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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Isaiah 50

Verses 1-11

The One Helper

Isaiah 50:7

I found these words when I needed them much in Isaiah, chapter fifty, verse seven: 'The Lord God will help me'. We might write this on a signet ring and stamp with it all the record of our life. There are times when we need just these simple daisy texts, spring-violet texts. They seem to have no cubic depth, and yet when we come to live them there seems to be room in their infinite space for the heavens and the earth.

'The Lord God will help me.' I like the sound of it; there is a voice that is all music, a voice which, though we have not heard it before, we recognize it at once, saying, This cometh from eternity, and is the music of God.

I. 'The Lord God will help me.' This is a proved fact I have proved it, you have proved it; yet we could not explain it. 'I was brought low, and He set me upon a rock.' To hear that sweet testimony makes our hearts glad. Tell us something more, and let the house of Israel say, that His mercy endureth for ever, and let the redeemed of the Lord say so. There may be silent piety, there ought to be also a resounding testimony. I could not be an atheist without first committing suicide, because I have seen the Lord in the house and in the field, in the valley and on the hilltop.

II. The text is not only a proved fact, it is a continual inspiration. We can fall back upon experience; we can say, 'This or that happened to me'. If we can only say, 'This or that is reported to have happened to some other man,' we have no faith, we cannot have faith. We must be able to say that such and such deep joys, thrilling sacramental experiences, have been realized in our own life. This is how young David talked. 'I will fight the Philistine.' But thou art only a child, and no fighter. 'I will fight Goliath.' What justification is there for such a challenge? 'I was keeping my father's flock, and there came a lion and a bear, and they took a lamb, and I rose and caught them and smote them, and tore their jaws in twain, and I am not going to lose that fact: the Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will enable me to deal with this uncircumcised Philistine.' This was good reasoning; this was deriving inspiration from the past. Exactly the same answer ought to be possible to every one of us.

III. The text is not only a proved fact and a continual inspiration, it is, finally, a sufficient rest. You are going to do such and such work: how are you going to accomplish it? And you say almost in musical cadence, 'The Lord God will help me'. You have already won the battle; the victory is not in the fighting, but in the spirit of the fighter. When does the Lord God help His people? Under three conditions. First, when the work is His own. 'Servant of the Lord' is speaking here that mysterious personage that seems to pervade Isaiah and give personality to every word in the glowing prophecy. He comes to do the Lord's work, and he says, 'The Lord God will help me'. And, secondly, when we have given up self-reliance. That is almost a miracle. We think we can do something. When we come to know that we can do nothing we will do everything that God wants us to do. Even this depends upon the spirit of renunciation. The renunciation must not be made in a spirit of haughtiness or resentment, saying, 'I am formally required to give up myself and my efforts, and therefore I obey'. In that temper you will receive nothing; we must do the Lord's will in the Lord's own spirit; even Christ pleased not Himself. To be nothing is the way to be all we can be. And, thirdly, which, indeed, is a division of the second point, the Lord helps us when we have completed our faith by giving up our substitutes. We sometimes want to personate faith, to set forth something as if it were faith. The Lord will receive no proxies, He will burn all shams, He will have the naked soul in the perfectness of simple reliance upon Himself, and then He will say, 'Son, thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee'. And God cannot forsake a forgiven man.

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. v. p. 156.

References. L. 8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 31. L. 10. W. M. Taylor, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 210. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 39. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii. No. 1985; vol. xxxix. No. 2335. L. 10, 11. C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 162. L. 11. G. W. Herbert, Notes of Sermons, p. 78. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 47. Leviticus 1:0 . C. P. Reichel, The Anglican Pulpit of Today, p. 366; see also Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 213. P. M'Adam Muir, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 91. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No. 1050.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 50". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.