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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 57

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole BibleCommentary Critical




In the midst of the excesses of the unfaithful watchmen (Isaiah 56:10; Isaiah 56:11; Isaiah 56:12), most of the few that are godly perish: partly by vexation at the prevailing ungodliness; partly by violent death in persecution: prophetical of the persecuting times of Manasseh, before God's judgments in causing the captivity in Babylon; and again those in the last age of the Church, before the final judgments on the apostasy (2 Kings 21:16; Matthew 23:29-35; Matthew 23:37; Revelation 11:17). The Hebrew for "perisheth," and "is taken away," expresses a violent death (Revelation 11:17- :).

Verse 1

1. no man layeth it to heart—as a public calamity.

merciful men—rather, godly men; the subjects of mercy.

none considering—namely, what was the design of Providence in removing the godly.

from the evilHebrew, from the face of the evil, that is, both from the moral evil on every side (Isaiah 56:10-12), and from the evils about to come in punishment of the national sins, foreign invasions, c. (Isaiah 56:9 Isaiah 57:13). So Ahijah's death is represented as a blessing conferred on him by God for his piety (Isaiah 57:13- :; see also 2 Kings 22:20).

Verse 2

2. Or, "he entereth into peace"; in contrast to the persecutions which he suffered in this world (Job 3:13; Job 3:17). The Margin not so well translates, "he shall go in peace" (Psalms 37:37; Luke 2:29).

rest—the calm rest of their bodies in their graves (called "beds," Luke 2:29- :; compare Isaiah 14:18; because they "sleep" in them, with the certainty of awakening at the resurrection, Isaiah 14:18- :) is the emblem of the eternal "rest" (Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13).

each one walking in . . . uprightness—This clause defines the character of those who at death "rest in their beds," namely, all who walk uprightly.

Verse 3

3. But . . . ye—In contrast to "the righteous" and their end, he announces to the unbelieving Jews their doom.

sons of the sorceress—that is, ye that are addicted to sorcery: this was connected with the worship of false gods (2 Kings 21:6). No insult is greater to an Oriental than any slur cast on his mother (1 Samuel 20:30; Job 30:8).

seed of the adultererSpiritual adultery is meant: idolatry and apostasy (Matthew 16:4).

Verse 4

4. sport yourselves—make a mock (Isaiah 66:5). Are ye aware of the glory of Him whom you mock, by mocking His servants ("the righteous," Isaiah 57:1)? (2 Chronicles 36:16).

make . . . wide mouth— (Psalms 22:7; Psalms 22:13; Psalms 35:21; Lamentations 2:16).

children of transgression, &c.—not merely children of transgressors, and a seed of false parents, but of transgression and falsehood itself, utterly unfaithful to God.

Verse 5

5. Enflaming yourselves—burning with lust towards idols [GESENIUS]; or else (compare Margin), in the terebinth groves, which the Hebrew and the parallelism favor (see on :-) [MAURER].

under . . . tree— ( :-). The tree, as in the Assyrian sculptures, was probably made an idolatrous symbol of the heavenly hosts.

slaying . . . children—as a sacrifice to Molech, c. (2 Kings 17:31 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6).

in . . . valleys—the valley of the son of Hinnom. Fire was put within a hollow brazen statue, and the child was put in his heated arms; kettle drums (Hebrew, toph) were beaten to drown the child's cries; whence the valley was called Tophet (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:3).

under . . . clifts—the gloom of caverns suiting their dark superstitions.

Verse 6

6. The smooth stones, shaped as idols, are the gods chosen by thee as thy portion ( :-).

meat offering—not a bloody sacrifice, but one of meal and flour mingled with oil. "Meat" in Old English meant food, not flesh, as it means now (Leviticus 14:10).

Should I receive comfort—rather, "Shall I bear these things with patience?" [HORSLEY].

Verse 7

7. Upon . . . high mountain . . . bed—image from adultery, open and shameless ( :-); the "bed" answers to the idolatrous altar, the scene of their spiritual unfaithfulness to their divine husband (Ezekiel 16:16; Ezekiel 16:25; Ezekiel 23:41).

Verse 8

8. "Remembrance," that is, memorials of thy idolatry: the objects which thou holdest in remembrance. They hung up household tutelary gods "behind the doors"; the very place where God has directed them to write His laws "on the posts and gates" (Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20); a curse, too, was pronounced on putting up an image "in a secret place" (Deuteronomy 11:20- :).

discovered thyself—image from an adulteress.

enlarged . . . bed—so as to receive the more paramours.

made . . . covenant—with idols: in open violation of thy "covenant" with God (Exodus 19:5; Exodus 23:32). Or, "hast made assignations with them for thyself" [HORSLEY].

thy bed . . . their bed—The Jews' sin was twofold; they resorted to places of idolatry ("their bed"), and they received idols into the temple of God ("thy bed").

where—rather, "ever since that" [HORSLEY]. The Hebrew for "where" means "room" (Margin), a place; therefore, translate, "thou hast provided a place for it" (for "their bed"), namely, by admitting idolatrous altars in thy land [BARNES]; or "thou choosest a (convenient) place for thyself" in their bed [MAURER] (Exodus 23:32- :).

Verse 9

9. the kingthe idol which they came to worship, perfumed with oil, like harlots (Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:16; Ezekiel 23:40). So "king" means idol (Amos 5:26; Zephaniah 1:5); (malcham meaning "king") [ROSENMULLER]. Rather, the king of Assyria or Egypt, and other foreign princes, on whom Israel relied, instead of on God; the "ointment" will thus refer to the presents (Zephaniah 1:5- :), and perhaps the compliances with foreigners' idolatries, whereby Israel sought to gain their favor [LOWTH] (Isaiah 30:6; Ezekiel 16:33; Ezekiel 23:16; Hosea 7:11).

send . . . messengers far off—not merely to neighboring nations, but to those "far off," in search of new idols, or else alliances.

even unto hell—the lowest possible degradation.

Verse 10

10. greatness of . . . way—the length of thy journey in seeking strange gods, or else foreign aid (Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 2:24). Notwithstanding thy deriving no good from these long journeys (so, "send . . . far off," Jeremiah 2:24- :), thou dost not still give up hope (Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 18:12).

hast found . . . life of . . . hand—for "thou still findest life (that is, vigor) enough in thy hand" to make new idols [MAURER], or to seek new alliance ("hand" being then taken for strength in general).

grieved—rather, "therefore thou art not weak" [MAURER]; inasmuch as having "life in thy hand," thou art still strong in hope.

Verse 11

11. Israel wished not to seem altogether to have denied God. Therefore they "lied" to Him. God asks, Why dost thou do so? "Whom dost thou fear? Certainly not Me; for thou hast not remembered Me." Translate, "seeing that thou hast not remembered Me."

laid it to . . . heart—rather, "nor hast Me at heart"; hast no regard for Me; and that, because I have been long silent and have not punished thee. Literally, "Have I not held My peace, and that for long? and so thou fearest Me not" (Psalms 50:21; Ecclesiastes 8:11). It would be better openly to renounce God, than to "flatter Him" with lies of false professions (Psalms 78:36) [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU]. However, Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 51:13 favors English Version of the whole verse; God's "silent" long-suffering, which was intended to lead them to repentance, caused them "not to fear Him" (Romans 2:4; Romans 2:5).

Verse 12

12. declare—I will expose publicly thy (hypocritical) righteousness. I will show openly how vain thy works, in having recourse to idols, or foreign alliances, shall prove (Isaiah 57:3).

Verse 13

13. When thou criest—In the time of thy trouble.

companies—namely, of idols, collected by thee from every quarter; or else, of foreigners, summoned to thy aid.

wind . . . carry . . . away— (Job 21:18; Matthew 7:27).

vanity—rather, "a breath" [LOWTH].

possess . . . land . . . inherit—that is, the literal land of Judea and Mount Zion; the believing remnant of Israel shall return and inherit the land. Secondarily, the heavenly inheritance, and the spiritual Zion (Isaiah 49:8; Psalms 37:9; Psalms 37:11; Psalms 69:35; Psalms 69:36; Matthew 5:5; Hebrews 12:22). "He that putteth his trust in Me," of whatever extraction, shall succeed to the spiritual patrimony of the apostate Jew [HORSLEY].

Verse 14

14. shall say—The nominative is, "He that trusteth in Me" ( :-). The believing remnant shall have every obstacle to their return cleared out of the way, at the coming restoration of Israel, the antitype to the return from Babylon (Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 62:10; Isaiah 62:11).

Cast . . . up—a high road before the returning Jews.

stumbling-block—Jesus had been so to the Jews, but will not be so then any longer (1 Corinthians 1:23); their prejudices shall then be taken out of the way.

Verse 15

15. The pride and self-righteousness of the Jews were the stumbling block in the way of their acknowledging Christ. The contrition of Israel in the last days shall be attended with God's interposition in their behalf. So their self-humiliation, in Isaiah 66:2; Isaiah 66:5; Isaiah 66:10, c., precedes their final prosperity (Zechariah 12:6 Zechariah 12:10-14); there will, probably, be a previous period of unbelief even after their return (Zechariah 12:8; Zechariah 12:9).

Verse 16

16. For—referring to the promise in Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 57:15, of restoring Israel when "contrite" (Genesis 6:3; Genesis 8:21; Psalms 78:38; Psalms 78:39; Psalms 85:5; Psalms 103:9; Psalms 103:13; Psalms 103:14; Micah 7:18). God "will not contend for ever" with His people, for their human spirit would thereby be utterly crushed, whereas God's object is to chasten, not to destroy them (Lamentations 3:33; Lamentations 3:34; Micah 7:8; Micah 7:9). With the ungodly He is "angry every day" (Psalms 7:11; Revelation 14:11).

spirit . . . before me—that is, the human spirit which went forth from Me (Revelation 14:11- :), answering to "which I have made" in the parallel clause.

Verse 17

17. covetousness—akin to idolatry; and, like it, having drawn off Israel's heart from God (Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 56:11; Isaiah 58:3; Jeremiah 6:13; Colossians 3:5).

hid me— (Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 45:15).

went on frowardly—the result of God's hiding His face (Psalms 81:12; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26).

Verse 18

18. Rather, "I have seen his ways (in sin), yet will I heal him," that is, restore Israel spiritually and temporally (Jeremiah 33:6; Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4; Hosea 14:5) [HORSLEY].

I will . . . restore comforts unto him and to his mourners—However, the phrase, "his mourners," favors English Version; "his ways" will thus be his ways of repentance; and God's pardon on "seeing" them answers to the like promise (Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 61:3; Jeremiah 31:18; Jeremiah 31:20).

Verse 19

19. fruit of . . . lips—that is, thanksgivings which flow from the lips. I make men to return thanks to Me (Hosea 14:2; Hebrews 13:15).

Peace, peace—"perfect peace" (see Isaiah 26:3, Margin; John 14:27). Primarily, the cessation of the troubles now afflicting the Jews, as formerly, under the Babylonian exile. More generally, the peace which the Gospel proclaims both to Israel "that is near," and to the Gentiles who are "far off" (Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:17).

Verse 20

20. when it cannot rest—rather, "for it can have no rest" (Job 15:20; Proverbs 4:16; Proverbs 4:17). English Version represents the sea as occasionally agitated; but the Hebrew expresses that it can never be at rest.

Verse 21

21. (Isaiah 48:22; 2 Kings 9:22).

my God—The prophet, having God as his God, speaks in the person of Israel, prophetically regarded as having now appropriated God and His "peace" (2 Kings 9:22- :), warning the impenitent that, while they continue so, they can have no peace.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 57". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfb/isaiah-57.html. 1871-8.
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