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Isa 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Ver. 1. Yet now hear. ] Hear a word of comfort after so terrible a thunder crack. Isa 43:28 But there it is bare "Jacob" and "Israel" who are threatened; here it is "Jacob my servant," and "Israel whom I have chosen"; it is "Jeshurun," or the "righteous nation," who are comforted. And because we forget nothing so soon as the consolations of God, as is to be seen in Christ’s disciples, and those believing Hebrews; Isa 12:5 therefore doth the prophet so oft repeat and inculcate them, like as men use to rub and chafe in ointments into the flesh, that they may enter and give ease.
Isa 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, [which] will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
Ver. 2. Thus saith the Lord that made thee. ] See on Isaiah 43:1 ; Isaiah 43:7 ; Isaiah 43:21 , and observe how this chapter runneth parallel with the former; yea, how the prophet, from Isa 40:1-31 to Isaiah 66:1-24 , doth one and the same thing almost, labouring to comfort his people against the Babylonian captivity, and to arm them against the sin of idolatry, whereunto, as of themselves they were overly prone, so they should be sure to be strongly tempted among those idolaters.
And thou, Jeshurun. ] Thou who art upright or righteous, with a twofold righteousness, viz., imputed and imparted. The Septuagint renders it Dilecte or Dilectule, my dearly beloved.
Isa 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Ver. 3. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty. ] Or, Upon the thirsty place; hearts that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Mat 5:6 See Trapp on " Mat 5:6 "
I will pour my spirit and my blessing. ] When God giveth a man his Holy Spirit, he giveth him blessing in abundance; even all good things at once, as appeareth by Mat 7:11 Luke 11:13 . Here are three special operations of the Spirit instanced: 1. Comfort; 2. Fruitfulness; 3. Courage for Christ. Isa 44:5
Isa 44:4 And they shall spring up [as] among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
Ver. 4. As willows by the water courses. ] Not only as the grass, but by a further growth, as the willows, which are often looped, sed ab ipso vulnere vires sumunt, but soon thrust forth new branches; and though cut down to the bottom, yet will grow up again; a so will the Church and her children.
a Uberius resurgunt, altiusque excrescunt.
Isa 44:5 One shall say, I [am] the LORD’S; and another shall call [himself] by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe [with] his hand unto the LORD, and surname [himself] by the name of Israel.
Ver. 5. One shall say, I am the Lord’s.] When God seemeth to cry out, Who is on my side? who? then the true Christian, by a bold and wise profession of the truth, answereth as here. After the way that they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, said that great apostle. We are Christians, said those primitive professors; and some of them wrote apologies for their religion to the persecuting emperors, as did Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Arnobius, Tertullian, Minutius Felix, and others. The recent famous reformers Zuinglius, Luther, Musculus, &c., had been Franciscans, Augustinians, Dominicans; but relinquished those superstitious titles and gave up their names to Christ and his truth. I knew a nobleman, saith Mr Burroughs, a who, when he came into jeering company of great ones, would begin and own himself one of those they call Puritans - a nickname then put upon the godly party, and so odious to the profaner sort, that the same author elsewhere telleth us of a scholar in Queen’s College, who professed he had rather suffer the torments of hell, than endure the contempt and scorn of the Puritans.
Subscribe with his hand. ] Or, Write on his hand, I am the Lord’s.
And surname himself. ] So Christian is my name, said an ancient, and Catholic my surname.
a On Hosea.
Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.
Ver. 6. Thus saith the Lord. ] Here and in the subsequent verses we have an evident and excellent testimony of the unity of the true God, and vanity of idols.
Isa 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.
Ver. 7. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it? ] These are alleged by God as arguments or demonstrations of his deity, praedicare, et indicare et ordinare, to call his elect (styled here his ancient people, populum aeternum ) to foretell them things to come, and to order all occurrences for their eternal good.
Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared [it]? ye [are] even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, [there is] no God; I know not [any].
Ver. 8. Have I not told thee from that time? ] Ever since I made thee mine ancient people, well affected to old truths, and distasting novel opinions.
Is there a God besides me? ] Vehementi spiritu hoc quaerit, et gravitate magna respondet, There is no God, no other God: I know not any. This was spoken by the prophet, say some, in the days of Ahaz, that notorious idolater.
Isa 44:9 They that make a graven image [are] all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they [are] their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.
Ver. 9. And their delectable things. ] Their idols and puppets, which they so dearly affect and take so great delight in. He speaketh thus, saith Diodate, because that idolatry is a kind of spiritual concupiscence, and unchaste or disordered love, like as fornication or adultery.
And they are their own witnesses, &c. ] Or, Even themselves are their own witnesses to their shame, that they neither see nor know aught.
Isa 44:10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image [that] is profitable for nothing?
Ver. 10. Who hath formed a god that is profitable for nothing? ] q.d, Who but a madman? ειδωλομανης , such as was Julian the apostate, called therefore Idolian by some.
“ Quis furor est, quae tanta animas dementia ludit? ”
What can be more ridiculous, a saith Basil, than for man to go about to make God? And yet Popish priests take upon them so to do: which made Averroes abhor Christianity, and wish that his soul might rather be among the philosophers.
a Quis haec ludibria non derideat? - Lact.
Isa 44:11 Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they [are] of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; [yet] they shall fear, [and] they shall be ashamed together.
Ver. 11. Behold all his fellows. ] His fellow fools.
Shall be ashamed. ] They may be, well enough, of their madness: they shall be, sure enough, of their disappointments.
And the workmen, they are of men. ] Not of angels or the heavenly virtues, saith Oecolampadius, but vile varlets.
Let them all be gathered together. ] As were, at Ephesus, Demetrius and his associates. Act 19:24-25
Yet they shall fear. ] As Tullus Hostilius did with his new gods Pavor and Pallor: as Papists do with their Valentine, Antony, Sebastian, &c., whom they worship as the senders of such and such diseases.
Isa 44:12 The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.
Ver. 12. The smith with the tongs, &c. ] He lively setteth forth the weakness of the workmen, that thereby may be understood the weakness of the idols, since they cannot help in the least those that take such pains about them. All these things must be taken as spoken with utmost scorn and stomach.
And fashioneth it with hammers. ] He knocks and works his idol in manner as he doth his coulter or ploughshare.
With the strength of his arms. ] Tanto conatu tantas nugas agit, cum sit calidus in re frigida: he much troubleth himself about such trifles. Hoc agunt ut nihil agant.
Isa 44:13 The carpenter stretcheth out [his] rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
Ver. 13. The carpenter stretcheth out his rule. ] As did the carpenter of Cockram, who yet made but an ill-shaped rood, and was forced to sue for his money. a Mrs Catismore suffered in King Henry VIII’s days for saying that images were but carpenters’ chips; and yet they are no better. That is a remarkable saying of Seneca, Ridiculum est genu posito, &c. It is a ridiculous thing to worship images, and yet to slight the man that made them.
And maketh it after the figure of a man. ] God made man after his own image; and man, to be even with God, will needs make him after his image. b
a Acts and Mon., fol. 1340.
b Quasi ad hostimentum.
Isa 44:14 He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish [it].
Ver. 14. He heweth him down cedars. ] Choice wood, yet but wood. Qualis igitur inde Deus consurgat?
And the rain doth nourish it. ] Not the idol; for it can do nothing toward the production of that matter whereof it is made. Some have observed that the four sorts of trees here mentioned are all of them fruitless, and growing in woods.
Isa 44:15 Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth [it], and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth [it]; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.
Ver. 15. Then shall it be for a man to burn. ] The chips at least shall, and the offal.
Yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it. ] Quod Dei est, trunco tribuit.
Isa 44:16 He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth [himself], and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
Ver. 16. He burneth part thereof in the fire. ] Which is to far better purpose than the other part made into an idol.
I have seen the fire, ] i.e., I have felt it. One sense puts forth another.
Isa 44:17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, [even] his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth [it], and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou [art] my god.
Ver. 17. He falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it. ] Do not Papists even the same, whatever they pretend in defence of their idolatry? See Revelation 9:20 . See Trapp on " Rev 9:20 " So loath they are to have their asses’ ears to be seen.
Isa 44:18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; [and] their hearts, that they cannot understand.
Ver. 18. They have not known nor understood. ] How should they, say, when infatuated and given up to an injudicious mind, or reprobate sense, as those? Rom 1:28
For he hath shut their eyes. ] Heb., Daubed up their eyes from seeing, their hearts from understanding.
“ Mons oblita Dei, vitiorumque oblita caeno. ”
Isa 44:19 And none considereth in his heart, neither [is there] knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten [it]: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
Ver. 19. Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? ] This the besotted Papists do to this day, by the command of the Council of Trent. But before that Council so decreed it, Ludovicus Vives, a learned Papist, confessed that there could no other difference be found of paganish and Popish worship before images, but only this, that names and titles were altered - viz., we cry Jehovah, and they Jupiter; we, Mary, they Diana; they, Minerva, we Katharine, &c. And here I bethink me of what Luther, on the ninth commandment, writeth of a base and beastly woman: Quae ut falleret eiusmodi superstitionis quendam fatuum cultorem, pubem suam totondit, et illi porrexit, suadens quod essent capilli S. Catharinae trans mare advecti. Credidit ille cuculus, et pro reliquiis osculandos praebuit et venerandos: et ecce quid fit? coepit etiam miracula operari pubes illa turpitudinis.
Isa 44:20 He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, [Is there] not a lie in my right hand?
Ver. 20. He feedeth on ashes, ] i.e, He seeketh comfort of his idol, but findeth as little as he doth nourishment who feedeth upon ashes.
A seduced heart hath turned him aside. ] And hence it is that he is brought to deify a thing so contemptible. From this expression, note that man is the cause of evil to himself, and is so blinded by his own default that he cannot so much as once think seriously of his soul’s health. His deluded heart, that hath so oft deceived him, may well say to him, as the heart of Apollodorus the tyrant seemed to say to him, who dreamed one night that he was flayed by the Scythians and boiled in a caldron, and that his heart spake to him out of the kettle, ‘ Eγω σοι τουτων αιτια , It is I that have drawn thee to all this.
Is there not a lie in my right hand? ] i.e., " An idol that is nothing in the world," and nothing it can do for me. How then are images fit to be laymen’s books, being unprofitable, lies, and teachers of lies? Jeremiah 10:8 ; Jer 16:19 Hab 2:18
Isa 44:21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou [art] my servant: I have formed thee; thou [art] my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
Ver. 21. Remember these, O Jacob and Israel, ] i.e., Remember these abominable idolaters, and enjoy their madness: learn wisdom by their folly.
Thou shalt not be forgotten of me. ] Or, Forget me not, as some render it. Scultetus addeth that whereas many sacred sentences are written upon our walls, this ought to be written upon our hearts; O Israel, forget me not.
Isa 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Ver. 22. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins. ] God blotteth out, or wipeth away, the thick cloud as well as the cloud, enormities as infirmities: like as the sun dispelleth fogs and mists with his bright beams. Think of this sweet similitude, together with that other in Micah 7:19 , "Thou wilt cast all our sins into the bottom of the sea," and then despair if thou canst. The sea by its vastness can drown mountains as well as mole hills; and the sun by his force can scatter the greatest mist, as well as the least vapour. So here.
Isa 44:23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done [it]: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
Ver. 23. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it. ] It is usual both with the prophets and the apostles, when they mention the great work of man’s redemption, typified by that famous deliverance from Babylon, to break forth into praise and thanksgiving to God, the sole author thereof. See Psalms 68:1 ; Psalms 89:1 ; Psalms 93:1 ; Psalms 95:1 ; Psalms 96:1 ; Psalms 97:1 ; Psalms 98:1 ; Psalms 99:1 ; Psalms 100:1 ; Isa 12:5-6; Romans 7:24-25 ; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 ; 1 Timothy 1:17 ; Rev 5:11-12 Here is hinted, that so very great is the benefit of our redemption, that it might well affect heaven and earth, and all things high and low.
Isa 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I [am] the LORD that maketh all [things]; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Ver. 24. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer. ] All this God had said oft before, see Isaiah 42:5 ; but, for the further confirmation of some who were unsettled by the contrary predictions of some vain diviners and wizards, he saith it over again.
Isa 44:25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise [men] backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
Ver. 25. That frustrateth the tokens of the liars. ] Their false prognostics of the long lastingness of the Babylonian empire, and therefore no likelihood of the Jews’ enlargement.
And maketh diviners mad. ] Diviners, the Latins call soothsayers and such fellows, by a term that is altogether too good for them. Quum sint potius diabolici, saith Piscator, since they are rather devils incarnate than divines. By a like form of speech Alsted a said of his Germans, that if the Sabbath day should be named according to their observing of it, Daemoniacus potius quam Dominicus diceretur.
That turneth wise men backward. ] The world’s wizards, who approved of that which the diviners affirmed, judging according to outward appearance, &c.
a In Encyclop.
Isa 44:26 That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
Ver. 26. That confirmeth the word of his servant, ] i.e., Of myself and other prophets, saying the same with me.
That saith to Jerusalem. ] Who then shall gainsay it? Is not God’s word his will, and his will his work?
Isa 44:27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
Ver. 27. That saith to the deep, Be dry, ] i.e., That will put it into the heart of Cyrus to dry up Euphrates, and so to take Babylon; which, according to some, is here called the deep or abyss, because situated in a plain well watered with various rivers, had wealth at will, and many princes who ran into her, as rivers do into the sea.
And I will dry up thy rivers. ] This Basil a expounds of the end of the world.
a Hex., lib. ii.
Isa 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, [He is] my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Ver. 28. That saith of Cyrus. ] One hundred and seventy years, at least, before he was born.
Thou art my shepherd, ] i.e., Princeps meus beneficus. Coresh, in the Persian tongue, signifieth food, saith Scaliger; and then there might be some allusion here to his name in calling him a "shepherd," or feeder.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 44". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25