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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 59

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-8

Iniquities Separate from God

v. 1. Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, it was not want of power on His part which delayed deliverance; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear, it was not unwillingness on His part to hear the people's prayer for help;

v. 2. but your iniquities, the sins by which they loaded guilt upon themselves, have separated between you and your God, erecting a barrier which made it impossible for the Lord to come to their aid, and your sins have hid His face from you that He will not hear, that His wrath over their disobedience will keep Him from granting their request.

v. 3. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity, on account of the oppression practiced against their own neighbors, against the people of their own nation; your lips have spoken lies, in giving voice to the falseness and wickedness of their hearts, your tongue hath muttered perverseness, the intention to commit knavery appearing in their very mumbling, in their whispered comments.

v. 4. None calleth for justice, praying to the Lord in truth and righteousness, nor any pleadeth for truth, literally, "in faithfulness," in reliance upon the sound condition of heart and mind, that is, there is none who is sincere in faith and life; they trust in vanity, in a perfection of self which they imagine, and speak lies, believing that they can impress the Lord and hide their hypocrisy before Him; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity, the evil plans which they have laid serving to bring about their own destruction.

v. 5. They hatch cockatrice's eggs, those of the basilisk serpent, whose venom was deadly, and weave the spider's web, to entrap their victims; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed, namely, any one of these poisonous eggs, breaketh out into a viper, splitting open to emit the venomous reptile.

v. 6. Their webs shall not become garments, they cannot be woven like the threads of the silk-worm, neither shall they cover themselves with their works, with the fabrications of their wickedness; their works are works of iniquity, bringing destruction wherever they are found, and the act of violence is in their hands, that is what their hands are engaged in, what they love to perform.

v. 7. Their feet, as instruments of sin, run to evil, to deeds which result in mischief, and they make haste to shed innocent blood, the crime of murder being the chief wickedness in which they delight; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, seeking evil as their object, making it their purpose; wasting and destruction are in their paths, as the result of their wicked counsel.

v. 8. The way of peace they know not, they have no idea of what really pertains to their peace, and there is no judgment in their goings, they can expect no sentence granting them deliverance and salvation on the part of God; they have made them crooked paths, so that they are bound to lead to destruction, whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace, shall not enjoy the salvation which will be given to the faithful believers. St. Paul uses this section to describe the unbelievers in general, and the description fits the great mass of people to this day. Romans 3:14-18.

Verses 9-15

Iniquities Make Blind and Helpless

v. 9. Therefore is judgment far from us, the Jews themselves complaining that the sentence of deliverance is not spoken in their behalf, neither doth justice, deliverance and salvation, overtake us, they cannot reach them, cannot help them; we wait for light, for good fortune and happiness, but behold obscurity, misfortune and destruction; for brightness, but we walk in darkness, in the very midst of disaster.

v. 10. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as If we had no eyes, seeking for a way out of the dungeon of misery; we stumble at noonday as in the night, increasing their misery and sorrow in their fruitless groping for light; we are in desolate places as dead men, as dead people in the midst of healthy and strong men. While the true believers enjoy life in the fellowship with Jehovah, the hypocrites and wicked people are on their way to eternal destruction.

v. 11. We roar all like bears, moaning and growling for food, and mourn sore like doves, with plaintive calls; we look for judgment, for the sentence of deliverance, but there is none, for salvation, but it is far off from us, by their own fault.

v. 12. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, in their breaches of the covenant faithfulness, and our sins testify against us, as witnesses of their guilt; for our transgressions, by which they denied the covenant faithfulness, are with us, are in evidence before the eyes of all men; and as for our iniquities, we know them, bound to acknowledge and confess them;

v. 13. in transgressing, unfaithful to the covenant, and lying against the Lord, trying to cover their perfidy with hypocrisy, and departing away from our God, in a denial of the covenant Lord, speaking oppression and revolt, in rebellion against Jehovah, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood, untrue and destructive speeches, which encourage rebellion.

v. 14. And judgment, the deliverance which the Lord would otherwise grant, is turned away backward, and justice, the sentence of deliverance, standeth afar off, so that salvation will not come to these reprobates; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter, both faithfulness and probity being out of the question, not being permitted to testify openly.

v. 15. a. Yea, truth faileth, faithfulness is forsaken; and he that departeth from evil, taking an open stand against perfidy and wickedness, maketh himself a prey, becomes the object of violence on every side. This is the experience which all believers may have at one time or another, that their witnessing for the truth brings upon them the hatred of the wicked.

Verses 16-21

The Lord Making Ready for Judgment and Redemption

v. 15. b. And the Lord saw it, namely, the desperate condition of His people, and It displeased Him that there was no judgment, that no one interfered to punish and to deliver.

v. 16. And He saw that there was no man, no hero, no champion to work deliverance, and wondered that there was no intercessor, none to interpose in behalf of the oppressed people; therefore His arm brought salvation unto him, to Israel, and His righteousness, it sustained him, He gave evidence of His zeal for the salvation of them whom He had chosen for His own, for He is the Redeemer of His Church. The Lord called upon His omnipotence and His mercy, as the expression of His covenant faithfulness, in bringing salvation to His faithful people.

v. 17. For He put on righteousness, the mercy promised to His people, as a breastplate and an helmet of salvation upon His head, with which He intended to hearten Himself in His struggle for the redemption of mankind; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing and was clad with zeal as a cloak, His wrath upon His enemies causing Him to attack them in fury, to let His judgment go forth upon them.

v. 18. According to their deeds, as they had richly deserved, accordingly He will repay: fury to His adversaries, by which they would be consumed, recompense to His enemies; to the islands, the heathen nations of the shores and islands of the Mediterranean, He will repay recompense, making them the object of His avenging fury.

v. 19. So shall they, men in every part of the world, fear the name of the Lord, with the reverence of true faith, from the West and His glory from the rising of the sun, many heathen being filled with the knowledge of the merciful redemption of the Lord. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him, literally, "For He will come like an enclosed stream whom the breath of Jehovah drives. " The Lord, who is coming, is the rushing stream, and He is urged forward by the Spirit of revenge and of salvation, bringing destruction to His enemies and salvation to those who accept Him in faith.

v. 20. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, the promised Messiah making His appearance in the fullness of time, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, such as had left the covenant faithfulness, but had turned back to the Lord with a repentant heart, saith the Lord. Although, under the circumstances, the redemption of Jacob seems almost unbelievable, yet the promise of the Lord is there to assure this deliverance; for whosoever turns to Him in true repentance will become partaker of the salvation gained for the whole world.

v. 21. As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the Lord, this explains why He had not rejected the entire nation outright: My Spirit that is upon thee, upon Israel, especially in its representative leaders and prophets, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, the Word of salvation remaining with His Church forever, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, the spiritual seed of Israel, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever. The Lord kept His covenant faithfulness to the end, the entire history of the Church, both before and after the coming of the Messiah being proof of that fact. His mercy includes not only all the true descendants of the patriarchs in Israel, but embraces heathen from every nation in the world as well.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 59". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/isaiah-59.html. 1921-23.
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