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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 50

Sec. 2. MESSIAH’S MESSAGE TO ISRAEL, chaps. Isaiah 50:1 to Isaiah 52:10.

In connexion with the close of Messiah’s message to the heathen in chapter 49 was a reply to Zion’s complaint that she had been forsaken and forgotten. The subject is resumed, and the cause of the rejection is explained under figure of marriage infidelity, not, as Zion untruthfully and unjustly alleged, that she had been voluntarily forsaken or forgotten. But the warning and reproof herein given are followed by promises of very rich blessings yet to come.

Verse 1

1. Thus saith the Lord As in reply to Zion’s complaint, and in justification of himself.

Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement? In effect, the words are: “Your mother, or Zion, to whom I am married, and claim still an indissoluble marriage bond, has no such bill of divorcement, except as she has herself made it by departure from me. Consequently, her children are not chattels to be sold into bondage. Earthly fathers do this, but I never. The children of Zion may break away from me and sell themselves, but I am faithful to my covenants my part of the bond for ever. You are doers of these evils; your mother has put herself away.”

Verse 2

2. Wherefore, when I came… no man No man of you answers to my call when I come to my people. Guilt is timid, and shrinks out of sight. It feels condemnation, not confidence. Is this your case?

Is my hand shortened That is, cut off, and thus disabled.

That it cannot redeem Cannot rescue and redeem my own when they stray and get enslaved.

Behold, at my rebuke God’s kindly providence is always over his people, as against others hostile to them. Instances: the Red Sea deliverance; the retention of waters in desert wady-trunks, when winter is gone and summer drought has come; such as Wady Feiran, near Sinai; but other wadies become all dry, yet new founts are opened where not known before.

Verse 3

3. I clothe the heavens with blackness As at Sinai, but I cause the terror stricken still to live, and lay before them my commands. Should not such a husband, such a father, helper, friend, be worthy of confidence?

Verse 4

4. This discourse is to his people yet in exile; but equally well it applies to them when he, as Messiah, finds them at his incarnation in Judea, centuries after their restoration to Jerusalem.

The Lord God He from whom goes forth the Messiah, and he in whom Jehovah came to his nation, a twofold mysterious relation, or interaction, of God and his Anointed One. The one speaking here, as is also shown by the words me and mine, may be assumed to be the Messiah, who is referring in these verses to facts pertaining especially to the incarnate period on earth, and generally to the ante-incarnate period during the later history of Israel. Isaiah 42:2; Isaiah 49:1.

The tongue of the learned One eloquent in what he knows, or in those things in which he has been instructed.

Word in season Words of consolation and hope to the sorrowful and afflicted.

He wakeneth morning by morning Jehovah continually reveals to his Anointed what truths he should speak or reveal. Messiah is a learner, not in the way prophets become such by dreams in the night and other ways but through closest oneness of nature, and in normal face-to-face communications.

He wakeneth mine ear Calleth for my mental attention, which is instantly given. This describes the way of Christ on earth perfectly.

Verse 6

6. I gave my back to the smiters Spoken in reference to Christ’s willingly-borne sufferings. His obedience was perfect. Psalms 22:7; Psalms 69:8, find in this their perfect anti-typical fulfilment. “He offered his back to such as smote it, his cheeks to such as plucked the hair of his beard.” This was submission to the deepest degree of shame an Oriental could conceive of. See Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30; Luke 18:31-38.

Verses 7-9

7-9. But he trusts in Jehovah, and looks to the end with a sweetly-willing patience. No shame makes him faint-hearted.

The Lord God will help me Assurance of hope is assurance of faith for the long future. Except in the Divine Man, no such endurance, with its long waiting, is possible to be exemplified.

Like a flint He made his face as unfeeling as a flint-stone the hardest stone known. Power of will to endure like this raises supreme admiration and supreme pity.

He is near That is, he who justifieth; who causes to be, and at length who appears before the universe a just one. This is in antithesis with the next causative verb to condemn, to make one a condemned man.

Let us stand together Adjudication is invited; the contender, or adversary, is called on to do his worst. Messiah does not fear. His mission is serenely to endure. But Jehovah is near, and on his side. His cause is sure. Righteousness will at length be pronounced on him. But the adversary will fail and vanish to naught, as does the rich oriental’s wealth consisting of abundant changes of raiment which the moth preys upon and devours.

Verse 10

10. Thus far, beginning with the fourth verse, we have had the words of the Servant of God. The Isaiah 50:1-3 were Jehovah’s words of the import that the sufferings of God’s people were the necessary fruit of their own sins. And now Jehovah closes with a warning to his people again, to the import, first, That if they who at heart fear Jehovah, and have had the spirit of self-sacrifice measurably like that of his Servant, yet have walked much in darkness, have had buffetings, trials, dishonour, and injustice, let them trust in Jehovah their Father, who loves and will deliver them; and will yet secure to them blessed victories. Unlike Jehovah’s Servant, they suffer not a little from perversions of character of their own forming, for which the discipline is awhile all the sharper, but ought to lead to the greater humiliation before God, and to a more undoubting trust in him.

Verse 11

11. Ye… that compass yourselves about with sparks If any son of Israel is neglecting Jehovah his God, is self-sufficient, is kindling his own fire and walking by the light of it, even daring the perils of stumbling on account of the darkness which his own soon-to-be-quenched light shall occasion, then, be sure, God’s own right hand shall send a doom heavier than can be imagined.

Ye shall lie down in sorrow Or in a place of torment, where there shall be no remedy. Vitringa, and those who follow him, suppose allusion here is direct to the Pharisaical party who at first listened to Christ’s teachings, then rejected them, then murdered him. For all which their doom as a nation was precipitated in forty years.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 50". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.