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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 59

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8



Redemption has not come to Israel because of her sin. In this chapter Isaiah sees the nation coming to recognize that fact, and acknowledging it before her God. The Lord is ever ready to forgive and redeem such as are of an humble heart and contrite spirit; but, He will fight against all those who continue in their rebellion. In the latter part of this chapter (vs. 17-18) is found the fullest passage in all the Old Testament describing the Lord as a warrior! Yet, He delights in mercy. Thus, He redeems Israel - revealing His glory, His power and His faithful love.


1. Israel has no one to blame, for her rejection, but herself, (vs. 1-2).

a. The Lord has not lost His power, or His hearing, (vs. 1; Isaiah 50:2; comp. Numbers 11:23; Numbers 11:31-34; Jeremiah 32:17-19; Ezekiel 8:17-18).

b. It is the nation’s SIN that has caused a breach of fellowship between herself and her God, (vs. 2; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 50:1).

2. They are charged with violence and injustice, (vs. 3-4).

a. Their hands are defiled with blood, (vs. 3; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 2:34; Hosea 4:1-2); their lips with wickedness and lies, (vs. 13; Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:9-10).

b. None is concerned for righteousness or truth, (vs. 4a; 14-15; Isaiah 5:7).

c. Trusting in worthlessness, and speaking lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity, (vs. 4b; Isaiah 30:12; Jeremiah 7:8; comp. Isaiah 33:11; Psalms 7:14); the nation has become alarmingly corrupt!

3. The ruinous effects of their crookedness are set forth in verses 5-6.

a. The figure of their hatching cockatrice eggs may suggest the destructive nature of all their monstrous deeds, (vs. 5; comp. Isaiah 14:29; James 1:15-16).

b. The webs they have woven (in an attempt to cover their wretchedness) do not cover; they only magnify the iniquity and violence that proceed from sinful hearts, (vs. 6; Job 8:14; Proverbs 28:13).

4. Because they have deliberately chosen, and hasten to follow, the path of violence, bloodshed, crookedness and injustice, they have no peace, (vs: 7-8).

a. Paul, in a free rendering, uses this passage to set forth the universal guilt of mankind, (Romans 3:15-18).

b. Isaiah shows that whoever follows such a path of willful maliciousness and ruin cannot have peace with God or with men.

c. Whoever loves peace will be peaceable; he will also endeavor to be a peacemaker, (Matthew 5:9; Proverbs 12:20; Romans 14:17-19).

d. But those who choose the path of wickedness can have no peace, (contrast Isaiah 26:3).

Verses 9-21


1. In verses 9-11 one hears the lamentation of the rebellious nation - stricken because of her sin.

a. Isaiah identifies himself with his people and leads them in this lamentation - and in the confession that follows, (comp. Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 5:7).

b. Because God did not execute swift judgment upon Israel’s foes, they were left defenseless, (comp. Isaiah 5:26-30).

c. They looked for light and encouragement; but, rejecting the light of God’s word, were left to walk in thick darkness, (comp. Isaiah 8:21-22).

d. Groping for stability and guidance (toward an exit from their calamities), they were as blind men (Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 56:10) - stumbling at noon-day (Isaiah 8:13-15; Isaiah 28:13); among those who were full of life and vigor, they were as dead men, (La 3:6).

e. Impatiently groaning under the weight of their self-imposed exile, they desperately pined for deliverance; but, their lot seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Here is pain, misery, disappointment, disillusionment and condemnation, (comp. Isaiah 38:14; Ezekiel 7:14-18).

2. Finally, there comes a recognition and confession of individual and national guilt, (vs. 12-15b).

a. The burden of sin has a way of steadily increasing until one is crushed beneath its weight; finally turning their eyes upon the Lord, they are deeply conscious of their crookedness in His sight, (vs. 12).

b. In verse 14 there is an enumeration of Israel’s sins: transgression, (Isaiah 58:1; Ezra 9:6); denial of Jehovah, (Joshua 24:27; Proverbs 30:7-9; Titus 1:16); apostacy - a deliberate turning away from the truth of God, (Exodus 32:1; Judges 2:17; Ezekiel 36:20); false accusation, which led to the oppression of others, (Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 30:12; Jeremiah 9:3-4); rebellion, (1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 15:22; Nehemiah 9:26; Isaiah 1:5; Hosea 7:14); conceiving and uttering from the heart, words of falsehood, (vs. 3-4; Mark 7:21-22).

c. Thus, "justice" is turned away and "righteousness" required to stand afar off, (Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 46:12; Habakkuk 1:2-4).

d. Greed has slaughtered Truth in the place of business, (Isaiah 48:1); and whoever departs from evil renders himself subject to plunder, (Isaiah 5:23; Isaiah 10:1-2; Isaiah 29:21; Isaiah 32:7).


1. The Lord was highly displeased with the reign of injustice in Zion’s courts, (vs. 15c).

a. He saw and wondered (was highly displeased) that there was no one who would stand (against these abominations) and plead His righteous cause, (vs. 16a; Isaiah 41:28; Isaiah 64:7).

b. Thus, His own heart was stretched out in behalf of truth and righteousness, (vs. 16b; Isaiah 63:5; Isaiah 52:10; Psalms 98:1).

2. Various figures are used to describe the manifestation of God’s holy character, (vs. 17); He clothes himself:

a. With "righteousness as a breastplate", (comp. Ephesians 6:14).

b. With the "helmet of salvation" upon His head, (comp. Ephesians 6:17).

c. With "garments of vengeance" for His clothing, (Isaiah 63:2-3).

d. And with "zeal as a cloak", (Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 37:22; Zechariah 1:13-17).

3. Then follows a prophecy of judgment, (vs. 18-19).

a. Upon Israel, because of her persistent rebellion, (Isaiah 65:6-7; Isaiah 66:6; Jeremiah 17:9-10).

b. Upon His foes in the Gentile world.

1) These are seen as rising up against His sovereign authority, (Psalms 2:1; Psalms 46:6; Psalms 83:2-5; Revelation 11:18).

2) But "the Spirit of the Lord" will lift up such a standard against this enemy as will result in its overthrow!

c. As a result of this manifestation of His power, His name will be remembered and His glory revealed, (Isaiah 66:18).

4. The Redeemer Himself will come to Zion, (vs. 20-21).

a. Bringing deliverance to the Holy City - and to a holy remnant who "turn from transgression" in Jacob, (vs. 20). But, before redemption, there must first be a recognition, repudiation, and repentance from sin!

b. Then He will restore them to covenant-fellowship with Himself so that they may be perpetual witnesses of His grace throughout the millennial era, (vs. 21; Romans 11:26-27; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 44:26; Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 32:40-42; Hebrews 8:10-12; Hebrews 10:16-18; Hebrews 12:22-24).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 59". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-59.html. 1985.
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