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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 64

Verse 1

Isa 64:1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

Ver. 1. Oh that thou wouldst rend the heavens. ] That thou wouldst lie no longer hid there, as to some it may seem; but making thy way through all impediments and obstacles, thou wouldst powerfully appear for our help, as out of an engine. Utinam lacerares coelos et descenderes. a Some take the words for a hearty wish that Christ would come in the flesh; others that he would make haste and come to judgment, late fisso coelo ad percellendum impios. The metaphor seemeth to be taken from such as being desirous suddenly and effectually to help others in distress, to break open doors, and cast aside all lets, to make their way to them.

That the mountains may flow down. ] As in Judges 5:5 . By "mountains" some understand the enemy’s kingdoms.

a Lyra. Alex. Ales.

Verse 2

Isa 64:2 As [when] the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, [that] the nations may tremble at thy presence!

Ver. 2. As when the melting fire burneth. ] So let the mountains burn and boil at thy presence. Aristotle a reporteth that from the hill Etna there once ran down a torrent of fire, that consumed all the houses thereabout. The like is recorded of Vesuvius, and of Pietra Mala, a mountain in the highest part of the Apeninnes, which perpetually burneth; so Hecla and Hogla, in Iceland.

a De Mundo, cap. 6.

Verse 3

Isa 64:3 When thou didst terrible things [which] we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

Ver. 3. When thou didst terrible things. ] Or, As when thou didst &c.; as thou didst of old for our forefathers.

Which we looked not for. ] See Deuteronomy 4:32-5.4.33 , where God himself extolleth them.

Verse 4

Isa 64:4 For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

Ver. 4. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, ] scil., The mysteries of the gospel revealed by the Spirit; whereunto the angels also desire to look, as the apostles witness. 1 Corinthians 2:9 1Pe 1:12

Neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee. ] Or, A God beside thee, i.e., That can do as thou doest.

For him that waiteth for him. ] For "them that love him," saith the apostle. It is by faith and hope that we wait upon God; now Faith, Hope, and Charity are near of kin, and never severed. All that truly love God are well content to wait for him, yea, to want, if he see it fit, being desirous rather that God may be glorified, than themselves gratified.

Verse 5

Isa 64:5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, [those that] remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

Ver. 5. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness. ] That doth thy work diligently and with delight; that being acted by thee, acteth vigorously for thee. Tantum velis, et Deus tibi praeoccurret, saith an ancient, as the prodigal’s father met him upon the way. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good things of the land, Isa 1:21 which that we may be, Nolentem praevenit Deus ut velit, volentem subsequitur ne frustra velit, a God worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Howbeit he expecteth that we should go as far as we can naturally, if ever we look that he should meet us graciously. Though the miller cannot command a wind, yet he will spread his sails, be in the way to have it, if it come.

In those is continuance, ] i.e., In those sins of ours; and shall we be saved? Or, In those ways of thine, thy ways of mercy and fidelity, is permanence; therefore we shall be saved, our sins notwithstanding.

a Augustine.

Verse 6

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Ver. 6. But we are all as an unclean thing. ] Both our persons and our actions are so; for "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" What a mercy is it then that God should look upon such walking dunghills as we are, and accept the work of our hands?

And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. ] a Or, As a coat of patches, a beggar’s coat, vestis centonum, vestis e vilibus paniculis consuta. Heb. A cloth of separations, a matury rag, a menstruous clout, nauseous and odious, such as a man would loathe to touch, much more to take up. Such are our best works as they proceed from us; when there springeth up any sweet fountain of grace within us, our hearts closely cast in their filthy dirt, as the Philistines dealt by Isaac; they drop down from their impure hands some filth upon that pure web the Spirit weaveth, and make it a menstruous cloth. Where, then, are justiciaries, our merit mongers? &c. Those that seek to be saved by their works, Luther fitly calleth the devil’s martyrs; they suffer much, and take great pains to go to hell. We are all apt to weave a web of righteousness of our own, to spin a thread of our own to climb up to heaven by, but that cannot be. We must do all righteousnesses, rest in none but Christ’s, disclaiming our own best as spotted and imperfect.

And we all fade as a leaf. ] That falleth to the ground in autumn. The poet could say,

“ Oιηπερ φυλλων γενεη, τοιηδε και ανδρων .” - Hom.

And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. ] Out of thy presence; and will hurry us to hell, if thou forefend not.

a Panno ancumulentae. - Scultet.

Verse 7

Isa 64:7 And [there is] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

Ver. 7. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, ] i.e., Very few; a for that God had then a praying people, this very prayer declareth; but they were drowned in the multitude, being scarce discernible.

That stirreth up himself to take hold of thee. ] That rouseth up himself and wrestleth with God, laying hold on him by faith and prayer, resolved to retain him. Let us go forth, as Samson did, and shake up ourselves against that indevotion and spiritual sloth that will creep upon us in doing good. See for this Mr Whitfield’s Help to Stirring Up, an excellent treatise, written upon this text.

For thou hast hid thy face from us. ] Or, Though thou hast hid thy face, Ne tuis quidem ferulis caesi resipuimus.

a Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.

Verse 8

Isa 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou [art] our father; we [are] the clay, and thou our potter; and we all [are] the work of thy hand.

Ver. 8. But now, O Lord, thou art our father. ] Or, Yet now, O Lord, thou art our father; therefore "we shall not die," say they, Heb 1:12 boldly, but warrantably. See on Isaiah 63:16 .

We are the clay, and thou art our potter. ] This was grown to a proverb among the heathens also, Kεραμος ο ανθρωπος , Man is a clod of clay; πηλος κομψως πεφυραμενος , A piece of clay neatly made up, saith Arian upon Epictetus. Fictus ex argilla et luto homulus, a saith Cicero. And Nigidius was surnamed Figulus, or the Potter, saith Augustine, because he used to say that man was nothing else but an earthen vessel. See 2 Corinthians 4:7 ; 2 Corinthians 5:1 .

We are all the work of thy hands. ] Both as made and remade by thee; therefore despise us not. Job 10:8-9 Psa 138:8 Look upon the wounds of thy hands, and forsake not the work of thine hands, prayed Queen Elizabeth.

a Orat. ad Pison.

Verse 9

Isa 64:9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we [are] all thy people.

Ver. 9. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord. ]]Neither overly much nor overly long, but "spare us, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." This is commended for the best line in all Terence -

Pro peccato magno paululum supplicii satis est Patri.

Verse 10

Isa 64:10 Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

Ver. 10. Thy holy cities are a wilderness. ] And is that for thine honour. "Behold, see, we beseech thee."

Verse 11

Isa 64:11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

Ver. 11. Our holy and our beautiful house. ] The Church riseth higher and higher in her complaints to God; we must do likewise.

Where our fathers praised thee. ] Their own praises there they mention not, as not holding them worth mentioning.

Verse 12

Isa 64:12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these [things], O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?

Ver. 12. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things? ] Or, Canst thou contain thyself at these things? No, he cannot; witness his answer hereunto. Isa 65:1 The obstinate Jews do in vain still recite these words in their synagogues, as Jerome here noteth.

Wilt thou hold thy peace? ] And by thy silence seem to consent to the enemy’s outrages and our calamities? Habet acrimoniam, saith Hyperius. There is some sharpness in these short questions; and yet because they were full of faith and fervency, they were highly accepted in heaven.

And afflict us very sore? ] Heb., Usque valde? Unto very much, or unto extremity.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.