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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Isaiah 63

Verses 1-6

B. The negative side of the revelation of Salvation. The judgment on the heathen

Isaiah 63:1-6

1          Who is this that cometh from Edom,

With dyed garments from Bozrah?
This that Isaiah 1:0 glorious in his apparel,

2Travelling in the greatness of his strength?

I that speak in righteousness,
Mighty to save.

2     Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel,

And thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat?

3     I have trodden the winepress alone:

And of the people there was none with me:

For I will tread them in mine anger,
And trample them in my fury;
And their 3blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments,

And I will stain all my raiment.

4     For the day of vengeance is in mine heart,

And the year of my redeemed is come.

5     And I looked, and there was none to help;

And I wondered that there was none to uphold:

Therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me;
And my fury, it upheld me.

6     And I will tread down the people in mine anger,

And make them drunk in my fury,
And I will bring down their 4strength to the earth.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 63:2. [The Masoretic note marks as abnormal the Pattach in גַּת though the word is in Pause. But pattach when pausal is commonly not lengthened in monosyllabic words. See Delitzsch in loc.—D. M.].

Isaiah 63:3. וְיֵז apocopated future Kal from נָזָה, to sprinkle. אֶגְאַלְתִּי is, beside the Niphal נְגֹאֲלוּ, the only form of the verb גָּאַל, impurum esse, which occurs in Isaiah. It is a Hiphil form imitating the Aramaic, and has possibly been chosen in order to give to the thing a corresponding expression in bad Hebrew, in a word taken from the common language current in conversation.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Chapters 60–63 are most closely connected. In 60–62 there was described the positive work of God’s Anointed which brings blessing and salvation to Israel. Chapter 63 shows how He will accomplish the negative side of His mission by punishing the heathen. With dramatic effect the Prophet pictures a person of commanding appearance approaching from Edom in magnificent but blood-stained raiment. To the question who He is, the person asked replies that He is He to whom it belongs to hold judgment, and to bring salvation (Isaiah 63:1). And to the further question why His garment is so red, (Isaiah 63:2), He answers that He has trodden the wine-press alone, with no man of the nations with Him, (which He will requite by the execution of the same judgment on them), and thus He has soiled His garment (Isaiah 63:3). The hero comes therefore from executing judgment on Edom, and He sets forth in prospect a second judgment embracing all nations. This second judgment, which was only parenthetically mentioned in Isaiah 63:3, is treated of more fully in Isaiah 63:4-6. First, it is marked in Isaiah 63:4 as a long-purposed day of vengeance, with which at the same time a year of salvation will begin. Then it is again prominently stated, that the hero sees Himself isolated, but trusts notwithstanding in the strength of His own arm, and of His fury (Isaiah 63:5), and is confident that He will tread down the nations, and shed their vital juice (Isaiah 63:6).

2. Who is this that——to the earth.

Isaiah 63:1-6. The Fathers (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine,etc.), apply this passage directly to the sufferings and ascension of Christ. Origen, in particular, and after Him Jerome and Theodoret put the question: Who is this that cometh,etc., into the mouth of the angels who guard the gates of heaven. Thereupon the foremost of the procession accompanying the Lord answer in the words of Psalms 24:0. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” Athanasitius makes the question proceed from the mouth of fallen angels. Under Edom the Fathers understand the (red) earth. Another group of interpreters, with Luther at their head, understand under Edom the Synagogue of the Jews, under Bozrah “urbem munitam privilegiis divinis, i.e., Jerusalem. The blood is the blood of the Jews. The hero comes from inflicting judgment on Jerusalem. Calvin disputes any reference to Christ. He finds in the passage simply the announcement of a judgment on the Edomites which is still future. This view is more definitely set forth by Grotius and others, as they see here a prophecy of that devastation of Edom which was effected by Judas Maccabaeus (Maccab. Isaiah 5:3 sqq. 65; 2 Maccab. Isaiah 10:15 sqq. Jos. Antiqq. xii. 11, 12). Eichhorn and Koppe regard Nebuchadnezzar as the accomplisher of this threatening. Cocceius, and many others after him put a spiritual sense on the passage, and understand under “the trampling down” the “crucifixionem veteris hominis et abolitionem omnis impietatis per crucifixionem Christi.” Vitringa, who here follows in general the rabbinical interpretation, understands under Bozrah Rome, and under Edom the countries subdued by the Romans. The “conculcare” he refers here as in chapter 34 to the liberation of the Christians from the power of Rome. But he does not, as many others, think of the elevation of Christianity to be the religion of the State by Constantine, nor of the general judgment (Revelation 20:11 sqq.), but of the extermination of Antichrist by the warrior who rides on the white horse, Revelation 19:11 sqq. Among modern interpreters Gesenius, Hitzig, Umbreit, Beck, Seinecke, see in this prophecy a threatening against Edom expressed in the form of a vision representing an act of vengeance as completed; while Knobel, according to his peculiar way of judging, thinks that he can discern here the battle of Sardis (Herod, 1:80; Cyrop. Isaiah 7:1) depicted in prophetic colors. Stier is of the opinion that the one who is seen as coming is Christ, coming from the fulfilment of what is related Revelation 14:20; Revelation 19:18; Revelation 19:21. Delitzsch finds the historical fulfilment of our prophecy in what befel the Edomites at the hands of the Maccabean princes and of Simon of Gerasa (Jos. Bell. jud. iv. 9, 7), while its final fulfilment is the destruction of Antichrist and his hosts (Revelation 19:11 sqq.). [The destruction of Antichrist is regarded by Delitzsch simply as the New Testament counterparty this piece.—D. M.]. The Catholic interpreters Rohling and Neteler do not exclude the historical fulfilment (through Simon of Gerasa; so Rohling), but yet regard as the fulfiller of our prophecy the Servant of Jehovah, who, according to chapter 53 should give His life as an offering for sin, and who is, on the other hand, the destroyer of Antichrist, and is thus sprinkled both with His own blood and that of others. [Dr. Naegelsbach regards the victory of Amaziah, king of Judah, over the Edomites (2 Chronicles 25:5-12) as furnishing the historical foundation for this prophecy. Amaziah returning from the slaughter of the Edomites is the type of the Anointed of the Lord who here appears as redeeming Israel by executing judgment on Israel’s enemies. But this is an opinion which is quite peculiar to our Author, and which no one before him has ventured to express. It is strange that any one should think of finding in this glorious Conqueror, who comes travelling in the greatness of His strength, who speaks in righteousness and is mighty to save, the antitype of that Amaziah who set up for worship the gods of the vanquished Edomites, and was afterwards completely overcome by Joash, king of Israel. Edom is a representative people. It is not an emblematic name of the great world-power, in its violence and tyranny, for which Babylon is made to stand. But Edom, the inveterate enemy of Israel, and occupying a bad pre-eminence in hatred against Israel, is the representative of the world that hates the people of God. So Delitzsch, who remarks the emblematizing tendency which Isaiah here, as in chaps, 21–22:14, manifests. The name Edom is made an emblem of its future doom. The apparel of Jehovah, the avenger, is seen to be אָדֹם, red, with the blood of Edom. The name Bozrah, too, readily suggests בָּצַד, to gather the vintage of grapes. The image of treading grapes is here used to picture the Lord’s crushing of the inhabitants of Bozrah, who are as the vintage in the wine-press. We cannot study the picture without recognizing the emblematic significance of the names Edom and Bozrah. The question arises: Are we, in the interpretation of this prophecy, to think of Judas Maccabeus, Hyrcanus, and Simon of Gerasa, or even of the proper Edomites? The answer depends on the way in which we must answer another question. Did Judas, or either of the other Jewish chiefs mentioned, return in triumph from the Idumean city Bozrah specified by Isaiah? Of this there is no evidence. Lowth has called attention to a very important point which, in his view, excludes from this prophecy Judas Maccabeus, and even the Idumeans properly so called. “The Idumea of the Prophet’s time was quite a different country from that which Judas conquered. For during the Babylonish captivity the Nabatheans had driven the Edomites out of their country, who upon that took possession of the southern parts of Judea, and settled themselves there; that is, in the country of the whole tribe of Simeon, and in half of that of Judah. And the metropolis of the Edomites, and of the country which Judas took, was Hebron, 1Ma 5:63, not Botsra” (Bozrah). This consideration is fatal to all attempts of the literalizing school to interpret this prophecy.—D. M.]. The question, Who is this? is purely rhetorical. The Prophet well knows who He is whom he sees. The question is put to awaken and direct our attention to Him who is seen coming by the Prophet. (Comp. Isaiah 60:8; Song of Solomon 3:6). Many are inclined to understand חמוץ בגדים not of the color of blood, but of the red (purple) color of the garments, as kings and warriors frequently wore red garments (comp. Knobel on this place; Judges 8:26; Justin Isaiah 20:3), and, as they say, the soiling with blood would be incompatible with הָדוּר. But it is just the being sprinkled with blood which is the most prominent and important mark in the appearance of the hero; and while this doubtless stains His garments it is glorious to Himself. Bozrah (comp. Isaiah 34:6; Amos 1:12) was after Petra one of the most important cities of Edom (comp. Jeremiah 49:13; Jeremiah 49:22). It lay north of Petra. Beside this Edomite Bozrah, there was a city of this name in Moabitis (Jeremiah 48:24), and another in Auranitis, which latter is not mentioned in the Holy Scriptures (see Comment, on Jeremiah 48:24). The Prophet has of the Edomite cities made mention of Bozrah, because בָּצְרָה (although the name of the city probably denotes Septum, munimentum) on account of the signification vindemiavit belonging to the verb from which it is derived, admirably suits the comparison with a treader of the wine-press. מִבָּצְרָה as מֵאְדֶוֹם depends on בּא. Observe the gradation. In the first member the Prophet mentions simply the coming from Edom, then he specifies the red garments in the second member, and then in the third, which begins with a repetition of זֶה, he speaks of the glorious apparel and the proud bearing. [“הָדוּד properly means swollen, inflated, but is here metaphorically used in the sense of adorned, or, as Vitringa thinks, terrible, inspiring awe.” Alexander.—D. M.]. I take צֹעֶה in the sense of resupinus. The root occurs five times in the Old Testament, and has the signification of bending, inclining. It here characterizes one who protrudes the breast, and proudly throws back the head. [Delitzsch agrees with Vitringa in understanding צֹעֶה to mean se huc illuc motitans.—D.M.]. To the question מי זה וגו׳ the Person seen Himself answers. His answer is first of a general character. He does not mention at first the act of judgment which He has just executed on Edom, but, as if He would remove the impression that He is a worldly prince given to deeds of violence, who, as a beast of prey, unjustly makes an incursion for plunder and slaughter, fie declares His nature in general to be that of One who works righteousness and salvation. He says מְדַבֵּר not דִּבַּרְתִּי. By this participle He designates as His permanent property the speaking, i. e., acting, transacting in righteousness. The context requires us to understand דִּבֶּר not of the mere speaking or teaching with words which should have righteousness for their subject, or should be spoken in righteousness. But דִּבֶּר בצדקה relates here to a judicial speaking or transacting. [Better Delitzsch, who compares Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 45:13 : “He speaks in righteousness, while He in the zeal of His holiness threatens judgment to oppressors, and promises salvation to the oppressed, and also carries out by His power what He threatens and promises.” Comp. further Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 59:16, which places show that the speaker is no one less than Jehovah. Henderson justly remarks that the I name The Word given to the Warrior, Revelation 19:13, exactly corresponds to מְדַבֵּר, by which He here characterizes Himself. The description, too, Revelation 19:13, “He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood” is manifestly drawn from this place in Isaiah. The Logos is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11). He is One who speaks in righteousness. It is unwarranted to say with Dr. Naegelsbach that I that speak in righteousness marks the hero’s relation to His enemies as a strict judge; and that the words mighty to save tell what He is for Israel.—D. M.]. רַב is not to be confounded with רָבpropugnator, Isaiah 19:20. After the hero has answered the question who is this? more in the sense of qualis? than of quis? the Prophet further inquires: Why is it red in thine apparel? The לְ intimates that the redness is not something inherent in the raiment, but something that has come to it from without. This is more clearly expressed by the second part of Isaiah 63:2. The spots that have arisen through spurting recall to mind the dress of one who treads in the wine-press (דרך with בְּ as Isaiah 59:8). It is not yet intimated that these are spots of blood. The pith of the matter is ingeniously and gradually reached. [“It is a slight but effective stroke in this fine picture, that the first verse seems to speak of the stranger as still at a distance, whereas in the second He has come so near as to be addressed directly.” Alexander.—D. M.]. The hero accepts the comparison drawn from treading in the wine-press. It is true, says He, I have in a certain sense trodden in the wine-vat, and that alone, by Myself. פּוּרָה (from פּוּ֤ר פָּֽרַרfregit, only here and Haggai 2:16) is synonymous with גַּת, but is to be distinguished from יֶקֶב (comp. on Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 16:10), for גַּת or פּוּרָה is the upper vat, out of which the juice flows off into the lower trough or יֶקֶב from which it is drawn (comp. Leyrer in Herz.R.-Enc. 7. p. 509). The hero, therefore, compares the bloody judgment which He has executed on Edom with treading in the winepress. He falls back on an older prophetic utterance, Joel 4:13; while John had both these passages before him; in Revelation 14:14-20 chiefly the words of Joel; but in Revelation 19:13-15 chiefly this passage of Isaiah. The hero whom the Prophet beholds, states emphatically that He trod the wine-press alone, as of the nations there was not a man with Him. The statement indicates the universal antichristian spirit of the nations. [“When He adds ‘that of the nations there was no one with Him,’ it follows that the wine-vat was so great that He could have used the cooperation of whole nations. And when He continues: And I trod them in mine anger,etc., the riddle in this declaration is explained. To the people themselves the knife has been applied. They were cut off as grape-clusters and cast into the wine-vat.”—Delitzsch. The reader can judge whether the lofty terms of this prediction are satisfied by the exposition of Henderson, which I subjoin: “When the victor declares that none [no man] of the peoples or nations rendered Him any assistance in the attack on Edom, he refers to the fact, that vengeance had not been taken upon that nation, as it had been upon Tyre, Moab, Egypt, etc., through foreign intervention. Identifying the Jews under the Maccabees and Hyrcanus with Himself by whom they were employed as native instruments, He vindicates the glory of the deed from all aid obtained from an extraneous source.” But it would be difficult to suppose Jehovah identifying Himself with Simon of Gerasa and his lawless followers who inflicted the sorest judgment on the Edomites. Besides, עַמִּים, peoples in general (see Isaiah 63:6), and not the Edomites only are the objects of God’s crushing judgment. We append here Delitzsch’s remarks on Isaiah 63:5-6 : “The meaning is that no one, in conscious willingness to assist the God of judgment and salvation in His purpose, associated himself with Him. The church devoted to Him was the object of redemption; the mass of those alienated from God was the object of judgment. He saw Himself alone; neither human co-operation, nor the natural course of things aided the execution of His design; therefore He renounced human assistance, and interrupted the natural course of things by a wonderful deed of His own.”—Delitzsch. D. M.]. The words ואדרכם to על־בגדי are to be taken as a parenthesis. The guilt of the nations, of whom no one was with Him, presses so forcibly on the mind of the speaker that He, immediately interrupting His speech, sees Himself compelled to declare their punishment also. Because they, when He trod the wine-press in Edom, were not to be found on His side, He will tread and trample them to pieces, so that their juice squirts upon His clothes. [But the assumption of this parenthesis is very unnatural. Many interpreters, as Henderson and Delitzsch, translate And I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my fury,etc. On the whole this is the easiest construction which regards the future tense as used for the past in this animated discourse. Comp. וְאַבִּיטetc., in Isaiah 63:5. D. M.]. נֵצַח, from &#נָצַח נָזָהfudit, therefore effusum, humor, succus, only here and Isaiah 63:6 : the word is chosen, because not merely the blood, but also other fluids, especially the matter of the brain, are to be denoted. Isaiah 63:4. [If we render Isaiah 63:3 in the past tense, then we must consistently employ the past tense in Isaiah 63:4. For a day of vengeance (was) in my heart,etc.] We have in Isaiah 63:4 a repetition of words in Isaiah 61:2 a [comp. also Isaiah 34:8]. But the clauses are transposed, and instead of רָצוֹן we have the word that does not elsewhere occur, נְּאוּלִים. [Dr. Naegelsb. takes manifestly, גְאוּלַי, as many other interpreters do, in the sense of my redemptions, making an abstract noun of the plural of the passive participle. But the obvious and natural rendering is that of the E.V., my redeemed. There is a year appointed for the redeemed of Jehovah, comp. Isaiah 62:12. D. M.] Isaiah 63:5-6. It will happen again as it did in the day of Edom. The Lord will see none of the peoples of the world on His side. He expresses this thought twice in parallel members, and the second time emphasizes it by saying that He will perceive His standing alone with astonishment. For there is only a little flock that will follow Him (Isaiah 6:13). Many are called, but few chosen. The astonishment which is ascribed to the Lord is an anthropopathic expression which has only rhetorical significance. Comp. Isaiah 59:16. The second part of Isaiah 63:5 passes over into the language of narration. The expression אֲשַׁכְּרֵם (the Targum and some codd. and editions read אֲשַׁבְּרֵם, which is appropriate, but unnecessary, and insufficiently attested) involves a bold turn of thought: the judged are not only objects, but also vessels of wrath; they are not merely grapes that spurt their juice, but are themselves full of the wine of the wrath of God (comp. Isaiah 29:9; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 51:21).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On 63. 1–6. Till the time of Calvin it was the prevailing opinion that the treader in the wine-press is Christ, not as judging the nations, but as Himself suffering death, and by His death depriving the devil of his power. “Christ, as He contends mightily in His suffering, and after His suffering triumphs gloriously,” was regarded as the theme of this prophecy. The blood on His garment was accordingly to be understood of the blood of demons. Jerome remarks on I have trodden the wine-press alone: “Neque enim angelus, aut archangelus, throni, dominationes, aut ulla coelestium potestatum humanum corpus assumsit et pro nobis passus est et conculcavit adversarias fortitudines atque contrivit.” But the blood of the demons is to be understood τροπικῶς. A synopsis of the old expositions of the passage in this sense is found in a dissertation by Leyrer on this place, published in 1648. (It is reprinted in Exercitationum philologico-historicarum fasces quinque by Thomas Crenius, Ludg. Bat., 1697 and 1700). Calvin pronounces this interpretation a perversion of Scripture (“hoc caput violenter torserunt in Christum”). His view was adopted especially by Reformed interpreters, as Wolfg. Musculus, Abr. Scultetus (Idea concionum in Jes. hab. p. 844), Vitringa and others. Vitringa makes these points prominent. “The hero is not set forth as suffering, but as acting, not as sprinkled with His own blood, but with the blood of enemies, not as satisfying the justice of God for sins, but as executing the justice of God in punishing enemies.” However, even Lutheran theologians, as Joh. Tarnov (in the Exercitt. bibl. Libri 4, Rostock, 1627, p. 118, Num de Christo patiente hic agatur), and the anonymous author of a Disputatio de Victore Idumaeorum Jes. lxiii. maintained substantially the view of Calvin. Since the old interpreters, as Foerster says, applied the place ὁμοθυμαδόν to the passion of Christ, we can understand how Isaiah 63:0 was a very favorite Lesson in Holy Week.

2. “The prophecy which is here directed against Edom is to be regarded as a prophecy of the judgment which will befall the antichristian, persecuting world in the last days. On this account the Seer of the New Testament, John, has described the Lord as coming to judge the world after the model of Isaiah 63:0. (Revelation 19:0).”—Weber.

3. On Isaiah 63:3. “When at other times the Lord holds judgment, nations who will execute it stand at His disposal. He ‘hisses for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.’ He calls the mighty of Egypt and Babylon to serve Him (Isaiah 7:18-19). Why is no people ready to help Him in His judgment on Edom? This is a hint that the judgment on Edom must be at the same time that judgment in which the Lord judges all nations. Only in this way can we understand that none of them can here help Him, as they themselves are all objects of the judgment.”—Weber.

4. Hector Pintus says, in his Commentary, on this passage: “Non sine causa dicit: non est virmecum, ne scilicet excludat Mariam virginem, quae usque ad mortem ei comes fuit, et cui gladius doloris cor pertransivit.” This reminds one of what the Jansenist, Antoine Arnaud, in the treatise “Difficultés proposées à Mr. Steyaert, etc.: Cologne. 1691,” relates of various preachers who publicly declared, that if the foolish virgins instead of saying, “Domine, domine aperi nobis,” had said, “Domina aperi nobis,” they certainly would have found an open door.

HOMILETICAL HINTS

On Isaiah 63:1-6. [Messiah is the conqueror of Edom, as Balaam of old predicted (Numbers 24:17-18). Not till He raises up the fallen tabernacle of David, is possession in the highest sense taken of Edom and of all the heathen (Amos 9:11-12. As we understand the Lord’s work of destruction depicted in Psalms 110:5-6, so must we understand the judgment on Edom here described. Who are the enemies that Messiah is commissioned to subdue? How does He destroy His foes? This last question admits of a two-fold answer.—D. M.].

2. On Isaiah 63:1-6. When Christ was suffering in Gethsemane, was bleeding before Pilate and dying on the cross, He did not look like a Judge and Conqueror. And yet He was such. Just then it was that He took from the devil his might (Hebrews 2:14), and spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly (Colossians 2:15). It is only on the basis of this judgment, which He the one seemingly judged, performed upon the cross, that He will be hereafter able to hold the last judgment in His state of exaltation.

3. On Isaiah 63:1-6. “Our text bids us 1) To look to the Man of Sorrows, who redeemed us; 2) To contemplate in faith the great work which He has accomplished for us; 3) For this to render to Him the thank-offering which we owe Him.”—Ziethe, Manch. Gaben. und Ein Geist, 1870. [It is strange that an eminent modern preacher should so misrepresent the teaching of this passage. If we wish to lead men to contemplate Christ as the Man of Sorrows, by whose blood we are redeemed, we should choose a passage of Scripture that exhibits Him in this character. But it is either culpable ignorance, or something worse, to affirm that the Scripture before us contains the lessons set forth in the above-mentioned heads of a sermon.—D. M.].

Footnotes:

[1]Heb. decked,

[2]marching proudly.

[3]juice.

[4]vital juice.

Verses 7-14

IV.—THE FOURTH DISCOURSE

The Prophet in Spirit puts Himself in the Place of the Exiled Church, and bears its Cause in Prayer before the Lord

s Isaiah 63:7 to Isaiah 64:11

Chapters 60–63. 6, are like a prophetic high plateau, which the Prophet, by means of chapters 58 and 59 has ascended out of his own time. In this fourth discourse he comes down again to the present time, that is to say, to a time relatively present, to that of the people in exile. He transports himself entirely into this time, as if he were passing through it, and sets before the Lord the temporal and spiritual need of the people living in exile. He does this by first taking a retrospect of the past, and showing what the Lord formerly was to the people (Isaiah 63:7-14). Then he entreats the Lord as the Father of His people to look upon them (Isaiah 63:15-19); then he prays that the Lord, for their complete deliverance, would visibly come to them with a grand manifestation of His divine majesty (64).

___________________
1. RETROSPECT OF WHAT THE LORD FORMERLY WAS TO THE PEOPLE

Isaiah 63:7-14

7          I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord,

And the praises of the Lord,

According to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies,
And according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses.

8     For he said, Surely they are my people,

Children that will not lie:

So he was their Saviour.

9     In all their affliction he was afflicted,

And the angel of his presence saved them:
In his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
And he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

10     But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit:

Therefore he was turned to be their enemy,

And he fought against them.

11     5 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying,

Where is he that 6brought them up out of the sea with the 7 shepherd of his flock?

Where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?

12     8That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm,

Dividing the water before them,
To make himself an everlasting name?

13     That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness,

That they should not stumble.

14     As a beast goeth down into the valley,

The Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest:
So didst thou lead thy people,
To make thyself a glorious name.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 63:7. The words על כל אשׁר־גמלנו י׳ are to be taken as one term, to which כְּ, in the sense of secundum, is prefixed. על stands in a causal sense [כְּעַל is = uti par est propter]. רַב־טוּב is to be regarded as the object dependent on אזכיר rather than as dependent on כְּ in כְּעַל.

Isaiah 63:9. Instead of the Kethibh לִֹא we must with the K’ri read לוֹ, as לאֹ, however it may be explained, does not yield an appropriate sense [?]. Some take צָר for צַר in pause, either in the passive sense: in all their affliction there was (to them) no distress )צַר as, e.g., Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 26:16, comp. pressi non oppressi), or in the active sense=oppressor, adversary (Isaiah 63:18; Isaiah 64:1; Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 9:10, et saepe). Both these views are set forth under the most manifold modifications (comp. Stier). But whichever of the two constructions we choose, there is an abruptness in the expression. We should expect לָהֶם, or, if צָר should refer to Jehovah, the pronoun הוּא is wanting: In all their affliction He was not an oppressor. It is better, therefore, to follow the K’ri, although all the old versions support לא. Our place belongs, then, to the fifteen, or according to another enumeration (comp. on Isaiah 9:2 and Isaiah 49:5) eighteen places, in which according to the opinion of the Masoretes לוֹ is to be read instead לֹא. Drechsler is certainly right when he remarks (on Isaiah 9:2) that the unusual position of לוֹ, which was originally in the text, caused it to be altered into לאֹ which was more current and sounded more familiar in such a position. [But this is a confession that instead of לו צר we should find צר לו if לו were the original reading. We dislike departing from the textual reading when it is supported by all ancient versions. In order to get the meaning “He was afflicted,” we must not only alter the negative לא into לוֹ, but must also suppose an abnormal collocation of the words. Add to these considerations that צר לו does not mean simply, “he was afflicted, or grieved,” but “he was reduced to a strait, was ἐν ,” (Kay). This could not be predicated of Jehovah; though it could be said of Him anthropopathically, as in Judges 10:16, that God’s soul was grieved. But there the expression is quite different in the original. If we take צר in the sense of adversary: “In all their affliction He (God) was not an adversary to them,” the absence of לָהֶם need not so much surprise us, as it occurs in the close of the preceding verse, where God is declared to have been a Saviour לָהֶם. The proof that God was not an adversary to them is given in the next clause, when it is said: and the angel of his presence saved them, etc. Kay justly remarks that God was the reverse of an adversary to Israel. “His heaviest chastisements were sent with the view of frustrating the designs of their worst enemies, and were removed as soon as that work was accomplished.”—D. M.].

Isaiah 63:11. הַמַּעֲלֵם is not grammatically quite normal. [“The suffix refers to the forefathers, and the participle has both the article and suffix because it is not to be conceived as a noun, nor as the expression of a finished act (ὁ ), but is to be thought as possessing continued verbal force (Ges. Gr., § 135, 2), and is to be construed as an imperfect: ille qui sursum ducebat, educebat; on this account the suffix has the accusative or objective form em as Psalms 68:28, not am, comp. Job 40:19; Psalms 103:4.” Delitzsch.—D. M.]. I am inclined, with De Rossi, to believe that המעלה (which is found in one very old codex cited by Kennicott, and in two of De Rossi’s, one of which is very accurate), is the right reading. The LXX., Peshito and the Arabic version in the London Polyglott, favor this reading. [But there is here no necessity for correcting the text.—D. M.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The prayer commences with a historical retrospect. For, as the suppliant intends to entreat new grace from God, he gives this prayer an appropriate foundation by first of all making mention of the former mercies of Jehovah. He, therefore, begins, Isaiah 63:7-8, by recalling the election of the people, and the glorious succor rendered to them in what might be called the time of their birth and childhood (Isaiah 63:9). The whole time from the deliverance out of Egyptian bondage to the Babylonish exile is comprehended in the brief words of Isaiah 63:10, the first part of which indicates the various apostasies of the people, and the last part the punishments which they suffered. Out of the depths of the last and greatest of these, the punishment of the Exile, there arises, Isaiah 63:11-14, a melancholy sigh and the question; where is He now who saved Israel from the first, the Egyptian captivity, so wonderfully by the hand of Moses?

2. I will mention—loving-kindnesses.

Isaiah 63:7. The aim of this verse is to gain in the manifestations of favor in the past a foundation for the supplication in regard to the future. On חֶסֶד (see the List). תְּהִלּוֹת stands here as frequently (comp. Deuteronomy 26:19) as abstract for the concrete: laudationes for res laudatae, res laudabiliter gestae. [There is no reason for departing from the proper meaning of the term—praises. D. M.]. כְּעַל occurs only here and Isaiah 59:18. We must take טוּב in the abstract signification benignitas (comp. Psalms 25:7; Psalms 31:20 et saepe), although the following relative sentence seems at first sight rather to recommend the concrete signification “bona, optima dona” (comp. Jeremiah 31:12; Jeremiah 31:14). But against this view is the connection of טוב with בית ישׂראל by the simple preposition לְ טוב is, therefore, God’s goodness, kindness, benevolence which springs from His love which is merciful (i.e., moved by the sight of distress), and gracious (i.e., which does not punish according to desert).

3. For he said—fought against them.

Isaiah 63:8-10. The first manifestation of the divine goodness spoken of in Isaiah 63:7 is introduced by ויאמר. The Vav in ויאמר makes a connection, not with the historical facts just referred to, but with the loving disposition in God. In brief, emphatic, words the Prophet describes the founding of the covenant relation between Jehovah and Israel. Jehovah formed it of Himself by His free purpose of election. He declared Israel to be His people κατἐξοχήν. אַךְ has here, too, (comp. Isaiah 14:15; Isaiah 34:14-15) on the basis of its restrictive signification, a strongly affirmative force. The Lord in declaring Israel to be His people does this with the hope that this His confidence will be perceived and justified. לא ישׁקרו refers, therefore, to the hope of fidelity, of obedience. (They will not deceive, disappoint this hope). And in this hope Jehovah became Israel’s מוֹשִׁיעַ, i.e., Deliverer, Saviour (comp. Isaiah 19:20; Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 44:15; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 47:15; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:10). [This eighth verse is literally rendered “Only my people are they; children will not lie, or prove false; and He was to them a Saviour.” The Prophet tells us that the Lordsaid this. We may look, then, in the books of Moses for language employed by the Lord of which this is a fair representation. That Israel is God’s chosen people is often declared in the Pentateuch. In Deuteronomy 14:1-2 they are called both children and the Lord’speople. Comp. Deuteronomy 7:6 sqq., et saepe. But the Lord never states regarding Israel that they are children that will not lie. On the contrary He testifies of them, Deuteronomy 32:20 that they are “children in whom is no faith.” The Lord said to the children of Israel: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my commandments, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6. But we look in vain in the Pentateuch for any declaration in which the Lord expresses the confident expectation that Israel would prove faithful to the covenant. So far from doing this, God foretells that Israel would prove unfaithful. We must, then, take the words children will not lie, prohibitively and as expressing what is required of children, and not the Lord’s expectation; children shall not lie. The sentiment that Israel, as being God’s children, ought not to act perfidiously, is expressed Deuteronomy 32:6. Comp. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 where we have as here לֹא with the third person of the future to express not what a king of Israel would not do, but what he ought not to do. The last clause should bestrictly rendered and He was to them a Saviour.—There is no need, then, of assuming here a very strong example of anthropopathism in which God declares Himself disappointed. D. M.]. From Isaiah 63:9 we see that the suppliant has first of all in view that most ancient, glorious deliverance which was vouchsafed to the people in Egypt in the commencement of their history. We have, therefore, to refer בכל־צרתם to the oppression of the people by Pharaoh. And of this oppression it is said that it was one which the Lord Himself felt. [Rather, In all their oppression He was not an oppressor. See under Textual and Grammatical.—D. M.]. That under this affliction the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt are to be understood, is shown by the following sentence. For by “the angel of His face” who saved them, the suppliant evidently intends מלאך יהוה, by whom the redemption of the people from Egyptian slavery was effected. The expression מלאך פניו refers immediately to Exodus 33:14-15, where to the request of Moses that the Lord would let him know whom He intends to send with them (Isaiah 63:12-13), the answer is given פָנַי יֵלֵכוּ. Moses thereupon rejoins: “If פָּנֶיךָ (thy face) go not, carry us not up hence.” It is impossible to discuss fully here the exceedingly difficult question of the מלאך יהוה. I refer to Lange’s thorough exposition on Genesis 12:1 sqq. In reference to the chief question, whether the מלאך י׳ is to be regarded as a created angel, or as a precursory and partial manifestation of the Logos corresponding to the Old Testament standpoint, I would only briefly remark: 1) When Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:4, regards the rock out of which Moses struck water, and which remained fixed and immovable, and did not accompany them, as a symbol of “the Spiritual Rock that followed them” of which he says: “that Rock was Christ,” we must still more assume that he saw a manifestation of Christ in the angel of the face, of whom it is further said, Exodus 23:21 : my name is in Him;בְּקִרְבּוֹ. 2) Further, in Hebrews 3:1 Jesus is called the Apostle and high-priest of our profession. The word ἀπόστολος cannot but be in that place which is pervaded by typological ideas a translation of the Hebrew מַלְאָךְ. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews designedly avoided the use of the word ἄγγελος, because lie wished to point to the man Jesus and to His human official life, i.e., to the fidelity which He displayed in it. He means to say: If He, who was so much higher than Moses, inasmuch as the Lord and Son of the house is higher than the house itself, was faithful, this exalted pattern must impel you also to fidelity. Plainly, then, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews likewise saw in the angel of the Lord a manifestation of Christ. 3) With these considerations agree the expressions פָּנִים and שְׁמִי בְקִרְבּוֹ. For the face is the external side which is outwardly visible. Thus in Hebrew the surface of the earth and of the heaven, etc., is called פְָּנִים, because the surface is that which may be seen outwardly and—we may add—is that which sees. He now, who is called God’s פָּנִים, must therefore be He by whom God both sees and is seen. The latter is in not a few places of the New Testament most clearly declared regarding the Son of God. See Matthew 11:27; John 1:18 (comp. John 6:46; 1 John 4:12; 1 Timothy 6:16); John 12:45; John 14:9. But the other idea also, that God sees through Him who is His פָּנִים, face, appears from this, that not only is creation effected by Him, but also the conservation of things created (Colossians 1:16-17), the visitation, sustentation, direction and redemption of the world. And in this Mediator is the name of God. For what God is, expresses itself in Him. We should not know that God is, and what God is, if the Mediator did not reveal it. But in the Old Covenant this face of God has not become manifest in His full equality with God, and yet at the same time in His distinction from Him. The knowledge of this mystery was reserved for the New Covenant. Nevertheless the light of the relation of the Trinity breaks through even in the Old Testament in traces here and there. In the form of an angel and under the name of angel He appears in the Old Covenant, who in the New has appeared as the Son of man. There was for Him in the Old Covenant no other form of manifestation. But He is so characterized that we can distinguish Him readily from common angels. This is, in brief, my unpretending view of this subject. אהבה is the positive, fundamental notion, חמלה (only here in Isaiah, comp. Genesis 19:16) is the negative, accessory notion. For it denotes forbearance, refraining from the right of punishing (comp. Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 30:14). The sentence וינטלם וגו׳ seems to state that this bearing and carrying maternal love of God lasted not merely during the period of the deliverance from Egypt, but during the whole time that, from the standpoint of the Prophet, belonged to the days long gone by. This is seen from Isaiah 63:10 sqq., where the so oft-repeated, alternating relation of apostasy, punishment and return to God is comprehensively depicted. For during the whole time which passed between the Egyptian and the Babylonian captivity, what in Isaiah 63:10 sqq. is described was repeated. מָרוּ and עִצְּבוּ have both רוח for their object (comp. Isaiah 3:8 and Ephesians 4:30). They were rebellious against and grieved the Holy Spirit by resisting the drawings of His grace and by offending His holy nature with doing evil. The expression רוח קדשׁ occurs in the Old Testament besides here and Isaiah 63:11 only further in Psalms 51:13. The adjective קָדוֹשׁ is never joined with רוּחַ. The necessary consequence of resisting the Holy Spirit is that the Lord too is changed into an adversary of him who resists Him. הוא stands emphatically before נלחס־בם: How dreadful it is to have Him as an adversary!

4. Then He remembered—glorious name, Isaiah 63:11-14. Jehovah’s being their enemy brought so many evils on the people that they out of the depths of the last and greatest distress long earnestly for the restoration of the old friendship. The question: Where is He that brought them up?etc., can come only from the mouth of the people. For this reason the subject of ויזכר can only be עַמּו not Moses or the indefinite “they” (German man). The people remembered the old days of Moses, i.e. the days when Moses led the people and procured for them the wonderful manifestations of the favor of God. The accumulation of substantives in the genitive characterizes the language of Isaiah; at all events, this form of expression occurs in, no book of the Old Testament so frequently and in such intensity as in Isaiah. Comp. Isaiah 18:1, where two words follow in the construct state. There are three such words in Isaiah 13:4; Isaiah 28:1; four in Isaiah 10:12; five in Isaiah 21:17. Comp. Ewald, § 291 a.—[Dr. Naegelsbach (see under Text, and Gram.) would drop the suffix in המעלם, and would render: “Where is He that brought up out of the sea the shepherd of His flock?” The sea here is the Nile, and the shepherd, Moses; and the fact referred to, the deliverance of Moses when an infant from drowning. But this view is exposed to obvious and insuperable objections. Delitzsch refers the suffix in המעלם to the forefathers of Israel, takes אֵת as=una cum, and is disposed to read רעֵי, which is strongly attested, instead of the singular. By the shepherds of the flock he understands Moses and Aaron with Miriam, Ps. 77:21; Micah 6:4. If we, with the E. V., regard God as the subject of “remembered,” then it is better, with Kay, to put a full stop at “people,” and omit the word “saying,” and regard the appeal that follows as made by the Prophet in the people’s name. It is unsuitable to put it in the mouth of Jehovah. Against making עַמּו the subject of ויזכר, the remoteness of its position is an obvious objection. Such an asyndeton as that in מֹשֶׁה עַמּוֹ is of frequent occurrence, and, on the whole, the rendering of the E. V., if we only strike out the supplied word saying, is the most obvious and natural.—D. M.] God gave Moses His Holy Spirit, and with Him the gift to perform miracles, and to lead and teach the people (comp. Numbers 11:17).—[But the suffix in בקרבו refers to עם, the people, and not to Moses alone.—D. M.]—The beginning of Isaiah 63:12 is literally rendered: who made the arm of His glory to go at the right hand of Moses. The most remarkable effect of this was the dividing of the water before them, the Israelites (properly away from the face of them, so that the waters went out of the way). Hitzig, Umbreit, Knobel, understand the words of the water from the rock (Exodus 17:5 sqq.). But this event, as belonging to a later time, could not well be placed before the passage through the Red Sea. Moreover, בקע is especially employed of this dividing of the waves of the sea, Exodus 14:21; Psalms 78:13; Nehemiah 9:11. These great and wonderful deeds of God had the design to make known, first to the people of Israel, and then to other nations also, the name of Jehovah, i. e. the nature of that God who is called Jehovah; and thus to bring them to the knowledge of His exclusive Godhead (Nehemiah 9:10; Isaiah 55:13; Isaiah 63:14). The depths, Isaiah 63:13, are plainly the depths of the Red Sea (not of the Jordan, as Knobel thinks).—[This is clear from comparing Psalms 106:9.—D. M.]—One might suppose that Israel would have trodden with trembling, uncertain steps the strange way over the bottom of the sea on which human foot was never set, with the walls of the standing waters on the right hand and on the left. But it was not so. Rapidly and surely, as the desert horse goes over the flat, smooth desert, without tottering, so did they march over that strange, perilous road. The Israelites are the subject of יכשׁלו The image of the cattle descending into the valley is very appropriate for marking the arrival of the Israelites in the promised land after the journeying in the desert. For the dry, stony deserts through which Israel had to march were really higher than the fertile regions watered by the Nile and the Jordan. It seems to me, too, that the Prophet here thinks of the herds of Nomades that must cross a mountain range or a plateau in order to reach regions rich in pasture. Just so the Spirit of the Lord, who by means of the leaders directed the march of Israel, brought the people to rest. The Prophet could justly designate the arrival of Israel in Palestine after the long journeying as an attaining to rest. The same thing had been said before (Deuteronomy 12:9; Joshua 1:13; Joshua 21:44; Joshua 22:4; Joshua 23:1; Psalms 95:11; comp. Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:9). The last sentence of Isaiah 63:14 is a recapitulation. כֵּן refers to all that goes before, and the words to make thyself a glorious name declare that the design of the Lord was not merely to confer a benefit on the Israelites of that time, but to prepare the way for the knowledge and acknowledgment of His name among all nations and to all times (Isaiah 63:12).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 63:7. [“God does good because He is good; what He bestows upon us must be run up to the original, it is according to His mercies, not according to our merits, andaccording to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses, which can never be spent. Thus we should magnify God’s goodness, and speak honorably of it, not only when we plead it (as David Psalms 51:1), but when we praise it.” Henry. D. M.].

2. On Isaiah 63:9. The angel of the face or presence belongs to “the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is not right to imagine that a certain and exhaustive knowledge is possible in reference to these things. The humility which becomes even science, imposes on it the duty to write everywhere a non liquet, where, through the nature of things, limits are placed to human knowledge. Not to regard these limitations is the manner of the pseudo-scientific, immodest scholasticism. What, therefore, we have said regarding the angel of the face makes no higher pretension than that of a modest hypothesis. [Comp. in Hengstenberg’s Christology, Vol. Isaiah 1:0 : The Angel of the Lord in the books of Moses and in the book of Joshua.—D. M.].

3. On Isaiah 63:10. “There are two ways in which the Holy Ghost is offended or vexed. One way is of a less dreadful nature. It is when a man takes from the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in the soul for its joy, as He is wont to communicate to it His gracious influence and His gracious operations. When such is the case, then as an offended friend when He perceives that no heed is given to most of His counsels, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and, although reluctantly, ceases for a time to advise the stubborn, ut carendo discat quantum peccaverit. Of this kind of grieving Paul speaks Ephesians 4:30. It can be committed by the godly and the elect. But the Holy Spirit can be offended and vexed in a gross and flagitious way, when one not only does not believe and follow Him, but also obstinately resists Him, despises all His counsel, reviles and blasphemes Him, will none of His reproof (Proverbs 1:24-25), gives the lie to His truth, and so speaks against the sun… This the Scripture calls ἀντιπίπτειν (Acts 7:51), ἐνυβρίζειν (Hebrews 10:29), βλασφημεῖν (Matthew 12:31), θεομαχεῖν (Acts 5:39). Let us, therefore, not grieve the Holy Spirit with evil desires, words and deeds, that we may be able on the future day of redemption to show that seal uninjured with which we were sealed on that day of our redemption when we were regenerated. To this end let us assiduously breathe forth the prayers of David Psalms 143:10; Psalms 51:12-14.” Leigh.

4. On Isaiah 63:10. [They rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit. This statement implies the personality of the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God’s holiness. He is represented as a person whom we can grieve. We have in this passage clear indications of the doctrine of the Trinity. In Isaiah 63:9 we have the Angel of God’s face, and in Isaiah 63:10 we have the Spirit of His holiness, both clearly distinguished from God the fountain of their being.—D. M.].

5. On Isaiah 63:11. “Faith asks after God and so does unbelief, but in different ways. Both put the question, Where? Faith does it to seek God in time of need, and to tell Him trustfully of His old kindnesses. Unbelief does it to tempt God, to deny Him, to lead others into temptation, and to make them doubt regarding the divine presence and providence. Therefore it asks: “Where is the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17)? “Where is now thy God "(Psalms 42:4; Psalms 42:11; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2)? If you, as the praying Church here does, ask in the former manner diligently after God, you will be preserved from the other kind of asking.” Leigh.

6. On Isaiah 63:15. “Meritum meum miseratio Domini. Non sum meriti inops, quando ille miserationum Dominus non defuerit, et si misericordiae Domini multae, multus ego sum in meritis.” Augustine.

7. On Isaiah 63:16. “We can from this sentence [?] cogently refute the doctrine of the invocation of the Saints. For the Saints know nothing of us, and are not personally acquainted with us, much less can they know the concerns of our hearts, or hear our cry, for they are not omnipresent. If it be alleged that God makes matters known to them and that they then pray for us, what a round-about business this would be! It would justify the prayer said to have been made by a simple man: “Ah Lord God! tell it, I beseech thee, to the blessed Mary that I have told thee to tell it again to her, that she should tell thee that I have wished to say to her by so many Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, that she should say to thee to be pleased to be gracious unto me.” Meyer, de Rosariis, cap. III., thes. V., p. 52). With how much more brevity and efficacy do we pray with the penitent publican: God be merciful to me, a sinner! ”Leigh.

8. On Isaiah 63:17. “There is no more heinous sin than to accuse God of being the cause of our sin. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God (James 1:13; Psalms 5:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Ps. 92:16). He commands what is good, forbids and punishes what is evil. How then could He be the cause of it? But when He punishes sin with sin, i.e., when He at last withdraws from the sinner His grace that has been persistently despised, then He acts as a righteous Judge who inflicts the judgment of hardening the heart on those who wilfully resist His Spirit.” Leigh.

9. On Isaiah 66:0 [“This chapter is a model of affectionate and earnest entreaty for the divine interposition in the day of calamity. With such tender and affectionate earnestness may we learn to plead with God! Thus may all His people learn to approach Him as a Father; thus feel that they have the inestimable privilege in the times of trial of making known their wants to the High and Holy One. Thus when calamity presses on us; when as individuals or families we are afflicted; or when our country or the church is suffering under long trials, may we go to God, and humbly confess our sins, and urge His promises, and take hold of His strength, and plead with Him to interpose. Thus pleading, He will hear us; thus presenting our cause, He will interpose to save us.” Barnes. D. M.].

10. On Isaiah 64:3-4 a. [4, 5 a]. The God who appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, called Moses, and led by him the people of Israel out of Egypt, who chose Joshua, Samuel, David and others to be His servants and glorified Himself by them, this God alone has shown Himself to be the true and living God, and we can hope from Him that He will yet do more, and manifest Himself still more signally.

11. On Isaiah 64:4 [5]. [“Note what God expects from us in order to our having communion with Him. First, We must make conscience of doing our duty in everything, we must work righteousness, must do that which is good, and which the Lord our God requires of us, and must do it well. Secondly, We must be cheerful in doing our duty; we must rejoice and work righteousness, must delight ourselves in God and His law, must be pleasant in His service and sing at our work. God loves a cheerful giver, a cheerful worshipper; we must serve the Lord with gladness. Thirdly, We must conform ourselves to all the methods of His providence concerning us, and be suitably affected with them; must remember Him in Hisways, in all the ways wherein He walks, whether He walks towards us, or walks contrary to us; we must mind Him, and make mention of Him, with thanksgiving, when His ways are ways of mercy, for in a day of prosperity we mustbe joyful, with patience and submission when He contends with us, for in a day of adversity we must consider.” Henry. D. M.].

12. On Isaiah 64:7 [8]. [“This whole verse is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God. It expresses the feeling which all have when under conviction of sin, and when they are sensible that they are exposed to the divine displeasure for their transgressions. Then they feel that if they are to be saved, it must be by the mere Sovereignty of God; and they implore His interposition to ‘mould and guide them at His will.’ It may be added, that it is only when sinners have this feeling that they hope for relief; and then they will feel that if they are lost, it will be right; if saved, it will be because God moulds them as the potter does the clay.” Barnes. D. M.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 63:7. Text for a Thanksgiving Sermon. What is our duty after that the Lord has shown us great loving kindness? 1) To remember what He has done to us. 2) To be mindful of what we ought to render to Him for the same.

2. On Isaiah 63:8-17. The history of the people of Israel a mirror in which we too may perceive the history of our relation to God. 1) God is to us from the beginning a loving and faithful Father (Isaiah 63:8-9). 2) We repay His love with ingratitude, as Israel did (Isaiah 63:10 a). 3) God punishes us for this as He punished Israel (Isaiah 63:10 b). 4) God receives us again to His favor when we, as Israel, call on Him in penitence (Isaiah 63:11-17).

On Isaiah 63:7-17. “If God in Christ has become our Father, He remains our Father to all eternity. 1) He is our Father in Christ. 2) He abides faithful even when we waIsa Isaiah 63:3) When we have fallen, His arms still stand open to receive us.” Deichert in Manch. G. u. ein Geist, 1868, page 65.

4. On Isaiah 64:5-7. Joh. Ben. Carpzov has a sermon on this text, in which he treats of righteousness, and shows 1) justitiam salvantem, i. e., the righteousness with which one enters the kingdom of heaven; 2) justitiam damnantem, i. e., the righteousness with which a man enters the fire of hell; 3) justitiam testantem, i. e., the righteousness by which a man testifies that he has attained the true righteousness.

5. On Isaiah 64:6-9. “Let us hear from our text an earnest and affecting confession of sin, and at the same time consider 1) the doctrine of repentance; 2) the comfort of forgiveness which believers receive.”—Eichhorn.

6. On Isaiah 64:6. (We all do fade, etc.) “These are very instructive words, from which we learn what a noxious plant sin is, and what fruit it brings forth. First, says he, we fade as a leaf. This means that sin brings with it the curse of God, and deprives us of His blessing both for the body and the soul, so that the heart is dissatisfied and distressed. Then it robs us of the highest treasure, confidence in the grace of God. For sin and an evil conscience awaken dread of God. As it is impossible to call upon God aright without faith and a sure persuasion of His aid, it follows that sin hinders prayer also, and thus robs us of the highest comfort. When men have no faith and cannot pray, then the awful punishment comes upon them, that God hides His face and leaves them to pine in their sins. For they cannot help themselves, and have lost the consolation and protection which they need in life.”—Veit Diet.

Footnotes:

[5]Then kit people remembered the old days of Moses.

[6]brought up out of the sea the shepherd of his flock.

[7]Or, shepherds.

[8]that put at the right hand of Moses his glorious arm.

Verses 15-19

2. PRAYER THAT THE LORD MIGHT LOOK UPON THEN AND REMOVE SIN AND ITS PUNISHMENT

Chap Isaiah 63:15-19 a (19)

15          Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory:

Where is thy zeal and thy strength,

9The sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me?

10Are they restrained?

16     Doubtless thou art our father,

11Though Abraham be ignorant of us,

And Israel acknowledge us not:
Thou, O Lord, art our father, 12our redeemer;

Thy name is from everlasting.

17     O Lord, 13why hast thou made us to err from thy ways,

And hardened our heart from thy fear?

Return for thy servants’ sake,

14The tribes of thine inheritance.

18     The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while:

Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.

19     15We are thine:

Thou never barest rule over them:

16They were not called by thy name.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 63:16. [“According to the accents the words מעולם גאלנו are connected together. The more correct accentuation would be גאלנו Tifha, מעולם Mercha. From remote antiquity Jahve had acted toward Israel in such a way that the latter could call him גאלנו. What takes place in the present time is so different as to put faith to a hard trial. Translate: Our Redeemer is from ancient time thy name.” Delitzsch.—D. M.].

Isaiah 63:18. בוססו, Pilel from בּוּם (Isaiah 63:6; Isaiah 14:19; Isaiah 14:25) is to tread dow, καταπατεῖν, and includes the idea of profaning and defiling.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. After laying the foundation for His prayer by the retrospect of what Jehovah had been of old to His people, the suppliant now passes over to the entreaty that the Lord would graciously look down from heaven on the present distress, and not restrain His love and might (Isaiah 63:15). He still remains the Father of the people, after Abraham and Israel, who had been long ago removed by death, have become strangers to them so far as rendering actual aid is concerned (Isaiah 63:16). With great boldness the Lord is expostulated with for permitting the people to go astray and to become hardened, and He is called upon to change His conduct towards His elect people (Isaiah 63:17). The complaint is made to Him that the people had possessed only for a short time the land promised to them as an inheritance for ever, while the centre of the land, the Sanctuary, which alone gives the country its value, had been trodden down by their enemies (Isaiah 63:18), so that Israel is now situated as if Jehovah had never been their Lord, and His name had never been called upon them (Isaiah 63:19 a).

2. Look down from heaven—restrained.

Isaiah 63:15.רָאָה more frequently follows than precedes הִבִּיט. The Lord has to look down from heaven, for thither He has as it were retired. He is no more to be found in His earthly sanctuary, but only in His heavenly. [But compare Deuteronomy 26:15; Psalms 115:3. The prayer is rather founded on the acknowledged truth, “The Lord looketh from heaven. …. From the place of His habitation He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” Psalms 33:13-14. D. M.]. Solomon had said in his dedicatory prayer (1 Kings 8:13 comp. 2 Chronicles 6:2) “I have built thee a house to dwell in (בֵּית זְבֻל).” To this passage the suppliant seems to allude, when he asks the Lord to look down from the habitation of His holiness and glory. For the earthly בֵּית זְבֻל is destroyed. The word זְבֻל is found only here in Isaiah. Once more the suppliant returns to what he misses. He asks again with אַיֵּה: Where is thy zeal and thy mighty deeds? The zeal of Jehovah is twofold: against His people, so far they make common cause with those who hate the Lord. For then they have the Lord who is a zealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 5:9) against them. But the zeal of Jehovah, is also active for His people, against the enemies of the theocracy (comp. Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 26:11; Isaiah 37:32; Isaiah 42:13; Isaiah 59:17). The expression המון מעים, strepitus viscerum, as image of the emotion of compassion, of commiseratio, is found in the form of a substantive only here, but the verbal expression occurs, Isaiah 16:11; Jeremiah 31:20; Jeremiah 48:30.In אֵלַי observe the change of number. התאפק, se cohibere, comp. Isaiah 42:14; Isaiah 54:11.

3. Doubtless thou——everlasting.

Isaiah 63:16. [The E. V. departs in two instances in this verse from the proper signification of כִּי, rendering it in the first, doubtless, and in the second, though. In both cases its strict sense of for, because, can be retained, as is—done by Dr. Naegelsbach. But we prefer taking the second כִּי as=when, which in this connection does not differ much from though. D. M.].

Isaiah 63:16 declares the reason why Israel entreats the Lord to be pleased to look upon their need and to manifest His power and love on them. Jehovah alone is the true Father of Israel. They have indeed also human progenitors who stand in high honor and authority; Abraham (comp. Isaiah 51:2) as their remote, and Israel, the strong contender with God (Genesis 32:28), their immediate ancestor. But these are men, are long dead, and incapable from their present abode outside this world, to take knowledge (הִכִּירdignovit, Isaiah 61:9) of Israel’s lot; not to say that they could not possibly interpose to render them active support. [This is not very satisfactory, though the view of Vitringa, Delitzsch and the best interpreters. But if we take the second כִּי in the common sense of when, and translate “For thou art our Father when Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not recognize us,” then the idea would be that natural affection and regard would cease rather than that God’s paternal love should fail, or His covenant of adoption be annulled. Such a sense is very appropriate. See Psalms 27:10. Comp. Calvin on our passage. Kay remarks, “This verse and Isaiah 64:8 are the only places in the Old Testament where the address Our Father is used in prayer. The Spirit of adoption was not yet given (Galatians 4:4-6).” D.M.].

4. O Lord, why hast thou—thy name. Isaiah 63:17-19 a. Jerome understands the words of ver.17 as an utterance of the apostate Jews. As Paul in the Epistles to the Corinthians addresses pious and ungodly persons, so here both the pious and the ungodly speak to God. These latter are said here, “movere Domino quaestionem, et suam culpam referre in Deum.” Jerome, however, vindicates God, and says that in reality God is not the cause of error and hardness of heart, but that error and obduracy are only mediately occasioned by His patience, while He does not chastise offenders. Theodoret makes the Jews here directly reproach God with having by His patience incurred the guilt of their delinquencies. Oecolampadius regards this passage as having a double sense. As an utterance of the ungodly it contains actual blasphemy (blasphema inter precandum dicunt: suam culpam in Deum transcribunt), while in the mouth of the godly it expresses only the painful confession that they, after the withdrawal of the divine grace and help, could not but go astray. Calvin disputes all softening of the language by the assumption of foreknowledge or permission. But he makes a distinction. He distinguishes between an indirect or negative hardening (rite excoecare, indurare, inclinare dicitur, quibus facultatem videndi, parendi, recte exsequendi adimit), and a direct or positive (when He per Satanam et consilia reproborum destinat, quo visum est, et voluntates excitat et conatus firmat). As instances of the latter kind he cites Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3; Exodus 10:1, etc.), and Sihon the king of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 2:30). For the first-mentioned kind he appeals to Ezekiel 7:26; Psalms 107:40; Job 12:20; Job 12:24 and to the passage before us (comp. Institutio II, 4, 3 sq.). Whether that indirect hardening, of which Calvin speaks, is essentially different from the permissive, may be doubted. I therefore believe that all those interpreters—and they form the majority—who understand this passage of the divine permission, mean nothing else than what Calvin intends by tbat former kind of hardening. For the cessatio directionis divinae, the ablatio spiritus, the sublatio luminis is just nothing else than that procedure of God by which He makes sin possible, or permits it. Luther, in particular, belongs to those who explain our place in the permissive sense, and with his fine feeling he is able, without doing violence to the words, to remove what causes offence from them. He says: “Sunt verba ardentis affectus. Ah, Domine, quare sinis nos sic errare? Nos hunc affectum non intelligimus, quare privative accipiemus, ut sit sententia: quia noluimusaudire tuum verbum, permisisti nos errare et peccare; sicut fit, peccatum peccati est poena.” And certainly in the mouth of the suppliant church Isaiah 63:17 can never be taken as a blasphemous reproach. But the church in the deepest sorrow, and during a momentary eclipse of the future prospect before her, feels herself driven to put this question, Why ? Not as if she would say that there exists no reason, or only a bad one, but simply to intimate that she does not perceive the reason, that here the providence of God appears to her dark, inexplicable. The church mourns because the Lord has not hindered her going astray, her hardening in evil, which exists not indeed in all, but in many of her members. She thinks that He, the Almighty, could have done it, if He had wished. That He has not willed it is to her inconceivable. She does not even see how this, her partial apostasy must, on the whole, co-operate to the realization of God’s gracious counsel. The statement in this verse is in harmony with Isaiah 6:9-10, and with Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 45:7. [But in Isaiah 45:7 the evil which God creates is physical evil or pain, the opposite of peace.—D. M.]. For here, as there, God is apparently designated as the author of evil, while yet God can never will evil as such. But when men do not will the good, then they must at last will the evil. It becomes a necessity in the way of punishment, in order that they may be thoroughly acquainted with it, and be thereby healed (see on Isaiah 6:9 sq. and Isaiah 29:10). As an unauthorized weakening of the genuine meaning of this place I must regard it when Seb. Schmidt and Grotius understand the words de futuro: Why shall it then come to this, that we go astray and harden ourselves in idolatry? The imperfects (futures) תתענו and תקשׁיח can only be taken to mean an action not yet finished, and therefore only in the sense of the enduring present. If we ask what sin the Prophet specially has in view when he speaks of erring and hardening, we must say that this erring and hardening can take place in all forms of sin, but that, in the end, all these evil fruits have a common root, namely, the sin against the first (second) commandment, idolatry. We must, of course, think here not only of gross, but also of refined idolatry. The Rabbinical commentators are of the opinion that the Prophet has here in view, doubt, despair and unbelief as the consequences of the long duration of the Exile. This is quite possible, if we think not merely of the Babylonish Captivity, but also, and specially, of the present exile that still continues. But the look of the Prophet is primarily directed to the Babylonian exile, and regarding it we must say that it became to many Jews an occasion even of visible apostacy from Jehovah and of gross idolatry. קָשַׁח (certainly hardened from קָשָׁה) occurs besides here only in Job 39:16, where it has the signification “to regard or treat harshly.” before יראתך has here a negative force, and the sentence expresses a consequence, so as not to fear thee. Comp. Isaiah 62:10; Isaiah 59:1-2 et saepe. While the Prophet sees the Lord, as it were, engaged in a woful work, the work namely of judicially hardening ever more the mass of Israel after the flesh, he becomes anxious for Israel as a body. If this continues, what shall become of the elect people? Who will be able to withstand the current of inward and outward corruption? Therefore he entreats the Lord not to continue to act in this way, but to revorse the course He is pursuing. The Prophet has very probably Numbers 10:36 before his mind in using the word שׁוּב. Accordingly, as the verb is intransitive, we have to regard שׁבטי נ׳, not as in apposition to עבריך, but as the accusative of place dependent on שׁוּב. Then we obtain the idea that the Prophet conceives the erring and hardening spoken of as caused by the Lord turning away from Israel, and leaving them to their fate. He is here besought, in opposition to this, to return to the tribes of His inheritance, and that for His servants’ sake. Who are these servants? They can only be those who faithfully serve the Lord in distinction from those who err and harden themselves. But the Prophet means by these servants not merely those who in the present time have remained faithful, but all faithful servants of Jehovah of all times. He thinks especially of the patriarchs who first received the promises. It is for the sake of all His faithful servants that the Lord does not entirely reject Israel. That Israel here bears the designation the tribes of thine inheritance is doubtless because the Prophet wishes thereby to point to Jehovah’s election of Israel to be His סְגֻּלָּה (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6 et saepe), His specially dear to Him and inalienable inheritance (Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 47:6). To the complaint of the decay of religious life (Isaiah 63:17) there is added (Isaiah 63:18-19 a) a complaint regarding the mournful external relations, the fruit of that internal decay. The subject of יָֽרְשׁוּ can only be עס־קדשׁך. If we take צרינו as subject, as many do, we must then take לַמּצְעָר in a signification which it has not. For מִצְעָר (besides here Genesis 19:20; Job 8:7; Psalms 42:7; 2 Chronicles 24:24) is the harder form of מִזְעָר, which latter occurs in no other Old Testament writer than Isaiah, who has it in Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 29:17; Isaiah 16:14; Isaiah 14:6. The signification is everywhere paulum, a little. The word is synonymous with מְעַט, which word in all these places of Isaiah (with exception of the last-mentioned, Isaiah 24:6,) is joined to מזער. If now we take צרינו as subject, we must take למוער in the sense of pro-pemodum, parum abest quin, almost, nearly, as Cocceius, Luther and Stier do. But then the form should be כְּמִוְעָר after the analogy of כִּמְעַט. Further,למצער can neither be=מצער without לְ (LXX.) nor=nullo pretio, sine labore (Jerome). למצער can only be a particle of time, and mean for a short time. Many are inclined to regard מקרשׁך as the common object of ירשׁו and בוססו, while they take מקדשׁ either as a designation of the whole land, or of the temple alone. But the whole land is never called מקדשׁ, and the expression ידשׁ cannot well be employed of the temple. We must, too, in that case refer למצער to both sentences. For it stands as emphatically at the beginning as מקדשׁך stands at the close. I, therefore, agree with Delitzsch in taking ירשׁו absolutely, and in understanding as its object the land. This object could be easily omitted, as ידשׁ is used countless times both of the taking of the holy land into possession, and of the holding of it in possession. The word, too, is often employed absolutely: Deuteronomy 2:24; Deuteronomy 2:31; Genesis 21:10; 2 Samuel 14:7; Micah 1:15, et saepe. Although למצעד is a rhetorical hyperbole, it is yet justified, inasmuch as, if the Lord does not hear the prayer contained inIsa Isaiah 63:17 b, the time during which Israel possessed the land would be short in comparison with the following permanent exclusion from its possession. The treading down of the Sanctuary is regarded as the dissolving of the bond of connection between Israel and his God. Israel stands, therefore, now as a people over which Jehovah has never ruled. It is no more distinguished in anything from the heathen nations. Before מעולם, which must be connected with what follows, אֲשֶׁד is to be supplied. According to our way of speaking כַּֽאֲשֶׁר would be required. [In the E. V. the important word thine is arbitrarily supplied. Dr. Naegelsbach’s rendering is here to be preferred: We are become as those over whom thou never barest rule, (or didst not rule from ancient time), on whom thy name was never called.—D. M.]. That Israel has been, as it were, marked with the name of Jehovah, and thus distinguished from all nations, is always set forth as one of its greatest privileges (comp. Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 14:9, et saepe. Comp. Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 65:1). [The first verse of chap. 44 in the E. V. forms the latter part of Isaiah 63:19 of the preceding chapter in the Hebrew text. It is convenient in the Commentary to adhere to the division of chapters and verses observed in the Hebrew Bible. Accordingly, what stands in the English Bible as the first verse of chap 64 appears in the Commentary as the conclusion of Isaiah 63:19. And in conformity with this arrangement chap, 64 instead of twelve, has only eleven verses.—D. M.].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 63:7. [“God does good because He is good; what He bestows upon us must be run up to the original, it is according to His mercies, not according to our merits, andaccording to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses, which can never be spent. Thus we should magnify God’s goodness, and speak honorably of it, not only when we plead it (as David Psalms 51:1), but when we praise it.” Henry. D. M.].

2. On Isaiah 63:9. The angel of the face or presence belongs to “the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is not right to imagine that a certain and exhaustive knowledge is possible in reference to these things. The humility which becomes even science, imposes on it the duty to write everywhere a non liquet, where, through the nature of things, limits are placed to human knowledge. Not to regard these limitations is the manner of the pseudo-scientific, immodest scholasticism. What, therefore, we have said regarding the angel of the face makes no higher pretension than that of a modest hypothesis. [Comp. in Hengstenberg’s Christology, Vol. Isaiah 1:0 : The Angel of the Lord in the books of Moses and in the book of Joshua.—D. M.].

3. On Isaiah 63:10. “There are two ways in which the Holy Ghost is offended or vexed. One way is of a less dreadful nature. It is when a man takes from the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in the soul for its joy, as He is wont to communicate to it His gracious influence and His gracious operations. When such is the case, then as an offended friend when He perceives that no heed is given to most of His counsels, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and, although reluctantly, ceases for a time to advise the stubborn, ut carendo discat quantum peccaverit. Of this kind of grieving Paul speaks Ephesians 4:30. It can be committed by the godly and the elect. But the Holy Spirit can be offended and vexed in a gross and flagitious way, when one not only does not believe and follow Him, but also obstinately resists Him, despises all His counsel, reviles and blasphemes Him, will none of His reproof (Proverbs 1:24-25), gives the lie to His truth, and so speaks against the sun… This the Scripture calls ἀντιπίπτειν (Acts 7:51), ἐνυβρίζειν (Hebrews 10:29), βλασφημεῖν (Matthew 12:31), θεομαχεῖν (Acts 5:39). Let us, therefore, not grieve the Holy Spirit with evil desires, words and deeds, that we may be able on the future day of redemption to show that seal uninjured with which we were sealed on that day of our redemption when we were regenerated. To this end let us assiduously breathe forth the prayers of David Psalms 143:10; Psalms 51:12-14.” Leigh.

4. On Isaiah 63:10. [They rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit. This statement implies the personality of the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God’s holiness. He is represented as a person whom we can grieve. We have in this passage clear indications of the doctrine of the Trinity. In Isaiah 63:9 we have the Angel of God’s face, and in Isaiah 63:10 we have the Spirit of His holiness, both clearly distinguished from God the fountain of their being.—D. M.].

5. On Isaiah 63:11. “Faith asks after God and so does unbelief, but in different ways. Both put the question, Where? Faith does it to seek God in time of need, and to tell Him trustfully of His old kindnesses. Unbelief does it to tempt God, to deny Him, to lead others into temptation, and to make them doubt regarding the divine presence and providence. Therefore it asks: “Where is the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17)? “Where is now thy God "(Psalms 42:4; Psalms 42:11; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2)? If you, as the praying Church here does, ask in the former manner diligently after God, you will be preserved from the other kind of asking.” Leigh.

6. On Isaiah 63:15. “Meritum meum miseratio Domini. Non sum meriti inops, quando ille miserationum Dominus non defuerit, et si misericordiae Domini multae, multus ego sum in meritis.” Augustine.

7. On Isaiah 63:16. “We can from this sentence [?] cogently refute the doctrine of the invocation of the Saints. For the Saints know nothing of us, and are not personally acquainted with us, much less can they know the concerns of our hearts, or hear our cry, for they are not omnipresent. If it be alleged that God makes matters known to them and that they then pray for us, what a round-about business this would be! It would justify the prayer said to have been made by a simple man: “Ah Lord God! tell it, I beseech thee, to the blessed Mary that I have told thee to tell it again to her, that she should tell thee that I have wished to say to her by so many Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, that she should say to thee to be pleased to be gracious unto me.” Meyer, de Rosariis, cap. III., thes. V., p. 52). With how much more brevity and efficacy do we pray with the penitent publican: God be merciful to me, a sinner! ”Leigh.

8. On Isaiah 63:17. “There is no more heinous sin than to accuse God of being the cause of our sin. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God (James 1:13; Psalms 5:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Ps. 92:16). He commands what is good, forbids and punishes what is evil. How then could He be the cause of it? But when He punishes sin with sin, i.e., when He at last withdraws from the sinner His grace that has been persistently despised, then He acts as a righteous Judge who inflicts the judgment of hardening the heart on those who wilfully resist His Spirit.” Leigh.

9. On Isaiah 66:0 [“This chapter is a model of affectionate and earnest entreaty for the divine interposition in the day of calamity. With such tender and affectionate earnestness may we learn to plead with God! Thus may all His people learn to approach Him as a Father; thus feel that they have the inestimable privilege in the times of trial of making known their wants to the High and Holy One. Thus when calamity presses on us; when as individuals or families we are afflicted; or when our country or the church is suffering under long trials, may we go to God, and humbly confess our sins, and urge His promises, and take hold of His strength, and plead with Him to interpose. Thus pleading, He will hear us; thus presenting our cause, He will interpose to save us.” Barnes. D. M.].

10. On Isaiah 64:3-4 a. [4, 5 a]. The God who appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, called Moses, and led by him the people of Israel out of Egypt, who chose Joshua, Samuel, David and others to be His servants and glorified Himself by them, this God alone has shown Himself to be the true and living God, and we can hope from Him that He will yet do more, and manifest Himself still more signally.

11. On Isaiah 64:4 [5]. [“Note what God expects from us in order to our having communion with Him. First, We must make conscience of doing our duty in everything, we must work righteousness, must do that which is good, and which the Lord our God requires of us, and must do it well. Secondly, We must be cheerful in doing our duty; we must rejoice and work righteousness, must delight ourselves in God and His law, must be pleasant in His service and sing at our work. God loves a cheerful giver, a cheerful worshipper; we must serve the Lord with gladness. Thirdly, We must conform ourselves to all the methods of His providence concerning us, and be suitably affected with them; must remember Him in Hisways, in all the ways wherein He walks, whether He walks towards us, or walks contrary to us; we must mind Him, and make mention of Him, with thanksgiving, when His ways are ways of mercy, for in a day of prosperity we mustbe joyful, with patience and submission when He contends with us, for in a day of adversity we must consider.” Henry. D. M.].

12. On Isaiah 64:7 [8]. [“This whole verse is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God. It expresses the feeling which all have when under conviction of sin, and when they are sensible that they are exposed to the divine displeasure for their transgressions. Then they feel that if they are to be saved, it must be by the mere Sovereignty of God; and they implore His interposition to ‘mould and guide them at His will.’ It may be added, that it is only when sinners have this feeling that they hope for relief; and then they will feel that if they are lost, it will be right; if saved, it will be because God moulds them as the potter does the clay.” Barnes. D. M.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 63:7. Text for a Thanksgiving Sermon. What is our duty after that the Lord has shown us great loving kindness? 1) To remember what He has done to us. 2) To be mindful of what we ought to render to Him for the same.

2. On Isaiah 63:8-17. The history of the people of Israel a mirror in which we too may perceive the history of our relation to God. 1) God is to us from the beginning a loving and faithful Father (Isaiah 63:8-9). 2) We repay His love with ingratitude, as Israel did (Isaiah 63:10 a). 3) God punishes us for this as He punished Israel (Isaiah 63:10 b). 4) God receives us again to His favor when we, as Israel, call on Him in penitence (Isaiah 63:11-17).

On Isaiah 63:7-17. “If God in Christ has become our Father, He remains our Father to all eternity. 1) He is our Father in Christ. 2) He abides faithful even when we waIsa Isaiah 63:3) When we have fallen, His arms still stand open to receive us.” Deichert in Manch. G. u. ein Geist, 1868, page 65.

4. On Isaiah 64:5-7. Joh. Ben. Carpzov has a sermon on this text, in which he treats of righteousness, and shows 1) justitiam salvantem, i. e., the righteousness with which one enters the kingdom of heaven; 2) justitiam damnantem, i. e., the righteousness with which a man enters the fire of hell; 3) justitiam testantem, i. e., the righteousness by which a man testifies that he has attained the true righteousness.

5. On Isaiah 64:6-9. “Let us hear from our text an earnest and affecting confession of sin, and at the same time consider 1) the doctrine of repentance; 2) the comfort of forgiveness which believers receive.”—Eichhorn.

6. On Isaiah 64:6. (We all do fade, etc.) “These are very instructive words, from which we learn what a noxious plant sin is, and what fruit it brings forth. First, says he, we fade as a leaf. This means that sin brings with it the curse of God, and deprives us of His blessing both for the body and the soul, so that the heart is dissatisfied and distressed. Then it robs us of the highest treasure, confidence in the grace of God. For sin and an evil conscience awaken dread of God. As it is impossible to call upon God aright without faith and a sure persuasion of His aid, it follows that sin hinders prayer also, and thus robs us of the highest comfort. When men have no faith and cannot pray, then the awful punishment comes upon them, that God hides His face and leaves them to pine in their sins. For they cannot help themselves, and have lost the consolation and protection which they need in life.”—Veit Diet.

Footnotes:

[9]Or, the multitude.

[10]they are restrained.

[11]because.

[12]Or, our redeemer from everlasting is thy name.

[13]Why dost thou make us err.

[14]to the tribes.

[15]We have become as those over whom thou never barest rule, on whom thy name was not called.

[16]Or, thy name was not called upon them.

Verse 19

3. PRAYER THAT THE LORD WOULD VISIBLY INTERVENE, AND SO PROVE HIMSELF TO BE, AS OF OLD, THE GOD AND FATHERr OF ISRAEL

Isaiah 63:19 b to Isaiah 64:11. (Isaiah 64:1-12)

Chap Isaiah 63:19 b. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens,

That thou wouldest come down,
That the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

Chap Isaiah 64:1          As when 17 18the 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!

2     19When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for,

Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

3     For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear,

Neither hath the eye 20seen, O God, beside thee,

What he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

4     Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness,

21Those that remember thee in thy ways:

Behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned:

22In those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

5     But we are all 23as 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.

6     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 24consumed us, 25because of our iniquities.

7     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.

8     Be not wroth very sore, O Lord,

Neither remember iniquity for ever:
Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.

9     Thy holy cities are a wilderness,

Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

10     Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee,

Is burned up with fire:
And all our pleasant things are laid waste.

11     Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord?

Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 63:19 b. Regarding the division into chapters, there can be no doubt that what follows from Isaiah 63:19 b is closely connected with what precedes. There is no reason for beginning a new chapter here. It would be appropriate to make the chapter begin at Isaiah 63:15. But it is quite awkward to commence the chapter with כִּקְדֹחַ. With עליהם, Isaiah 63:19 a, the verse ought properly to close.—[Delitzsch, while he condemns the beginning of a new chapter with כִּקְדֹחַ, defends the Masoretic division of verses, and maintains that Isaiah 63:19 b could not be united with Isaiah 64:1, for the verse thus formed would be beyond measure overladen. This sigh, too, belongs really to 19 a, as it arises out of the depths of the complaint there expressed.—D. M.]—נָזֹלּוּ is probably a mongrel form from נָזַלּוּ and יִזֹלוּ. For from זָלַל. to shake, comes the perfect Niphal נָזַלּוּ. But the Prophet wished to speak not merely of a shaking, but also of a dissolving, a flowing down of the mountains (comp. Psalms 44:7 [6]). For this purpose he availed himself of the freedom allowed in forming the Niphal of verbs, עע׳. The Niphal of these verbs can be inflected, as if its normal third person masculine were an independent stem. Thus we have נָֽסְבָה, Ezekiel 41:7; נָזְלוּ, Judges 5:5, as if these were forms of the Kal, נָסַב נָזַל. There occur, moreover, Niphal forms which suppose a Kal perfect e or o, from which they are formed: נָסֵנָּה, Ezekiel 26:2; נָבֹזּוּ, Amos 3:11; נָגֹלּוּ, Isaiah 34:4, etc. In this way נָזֹלּוּ has arisen, and the occasion of its formation seems to have been the endeavor to unite the significations of the stems זָלַל and נָזַל. The one of these stems has given the consonants and the vocalization of the first syllable, the other, the vocalization of the second syllable (comp. Olshausen, § 263, 6, p. 592).—[It is hard to imagine that the Prophet intended by the irregular form which he employed to unite in it both the meaning of זָלַל, to shake, and that of נָזַל, to flow. Most modern interpreters prefer to assume as the stem זָלַל.—D. M.]

Isaiah 64:4. The combination שׂשׂ ועשה צדק is manifestly formed in the genuine style of Isaiah for the sake of the alliteration.—[There is here no example of alliteration.—D. M.]—This combination is grammatically admissible according to the usage which allows us to add to a verb a nearer specification by means of a second verb in the same verbal form and connected by wav (comp. Job 6:9; 2 Samuel 7:29; Deuteronomy 5:19, et saepe).

Isaiah 64:5. וַנָּבֶל is, it appears to me, Hiphil from (בָּלָה, marcuit, absumtus, confectus est.—[Delitzsch regards it as the Hiphil from בָּלַל, or from נָבֵל בּוּל.—D.M.]—The Hiphil is directly causative, to produce withering, i. e. to wither away.

Isaiah 64:6. ותמוגנו is Kal, which is here exceptionally used in a transitive signification (comp. on &בָּעָה קָרַח, Isaiah 64:1). ביד marks the terminus in quem, and recalls Genesis 14:20.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. In violent agitation the suppliant expresses the wish that God would put an end to all this misery by a visible and grand manifestation of His might and majesty, that He would come down upon the earth, so that all His enemies must flee trembling before Him (Isaiah 63:19 to Isaiah 64:2). And Jehovah can do this, for He alone has proved Himself by deeds to be the living God to those who hope in Him (Isaiah 64:3-4 a). God’s procedure hitherto, in ever visiting Israel with repeated punishment, has been of no avail. Israel has not reformed thereby, but has only sunk deeper in impurity, corruption and decay (Isaiah 64:4-6Isaiah 64:4-6Isaiah 64:4-6). But Jehovah is Israel’s Father, Israel is the clay in His hand, and He is the Potter. Is not Israel then, such as it is, properly His work? (Isaiah 64:7) [?] Let it please Him, then, not to exercise wrath to the utmost degree, but to consider that Israel is His people (Isaiah 64:8). All the cities of the holy land lie waste and desolate, even Zion and Jerusalem (Isaiah 64:9). The temple is burnt down, and all places in which Israel once delighted are ruins (Isaiah 64:10). Can Jehovah endure this? Can He be silent at it, and only continue to afflict His people? (Isaiah 64:11).

2. Oh, that thou wouldest rend—thy ways.Isaiah 63:19 to Isaiah 64:4 a. At the head of the preceding paragraph (Isaiah 63:15-19 a) we read the prayer that the Lord would graciously look down from heaven on the misery of His people (Isaiah 63:15). How needful it is that He should do this is then shown by various negative and positive reasons. The suppliant is now not satisfied with a mere looking down. He has come to know (Isaiah 63:17 sqq.) how great the gulf is which separates Israel inwardly and outwardly from its God. Inwardly, a great part of the nation has gone astray from Jehovah, and is even confirmed, hardened in this apostasy: externally, the people have been expelled from the land of their inheritance and from their sanctuary. The suppliant now thinks that in order to heal all these evils, there is needed a grand and signal manifestation of the divine majesty which should strike down all unbelief and annihilate all opposition. He desires, therefore, that God would rend the heaven, remove as it were the curtain which now conceals Him from the bodily eye, and thus makes unbelief and its consequences possible. Something is here asked, which is far more than the bowing of the heaven and coming down which is described in Psalms 18:10 as having taken place, and which is implored in Psalms 144:5. In these places by the bowing of the heaven and coming down only a manifestation by means of a tempest is denoted, while Isaiah here prays that Jehovah would show Himself in His terrible majesty, as according to Ezekiel 1:1 He did really show Himself to His prophet. לוּא comp. on Isaiah 48:18. The perfect after לוּא depicts impatience. The rending of the heaven and coming down is set forth not as something merely possible, but as something in regard to which merely the wish is expressed that it may have already happened. In what way the Prophet pictures to himself the occurrence indicated by נזלו, he explains in Isaiah 44:1 by two comparisons. He supposes the δόξα which surrounds the Lord as consuming fire penetrating the mountains, though these are properly not combustible, and kindling them as easily and rapidly as fire ignites a fagot, yea, dissolving them despite their hardness and consistency into a boiling, seething mass, just as fire causes liquid water to boil (comp. Psalms 83:15; Psalms 97:5) קָדַח stands in Deuteronomy 32:22; Jeremiah 15:14 in an intransitive sense, but in the parallel passage Jeremiah 17:4, and in Isaiah 1:11, it is transitive. בָּעָה too, which from the radical meaning “ebullire” has, on the one hand, the signification of hot desire, longing, asking (Isaiah 21:12 bis), on the other, that of blowing one’s self up, swelling (Isaiah 30:13), possesses both a transitive and an intransitive power, as is the case with so many Hebrew verbal stems. הֲמָסִים, ἄπ. λεγ., which the LXX. render by κηρός, wax, and the Vulgate by tabescere, was perceived by De Dieu and Schultens to be related to the Arabic hams and haschim (dry herb, dry, brittle wood). It denotes sarmenta, dry wood of the vine or of branches, brushwood. [Instead of “as when the melting fire burneth (E. V.), translate as fire kindles brushwood.” D. M.]. The aim of this indubitable manifestation of Jehovah is that He may make His name (i.e., the knowledge of His being comprised in word) known to his enemies,i.e., to all those who stray from Him and harden themselves in this alienation (Isaiah 63:17), whether they are Israelites or heathen. The Prophet evidently hopes that this manifestation as demonstratio ad oculos will compel all Israelites, who hitherto did not believe the instruction given to them (because its evidence was not palpable enough) to know and acknowledge their God. If, however, there should be some among the גוים, who, notwithstanding this revelation apparent to the senses, should not be disposed to believe, these must at least flee vanquished and incapable of resistance. On מפניך comp. on Isaiah 63:12. בעשׂותך וגו׳ in Isaiah 63:2 is dependent on להודיע. The knowledge of the name of God will be imparted to men, so far as this rending and coming down is a deed, not merely an instruction by word. This is a thought quite after Isaiah’s manner, as may be seen from comparing Isaiah 26:8-10, the remarks on which passage may be consulted. After the statement of the design to make thy name known,etc., the manner of doing this is also declared: in thy doing terrible thingsetc. [Not: When thou didst terrible,etc.—E. V.]. And then there is mention again made of the visible event which should precede the making known of Jehovah’s name to His adversaries. For at the close of verse 2 we have a repetition of the conclusion of Isaiah 63:19 (Oh, that) thou wouldest come down, etc. [Not, as in the E. V.: Thou comest down,etc.]. By this recurrence of the same words the verses Isaiah 63:19 to Isaiah 64:2 are shown to form logically and rhetorically an inseparable whole. The words of the third verse [fourth in E. V.] stand manifestly in a causal relation to what precedes. The Prophet had expressed the bold wish that the Lord might no longer remain concealed, but might visibly display His Godhead. Can this happen? Imaginary gods cannot, indeed, comply with such a requirement. But Jehovah is no fictitious god. He is the true, the living God. And He alone has shown Himself as such from the beginning. For from primeval time men have not seen nor heard a God beside Jehovah who showed Himself by living deed to him who hopes in Him. I take ו before מעולם in a causal sense=and truly, as we had it frequently already (e.g., Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 38:17; Isaiah 39:1, comp. with 2 Kings 20:12). That אלהים is to be taken as the accusative, and not as the vocative, is clear, because neither in itself nor in this connection is it a suitable thought to say: None but Thou, O God, has seen and heard what Thou wilt do to those who hope in Thee. For it is self-evident that no one previously saw and heard what God intends. And what, too, is intended by this strange sentence in this connection? And how explain the change of person in יעשׂה? It is objected that האזין is not in other cases followed by the accusative. But this is not the case. האזין has frequently, when in the parallelism שָׁמַע corresponds to it, the accusative after it (Genesis 4:23; Job 33:1), and we may say that in the passage before us האזינו is subordinated to the שׁמעו as a merely rhetorical repetition, and forms one idea with it. Even if the construction of האזין with the accusative could not in any way be justified, this would not signify. For the accusative אלהים can also depend on the verb ראתה alone as the nearest verb. Delitzsch rightly remarks: “We cannot in chapters 40–66 hear the words אלהים זולתך preceded by a negation, without at once receiving the impression that Jahve’s [Jehovah’s] exclusive Godhead is attested (Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 45:21)." יעשׂה stands in a pregnant sense, as in Ps. 22:32; Psalms 37:5; 52:11; Jeremiah 14:7; Daniel 8:24; Daniel 11:17; Daniel 11:28; Daniel 11:30. The God, who from the beginning has proved Himself to be a real, living God by working, i.e., by such indubitable proofs in deeds as only a real, living power could show—this God can also do that which the Prophet (Isaiah 63:19 to Isaiah 64:2) with such intense ardor desires to see. I, too, believe that Paul freely quotes this passage in 1 Corinthians 2:9. But I think, on account of the words “καὶἐπὶ καρδίαν ,” that the place Isaiah 65:17 was also before the Apostle’s mind. [Paul’s quotation of this place is seen to be appropriate when we reflect that the Object perceived by no ear, seen by no eye, is, as Delitzsch puts it, not God in Himself, but the God who acts for His people, who justifies their waiting on Him.—D. M.]. What the Prophet had intimated by the one word יעשׂה, he expands in the first part of verse 4. פָּגַע is a strong expression, and is intended to denote a friendly impingere, but one which is right sensibly felt, an occursus which leaves no doubt as to the reality of the person who meets us, though He should be invisible. פָּגַע stands with the accusative in the general sense of meeting (Exodus 5:20; Exo 23:4; 1 Samuel 10:5; Amos 5:19; comp. Exodus 5:3; Isaiah 47:3). The Lord meets in a way that is perceptible to Him who loves righteousness and practises it, i.e., does it with joy. [“He who rejoices and works righteousness is one in whom joy and doing right are united. The expression is therefore equivalent to rejoices to do righteousness. But it is, perhaps, more correct, with Hofmann, to take צֶדֶק as the object of both verbs: Such as let what is right be their joy and their work; for &שׂוּשׂ שִׂישׂ), though it cannot immediately (see Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 35:1), can mediately, as here and Isaiah 65:18, be joined with the accusative of the object.”—Delitzsch.—D. M.]. As the Prophet, in Isaiah 64:4 b passes over to a new, specifically different thought, הֵן אַתָּה in must begin a new verse.

3. Behold, thou art wroth——us away. Isaiah 64:4-6. With these words the Prophet sets that procedure which the Lord had hitherto pursued over against that which he himself so ardently longs for as certainly leading to the desired end. Hitherto the Lord has been wroth. Although individuals might experience the assisting grace of their God, yet, on the whole, His conduct toward His people was characterized by anger. And what was the result? Was Israel thereby reformed? No. The old sin ever succeeded punishment. Sin, punishment, and sin again, that has been the whole history of Israel from the beginning. This is, in my judgment, the meaning of the words בָּהֶם עוֹלָם. Thus קצפת retains its full force as a perfect, and ונחטא retains unimpaired the signification of an aoristic imperfect. בָּהֶם has a neuter force: in (with, during) these (things) which are indicated by thou wast angry, and we sinned, is (contained, elapsed) an עוֹלָם, i.e., an eternity, a period of incalculable duration. The writer means the עוֹלָם so often spoken of previously (Isaiah 63:9; Isaiah 63:11; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 63:19; Isaiah 64:3): the past of the people of Israel. Its history was really since the journeying in the wilderness an uninterrupted series of transgressions and punishments. It cannot be objected that הָעוֹלָם would be required. For the Prophet will not press the idea “time past,” or even “the past of the Israelitish people.” He just wishes to say that an eternity has passed in such an alternation of things. That בָּהֶם can be used thus indefinitely, is beyond doubt (comp. Isaiah 38:16; Ezekiel 33:18; Jeremiah 18:13, etc.). So, in the main, Delitzsch. But he translates: “In this state we have been already long.” It appears to me, that in order to express this, the Prophet would have written מֵעוֹלָם. I, too, take וְנִוָּשֵׁעַ as a question (comp., e.g., Ezekiel 20:31). If punishing and correcting have already lasted for an eternity without good result, can this be the right way to save Israel? [This question is hardly becoming. And such correction is really God’s successful way of turning Israel from their sins (comp. Isaiah 27:9; Hosea 5:5, etc.). If under בָּהֶם we understand God’s wrath and Israel’s sin, then we must take ונושע as a question, which looks a somewhat arbitrary construction. The translators of the English version evidently regarded בָּהֶם as referring to בדרכיך in the preceding hemistich. This view is still held by many interpreters, and it is, perhaps, on the whole entitled to the preference. Adopting it Alexander thus paraphrases this verse: “Although Thou hast cast off Israel as a nation, Thou hast nevertheless met or favorably answered every one rejoicing to do righteousness, and in Thy ways or future dispensations such shall still remember and acknowledge Thee: Thou hast been angry, and with cause, for we have sinned; but in them, Thy purposed dispensations, there is perpetuity, and we shall be saved.”—D. M.] That the discipline hitherto applied has not been of any help is shown by the Prophet still more in detail in what follows. Very far from being healed and sanctified, the whole people became rather as a man rendered unclean by leprosy, who must be expelled from human society (Leviticus 13:44 sqq.). The people, therefore, that had become unclean through the leprosy of sin, must as one man be cast out of the holy land into exile. The same thing is declared under another image. The moral habitus of the people (their righteousness, i.e., juste facta, Isaiah 33:15; Isaiah 45:24) is compared with a menstruous garment(עִדִּים, ἅπ. λεγ. from עָדַד, counted time), whose touch makes unclean. But moral pollution deprives people of firmness and strength. Therefore the suppliant further acknowledges that they are withered as a leaf. But leaves when they are dry and fall off, become the prey of the wind. Thus iniquities (עַוֹנֵנוּ is defectively written plural for עַוֹנְינוֹ, Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 14:7; Daniel 9:13) have mediately swept the people into exile with the irresistible force of a tempest. And in exile the mass of the people have not been improved. Although, as this prayer itself proves, the stem is not quite dead (Isaiah 6:13), it may yet be said, if we consider the great mass of the people, that there is no one who calls upon the name of the Lord, no one who would have roused himself as a man to make the necessary moral effort to take fast hold of Jehovah. [God’s hiding his face stood in a causal relation to the absence of prayer on the part of the people. The neglect of calling on Jehovah’s name and the want of importunity in prayer are traced to the withdrawal of the divine favor and to the abandonment of the people to the consequences of their sins.—D. M.]

4. But now, O Lord—

Very sore.

Isaiah 64:7-11. וְעַתָּה is emphatic, Isaiah 64:7. It is as if he would say: “Our condition is very dreadful. The worst is to be feared. But now, Thou art our Father. Therefore there is still hope.” With אבינו he returns to the thought which he had already expressed, Isaiah 63:16. [“Instead of relying upon any supposed merits of their own, they appeal to their own dependence upon God as a reason why He should have mercy upon them. The paternity ascribed to God is not that of natural creation in the case of individuals, but the creation of the church or chosen people, and of Israel as a spiritual and ideal person. The figure of the potter and the clay, implying absolute authority and power, is used twice before (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 45:9), and is one of the connecting links between this book and the acknowledged Isaiah.” Alexander.—D. M.] On the double declaration that the Lord is not only Father, but also Potter, the prayer, Isaiah 64:8, is founded that He would not be wroth very sore, nor remember iniquity forever, but rather consider that all Israel is His people. This short emphatic exclamation הן הבט־נא עמך כלנו forms plainly the highest point of the prayer, and here it could accordingly come to an end. [?] I regard it as possible that the verses 9–11 have been inserted by an Israelite living in the Exile, to whom the sad condition of the holy land, of the holy city and of the holy house seemed to be for God and Israel the thing most unendurable.

We could thus explain the singularly vivid and exact description of the state in which the home of the exiles was at the time here supposed. For certainly the words of Isaiah 64:9 and Isaiah 64:10 do not sound as those of one who viewed the things from a distance, but as the words of one who saw them most closely. [Here our author’s arbitrary theory of prophecy misleads him, comp. Introduction, foot-note, pp. 17,18. Dr. Naegelsbach has himself told us in the heading of this fourth discourse, Isaiah 63:7 to Isaiah 64:11, that “the Prophet transports himself in spirit into the situation of the church of the Exile.” He lives in spirit in the Exile, and speaks of the misery prevailing in it as if he were an immediate eye-witness. This is in accordance with the custom of the Prophet. That condition of things which Isaiah by prophetic anticipation here describes as existing, is clearly predicted by his cotemporary Micah (Micah 3:12). It was after the Prophet had described the treading down of the sanctuary (Isaiah 63:18) that he exclaimed, Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down,etc.; and it is strange that Isaiah 63:9-10 should not be considered by our author as a most appropriate close to the prayer, and that these verses should be regarded by him as the language of carnal Israel, and as an interpolation by a later hand.—D. M.]. Thy holy cities are the cities of the land. קדשׁ is to be taken in an abstract sense: urbes tuae sanctitatis, thy holy cities (comp. Psalms 78:54; Zech. 2:16). Zion is here the mount Zion, the seat of the kingdom, the political centre of the theocracy; Jerusalem is the entire holy city, the national centre. There is added in Isaiah 64:10 the religious centre, the temple. [“The people call it house of our holiness and our glory; Jahve’s holiness and glory have in the temple transplanted, as it were, heaven on the earth (comp. Isaiah 63:15 with Isaiah 60:7), and this earthly dwelling-place of God is Israel’s possession, and thereby Israel’s קדשׁ and תפארת. The relative sentence tells what sacred historical recollections are attached to it. אֲשֶׁר is here=אֲשֶׁר שָׁםwhere, as Genesis 39:20; Numbers 20:13 et saepe” Delitzsch.—D. M.]. אֵשׁ שְׂרֵפַת is found only here. But comp. Isaiah 9:4. כֹּל with the predicate in the singular is uncommon; this urns loquendi does not occur elsewhere in Isaiah (comp. Ew. Gr. § 317 c; Proverbs 15:2; Ezekiel 31:15). We shall not err if we understand under our pleasant things, in opposition to the previously mentioned sacred localities, the buildings in private possession. [Delitzsch holds that the parallelism leads us under pleasant things to think of objects connected with the worship of God in which the people had a holy joy.—D. M.]. The singular חָרְבָּה is found in Isaiah only here (see the List). The expression הָיָה לְחָרְבָּה occurs no where else in Isaiah. But it is found frequently in Jeremiah, and in Ezekiel 38:8. After the Prophet had set this sad picture before the Lord, he closes with the question, whether the Lord can in such circumstances restrain himself (Isaiah 42:14; Isaiah 63:15) be silent (Isaiah 42:14; Isaiah 57:11; Isaiah 62:1; Isaiah 62:6; Isaiah 65:6) and so let His people be oppressed to the utmost (comp. Isaiah 40:27 sqq.)?

Footnotes:

[17]Heb. the fire of meltings.

[18]As fire kindles brushwood.

[19]When thou dost terrible deeds which we did not expect,—that thou wouldest come down, that mountains might flow down before thee!

[20]Or, seen a God beside thee, which doeth so for him, etc.

[21]In thy ways they remember thee.

[22]for a long time it is so; and shall we, be saved?

[23]We were all as the unclean (person), etc.

[24]Heb. melted.

[25]Heb. by the hand of.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 63:7. [“God does good because He is good; what He bestows upon us must be run up to the original, it is according to His mercies, not according to our merits, andaccording to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses, which can never be spent. Thus we should magnify God’s goodness, and speak honorably of it, not only when we plead it (as David Psalms 51:1), but when we praise it.” Henry. D. M.].

2. On Isaiah 63:9. The angel of the face or presence belongs to “the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is not right to imagine that a certain and exhaustive knowledge is possible in reference to these things. The humility which becomes even science, imposes on it the duty to write everywhere a non liquet, where, through the nature of things, limits are placed to human knowledge. Not to regard these limitations is the manner of the pseudo-scientific, immodest scholasticism. What, therefore, we have said regarding the angel of the face makes no higher pretension than that of a modest hypothesis. [Comp. in Hengstenberg’s Christology, Vol. Isaiah 1:0 : The Angel of the Lord in the books of Moses and in the book of Joshua.—D. M.].

3. On Isaiah 63:10. “There are two ways in which the Holy Ghost is offended or vexed. One way is of a less dreadful nature. It is when a man takes from the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in the soul for its joy, as He is wont to communicate to it His gracious influence and His gracious operations. When such is the case, then as an offended friend when He perceives that no heed is given to most of His counsels, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and, although reluctantly, ceases for a time to advise the stubborn, ut carendo discat quantum peccaverit. Of this kind of grieving Paul speaks Ephesians 4:30. It can be committed by the godly and the elect. But the Holy Spirit can be offended and vexed in a gross and flagitious way, when one not only does not believe and follow Him, but also obstinately resists Him, despises all His counsel, reviles and blasphemes Him, will none of His reproof (Proverbs 1:24-25), gives the lie to His truth, and so speaks against the sun… This the Scripture calls ἀντιπίπτειν (Acts 7:51), ἐνυβρίζειν (Hebrews 10:29), βλασφημεῖν (Matthew 12:31), θεομαχεῖν (Acts 5:39). Let us, therefore, not grieve the Holy Spirit with evil desires, words and deeds, that we may be able on the future day of redemption to show that seal uninjured with which we were sealed on that day of our redemption when we were regenerated. To this end let us assiduously breathe forth the prayers of David Psalms 143:10; Psalms 51:12-14.” Leigh.

4. On Isaiah 63:10. [They rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit. This statement implies the personality of the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God’s holiness. He is represented as a person whom we can grieve. We have in this passage clear indications of the doctrine of the Trinity. In Isaiah 63:9 we have the Angel of God’s face, and in Isaiah 63:10 we have the Spirit of His holiness, both clearly distinguished from God the fountain of their being.—D. M.].

5. On Isaiah 63:11. “Faith asks after God and so does unbelief, but in different ways. Both put the question, Where? Faith does it to seek God in time of need, and to tell Him trustfully of His old kindnesses. Unbelief does it to tempt God, to deny Him, to lead others into temptation, and to make them doubt regarding the divine presence and providence. Therefore it asks: “Where is the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17)? “Where is now thy God "(Psalms 42:4; Psalms 42:11; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2)? If you, as the praying Church here does, ask in the former manner diligently after God, you will be preserved from the other kind of asking.” Leigh.

6. On Isaiah 63:15. “Meritum meum miseratio Domini. Non sum meriti inops, quando ille miserationum Dominus non defuerit, et si misericordiae Domini multae, multus ego sum in meritis.” Augustine.

7. On Isaiah 63:16. “We can from this sentence [?] cogently refute the doctrine of the invocation of the Saints. For the Saints know nothing of us, and are not personally acquainted with us, much less can they know the concerns of our hearts, or hear our cry, for they are not omnipresent. If it be alleged that God makes matters known to them and that they then pray for us, what a round-about business this would be! It would justify the prayer said to have been made by a simple man: “Ah Lord God! tell it, I beseech thee, to the blessed Mary that I have told thee to tell it again to her, that she should tell thee that I have wished to say to her by so many Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, that she should say to thee to be pleased to be gracious unto me.” Meyer, de Rosariis, cap. III., thes. V., p. 52). With how much more brevity and efficacy do we pray with the penitent publican: God be merciful to me, a sinner! ”Leigh.

8. On Isaiah 63:17. “There is no more heinous sin than to accuse God of being the cause of our sin. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God (James 1:13; Psalms 5:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Ps. 92:16). He commands what is good, forbids and punishes what is evil. How then could He be the cause of it? But when He punishes sin with sin, i.e., when He at last withdraws from the sinner His grace that has been persistently despised, then He acts as a righteous Judge who inflicts the judgment of hardening the heart on those who wilfully resist His Spirit.” Leigh.

9. On Isaiah 66:0 [“This chapter is a model of affectionate and earnest entreaty for the divine interposition in the day of calamity. With such tender and affectionate earnestness may we learn to plead with God! Thus may all His people learn to approach Him as a Father; thus feel that they have the inestimable privilege in the times of trial of making known their wants to the High and Holy One. Thus when calamity presses on us; when as individuals or families we are afflicted; or when our country or the church is suffering under long trials, may we go to God, and humbly confess our sins, and urge His promises, and take hold of His strength, and plead with Him to interpose. Thus pleading, He will hear us; thus presenting our cause, He will interpose to save us.” Barnes. D. M.].

10. On Isaiah 64:3-4 a. [4, 5 a]. The God who appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, called Moses, and led by him the people of Israel out of Egypt, who chose Joshua, Samuel, David and others to be His servants and glorified Himself by them, this God alone has shown Himself to be the true and living God, and we can hope from Him that He will yet do more, and manifest Himself still more signally.

11. On Isaiah 64:4 [5]. [“Note what God expects from us in order to our having communion with Him. First, We must make conscience of doing our duty in everything, we must work righteousness, must do that which is good, and which the Lord our God requires of us, and must do it well. Secondly, We must be cheerful in doing our duty; we must rejoice and work righteousness, must delight ourselves in God and His law, must be pleasant in His service and sing at our work. God loves a cheerful giver, a cheerful worshipper; we must serve the Lord with gladness. Thirdly, We must conform ourselves to all the methods of His providence concerning us, and be suitably affected with them; must remember Him in Hisways, in all the ways wherein He walks, whether He walks towards us, or walks contrary to us; we must mind Him, and make mention of Him, with thanksgiving, when His ways are ways of mercy, for in a day of prosperity we mustbe joyful, with patience and submission when He contends with us, for in a day of adversity we must consider.” Henry. D. M.].

12. On Isaiah 64:7 [8]. [“This whole verse is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God. It expresses the feeling which all have when under conviction of sin, and when they are sensible that they are exposed to the divine displeasure for their transgressions. Then they feel that if they are to be saved, it must be by the mere Sovereignty of God; and they implore His interposition to ‘mould and guide them at His will.’ It may be added, that it is only when sinners have this feeling that they hope for relief; and then they will feel that if they are lost, it will be right; if saved, it will be because God moulds them as the potter does the clay.” Barnes. D. M.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 63:7. Text for a Thanksgiving Sermon. What is our duty after that the Lord has shown us great loving kindness? 1) To remember what He has done to us. 2) To be mindful of what we ought to render to Him for the same.

2. On Isaiah 63:8-17. The history of the people of Israel a mirror in which we too may perceive the history of our relation to God. 1) God is to us from the beginning a loving and faithful Father (Isaiah 63:8-9). 2) We repay His love with ingratitude, as Israel did (Isaiah 63:10 a). 3) God punishes us for this as He punished Israel (Isaiah 63:10 b). 4) God receives us again to His favor when we, as Israel, call on Him in penitence (Isaiah 63:11-17).

On Isaiah 63:7-17. “If God in Christ has become our Father, He remains our Father to all eternity. 1) He is our Father in Christ. 2) He abides faithful even when we waIsa Isaiah 63:3) When we have fallen, His arms still stand open to receive us.” Deichert in Manch. G. u. ein Geist, 1868, page 65.

4. On Isaiah 64:5-7. Joh. Ben. Carpzov has a sermon on this text, in which he treats of righteousness, and shows 1) justitiam salvantem, i. e., the righteousness with which one enters the kingdom of heaven; 2) justitiam damnantem, i. e., the righteousness with which a man enters the fire of hell; 3) justitiam testantem, i. e., the righteousness by which a man testifies that he has attained the true righteousness.

5. On Isaiah 64:6-9. “Let us hear from our text an earnest and affecting confession of sin, and at the same time consider 1) the doctrine of repentance; 2) the comfort of forgiveness which believers receive.”—Eichhorn.

6. On Isaiah 64:6. (We all do fade, etc.) “These are very instructive words, from which we learn what a noxious plant sin is, and what fruit it brings forth. First, says he, we fade as a leaf. This means that sin brings with it the curse of God, and deprives us of His blessing both for the body and the soul, so that the heart is dissatisfied and distressed. Then it robs us of the highest treasure, confidence in the grace of God. For sin and an evil conscience awaken dread of God. As it is impossible to call upon God aright without faith and a sure persuasion of His aid, it follows that sin hinders prayer also, and thus robs us of the highest comfort. When men have no faith and cannot pray, then the awful punishment comes upon them, that God hides His face and leaves them to pine in their sins. For they cannot help themselves, and have lost the consolation and protection which they need in life.”—Veit Diet.

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 63". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/isaiah-63.html. 1857-84.