ease, and without any interruption, so passed the Israelites through the sea. Thus the Targum renders it, "as a beast goes, or is led, in a plain;'' so the word is used in Isa_38:8, and elsewhere: the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest; or gently led him, that is, Israel; he walked on through the sea, with as much facility, and as little danger, as a beast walks on in a valley, or a horse in a plain. Some understand this of leading Israel through the wilderness, where often resting places were found for them, and at last they were brought to the land of rest, Canaan, and settled there: so didst thou lead thy people; both through the sea, and through the wilderness, in a like easy, safe, and gentle manner: to make thyself a glorious name; among the nations of the world, as he did by this amazing appearance of his for Israel; and it is hoped by those, whose words these are, he would do the like again, and get himself immortal glory. 4. . Jamison, “As a beast ... rest — image from a herd led “down” from the hills to a fertile and well-watered “valley” (Psa_23:2); so God’s Spirit “caused Israel to rest” in the promised land after their weary wanderings. to make ... name — (So Isa_63:12; 2Sa_7:23). 5. Calvin, “As a beast into a plain. Here, instead of “desert,” he makes use of the word “plain;” and the same meaning is drawn from what he says, that “the people walked through the depths without stumbling, as horses are wont to do in the desert.” In a word, he informs them that the
Red Sea was no obstacle to the people marching through the midst of the depths, as if they were walking on level ground. A glorious name. This is in the same sense that he called it a little before “an everlasting name.” The people now argue with God, that if he once wished to obtain “a glorious name,” he must not now throw away all care about it; otherwise the remembrance of the benefits which he formerly bestowed on the fathers will be entirely blotted out.
15 Look down from heaven and see, from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.
1. Barnes, “Look down from heaven - This commences an earnest appeal that God would have mercy on them in their present calamities and trials. They entreat him to remember his former mercies, and to return and bless them, as he had done in ancient times. And behold from the habitation - (See the notes at Isa_57:15). Where is thy zeal - That is, thy former zeal for thy people; where is now the proof of the interest for their welfare which was vouchsafed in times that are past. And thy strength - The might which was formerly manifested for their deliverance and salvation. The sounding of thy bowels - Margin, ‘Multitude.’ The word rendered ‘sounding’ (המון hâmôn), means properly a noise or sound, as of rain; 1Ki_18:41; of singing, Eze_26:13; of a multitude, 1Sa_4:14; 1Sa_14:19. It also means a multitude, or a crowd of people Isa_13:4; Isa_33:3. Here it relates to an emotion or affection of the mind; and the phrase denotes compassion, or tender concern for them in their sufferings. It is derived from the customary expression in the Bible that the bowels, that is, the organs in the region of the chest - for so the word is used in the Scriptures - were the seat of the emotions, and were supposed to be affected by any strong and tender emotion of the mind (see the notes at Isa_16:11). The idea here is, ‘Where is thy former compassion for thy people in distress?’ Are they restrained? - Are they witcheld? Are thy mercies to be exercised no more?
2. Clarke, “And thy strength “And thy mighty power” - For גבורתיךgeburotheycha, plural, thirty-two MSS. (seven ancient) and twenty-one of De Rossi’s, and seven editions, have גבורתך geburathecha, singular. Are they restrained? - For אליelai, from (or in regard to) me, the Septuagint and Syriac read אלינוeleynu, from us. - L.
3. Gill, “ Look down from heaven,.... Here begins the prayer of the church and people of God, which continues to the end of the chapter, goes through the next, and the answer to which begins at Isa_65:1. Aben Ezra calls it the prayer of the wise in captivity: it seems to be the petition of some converts among the Jews, either in the first times of the Gospel, or in the latter day; who entreat that the Lord would "look down from heaven", the third heaven, the seat of his majesty, where is his throne of glory, and his presence is most visible to angels and glorified saints; this is on high, as the phrase imports; and the persons below, on earth, at his footstool, whom he is desired to look down upon, and which to do is a great condescension in him, Psa_113:6, and this is to be understood, not of that general view of persons and things, which he is always taking, Psa_33:13, but of a special look of love, grace, and mercy; such an one with which he looks upon his people in Christ, with complacency and delight: indeed his eyes are always on them, and never withdrawn from them; he ever looks upon them, to preserve and protect them, to communicate unto them, to support them under their afflictions, and to deliver out of them; but because of this they are not always sensible, but are ready to conclude that he looks off from them, and turns his back upon them, therefore they desire him to return, look down, and behold; see Psa_80:14, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory; this is a description of heaven, as the dwelling place of God, who is most holy, holiness itself, in whom that perfection is most glorious, and which is displayed in all his works; and hence heaven is a holy as well as a high place, and where none but holy persons dwell; and which is a glorious place, where the glory of God is displayed, the glory of Christ is seen, and which is glory itself; and from hence the holy God is desired to behold; what creatures, dust, and ashes, sinful ones, polluted worms, at his footstool, a poor and an afflicted people: where is thy zeal, and thy strength? his "jealousy" of his great name, and of his own glory; his jealousy of his dear people, that they are not wronged and injured; his "fervent love", and warm affections for them, of which he has given pregnant proofs; which, shed abroad in the heart, warms that, and is what many waters cannot quench: this indeed is not always alike manifest, and therefore unbelief asks where it is, as if it was quite gone; or, however, faith prays for a fresh manifestation of it. The "strength" or power of God has appeared in creation, and in the sustentation of all things; in Christ, the man of his right hand; in strengthening his people, destroying their enemies, and delivering them; and yet this not appearing sometimes at once, immediately for their help and protection, they ask where it is: it follows: the sounding of thy bowels, and of thy mercies towards me? the noise and rumbling of the bowels, to which the allusion is, are sometimes occasioned by the working of strong passions, as fear and love, and which produce what is called the yearning of the bowels; of which there are instances in Joseph, and in the harlot in Solomon's time, Gen_43:30, the tender mercies of God, his pity and compassion, are expressed hereby, to which are owing the mission of his Son, the forgiveness of sins, and help and relief under afflictions; see Luk_1:77, now it is asked, where are those? are they restrained? it was thought they were shut up in anger, and would not be let out again; see Psa_77:7. The phrase "towards me", in the former clause, seems, according to the accents, to belong to this; and should be read, "are they restrained towards me" (d)? or "shut up from me?" the Lord seemed to harden his heart against his church and people, and to have no heart of compassion towards them, as they imagined.
4. Henry, “The foregoing praises were intended as an introduction to this prayer, which is continued to the end of the next chapter, and it is an affectionate, importunate, pleading prayer. It is calculated for the time of the captivity. As they had promises, so they had prayers, prepared for them against that time of need, that they might take with them words in turning to the Lord, and say unto him what he himself taught them to say, in which they might the better hope to prevail, the words being of God's own inditing. Some good interpreters think this prayer looks further, and that it expresses the complaints of the Jews under their last and final rejection from God and destruction by the Romans; for there is one passage in it (Isa_64:4) which is applied to the grace of the gospel by the apostle (1Co_2:9), that grace for the rejecting of which they were rejected. In these verses we may observe, I. The petitions they put up to God. 1. That he would take cognizance of their case and of the desires of their souls towards him: Look down from heaven, and behold, Isa_63:15. They knew very well that God sees all, but they prayed that he would regard them, would condescend to favour them, would look upon them with an eye of compassion and concern, as he looked upon the affliction of his people in Egypt when he was about to appear for their deliverance. In begging that he would only look down upon them and behold them they did in effect appeal to his justice against their enemies, and pray for judgment against them (as Jehoshaphat, 2Ch_20:11, 2Ch_20:12, Behold, how they reward us. Wilt thou not judge them?), implicitly confiding in his mercy and wisdom as to the way in which he will relieve them (Psa_25:18, Look upon my affliction and my pain): Look down from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory. God's holiness is his glory. Heaven is his habitation, the throne of his glory, where he most manifests his glory, and whence he is said to look down upon the earth, Psa_33:14. His holiness is in a special manner celebrated there by the blessed angels (Isa_6:3; Rev_4:8); there his holy ones attend him, and are continually about him; so that it is the habitation of his holiness. It is an encouragement to all his praying people, who desire to be holy as he is holy, that he dwells in a holy place. 2. That he would take a course for their relief (Isa_63:17): “Return; change thy way towards us, and proceed not in thy controversy with us; return in mercy, and let us have not only a gracious look towards us, but thy gracious presence with us.” God's people dread nothing more than his departures from them and desire nothing more than his returns to them. 5. Jamison, “Here begins a fervent appeal to God to pity Israel now on the ground of His former benefits. habitation of ... holiness — (Isa_57:15; Deu_26:15; 2Ch_30:27; Psa_33:14; Psa_80:14). zeal ... strength — evinced formerly for Thy people. sounding of ... bowels — Thine emotions of compassion (Isa_16:11; Jer_31:20; Jer_48:36; Hos_11:8).
6. Calvin, “Look down from heaven. After having, in the name of the whole people, related the benefits of former times, he now applies this to the present subject, and entreats the Lord to pay regard to his people. Behold from the habitation of thy holiness. By these words he means that the power of God is not diminished, though this does not always appear; for we must supply a contrast, that God at that time might be said to be concealed, and did not shew himself to them as he had shewn himself to the fathers. “Although, therefore, we do not see thee, O Lord, and although thou hast withdrawn from us as if thou wert shut up in heaven, so that thou mayest seem to have altogether ceased to care about us, yet ‘look down from heaven, and from thy habitation’ behold our
distresses.” Believers must differ from unbelievers in acknowledging a powerful and kind God, even when they perceive no tokens of his power or kindness; and thus, even when he is at a great distance, they nevertheless call on him; for God never ceases to care about his people, (1 Peter 5:7,) since he governs unceasingly every part of the world. Where is thy zeal? By these questions believers appear in some measure to reproach God, as if he were not now moved by any affection toward them, or as if his power were diminished; but the Prophet’s meaning is different; for in thus extolling those benefits, his object is, as I have already remarked, to confirm the hope of believers for the future, that they may know that God is always like himself, and will never lay aside his care about his people. This will appear more clearly from what follows. The multitude of bowels and of compassions denotes God’s vast goodness; for God displays and opens up his bowels, so to speak, when he exercises toward us bounty and kindness, which truly is so great that we cannot praise it in adequate language. or is it a new thing that believers, when oppressed by grief, expostulated familiarly with God for shutting up his bowels. They do indeed hold by this principle, that God is always compassionate, because he does not change his nature; and though they impute it to their sins that they do not experience him to be compassionate, yet, that they may not sink into despair, they ask how it is possible that God should treat them with severity, and, as if he had forgotten his natural disposition, should shew nothing but tokens of absolute displeasure?” 7. K&D, “The way is prepared for the petitions for redemption which follow, outwardly by the change in Isa_63:14, from a mere description to a direct address, and inwardly by the thought, that Israel is at the present time in such a condition, as to cause it to look back with longing eyes to the time of the Mosaic redemption. “Look from heaven and see, from the habitation of Thy holiness and majesty! Where is Thy zeal and Thy display of might? The pressure of Thy bowels and Thy compassions are restrained towards me.” On the relation between ,הבִּיטto look up, to open the ִ eyes, and ,ראָהto fix the eye upon a thing. It is very rarely that we meet with the words in the ָ reverse order, ( והביט ראהvid., Hab_1:5; Lam_1:11). In the second clause of Isa_63:15, instead of misshâmayim (from heaven), we have “from the dwelling-place (mizzebhul) of Thy holiness and majesty.” The all-holy and all-glorious One, who once revealed Himself so gloriously in the history of Israel, has now withdrawn into His own heaven, where He is only revealed to the spirits. The object of the looking and seeing, as apparent from what follows, is the present helpless condition of the people in their sufferings, to which there does not seem likely to be any end. There are no traces now of the kin'âh (zeal) with which Jehovah used to strive on behalf of His people, and against their oppressors (Isa_26:11), or of the former displays of His gebhūrâh ( ֶ ,וּגְבוּר ֹתas it is correctly written in Ven. 1521, is a defective plural). In Isa_63:15 we have not a continued question (“the sounding of Thy bowels and Thy mercies, which are restrained towards me?”), as Hitzig and Knobel suppose. The words 'ēlai hith'appâqū have not the appearance of an attributive clause, either according to the new strong thought expressed, or according to the order of the words (with אֵ לַיwritten first). On strepitus viscerum, as the effect and sign of deep sympathy, see at Isa_16:11. רחמיםand ,מעיִםor rather ( מעִיםfrom ,מעֶהof the form )רעֶהboth ִ ֲ ַ ַ ֵ ֵ ֵ ֵ signify primarily σπλἀγχνα, strictly speaking the soft inward parts of the body; the latter from the root ,מעto be pulpy or soft, the former from the root ,חרto be slack, loose, or soft. ,הַמוֹןas the plural of the predicate shows, does not govern רחמיalso. It is presupposed that the love of ֶ ֲ ַ Jehovah urges Him towards His people, to relieve their misery; but His compassion and sympathy apparently put constraint upon themselves (hith'appēq as in Isa_42:14, lit., se superare, from 'âphaq, root ,)פקto abstain from working on behalf of Israel.
16 But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.
1. Barnes, “Doubtless - Hebrew, כיkı̂ y - ‘For;’ verily; surely. It implies the utmost confidence that he still retained the feelings of a tender father. Thou art our father - otwithstanding appearances to the contrary, and though we should be disowned by all others, we will still believe that thou dost sustain the relation of a father. Though they saw no human aid, yet their confidence was unwavering that he had still tender compassion toward them. Though Abraham be ignorant of us - Abraham was the father of the nations - their pious and much venerated ancestor. His memory they cherished with the deepest affection, and him they venerated as the illustrious patriarch whose name all were accustomed to speak with reverence. The idea here is, that though even such a man - one so holy, and so much venerated and loved should refuse to own them as his children, yet that God would not forget his paternal relation to them. A similar expression of his unwavering love occurs in Isa_49:15 : ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child?’ See the note at that place. The language here expresses the unwavering conviction of the pious, that God’s love for his people would never change; that it would live when even the most tender earthly ties are broken, and when calamities so thicken around us that we seem to be forsaken by God; and are forsaken by our sunshine friends, and even by our most tender earthly connections. And Israel acknowledge us not - And though Jacob, another much honored and venerated patriarch, should refuse to recognize us as his children. The Jewish expositors say, that the reason why Abraham and Jacob are mentioned here and Isaac omitted, is, that Abraham was the first of the patriarchs, and that all the posterity of Jacob was admitted to the privileges of the covenant, which was not true of Isaac. The sentiment here is, that we should have unwavering confidence in God. We should confide in him though all earthly friends refuse to own us, and cast out our names as evil. Though father and mother and kindred refuse to acknowledge us, yet we should believe that God is our unchanging friend; and it is of more value to have such a friend than to have the most honored earthly ancestry and the affections of the nearest earthly relatives. How often have the people of God been called to experience this! How many times in the midst of persecution; when forsaken by father and mother; when given up to a cruel death on account of their attachment to the Redeemer, have they had occasion to recoil this beautiful sentiment, and how unfailingly have they found it to be true! Forsaken and despised; cast out and rejected; abandoned apparently by God and by people, they have yet found, in the arms of their heavenly Father, a consolation which this world could not destroy, and have experienced his tender
compassions attending them even down to the grave. Our Redeemer - Margin, ‘Our Redeemer, from everlasting is thy name.’ The Hebrew will bear either construction. Lowth renders it, very loosely, in accordance with the reading of one ancient manuscript, ‘O deliver us for the sake of thy name.’ Probably the idea is that which results from a deeply affecting and tender view of God as the Redeemer of his people. The heart, overflowing with emotion, meditates upon the eternal honors of his name, and is disposed to ascribe to him everlasting praise.
2. Clarke, “Our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting “O deliver us for the sake of thy name” The present text reads, as our translation has rendered it, “Our Redeemer, thy name is from everlasting.” But instead of מעולםmeolam, from everlasting, an ancient MS. has למעןlemaan, for the sake of, which gives a much better sense. To show the impropriety of the present reading, it is sufficient to observe, that the Septuagint and Syriac translators thought it necessary to add עלינוaleynu, upon us, to make out the sense; That is, “Thy name is upon us, or we are called by thy name, from of old.” And the Septuagint have rendered גאלנוgoalenu, in the imperative mood, ῥυσαι ἡµας, deliver us. - L.
3. Gill, “Doubtless thou art our father,.... Therefore why shouldst thou restrain thy mercies and bowels of compassion from us? or therefore look down upon us, and behold us; the church pleads her relation to God, and in a strong manner; faith of interest continued with her, though he hid his face from her. This relation of father and children, which subsists between God and his people, is not upon the foot of creation, so he is a father to all men; nor on account of national adoption, so he was to the whole body of the Jewish people; but through special adopting grace, which is a sovereign act of his will, founded in divine predestination; is a blessing of the covenant of grace; comes to men through Christ, through relation to him, and redemption by him, and is made manifest in regeneration; and a loving tender hearted father he is to his children, who sympathizes with them, provides all things for them, food and raiment, and bestows them on them, and lays up for them, for time to come, even an inheritance rescued in heaven; and though there are sometimes doubts in the minds of the children of God about this relation, through the temptations of Satan, by reason of their sins and corruptions, and because of their afflictions; yet those doubts are wholly removed through the testimony of the spirit of adoption, witnessing to their spirits that they are the children of God, when they can in the strength of faith claim their interest, and call him their Father: though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; those, who were their ancestors, were both dead; and the dead know not any thing of their posterity, and of their case and circumstances in this world, temporal or spiritual; nor are capable of giving them any help or aid in time of distress; and perhaps the prophet, in the name of the church, purposely expresses himself in this language, knowing what confidence the Jews were apt to place in Abraham and Israel, to draw off their minds from them, and to lead them to look to God as their only Father; who only could help them in their time of affliction, and was infinitely more to them than any earthly father could possibly be. Some think the sense is, that they confess they were become so degenerate, that if Abraham and Jacob were to return from the dead, they would not know them to be their seed and offspring; and yet, notwithstanding this, God was their Father. This may be the language of some persons, who have comfortable views of their relation to God, when earthly parents, and even professors of religion, disown and slight them:
thou, O Lord; art our father; which is repeated for the confirmation of it, and to express their full assurance of faith in it the more strongly: our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting; or, "our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name" (e); more agreeably to the accents: Christ was appointed from everlasting to be the Redeemer of his people; God was so early in him, drawing the scheme of redemption and salvation, and made so early a covenant with him concerning it; which may be properly enough called the covenant of redemption, though not as distinct from the covenant of grace; and Christ was the Redeemer of his people in all ages, and lived as such, as well as God the Father was, of old, in all ages, the protector of his people, and the avenger of their wrongs, to whom they might at all times apply for help.
4. Jamison, “thou ... father — of Israel, by right not merely of creation, but also of electing adoption (Isa_64:8; Deu_32:6; 1Ch_29:10). though Abraham ... Israel — It had been the besetting temptation of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of their descent from faithful Abraham and Jacob (Mat_3:9; Joh_8:39; Joh_4:12); now at last they renounce this, to trust in God alone as their Father, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Even though Abraham, our earthly father, on whom we have prided ourselves, disown us, Thou wilt not (Isa_49:15; Psa_27:10). Isaac is not mentioned, because not all his posterity was admitted to the covenant, whereas all Jacob’s was; Abraham is specified because he was the first father of the Jewish race. everlasting — an argument why He should help them, namely, because of His everlasting immutability.
5. Henry, “They pleaded God's relation to them as their Father (Isa_63:16): “Thy tender mercies are not restrained, for they are the tender mercies of a father, who, though he may be for a time displeased with his child, will yet, through the force of natural affection, soon be reconciled. Doubtless thou art our Father, and therefore thy bowels will years towards us.” Such good thoughts of God as these we should always keep up in our hearts. However it be, yet God is good; for he is our Father. They own themselves fatherless if he be not their Father, and so cast themselves upon him with whom the fatherless findeth mercy, Hos_14:3. It was the honour of their nation that they had Abraham to their father (Mat_3:9), who was the friend of God, and Israel, who was a prince with God; but what the better were they for that unless they had God himself for their Father? “Abraham and Israel cannot help us; they have not the power that God has; they are dead long since, and are ignorant of us, and acknowledge us not; they know not what our case is, nor what our wants are, and therefore know not which way to do us a kindness. If Abraham and Israel were alive with us, they would intercede for us and advise us; but they have gone to the other world, and we know not that they have any communication at all with this world, and therefore they are not capable of doing us any kindness any further than that we have the honour of being called their children.” When the father is dead his sons come to honour and he knows it not, Job_14:21. “But thou, O Lord! art our Father still (the fathers of our flesh may call themselves ever-loving; but they are not ever-living; it is God only that is the immortal Father, that always knows us, and is never at a distance from us), and therefore our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name, the name by which we will know and own thee. It is the name by which from of old thou hast been known; thy people have always looked upon thee as the God to whom they might appeal to redress their grievances and plead their cause. ay” (according to the sense some give of this place), “though Abraham and Israel not only cannot, but would not, help us, thou wilt. They have not the pity thou hast. We are so degenerate and corrupt that Abraham and Israel would not own us for their children, yet we fly to thee as our Father. Abraham cast out his son Ishmael; Jacob disinherited his son Reuben and cursed Simeon and Levi; but our heavenly Father, in pardoning sin, is God, and not man,” Hos_11:9. 3. They pleaded God's interest in them, that he was their Lord, their owner and proprietor: “We are thy servants; what service we can do thou art entitled to, and therefore we ought not
to serve strange kings and strange gods: Return for thy servants' sake.” As a father finds himself obliged by natural affection to relieve and protect his child, so a master thinks himself obliged in honour to rescue and protect his servant: “We are thine by the strongest engagements, as well as the highest endearments. Thou hast borne rule over us; therefore, Lord, assert thy own interest, maintain thy own right; for we are called by thy name, and therefore whither shall we go but to thee, to be righted and protected? We are thine, save us (Psa_119:94), thy own, acknowledge us. We are the tribes of thy inheritance, not only thy servants, but thy tenants; we are thine, not only to do work for thee, but to pay rent to thee. The tribes of Israel are God's inheritance, whence issue the little praise and worship that he receives from this lower world; and wilt thou suffer thy own servants and tenants to be thus abused?” 4. They pleaded that they had had but a short enjoyment of the land of promise and the privileges of the sanctuary (Isa_63:18): The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while. From Abraham to David were but fourteen
generations, and from David to the captivity but fourteen more (Mat_1:17), and that was but a little while in comparison with what might have been expected from the promise of the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Gen_17:8) and from the power that was put forth to bring them into that land and settle them in it. “Though we are the people of thy holiness, distinguished from other people and consecrated to thee, yet we are soon dislodged.” But this they might thank themselves for; they were, in profession, the people of God's holiness, but it was their wickedness that turned them out of the possession of that land. 5. They pleaded that those who had and kept possession of their land were such as were strangers to God, such as he had no service or honour from: “Thou never didst bear rule over them, nor did they ever yield thee any obedience; they were not called by thy name, but professed relation to other gods and were the worshippers of them. Will God suffer those that do not stand in any relation to him to trample upon those that do?” Some give another reading of this: “We have become as those over whom thou didst never bear rule and who were never called by thy name; we are rejected and abandoned, despised and trampled upon, as if we never had been in thy service nor had thy name called upon us.” Thus the shield of Saul was vilely cast away, as though he had not been anointed with oil. But the covenant that seems to be forgotten shall be remembered again.
6. Calvin, “Surely thou art our Father. God permits us to reveal our hearts familiarly before him; for prayer is nothing else than the opening up of our heart before God; as the greatest alleviation is, to pour our cares, distresses, and anxieties into his bosom. “Roll thy cares on the Lord,” says David. (Psalm 37:5.) After having enumerated God’s benefits, from which his goodness and power are clearly seen, so that it is evident that it is nothing else than the sins of men that hinder them from feeling it as formerly, he returns to this consideration, that the goodness of God is nevertheless so great as to exceed the wickedness of men. He calls God a Father in the name of the Church; for all cannot call him thus, but it is the peculiar privilege of the Church to address him by a father’s name. Hence it ought to be inferred that Christ, as the first-born, or rather the only-begotten Son of God, always governed his Church; for in no other way than through him can God be called Father. And here we again see that believers do not contend with God, but draw an argument from his nature, that, by conquering temptation, they may strive to cherish good hope.
Though Abraham do not know us. Here a question arises, Why does he say that the patriarch does not know the people? Jerome thinks that this is done because they were degenerated, and therefore were unworthy of so high an honor; but that interpretation appears to me to be exceedingly unnatural. The true meaning is, “Though our fathers deny us, yet God will reckon us as children, and will act toward us as a Father.” They who say that Abraham and other believers care no more about the affairs of men, torture by excessive ingenuity the words of the Prophet. I do not speak of the fact itself, but I say that those words do not prove that the saints have no care about us. The natural and true meaning is, “O Lord, that thou art our Father will be so sure and so firmly established, that even though all parentage and all relationship should cease among men, yet thou wilt not fail to be our Father. Sooner shall the rights of nature perish than thou shalt not act toward us as a Father, or the sacred adoption shall be infringed, which was founded on thy unchangeable decree, and ratified by the death of thine only-begotten Son.” Yet we may infer from this that holy men present themselves before God, and pray to him, in such a manner as not to look at any intercessions of others; for they are commanded to pray so as to rely on God’s fatherly kindness, and to lay aside every other confidence. And if the Prophet did not instruct the Jews, in order that God might listen to them, to turn their mind to Abraham and Jacob, to whom promises so numerous and so great had been given, assuredly much less ought we to resort, to Peter, and Paul, and others; for this is not a private prayer offered by a single individual or by a few persons, but the public and universal prayer of the whole Church, as if the Prophet laid down a general form. Besides, our confidence ought to be founded on God’s favor and kindness as a Father, so as to shut our eyes on all the intercessions of men, whether living or dead. In a word, believers profess that they do not gaze around in all directions, but rely on God alone. It comes now to a question, Why did he pass by Isaac and mention in a special manner Abraham and Jacob? The reason is, that with those two persons the covenant was more solemnly ratified. Isaac was, indeed, a partaker of the covenant, but did not receive promises so large and so numerous. Our Redeemer. Redemption is here described as a testimony of that adoption; for by this proof God manifested himself to be the Father of the people; and therefore boldly and confidently do believers call on God as their Father, because he gave a remarkable testimony of his fatherly kindness toward them, which encouraged them to confidence. But redemption alone would, not have been enough, if a promise had not likewise been added; and therefore, as he once redeemed them, he promised that he would always be their Father. From everlasting is thy name. By the word “everlasting” is pointed out the stability and continuance of his fatherly name, for we did not deserve the name of children; but his will, by which he once adopted us to be children, is unchangeable. Since, therefore, the Lord has an eternal name, it follows that the title and favor which are connected with that eternity and flow from it, shall be durable and eternal.”
7. K&D, “The prayer for help, and the lamentation over its absence, are now justified in
Isa_63:16 : “For Thou art our Father; for Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel knoweth us not. Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer is from olden time Thy name.” Jehovah is Israel's Father (Deu_32:6). His creative might, and the gracious counsels of His love, have called it into being: אָבִינוּhas not yet the deep and unrestricted sense of the ew Testament “Our Father.” The second kı̄ introduces the reason for this confession that Jehovah was Israel's Father, and could therefore look for paternal care and help from Him alone. Even the dearest and most honourable men, the forefathers of the nation, could not help it. Abraham and Jacob-Israel had been taken away from this world, and were unable to interfere on their own account in the history of their people. יָדַ עand הכִּירsuggest the idea of participating notice and regard, as in Deu_33:9 and ִ Rth_2:10, Rth_2:19. יַכִּירנוּhas the vowel â (pausal for a, Isa_56:3) in the place of ē, to rhyme with ָ ( יְדָ עָנוּsee Ges. §60, Anm. 2). In the concluding clause, according to the accents, מעוֹלָם גּ ֹֽאֲ לֵנוּare ֵ connected together; but the more correct accentuation is גאלנוtiphchah, מעולםmercha, and we have rendered it so. From the very earliest time the acts of Jehovah towards Israel had been such that Israel could call Him .גאלנו
17 Why, LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance.
1. Barnes, “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways? - Lowth and oyes render this, ‘Why dost thou suffer us to wander from thy way?’ Calvin remarks on the passage, ‘The prophet uses a common form of speaking, for it is usual in the Scriptures to say that God gives the wicked over to a reprobate mind, and hardens their hearts. But when the pious thus speak, they do not intend to make God the author of error or sin, as if they were innocent - nolunt Deum erroris aut sceleris facere auctorem, quasi sint innoxii - or to take away their own blameworthiness. But they rather look deeper, and confess themselves, by their own fault, to be alienated from God, and destitute of his Spirit; and hence it happens that they are precipitated into all manner of evils. God is said to harden and blind when he delivers those who are to be blinded to Satan (Satanae excaecandos tradit), who is the minister and the executor of his wrath.’ (Commentary in loc.) This seems to be a fair account of this difficult subject. At all events, this is the doctrine which was held by the father of the system of Calvinism; and nothing more should be charged on that system, in regard to blinding and hardening people, than is thus avowed (compare the notes at Isa_6:9-10; Mat_13:14-15). It is not to be supposed that this result took place by direct divine agency. It is not by positive power exerted to harden people and turn them away from God. o man who has any just views of God can suppose that he exerts a positive agency to make them sin, and then punishes them for it; no one who has any just views of man, and of the operations of his own mind, can doubt that a sinner is voluntary in his transgression. It is true, at the same time, that God foresaw it, and that he did not interpose to prevent it. ay, it is true that the wickedness of people may be favored by his abused providence -
as a pirate may take advantage of a fair breeze that God sends, to capture a merchant-man; and true, also, that God foresaw it would be so, and yet chose, on the whole, that the events of his providence should be so ordered. His providential arrangements might be abused to the destruction of a few, but would tend to benefit and save many. The fresh gale that drove on one piratical vessel to crime and bloodshed, might, at the same time, convey many richly freighted ships toward the port. One might suffer; hundreds might rejoice. One pirate might be rendered successful in the commission of crime; hundreds of honest people might be benefited. The providential arrangement is not to compel people to sin, nor is it for the sake of their sinning. It is to do good, and to benefit many - though this may draw along, as a consequence, the hardening and the destruction of a few. He might, by direct agency, prevent it, as he might prevent the growth of the briers and thorns in a field; but the same arrangement, by witcholding suns and dews and rains, would also prevent the growth of flowers and grain and fruit, and turn extended fertile lands into a desert. It is better that the thorns and briers should be suffered to grow, than to convert those fields into a barren waste. Return - That is, return to bless us. The tribes of thine inheritance - The Jewish tribes spoken of as the heritage of God on the earth.
2. Clarke, “Why hast thou made us to err - A mere Hebraism, for why hast thou permitted us to err. So, Lead us not into temptation; do not suffer us to fall into that to which we are tempted. 2B. Constable, “Isaiah, and all Scripture, does not present God as the direct cause of sin, unless this is the only verse in the Bible that does so, and it is not. God allows sin, and He allows people to sin, but He does not make it inevitable that they sin in any given instance of temptation (James 1:13). Isaiah meant that God had caused Israel to sin and had hardened the hearts of the people in a judicial sense (cf. 6:9-13; Rom. 1:18-32). Because they had chosen to continue in sin, He judged them by allowing sin to dominate them. Isaiah wanted to place as much responsibility for the Israelites' condition on God as possible. He had not saved them, so He could be said to have caused them to stray from Him and to harden their hearts. Really Israel had done these things, but because God had allowed it He could be said to be responsible for it. "Why do you make us wander from your ways? is not an attempt to lay the blame on the Lord but, in Old Testament thought, a recognition of guilt of such proportions that the Lord could not let it pass but judicially sentenced his people to the consequences of their own choices." Similarly Isaiah called on God to return to His people. Really the people needed to return to Him. By asking Him to return to them, Isaiah was asking God to act for them, to step in and deliver them. He strengthened his appeal by referring to Israel as the Lord's servants and His heritage, terms of relationship that God Himself had used to describe His people (cf. 41:9; 42:19; 43:10; 44:1; 45:4; Deut. 4:20). "This is the prayer of intercession, the passionate entering into of the need of those for whom we are praying, and a storming of the gates of heaven with every tool we can use. Why? Because God is callous and uncaring? o, because we are callous and uncaring, and until our passion is in some small way connected to the great passion of God, his power is in some way restrained. This seems almost unimaginable, but the testimony of history and of Scripture is that it is so.”
3. Gill, “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?.... These are the words, not of wicked men among the Jews, charging all their errors, hardness of heart, and wickedness they were guilty of, upon the Lord, as if he was the author and occasion of them, and led them into them; but of the truly godly, lamenting and confessing their wandering from the ways, commands, and ordinances of God, the hardness of their hearts; their want of devotion and affection for God; and their neglect of his worship; not blaming him for these things, or complaining of him as having done anything amiss or wrong; but expostulating with him, and wondering at it, that he, who was their loving and tender Father, that he should suffer them to err from his ways, and to wander from his worship, by withholding his grace and withdrawing his presence from them; by leaving them to the corruptions and hardness of their hearts; by chastising them sorely, and suffering the enemy to afflict them in such a severe manner as laid them under temptation to desert the worship of God, and cast off the fear of him. The Jews (f) interpret this of their being hardened from the fear of God, and made to err from his ways by seeing the prosperity of the wicked, and their own long captivity, troubles, and distresses: return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance; or turn (g); turn from thine anger and displeasure to thy people; or, as the Targum, "return thy Shechinah to thy people;'' thy gracious and glorious presence, which has been so long withdrawn; or "return" thy people from their captivity, the twelve tribes, thy portion and "inheritance"; and do this "for thy servants' sake"; for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: or because of the covenant made with them; or for the sake of all thy people, who are thy servants, and which also are the tribes of thine inheritance, return unto them. 4. Jamison, “made us to err — that is, “suffer” us to err and to be hardened in our heart. They do not mean to deny their own blameworthiness, but confess that through their own fault God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Isa_6:9, Isa_6:10; Psa_119:10; Rom_1:28). Return — ( um_10:36; Psa_90:13).
6. Calvin, “Why didst thou cause as to wander, O Jehovah, from thy ways? Because these modes of expression appear to be rough and harsh, some think that unbelievers are here introduced as murmuring against God and uttering blasphemies, with the rage and obstinacy of men who are in a state of despair. But the connection in which these words occur does not at all admit of that interpretation; for the Prophet points out the fruit that would result from the calamities and afflictions of the Jews, because, having been subdued and tamed, they no longer are fierce or indulge in their vices. They are therefore ashamed that in time past they departed so far from the right way, and they acknowledge their own fault. And indeed when they trace their sins to the wrath of God, they do not intend to free themselves from blame, or to set aside their guilt. But the Prophet employs a mode of expression which is of frequent occurrence; for in the Scriptures it is frequently said that God drives men into error, (2 Thessalonians 2:11;) “gives them up to a reprobate mind,” (Romans 1:28;) and “hardens them.” (Romans 9:18.) When believers speak in this manner, they do not intend to make God the author of error or of sin, as if they were innocent, or to free themselves from blame; but they look higher,
and rather acknowledge that it is by their own fault that they are estranged from God and deprived of his Spirit, and that this is the reason why they are plunged into every kind of evils. Those who say that God leads us into error by privation, that is, by depriving us of his Spirit, do not perceive the actual design; for God himself is said to harden and to blind, when he gives up men to be blinded by Satan, who is the minister and executioner of his wrath. Without this we would be exposed to the rage of Satan; but, since he can do nothing without the command of God, to whose dominion he is subject, there will be no impropriety in saying that God is the author of blinding and hardening, as Scripture also affirms in many passages. (Romans 9:18.) And yet it cannot be said or declared that God is the author of sin, because he punishes the ingratitude of men by blinding them in this manner. Thus believers here acknowledge that God has forsaken them, but that it is by their own fault; 183 and they acknowledge God’s righteous vengeance against them. In like manner, when Moses says that “God hath not hitherto given to the people eyes to see and a heart to understand,” (Deuteronomy 29:4,) he does not lay the blame on God, but reminds the Jews whence they should seek to obtain a remedy for that stupidity of which they had been convicted. Yet it may appear as if here they aimed at something else, by inquiring into the cause and remonstrating with God, that he ought to have acted differently towards them and treated them less harshly. But I reply, that believers always look at the goodness of God, even when they acknowledge that they suffer justly on account of their sins. Some refer these words to the captivity; as if believers complained that God permitted them to languish so long in captivity. As if he had said, “The chief cause of their obstinacy is, that the Lord does not permit them to partake of his grace.” Believers are troubled by a dangerous temptation, when they see wicked men pursuing their career without being punished, and are almost driven by it to despair; as it is beautifiully expressed by David. (Psalm 115:3.) But I think that the Prophet’s meaning is more general; for believers acknowledge that they “wandered,” because they were not governed by the Spirit of God; and they do not; expostulate with God, but desire to have that Spirit, by whom their fathers were guided, and from whom they obtained all prosperity. And hast caused our heart to depart from thy fear. , (takshiach,) is rendered by some, hast hardened; but as that would not agree with the words, “in thy fear,” I have preferred to translate it, “Hast caused to depart;” for , (kashach,) also signifies “to remove and place at a distance.” Return on account of thy servants. Some think that these words relate to the whole people, as Scripture frequently gives the appellation of “servants of God” to all the citizens of the Church. But I think that they relate literally to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that is much more probable; not that the people relied on their intercession, but because the Lord had made a covenant with them, which they should transmit from hand to hand to their posterity. Thus they do not hold out these patriarchs as men, but as ministers and depositaries or messengers of the covenant which was the foundation of their confidence. In the same manner, in that psalm, “Lord, remember David,” (Psalm 132:1,) the name of the dead patriarch is mentioned to God, not because the saints thought that he would be their intercessor, but that the promise given to a single individual, as to establishing the kingdom in his family for ever, belongs to the body of the people. The Papists eagerly seize on these words, as if they were a proof of the intercessions of the saints. But how easy it is to reply may be easily seen from the true interpretation; for the fathers are mentioned, not because they had a right to obtain anything for them, or because they now intercede, but because with them was formed a gracious covenant, which belongs not only to themselves, but to all their posterity. To the tribes of thine inheritance. I have added the preposition To, which was understood, in order that the meaning might be more easy and obvious. It is a customary form of expression among the Hebrews, “Return the tribes,” instead of “Return to the tribes;” as if he had said, “Return to a
state of friendship with thy people.” Hence it is evident that what was formerly said had no other object than that the people urged God to the exercise of mercy by representing to God their distresses and calamities. And in this manner we must come to God; that is, by recounting former benefits and laying before him our afflictions, if we desire to be delivered from them. He employs the word Inheritance, because God hath chosen that people to be his heritage; as if he had said, “Where shall thy people be, if we perish?” Not that the Lord was bound to that people, but that he had given his promise to them. 184 Accordingly, the people venture to remind God of his promise and to offer earnest prayer, because he had laid himself under a voluntary obligation both to the fathers and to posterity. Now, since all the promises are ratified and confirmed in Christ, (2 Corinthians 1:20,) and since we possess the reality of all things, we ought to be fortified by stronger confidence; for not only was the covenant made in his hand, but it was ratified and sealed by his blood. To the ancient fathers also he was indeed the Mediator, but we have everything clearer and plainer; because they were still kept amidst the darker shadows.” 7. K&D, “But the in the existing state of things there was a contrast which put their faith to a severe test. “O Jehovah, why leadest Thou us astray from Thy ways, hardenest our heart, so as not to fear Thee? Return for Thy servants' sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance.” When men have scornfully and obstinately rejected the grace of God, God withdraws it from them judicially, gives them up to their wanderings, and makes their heart incapable of faith (hiqshı̄ ăch, which only occurs again in Job_39:16, is here equivalent to hiqshâh in Psa_95:8; Deu_2:30). The history of Israel from Isa_6:1-13 onwards has been the history of such a gradual judgment of hardening, and such a curse, eating deeper and deeper, and spreading its influence wider and wider round. The great mass are lost, but not without the possibility of deliverance for the better part of the nation, which now appeals to the mercy of God, and sighs for deliverance from this ban. Two reasons are assigned for this petition for the return of the gracious presence of God: first, that there are still “servants of Jehovah” to be found, as this prayer itself actually proves; and secondly, that the divine election of grace cannot perish.
18 For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.
1. Barnes, “The people of thy holiness - The people who have been received into solemn covenant with thee. Have possessed it but a little while - That is, the land meaning that the time during which they had enjoyed a peaceable possession of it, compared with the perpetuity of the promise made, was short. Such is the idea given to the passage by our translators. But there is considerable variety in the interpretation of the passage among expositors. Lowth renders it: It is little, that they have taken possession of thy holy mountain;
That our enemies have trodden down thy sanctuary. Jerome renders it, ‘It is as nothing (quasi nihilum), they possess thy holy people; our enemies have trodden down thy sanctuary.’ The Septuagint renders it, ‘Return on account of thy servants, on account of the tribes of thine inheritance, that we may inherit thy holy mountains for a little time’ ἵνα µικρὸν κληρονοµήσωµεν τοῦ ὄρους τοῦ ἁγίου hina mikron klēronomēsōmen tou orous tou hagiou). It has been generally felt that there was great difficulty in the place. See Vitringa. The sense seems to be that which occurs in our translation. The design is to furnish an argument for the divine interposition, and the meaning of the two verses may be expressed in the following paraphrase: ‘We implore thee to return unto us, and to put away thy wrath. As a reason for this, we urge that thy temple thy holy sanctuary - was possessed by thy people but a little time. For a brief period there we offered praise, and met with our God, and enjoyed his favor. ow thine enemies trample it down. They have come up and taken the land, and destroyed thy holy place Isa_64:11. We plead for thine interposition, because we are thy covenant people. Of old we have been thine. But as for them, they were never thine. They never yielded to thy laws. They were never called by thy name. There is, then, no reason why the temple and the land should be in their possession, and we earnestly pray that it may be restored to the tribes of thine ancient inheritance.’ Our adversaries - This whole prayer is supposed to be offered by the exiles near the close of their captivity. Of course the language is such as they would then use. The scene is laid in Babylon, and the object is to express the feelings which they would have then, and to furnish the model for the petitions which they would then urge. We are not, therefore, to suppose that the temple when Isaiah lived and wrote was in ruins, and the land in the possession of his foes. All this is seen in vision; and though a hundred and fifty years would occur before it would be realized, yet, according to the prophetic manner, he describes the scene as actually passing before him (see the Introduction, Section 7; compare the notes at Isa_64:11).
2. Clarke, “The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while “It is little that they have taken possession of thy holy mountain” - The difficulty of the construction in this place is acknowledged on all hands. Vitringa prefers that sense as the least exceptionable which our translation has expressed; in which however there seems to be a great defect; that is, the want of that in the speaker’s view must have been the principal part of the proposition, the object of the verb, the land, or it, as our translators supply it, which surely ought to have been expressed, and not to have been left to be supplied by the reader. In a word, I believe there is some mistake in the text; and here the Septuagint help us out; they had in their copy הרhar, mountain, instead of עם am, people, του ορους του ἁγιου σου, the mountain of thy Holy One. “ ot only have our enemies taken possession of Mount Sion, and trodden down thy sanctuary; even far worse than this has befallen us; thou hast long since utterly cast us off, and dost not consider us as thy peculiar people.” - L.
3. Gill, “The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while,.... Either the land of Canaan, which the Jews, the Lord's holy people, whom he had separated from others, possessed about fourteen hundred years, which was but a little while in comparison of "for ever", as was promised; or they enjoyed it but a little while in peace and quiet, being often disturbed by their neighbours; or else the sanctuary, the temple, as it is to be supplied from the next clause, which stood but little more than four hundred years:
our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary; the temple; the first temple was destroyed by ebuchadnezzar; and the second temple by the Romans; and Antiochus, and Pompey, and others, profaned it, by treading in it. They pleaded that they had had but a short enjoyment of the land of promise and the privileges of the sanctuary (Isa_63:18): The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while. From Abraham to David were but fourteen generations, and from David to the captivity but fourteen more (Mat_1:17), and that was but a little while in comparison with what might have been expected from the promise of the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Gen_17:8) and from the power that was put forth to bring them into that land and settle them in it. “Though we are the people of thy holiness, distinguished from other people and consecrated to thee, yet we are soon dislodged.” But this they might thank themselves for; they were, in profession, the people of God's holiness, but it was their wickedness that turned them out of the possession of that land. 5. They pleaded that those who had and kept possession of their land were such as were strangers to God, such as he had no service or honour from: 5. Jamison, “people of ... holiness — Israel dedicated as holy unto God (Isa_62:12; Deu_7:6). possessed — namely, the Holy Land, or Thy “sanctuary,” taken from the following clause, which is parallel to this (compare Isa_64:10, Isa_64:11; Psa_74:6-8). thy — an argument why God should help them; their cause is His cause.
6. Calvin, “For a little time. It is wonderful that the people should call it “a little time;” for fourteen hundred years had elapsed since the people began to possess that land. But we must take into account the promise by which he said that the seed of Abraham should have it as an everlasting inheritance; and therefore that was a short time, when compared with eternity. (Genesis 17:8; 48:4.) Believers, therefore, represent to God the shortness of that time; not that they accuse him of insincerity, but that he may remember the promise and covenant, and may have more regard to his own goodness than to the chastisements which they justly deserved. Thus the ancient Church complains that “her strength was weakened in the journey, that her days were shortened, and prays that she may not be cut off in the middle of her course,” (Psalm 102:23, 24,) that is, because the fullness of age depended on the coming of Christ. Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. This was a much heavier complaint, that wicked men had profaned the land which the Lord had consecrated to himself. Undoubtedly this was far more distressing to the people than the rest of their calamities, and justly; for we ought not to care so much about ourselves as about religion and the worship of God. And this is also the end of redemption, that there may be a people that praises the name of the Lord and worships him in a right manner.” 7. K&D, “But the existing condition of Israel looks like a withdrawal of this grace; and it is impossible that these contrasts should cease, unless Jehovah comes down from heaven as the deliverer of His people. Isa_63:8, Isa_63:19 (Isa_64:1). “For a little time Thy holy people was in possession. Our adversaries have trodden down Thy sanctuary. We have become such as He who is from everlasting has not ruled over, upon whom Thy name was not called. O that Thou wouldst rend the heaven, come down, the mountains would shake before thy countenance.” It is very natural to try whether yâreshū may not have tsârēnū for its subject (cf., Jer_49:2); but all the attempts made to explain the words on this supposition, show that lammits‛âr is at variance with the idea that yâreshū refers to the foes. Compare, for example, Jerome's rendering “quasi nihilum (i.e., ad nihil
et absque allo labore) possederunt populum sanctum tuum;” that of Cocceius, “propemodum ad haereditatem;” and that of Stier, “for a little they possess entirely Thy holy nation.” Mits‛âr is the harsher form for miz‛âr, which the prophet uses in Isa_10:25; Isa_16:14; Isa_29:17 for a contemptibly small space of time; and as לis commonly used to denote the time to which, towards ְ which, within which, and through which, anything occurs (cf., 2Ch_11:17; 2Ch_29:17; Ewald, §217, d), lammits‛âr may signify for a (lit. the well-known) short time (per breve tempus; like εἰς ἐπ ̓κατ ̓ ἐνιαυτόν, a year long). If miqdâsh could mean the holy land, as Hitzig and others suppose, miqdâshekhâ might be the common object of both sentences (Ewald, §351, p. 838). But miqdash Jehovah (the sanctuary of Jehovah) is the place of His abode and worship; and “taking possession of the temple” is hardly an admissible expression. On the other hand, yârash hâ'ârets, to take possession of the (holy) land, is so common a phrase (e.g., Isa_60:21; Isa_65:9; Psa_44:4), that with the words “Thy holy people possessed for a little (time)” we naturally supply the holy land as the object. The order of the words in the two clauses is chiastic. The two strikingly different subjects touch one another as the two inner members. Of the perfects, the first expresses the more remote past, the second the nearer past, as in Isa_60:10. The two clauses of the v. rhyme - the holiest thing in the possession of the people, which was holy according to the choice and calling of Jehovah, being brought into the greatest prominence; bōsēs = πατεῖν, Luk_21:24; Rev_11:2. Hahn's objection, that the time between the conquest of the land and the Chaldean catastrophe could not be called mits‛âr (a little while), may be answered, from the fact that a time which is long in itself shrinks up when looked back upon or recalled, and that as an actual fact from the time of David and Solomon, when Israel really rejoiced in the possession of the land, the coming catastrophe began to be foreboded by many significant preludes. The lamentation in Isa_63:19 proceeds from the same feeling which caused the better portion of the past to vanish before the long continuance of the mournful present. Hitzig renders “ היִינוּwe ָ were;” Hahn, “we shall be;” but here, where the speaker is not looking back, as in Isa_26:17, at a state of things which has come to an end, but rather at one which is still going on, it signifies “we have become.” The passage is rendered correctly in S.: ἐγενήθηµεν (or better, γεγόναµεν) ὡς ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος ὧν οὐκ ἐξουσίασας οὐδὲ ἐπικλήθη τὸ ὄνοµά σου αὐτοῖς . The virtual predicate to hâyı̄ nū commences with mē‛ōlâm: “we have become such (or like such persons) as,” etc.; which would be fully expressed by ,אֲ שֶׁ ר כּעָםor merely ,כּעֲשֶׁ רor without ,אֲ שֶׁ רand simply by transposing the ְ ַ words, ( וגו משַׁ לְתָּ כּ אcf., Oba_1:16): compare the virtual subject אֲ הֵבוֹ יהוהin Isa_48:14, and the ְ ָ virtual object בִשְׁ מי יִקְראin Isa_41:25 (Ewald, §333, b). Every form of “as if” is intentionally ָ ִ omitted. The relation in which Jehovah placed Himself to Israel, viz., as its King, and as to His own people called by His name, appears not only as though it had been dissolved, but as though it had never existed at all. The existing state of Israel is a complete practical denial of any such relation. Deeper tones than these no lamentation could possibly utter, and hence the immediate utterance of the sigh which goes up to heaven: “O that Thou wouldst rend heaven!” It is extremely awkward to begin a fresh chapter with “( כּקְדֹחas when the melting fire burneth”); at ַ ִ the same time, the Masoretic division of the vv. is unassailable. ( ote: In the Hebrew Bibles, Isa_64:1-12 commences at the second v. of our version; and the first v. is attached to Isa_63:19 of the previous chapter. - Tr.)
19 We are yours from of old; but you have not ruled over them,
they have not been called[c] by your name.
1. Barnes, “We are thine - We urge it as a reason for thy interposition to restore the land and the temple, that we are thine from ancient times. Such I take to be the meaning of the passage - in accordance with the common translation, except that the expression מעולםmē‛ôlâm, ‘from ancient times,’ rendered by our translators in connection with לאlo', ‘never,’ is thus connected with the Jewish people, instead of being regarded as applied to their enemies. The idea is, that it is an argument why God should interpose in their behalf, that they had been for a long time his people, but that his foes, who then had possession of the land, had never submitted to his laws. There has been, however, great variety in interpreting the passage. Lowth renders it: We have long been as those whom thou hast not ruled; We have not been called by thy name. oyes renders it better: It has been with us as if thou hadst never ruled over us, As if we had not been called by thy name. Symmachus and the Arabic Saadias render it in the same manner. The Septuagint renders it, ‘We have been as at the beginning when thou didst not rule over us, neither were we called by thy name;’ that is, we have gone back practically to our former pagan condition, by rejecting thy laws, and by breaking thy covenant. Each of these interpretations makes a consistent sense, but it seems to me that the one which I have expressed above is more in accordance with the Hebrew. Thou never barest rule over them - Over our enemies - regarded in the prophetic vision as then in possession of the land. The idea is, that they have come into thy land by violence, and laid waste a nation where they had no right to claim any jurisdiction, and have now no claim to thy protection. They were not called by thy name - Hebrew, ‘Thy name was not called upon them.’ They were aliens and strangers who had unjustly intruded into the heritage of the Lord.
2. Gill, “We are thine,.... Thy children, thy people, thy subjects. Some read it, taking a word from the next clause, "we are thine of old", or "from everlasting" (h); as the Lord's special people are, being chosen by him in Christ before the foundation of the world, and taken into an everlasting covenant by him, when he became their God, and they his people; agreeably to which is the Targum, "we are thy people that were of old;'' so Kimchi reads the words: "thou never barest rule over them"; the Heathens that oppressed them; they never acknowledged God as their King as they did, or were subject to him as they were; and therefore had no claim to protection from him as they had: they were not called by thy name; they were not called the people of God, nor the children of
God, nor the servants or subjects of God; or, "thy name is not called upon them" (i); or they called after it; nor did they call upon it, but served other gods. The Targum is, "thou hast not given unto the people the doctrine of thy law, neither is thy name called upon by them.'' 3. Henry, “ “Thou never didst bear rule over them, nor did they ever yield thee any obedience; they were not called by thy name, but professed relation to other gods and were the worshippers of them. Will God suffer those that do not stand in any relation to him to trample upon those that do?” Some give another reading of this: “We have become as those over whom thou didst never bear rule and who were never called by thy name; we are rejected and abandoned, despised and trampled upon, as if we never had been in thy service nor had thy name called upon us.” Thus the shield of Saul was vilely cast away, as though he had not been anointed with oil. But the covenant that seems to be forgotten shall be remembered again.
5. Jamison, “thine ... never — rather, “We are Thine from of old; Thou barest not rule over them” [Barnes]. Lowth translates, “We for long have been as those over whom Thou hast not ruled, who are not called by Thy name”; “for long” thus stands in contrast to “but a little while” (Isa_63:18). But the analogy of Isa_63:18 makes it likely that the first clause in this verse refers to the Jews, and the second to their foes, as English Version and Barnes translate it. The Jews’ foes are aliens who have unjustly intruded into the Lord’s heritage.
6. Calvin, “We have been of old. The words of the Prophet admit of two meanings. Some view this passage in such a light as if the people argued with God on this ground, that they were elected at that time when the rest of the nations were rejected, and that this covenant was ratified “from of old,” that is, for a long period. Another meaning, which I prefer, is this, that the people argue with God, and complain that they seem as if they did not differ at all from unbelievers; that is, because they receive from him no assistance or relief in adversity, which is unreasonable and improper. This statement is remarkable and worthy of notice; for, whenever we are oppressed beyond measure with adversity, we are permitted to complain to God, and to represent to him our calling, that he may render assistance, and shew how wide a difference there is between us and strangers. On whom thy name hath not been called. This is of the same import with what goes before; for it means that the calling of God must not be made void. And indeed the Lord does not wish that we should call upon him in vain; for prayers would be unprofitable and useless, if the Lord took no care of us. Now, the Church is distinguished by this mark, that “his name is called upon her.” Unbelievers cannot call upon him; for there is no access to him but through the word, of which they have no knowledge; and therefore, wherever there is faith, there is also calling on him; and if there be no faith, it is certain that there is no hope or confidence.” 7. K&D, “For Isa_63:19 (Isa_64:1) could not be attached to Isa_64:1-2, since this v. would be immensely overladen; moreover, this sigh really belongs to Isa_63:19 (Isa_63:19), and ascends out of the depth of the lamentation uttered there. On utinam discideris = discinderes, see at Isa_48:18. The wish presupposes that the gracious presence of God had been withdrawn from Israel, and that Israel felt itself to be separated from the world beyond by a thick party-wall, resembling an impenetrable black cloud. The closing member of the optative clause is generally rendered (utinam) a facie tua montes diffluerent (e.g., Rosenmüller after the lxx τακήσονται), or more
correctly, defluerent (Jerome), as nâzal means to flow down, not to melt. The meaning therefore would be, “O that they might flow down, as it were to the ground melting in the fire” (Hitzig). The form nâzollu cannot be directly derived from nâzal, if taken in this sense; for it is a pure fancy that nâzōllū may be a modification of the pausal נָזָלוּwith ō for ā, and the so-called dagesh affectuosum). Stier invents a verb med. o. .נָז ֹלThe more probable supposition is, that it is a niphal formed from zâlāl = nâzal (Ewald, §§193, c). But zâlal signifies to hang down slack, to sway to and fro (hence zōlēl, lightly esteemed, and zalzallı̄m, Isa_18:5, pliable branches), like zūl in Isa_46:6, to shake, to pour down; ( ote: Just as the Greek has in addition to σαλ-εὐειν the much simpler and more root-like σεἰ-ειν; so the Semitic has, besides ,זלthe roots :זא, זעcompare the Arabic ,סלסל, זאזע, זעזעall three denoting restless motion.) and nâzōllu, if derived from this, yields the appropriate sense concuterentur (compare the Arabic zalzala, which is commonly applied to an earthquake). The nearest niphal form would be ( נָזַלּוּor resolved, ,נָזְלוּJdg_5:5); but instead of the a of the second syllable, the niphal of the verbs עhas sometimes o, like the verb ( ע וe.g., ,נָג ֹלּוּIsa_34:4; Ges. §67, Anm. 5).
Footnotes: Isaiah 63:9 Or Savior in their distress. / It was no envoy or angel / but his own presence that saved them Isaiah 63:11 Or But may he recall Isaiah 63:19 Or We are like those you have never ruled, / like those never called
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