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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 56

Verse 1

Isa 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation [is] near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

Ver. 1. Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice, ] i.e., Repent ye, as ye were exhorted, Isa 45:6-7 and "bring forth fruits meet for repentance," Mat 3:8 "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2 Tit 2:12 Christ came to "call sinners to repentance," Mar 2:17 and to good works of all sorts, which are here called judgment and justice, as he himself is here called not only God’s salvation, but his righteousness.

Verse 2

Isa 56:2 Blessed [is] the man [that] doeth this, and the son of man [that] layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

Ver. 2. Blessed is the man that doeth this. ] And by it lays hold on that - i.e., that performeth the duties of both tables, of piety and of charity; that maketh conscience of keeping the Sabbath especially. The Fourth Commandment standeth fitly in the heart of the Decalogue, and between the two tables of the law, as having an influence into both.

From polluting it. ] Either by corporal labour or spiritual idleness: spending the holy time holily.

And keepeth his hand from doing any evil. ] That is, righteous as well as religious: not yielding his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. Rom 6:13

Verse 3

Isa 56:3 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I [am] a dry tree.

Ver. 3. Neither let the son of the stranger. ] If a proselyte, let not him add extra words to the covenant of grace in Christ, and say, It belongeth not to me. Let not him turn the back of his hand to the promise, as if he were not concerned in it, because no Jew born; for now the wall of partition is by Christ to be broken down, and the rigour of that old prohibition taken away. Act 10:34-35 Gal 3:28 Col 3:11 Eze 47:22

Neither let the eunuch. ] See Trapp on " Mat 19:12 "

Verse 4

Isa 56:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose [the things] that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Ver. 4. For thus saith the Lord. ] Who "comforteth those that are cast down," 2Co 7:6 those that are forsaken of their hopes. Jer 30:17

That keep my Sabbaths. ] Which whoso do not are worthily deemed to have no true goodness in them at all.

And choose the things that please me. ] Choose them upon mature deliberation and good advice; as Moses did; Heb 11:25 by a free election, as Psa 119:30 so showing themselves wise eunuchs, such as have their name παρα το ευ νουν εχειν , as Scaliger deriveth it - i.e., well-minded men, egregie cordati homines, a

And take hold of my covenant. ] By a lively faith which is said to have two hands, one wherewith she layeth hold on Christ, and another whereby she giveth up herself unto him, and although the devil rap her on the fingers for so doing, yet she is resolute and holds her own.

a Ennius.

Verse 5

Isa 56:5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Ver. 5. Even unto them will I give in mine house. ] In the Church of the New Testament. Eph 2:19-21

A place. ] Heb., A hand. A door keeper’s place in God’s house is worth having; Psa 84:10 this was that one thing that he so dearly begged. Psa 27:4

And a name. ] That new name, Rev 2:17 that power or prerogative-royal - that heavenly honour, Nonnus there calleth it - viz., "to be the sons of God," Joh 1:12 and so to be "called," 1Jn 3:1 to have both the comfort and the credit of it: this is nomen in mundo praestantissimum; none to this, 2Co 6:18 for "if sons, then heirs." Rom 8:16-17

Verse 6

Isa 56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Ver. 6. Also the sons of the stranger that joineth. ] Relinquishing his heathenish superstition, and devoting himself to my fear. The Levites had their name from the word here used; and leviathan, whose scales and parts are so fast joined and jointed together.

To love the name of the Lord, to be his servants. ] Plato could say, Parere legibus est Deo servire: et haec summa est libertas, To obey the laws, is to serve God; and this is the chiefest liberty, this is perfect freedom. But Plato never knew what it was to love to be God’s servant. Lex voluntarios quaerit, saith Ambrose. a All God’s soldiers are volunteers, all his people free hearted; Psa 110:3 they wait for his law. Isa 42:8 Deu 10:12

Every one that keepeth the Sabbath. ] See on Isaiah 56:2 .

a In Psalm i.

Verse 7

Isa 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Ver. 7. Even them will I bring unto my holy mountain, ] i.e., Into my Church, and Church assemblies. Query, Whether eunuchs and strangers were made partakers of all holy services in the second temple, according to the letter? Sure we are that that holy eunuch, Act 8:26-40 and the rest of the Gentiles, had and still have free admission under the gospel.

And will make them joyful in mine house of prayer. ] By their free access unto me, and all good success in their suits. Pray "that your joy may be full." Joh 16:24 "Draw water with joy out of this well of salvation." Isa 12:3 "Rejoice evermore," and that you may so do, "pray without ceasing." 1Th 5:16-17

Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar. ] Their evangelical sacrifices of prayer, praise, alms, obedience, &c., shall be accepted through Christ, Hebrews 13:10 ; Heb 13:15 who is the true altar that sanctifieth all that is offered on it. Rev 8:3-4

For mine house shall be called, &c. ] See on Matthew 21:13 .

Verse 8

Isa 56:8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather [others] to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

Ver. 8. Which gathereth the outcasts of Israel. ] According to that ancient promise of his. Deu 30:4 None of his shall be lost for looking after; he will "fetch back his banished," as that witty woman said. 2Sa 14:14

Yet will I gather others to him. ] Strangers, eunuchs, all mine "other sheep that are not yet of this fold," Joh 10:16 together with all my stragglers; those that are relapsed will I recover.

Verse 9

Isa 56:9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, [yea], all ye beasts in the forest.

Ver. 9. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour. ] Statim quasi vehementer ira accensus, &c. All upon the sudden, as one much enraged against the wicked priests especially, as greatest traitors to the state, the Lord thundereth and threateneth terribly. By the beasts here called for, we may understand the Babylonians, Grecians, Syrians, Egyptians, but especially the Romans, who made clean work of them, whenas they were grown extremely wicked, and even ripe for ruin, as Josephus witnesseth. See Jeremiah 50:17 .

Verse 10

Isa 56:10 His watchmen [are] blind: they are all ignorant, they [are] all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

Ver. 10. His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant. ] Invehit in Pseudepiscopos, such as were, and are still in part, the popish clergy; those of the ninth age especially, and not much better a little before Luther stickled: blind leaders of the blind, lamentably ignorant, as the Bishop of Dunkeld, in Scotland, for instance, who professed that he knew neither the New Testament nor the Old. So Bishop Albert, reading the Bible, and being asked by a nobleman what book it was he read; I know not, said he, what book it is, but all that I read in it is contrary to our religion. a As for the other ill qualities of the watchmen here inveighed against, Hugo the cardinal said, that the devil had two daughters, Covetousness and Luxury; the former he had heretofore married out to the Jews, the latter to the Gentiles; but now the monks and priests had gotten them both from their old husbands and taken them for their own use. The Hebrew critics have observed, that the word here rendered watchmen, hath a tzaddi larger than ordinary, to show what odious creatures such are as are here described. Hebrew Text Note

They are all dumb dogs that cannot bark, ] i.e., Will not deal plainly and faithfully with men’s souls; but either preach not at all, or placentia only, toothless truths. Pliny b tells of the dogs in Rome that were set to keep the capitol; because, when the Gauls scaled it, the dogs being fed too full, lay sleeping, and did not give warning, they not only hanged them up, but every year on that day of the year, hanged up certain dogs in the city for exemplary justice; yea, crucified them alive upon an older tree. Let dumb dogs and parasitical preachers, treacherous to men’s souls, take heed they be not one day hanged in hell.

Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. ] Non dormiunt solum, sed dedita opera dormiunt; c so full they have farced themselves, and so deeply drunk they are, that they sleep soundly, though lions roar, and wolves worry the poor flock, and that many times far enough from the fold, wherein they show themselves to be worse than Ulysses’ swine herd, of whom Homer saith -

“ ουδε συβωτη

‘ Hνοανεν αυτοθι κοιτος ιων απο κοιμηθηναι , ”

That he would not be drawn to sleep from his swine sty.

a Acts and Mon.

b Lib xxix. cap. 4.

c Somnolentia pastorum luporum est gaudium.

Verse 11

Isa 56:11 Yea, [they are] greedy dogs [which] can never have enough, and they [are] shepherds [that] cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

Ver. 11. Yea, they are greedy dogs that can never have enough. ] Heb., Strong of soul, or of appetite; they know not to be satisfied. Lac et luna, is that they look for; the "instruments of a foolish shepherd," forcipes et mulctra, the shears and milk pail are in their hand; Zec 11:15 they eat the fruit and drink the milk; as Eze 25:4 yea, they eat the fat, and tear the claws in pieces. Zec 11:16 Albertus Magnus complained heavily of the covetousness of pastors in his time. Temporalia colliguntper se, spiritualia seminant per alios saith he on Matthew 10:16 ; a they take little pains, but care not how much profit they make. He that made Fasciculus temporum, doth the like. Another modern writer fitly applieth that to them, which Oedipus in Sophocles saith of Tiresias the heathen prophet -

“ οστις εν τοις κερδεσι

Mονον δεδορκε, την τεχνην δ εφυτυφλος , ”

i.e., that he looked only to his gain, but was little seen in his profession. Such a one was Balaam; Jdg 1:11 such were those false prophets; Eze 13:2-3 the covetous Pharisees; Luk 16:14 the false apostles, Rom 16:18 called dogs; Php 3:2 such as had a greedy worm under their tongues, and could never be satisfied.

And they are shepherds that cannot understand. ] The dust of covetousness hath even put out their eyes. As it fared with the blind a and greedy Pharisees, Avidi a non videndo, the world is a pearl in their eyes; they cannot see God, nor skill of their office. Tremellius rendereth it nesciunt docere; they know not to teach, as being choked haply with a fat benefice - a common practice of the Pope.

They all look to their own way. ] Mind their own commodity, whereby they are led up and down, as an ox may be all aground over by a bottle of hay.

a Midas secundum Etymologiam Graecam caecus est. Midas, according to Greek mythology, was blind.

Verse 12

Isa 56:12 Come ye, [say they], I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, [and] much more abundant.

Ver. 12. Come ye. ] The wicked have their "come ye," as well as the godly. Isa 2:3 See Trapp on " Isa 2:3 "

I will fetch wine. ] A pastor should be no winebibber or ale-stake. 1Ti 3:8 Ebrietas in se culpas complectitur omnes. Drunkenness is a soul fault in any man, saith Petrus Ravenas, but in a minister it is a sacrilege, especially if he draw on others to it, as here, and as the Popish priests do at Paris and Lovain, where the best wine is called vinum theologicum, the wine of theologians, and they used to lengthen out their drunken compotations.

And tomorrow shall be as this day. ] Words of profane secureness and dissoluteness. See Isa 22:13 Proverbs 23:35 .

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 56". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.