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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Isaiah 16

Verse 4


Isa . Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab.

II. God provides a refuge for His people when and where it might be least expected. "With thee, Moab." Moab was not a neutral, but a hostile state, one of Israel's most inveterate foes, always on the outlook for opportunities to display its hostility. Strange, therefore, that Moab should be selected as a protector for Jehovah's outcasts; strange, but not unexampled. God often raises up friends for His people in unexpected quarters, supplies their needs by unexpected means, or turns their foes into friends (Pro ). Esau's heart was suddenly changed; Joseph found favour in the eyes of the keeper of the prison; Elijah was fed by ravens; the hungry lions forbore to touch Daniel, &c.

III. God would have His people to be only sojourners in Moab. His outcasts were merely to dwell there; they were not to be incorporated with the Moabitish nation; they were not to adopt either the social customs or the religious beliefs of that people. In like manner He would have His people remember always that in this world they are only sojourners (1Pe ; H. E. I., 5026-5065).

Verse 12

Isa . He shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.

In the profoundly affecting picture which the prophet draws of the calamities coming on the Moabites, he represents them as at length, every other means of relief being exhausted, coming with sad and weary hearts to their sanctuary to call upon their god for deliverance. Their supplications were destined to fail, for they were presented to that which had no power to hear or save (Psa ). This line in this dark picture reminds us of two facts in the life of the men of our own time, who see clearly the folly of idolatry.

I. In times of sorrow they are often seen in the sanctuary. Many who at other times lead openly irreligious lives are then seen using the forms of devotion. This is natural (H. E. I., 3718); it is not wrong; that which is wrong is the infrequency with which the sanctuary is visited and prayer offered by them (H. E. I, 3878, 3879). It is natural and fitting that in time of trouble men should seek God in the sanctuary, tor the sanctuary is the place—

1. Of special promise (Exo ; Deu 12:5; 1Ki 9:3; Mat 18:20).

2. Of special means. Everything there tends to the production and increase of a devotional spirit (H. E. I., 5078).

3. Of special memory—of memories of help obtained, of sorrows solaced in former times.

II. But all this makes more remarkable the other fact of which these words may well remind us, that many of the supplications that are offered in the sanctuary are offered in vain. We know that this is a fact: how is it to be explained? In such ways as these—

1. Many of the suppliants have little or no faith, and faith is the essential condition of blessing (H. E. I., 3827-3830).

2. Many of the suppliants are not really in earnest, and lukewarmness is an offence to the Divine Being (H. E. I., 3814, 3815, 3831-3838).

3. Many of the suppliants are not really penitent. Their prayers are mere calls for help in time of distress, and God has nowhere promised to help the impenitent and rebellious (H. E. I., 3846, 3858; P. D., 3595).

To point out the causes of the weakness and failure of such prayers is also to point out the remedies that must be applied if the suppliants would have their prayers "prevail."—William Manning.

In times of trouble, men—

1. Feel their need of help.

2. Generally have recourse to fallacious sources (H. E. I., 172-175).

3. Meet with disappointment, because God is forgotten or unknown.—J. Lyth, D.D.: Homiletical Treasury, part i. p. 23.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 16". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.