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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Isaiah 59

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The Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET



      The reason why Jehovah does not deliver His people, notwithstanding their religious services ( Isa 58:3 ), is not want of power on His part, but because of their sins ( Isa 59:1-8 ); Isa 59:9-15 contain their confession; Isa 59:16-21, the consequent promise of the Messiah.

      1. hand. . . shortened--(See on JF & B for Isa 50:2).
      ear heavy-- ( Isa 6:10 ).

      2. hid--Hebrew, "caused Him to hide" ( Lam 3:44 ).

      3. ( Isa 1:15 Rom 3:13-15 ).
      hands. . . fingers--Not merely the "hands" perpetrate deeds of grosser enormity ("blood"), but the "fingers" commit more minute acts of "iniquity."
      lips. . . tongue--The lips "speak" openly "lies," the tongue "mutters" malicious insinuations ("perverseness"; perverse misrepresentations of others) ( Jer 6:28 9:4 ).

      4. Rather, "No one calleth an adversary into court with justice," that is, None bringeth a just suit: "No one pleadeth with truth."
      they trust. . . iniquity--(So Job 15:35 Psa 7:14 ).

      5. cockatrice--probably the basilisk serpent, cerastes. Instead of crushing evil in the egg, they foster it.
      spider's web--This refers not to the spider's web being made to entrap, but to its thinness, as contrasted with substantial "garments," as Isa 59:6 shows. Their works are vain and transitory ( Job 8:14 Pro 11:18 ).
      eateth. . . their eggs--he who partakes in their plans, or has anything to do with them, finds them pestiferous.
      that which is crushed--The egg, when it is broken, breaketh out as a viper; their plans, however specious in their undeveloped form like the egg, when developed, are found pernicious. Though the viper is viviparous (from which "vi-per" is derived), yet during gestation, the young are included in eggs, which break at the birth [BOCHART]; however, metaphors often combine things without representing everything to the life.

      6. not. . . garments--like the "fig leaves" wherewith Adam and Eve vainly tried to cover their shame, as contrasted with "the coats of skins" which the Lord God made to clothe them with ( Isa 64:6 Rom 13:14 Gal 3:27 Phl 3:9 ). The artificial self-deceiving sophisms of human philosophy ( 1Ti 6:5 2Ti 2:16, 23 ).

      7. feet--All their members are active in evil; in Isa 59:3, the "hands, fingers, lips, and tongue," are specified.
      run. . . haste-- ( Rom 3:15 ). Contrast David's "running and hasting" in the ways of God ( Psa 119:32, 60 ).
      thoughts--not merely their acts, but their whole thoughts.

      8. peace--whether in relation to God, to their own conscience, or to their fellow men ( Isa 57:20, 21 ).
      crooked--the opposite of "straightforward" ( Pro 2:15 28:18 ).

      9. judgment far--retribution in kind because they had shown "no judgment in their goings" ( Isa 59:8 ). "The vindication of our just rights by God is withheld by Him from us."
      us--In Isa 59:8 and previous verses, it was "they," the third person; here, "us. . . we," the first person. The nation here speaks: God thus making them out of their own mouth condemn themselves; just as He by His prophet had condemned them before. Isaiah includes himself with his people and speaks in their name.
      justice--God's justice bringing salvation ( Isa 46:13 ).
      light--the dawn of returning prosperity.
      obscurity--adversity ( Jer 8:15 ).

      10. grope--fulfilling Moses' threat ( Deu 28:29 ).
      stumble at noon. . . as. . . night--There is no relaxation of our evils; at the time when we might look for the noon of relief, there is still the night of our calamity.
      in desolate places--rather, to suit the parallel words "at noonday," in fertile (literally, "fat"; Gen 27:28 ) fields [GESENIUS] (where all is promising) we are like the dead (who have no hope left them); or, where others are prosperous, we wander about as dead men; true of all unbelievers ( Isa 26:10 Luk 15:17 ).

      11. roar--moan plaintively, like a hungry bear which growls for food.
      doves-- ( Isa 38:14 Eze 7:16 ).
      salvation--retribution in kind: because not salvation, but "destruction" was "in their paths" ( Isa 59:7 ).

      12. ( Dan 9:5, &c.).
      thee. . . us--antithesis.
      with us--that is, we are conscious of them ( Job 12:3, Margin; Job 15:9 ).
      know--acknowledge they are our iniquities.

      13. The particulars of the sins generally confessed in Isa 59:12 ( Isa 48:8 Jer 2:19, 20 ). The act, the word, and the thought of apostasy, are all here marked: transgression and departing, &c.; lying (compare Isa 59:4 ), and speaking, &c.; conceiving and uttering from the heart.

      14. Justice and righteousness are put away from our legal courts.
      in the street--in the forum, the place of judicature, usually at the gate of the city ( Zec 8:16 ).
      cannot enter--is shut out from the forum, or courts of justice.

      15. faileth--is not to be found.
      he that departeth. . . prey--He that will not fall in with the prevailing iniquity exposes himself as a prey to the wicked ( Psa 10:8, 9 ).
      Lord saw it--The iniquity of Israel, so desperate as to require nothing short of Jehovah's interposition to mend it, typifies the same necessity for a Divine Mediator existing in the deep corruption of man; Israel, the model nation, was chosen to illustrate his awful fact.

      16. no man--namely, to atone by his righteousness for the unrighteousness of the people. "Man" is emphatic, as in 1Ki 2:2; no representative man able to retrieve the cause of fallen men ( Isa 41:28 63:5, 6 Jer 5:1 Eze 22:30 ).
      no intercessor--no one to interpose, "to help. . . uphold" ( Isa 63:5 ).
      his arm-- ( Isa 40:10 51:5 ). Not man's arm, but His alone ( Psa 98:1 44:3 ).
      his righteousness--the "arm" of Messiah. He won the victory for us, not by mere might as God, but by His invincible righteousness, as man having "the Spirit without measure" ( Isa 11:5 42:6, 21 51:8 53:11 1Jo 2:1 ).

      17. Messiah is represented as a warrior armed at all points, going forth to vindicate His people. Owing to the unity of Christ and His people, their armor is like His, except that they have no "garments of vengeance" (which is God's prerogative, Rom 12:19 ), or "cloak of zeal" (in the sense of judicial fury punishing the wicked; this zeal belongs properly to God, 2Ki 10:16 Rom 10:2 Phl 3:6; "zeal," in the sense of anxiety for the Lord's honor, they have, Num 25:11, 13 Psa 69:9 2Cr 7:11 9:2 ); and for "salvation," which is of God alone ( Psa 3:8 ), they have as their helmet, "the hope of salvation" ( 1Th 5:8 ). The "helmet of salvation" is attributed to them ( Eph 6:14, 17 ) in a secondary sense; namely, derived from Him, and as yet only in hope, not fruition ( Rom 8:24 ). The second coming here, as often, is included in this representation of Messiah. His "zeal" ( Jhn 2:15-17 ) at His first coming was but a type of His zeal and vengeance against the foes of God at His second coming ( 2Th 1:8-10 Rev 19:11-21 ).

      18. deeds--Hebrew, "recompenses"; "according as their deeds demand" [MAURER]. This verse predicts the judgments at the Lord's second coming, which shall precede the final redemption of His people ( Isa 66:18, 15, 16 ).
      islands--(See on JF & B for Isa 41:1). Distant countries.

      19. ( Isa 45:6 Mal 1:11 ). The result of God's judgments ( Isa 26:9 66:18-20 ).
      like a flood-- ( Jer 46:7, 8 Rev 12:15 ).
      lift up a standard--rather, from a different Hebrew root, "shall put him to flight," "drive him away" [MAURER]. LOWTH, giving a different sense to the Hebrew for "enemy" from that in Isa 59:18, and a forced meaning to the Hebrew for "Spirit of the Lord," translates, "When He shall come as a river straitened in its course, which a mighty wind drives along."

      20. to Zion-- Rom 11:26 quotes it, "out of Zion." Thus Paul, by inspiration, supplements the sense from Psa 14:7 : He was, and is come to Zion, first with redemption, being sprung as man out of Zion. The Septuagint translates "for the sake of Zion." Paul applies this verse to the coming restoration of Israel spiritually.
      them that turn from-- ( Rom 11:26 ). "shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob"; so the Septuagint, Paul herein gives the full sense under inspiration. They turn from transgression, because He first turns them from it, and it from them ( Psa 130:4 Lam 5:21 ).

      21. covenant with them. . . thee--The covenant is with Christ, and with them only as united to Him ( Hbr 2:13 ). Jehovah addresses Messiah the representative and ideal Israel. The literal and spiritual Israel are His seed, to whom the promise is to be fulfilled ( Psa 22:30 ).
      spirit. . . not depart. . . for ever-- ( Jer 31:31-37 Mat 28:20 ).

Introduction to Song of Solomon ← Prior Book
Introduction to Jeremiah Next Book →
Commentary on Isaiah 58 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Isaiah 60 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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