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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 50


Christ sheweth that the dereliction of the Jews is not to be imputed to him, by his ability to save, by his obedience in that work, and by his confidence in God's assistance. An exhortation to trust in God, and not in ourselves.

Before Christ 712.

Verses 1-3

Isaiah 50:1-3. Thus saith the Lord In the preceding period of the last chapter, a doubt respecting the great enemy of the church was removed: but another doubt exercised the afflicted church about the same time in which we have placed the scene of this prophesy: for as at that time the Jewish nation was engaged in a war with the Romans, which seemed to threaten the entire destruction of their state, the true church, among the Jews, plainly perceived from hence, that God had entirely cast off and divorced this people, which was a matter of great affliction to them. Therefore the distressed Sion wanted comfort in this respect, which God gives in these words, teaching, first, that he had publicly divorced their mother, and delivered her to the power of the Romans, being wholly compelled by reasons of justice for their enormous crimes and iniquities; the greater of which was, their contempt of that salvation which he had offered them: Isaiah 50:1.—middle of 2. Wherefore when I came,—and when I called, refers to the appearance of the Son of God among the Jews, and his calling them to repent, and accept his salvation. See John 7:28. Secondly, That he wanted not power to save; concerning which he speaks in very magnificent terms, alluding to the deliverance from Egypt:—middle of Isaiah 50:2-3. See Habakkuk 3:8. Vitringa thinks that the third verse alludes to the overthrow of Sennacherib's army. See Revelation 6:12. The mystical signification is, that the Son of God, as the avenger of his church, can easily destroy, utterly subvert, and reduce to blackness and desolation, the greatest empires which oppose the designs of his kingdom and providence. See Vitringa.

Verse 4

Isaiah 50:4. The Lord God hath given me, &c.— The second discourse of the fifth part of this book extends to the 17th verse of the following chapter. It is divided into two sections; the former of which, in the present chapter, contains a discourse of the Messiah, both historical, or narrative, and doctrinal, by way of apostrophe, directed to the hearers. In the historical part, he relates, first, that he was appointed to the excellent office of preaching the Gospel, and was immediately instructed by God for that purpose: Isaiah 50:4. Secondly, that he had shewn the greatest readiness to undertake, and the greater diligence to fulfil, this office; Isaiah 50:5. As well as thirdly, the greatest patience and constancy, first, amid reproaches, injuries, and contumelies brought upon him: the grounds of which constancy, he shews to be, his confidence in the assistance of God, and his full persuasion of his good-will towards him, Isaiah 50:6-7. Secondly, amid the calumnies and contradictions of his adversaries, none of whom, however, could stand before him, God approving and justifying his cause: Isaiah 50:8-9. In the doctrinal part, he first graciously addresses those who fear the Lord; and foretels to them a happy end, Isaiah 50:10. Secondly, he foretels to his adversaries destruction, to arise from those very things wherein they sought salvation, Isaiah 50:11. This chapter wants very little more comment than the present analysis, and a reference to the history of our Lord. The meaning of the phrase, To speak a word, &c. is to teach the doctrine of grace to the spiritually weary. See chap. Isaiah 61:1. The next clause is a metaphor taken from a diligent school-master, who early every morning rouses his scholars to hear his instructions; and the meaning is, that he had every day, from morning to evening, the illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit with him, to instruct him in the perfect knowledge of all things which concerned his state, his function, and the necessities of his church. Literally the passage runs thus, Every morning he plucketh my ear, that I may hear like those who are instructed. See Mat 11:28 and Psa 1:2 which many of the ancients have understood of the man Christ Jesus. See Vitringa.

Verse 5

Isaiah 50:5. The Lord God hath opened mine ear An open ear signifies a mind prompt and ready to receive, understand, and distinguish, the doctrines which are taught it, and to obey the commands which are carried through the ears to the mind. See chap. Isaiah 42:18. The completion of this and the following verses, in the Messiah, is too evident to need pointing out.

Verse 8

Isaiah 50:8. Who is mine adversary? Who will hold suit against me?

Verse 9

Isaiah 50:9. Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment The simple sense of this metaphorical expression is, that all the adversaries of Christ should be abolished and done away, like a garment, which grows vile and useless by wearing, and is at length consumed by the moths. This is expressed plainly and literally, chap. Isaiah 41:11. See also Psalms 73:27. Some think that here is an allusion to the old oeconomy, which, under the dispensation of the new, was entirely to grow old and vanish away. See Psa 102:26-27 compared with Hebrews 1:10-12.

Verse 10

Isaiah 50:10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord After the Messiah had prophetically described his condition among the Jews, he addresses himself to the Jewish people, who, being divided into two classes, one of believers, his disciples, the other of the rebellious, who, he foresaw, would perish in their own devices; he applies to both, but in a different manner; comforting the former in the doubtful beginnings of the new oeconomy; and foretelling to the latter the destruction which would come upon them. The consolatory address in this verse is of perpetual use: for, who may not apply it in the doubtful and uncertain state of his affairs to the support of his faith and hope? It is however, in its literal sense here, to be restrained to that solicitude and anxiety, that heaviness and sorrow, which involved the first believers, from the unsettled and persecuted state of the church. See Hebrews 10:35-36.

Verse 11

Isaiah 50:11. Behold, all ye, &c.— Behold, all ye who strike out fire, and place fuel around; walk in the light of your fire, and of the fuel you have kindled. It is universally agreed, that the adversaries of the kingdom of Christ are here meant, particularly the Scribes and Pharisees, and all those who were most solicitous for the destruction of Christ, and who became afterwards the principal cause of the destruction of their own nation. The prophet's metaphor, in a general view, exhibits seditious and restless men, who, accustomed to stir up and to cherish commotions and seditions to ruin others, are by those very means themselves involved in ruin. See chap. 17, 18. The prophet seems to refer more immediately to the state of Jerusalem besieged and destroyed by the Romans.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, God will vindicate his ways to men, and prove his justice in the rejection of the Jewish people.

1. He desires that the cause of their rejection may be examined. Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? intimating, either that God had not cast them off, but they, like an adultress, had treacherously departed from him; or, that if he had divorced them, if the bill was produced, the cause would be found abundantly to vindicate his proceeding: or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? fathers having such a right over their children among the Jews: but God owed nothing either to the Babylonians or Romans; and therefore, if they were captives, it was not of him, but themselves. Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away; to gratify their vile lusts, they provoked God, by their idolatries especially; and at last, by crucifying the Redeemer, they brought upon themselves destruction. Note; (1.) Though all who are saved owe it to God's free and unmerited grace, none are damned but must own it the just reward of their own obstinate impenitence. (2.) If sinners sell themselves to work wickedness, they can only hope to earn the wages of sin.

2. He upbraids them with their inattention to his calls by all his prophets, and especially by his Son, who came himself to warn them, yet none regarded. They paid no credit to his word, nor would be persuaded, that he who appeared in circumstances so mean was the almighty Redeemer promised, though he had given such instances of his glorious power in their former deliverances. At his rebuke the sea was divided; by him Jordan became a dry ground; he slew the fish of Egypt, when the rivers were turned into blood, and covered the Egyptians with that thick darkness which might be felt. Or it may refer to his power in raising the thick clouds, and, when he pleases, eclipsing the luminaries of heaven; in all which works his omnipotence is manifested.
2nd, We have our Lord proceeding in his work of redemption, for which he is every way so fully qualified.
1. As endued with the higher wisdom, that he might know how to preach the Gospel which brings rest to the weary soul; and constantly receiving from his Father, as the great prophet of his church, those lessons of instruction, which, with fidelity and zeal, rising up early, he inculcated on his disciples. Note; (1.) One of the greatest qualifications of a minister of God is, to know how to address the troubled conscience, and to speak the reasonable word to calm the tumult of the soul. (2.) It is God who gives the ability, and he alone can add the blessing. (3.) They who would serve God in the Gospel of his Son, must attentively hear him speaking in his revealed word, for there are all the hidden treasures of wisdom. (4.) Morning by morning must we be found upon our knees, asking the wisdom which cometh from above; for the most laborious researches of the human understanding in the Scriptures, without the teaching of God's Spirit, will never make us wise unto salvation.

2. Patiently suffering, he voluntarily yielded himself up to his Father's will; as the servant who had his ear bored, Exo 21:5-6 became his master's property for ever; and when he was called to the severest trials, in the course of his obedience unto death for our redemption, he cheerfully met his sufferings, submitting to all that shame, insult, pain, and agony, which he endured from his wicked persecutors; see Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:26. Mark 14:65.John 18:22; John 18:22. Note; The more we consider what Jesus so readily submitted to on our behalf, the more shall our hearts be comforted in the persuasion of his willingness to save all who come to him.

3. Powerfully supported, and boldly accomplishing his work in the face of all opposition. For the Lord will help me; as man, he needed support from his Father, and found it in the day of his calamity; therefore shall I not be confounded, so as to faint under his sufferings. Therefore have I set my face like a flint, against all the ignominious treatment to which he was exposed; and I know that I shall not be ashamed; his cause was good, and he was assured that in the issue he should not be disappointed, but see the redemption of all his faithful people completed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. The charges that were laid against him by Satan, or by his malicious persecutors, were all answered; and God, by his resurrection from the dead, declared him fully acquitted of every accusation, and that he had made complete satisfaction for the sins of the world. Thus holpen of God, no condemnation remained against him; whilst all his enemies, doomed to ruin, like a moth-eaten garment, should utterly and irrecoverably perish. Note; (1.) They who are called to stand up for Christ, have need of courage, and to set their faces as a flint against the revilings of men. (2.) Christ's service will bear us out; and, however shameful in the eyes of men the preaching of the cross may appear, it is our greater glory. (3.) While our hearts are led up to God for strength, he will not fail us. (4.) A believer in Jesus may now challenge every accuser; the resurrection of his Lord gives him a plea which silences all condemnation. (5.) The enemies of Christ and his people, however they may prevail for a time, are doomed at last to perish for ever, and the worm which dieth not shall feed upon them.

3rdly, The sufficiency of the Lord Jesus for his undertaking being shewn, he here addresses saints and sinners, comforting the one, and warning the other.
1. He speaks a word of kind encouragement to sincere penitents. Their character is drawn as fearing the Lord, with reverence and regard, and obeying the voice of his servant; yet they walk in darkness, and see no light; exposed to severe afflictions, or destitute of their comfort, and full of fears and doubts about their interest in the Redeemer. In such a state of distress he bids them trust in the name of the Lord, against hope believing in hope; and staying themselves on their God, who, though they are in darkness, is willing to reveal himself to them. Note; In the darker dispensations of Providence there is still ground to say, My God; and as long as our faith do not fail, we shall not be cast away.

2. He speaks a word of conviction to the presumptuous. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; like Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire, setting up the light of nature instead of revelation; seeking, by works of righteousness which they can do, to obtain pardon from God, instead of renouncing themselves, to trust alone in the infinite merit of a Redeemer. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled; ironically spoken, as intimating the vanity and insufficiency of the methods they pursued: this shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow. The issue of your ways will be fatal: the light of nature can only lead you to outer darkness, and dependence on your own deserts and duties prove at last your eternal ruin. Note; Creature-comforts may administer a short-lived enjoyment, and self-dependence flatter us with a momentary hope; but soon will these sparks be extinguished, and death undeceive those who would not be undeceived before.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 50". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.