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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Isaiah 50

 

 

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

Where ... mother's divorcement. Zion is 'the mother;' the Jews are the children; and God the Husband and Father (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 3:14). Gesenius thinks God, means by the question, to deny that He had given 'a bill of divorcement' to her, as was often done on slight pretexts by a husband (Deuteronomy 24:1), or that He had "sold" His and her 'children,' as a poor parent sometimes did (Exodus 21:7; 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:5) under pressure of his "creditors;" that it was they who sold themselves through their own sins. Maurer, not so well, explains, 'Show the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom, etc.; produce the creditors to whom ye have been sold: so it will be seen that it was not from any caprice of mine, but through your own fault your mother has been put away and you sold' (Isaiah 52:3). She antithesis between "I have sold you" and 'for (i:e., by reason of) your own iniquities ye have sold yourselves,' or (Hebrew, nimkartem (Hebrew #4376)) 'ye are sold,' shows the sense is, 'I have never given your mother a regular bill of divorcement, I have merely 'put her away' for a time, and can therefore, by my right as her husband still, take her back on her submission. I have not made you, the children, over to any creditor to satisfy a debt: I therefore still have the right of a father over you, and can take you back on repentance, though as rebellious children you have sold yourselves to sin and its penalty' (1 Kings 21:25).

The bill of your mother's divorcement, whom - rather, 'the bill with which I have put her away' (Maurer). So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac.


Verse 2

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.

Wherefore, when I came. I-Messiah.

(Was there) no man? - willing to believe in and obey me (Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 53:3). The same Divine Person had 'come' by His prophets in the Old Testament (appealing to them, but in vain, Jeremiah 7:25-26), who was about to come under the New Testament.

Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? The shortened hand is the Oriental emblem of weakness, as the long stretched-out hand is of power (Isaiah 59:1). Notwithstanding your sins, I can still "redeem" you from your bondage and dispersion.

At my rebuke I dry up the sea - (Exodus 14:21.) The second exodus shall exceed, while it resembles in wonders, the first (Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 51:15). I make the rivers a wilderness - I turn the prosperity of Israel's foes into adversity.

Their fish stinketh - the very judgment inflicted on their Egyptian enemies at the first exodus (Exodus 7:18; Exodus 7:21).


Verse 3

I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.

I clothe the heavens with blackness - another of the judgments on Egypt to be repeated hereafter on the last enemy of God's people (Exodus 10:21).

I make sackcloth their covering - (Revelation 6:12.)


Verse 4

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to (him that is) weary. Messiah, as 'the servant of Yahweh' (Isaiah 42:1), declares that the office has been assigned to Him of encouraging the "weary" exiles of Israel, by 'words in season' suited to their case; and that, whatever sufferings it is to cost Himself, He does not shrink from it (Isaiah 50:5-6), because He knows that His cause will triumph at last (Isaiah 50:7-8).

Learned - not in mere human learning, but in divinely taught modes of instruction and eloquence (Isaiah 49:2). So Moses the type (Exodus 4:11-12; Matthew 7:28-29; Matthew 13:54).

Speak a word in season - (Proverbs 15:23; Proverbs 25:11). [La`uwt, akin to `eet (Hebrew #6256), time, or fit time.] Buxtorf makes the literal sense to be as the English version. So the Septuagint, and Arabic. But Maurer, after the Vulgate [sustentare], makes it from an Arabic root, 'to succour by word'-namely, in their season of need-the "weary" dispersed children of Israel (Deuteronomy 28:65-67). Also the spiritually "weary" (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 11:28).

He wakeneth (me) morning by morning. Compare "daily rising up early," Jeremiah 7:25; Mark 1:35. The image is drawn from a master wakening his pupils early for instruction.

He wakeneth mine ear - He prepares me for receiving His divine instructions.

To hear as the learned - as one taught by Him, He 'learned obedience,' experimentally, "by the things which He suffered," thus gaining that practical learning which adapted Him for 'speaking a word in season' to suffering men (Hebrews 5:8).


Verse 5

The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.

The Lord God hath opened mine ear (see note, Isaiah 42:20; Isaiah 48:8) - i:e., hath made me obediently attentive (but Maurer, 'hath informed me of my duty'), as a servant to his master (cf. Psalms 40:6-8 with Philippians 2:7; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27).

Not rebellious - but, on the contrary, most willing to do the Father's will in proclaiming and procuring salvation for man, at the cost of my own sufferings (Hebrews 10:5-10).


Verse 6

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Smiters - with scourges and with the open hand (Isaiah 52:14). Mark 14:65; Matt. 28:26; 26:67 , inform us of the fufilment of this prophecy (Luke 18:31-33). To 'pluck the hair' is the highest insult that can be offered an Oriental (2 Samuel 10:4; Lamentations 3:30). "I gave" implies the voluntary nature of His sufferings; His example corresponded to His precept (Matthew 5:39).

I hid not my face from shame and spitting - to spit in another's presence is an insult in the East, much more on one; most of all, in the face (Job 30:10; Matthew 27:30).


Verse 7

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded. Sample of His not being "discouraged" (Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 49:5).

Therefore have I set my face like a flint - I have set myself resolutely not to be daunted from my work of love by shame or suffering (Ezekiel 3:8-9 : cf. Luke 9:51). [kai autos to prosoopon autou esteerixe.]


Verse 8

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.

He is near that justifieth me - (Isaiah 49:4) The believer, by virtue of his oneness with Christ, uses the same language (Psalms 138:8; Romans 8:32-34). But 'justify,' in His case, is God's judicial acceptance and vindication of Him on the ground of own righteousness (Luke 22:44-47); Romans 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:16, with which cf. 1 Peter 3:18); in their case, on the ground of His righteousness and meritorious death imputed to them (Romans 5:19).

Let us stand together - in judgment, to try the issue.

Adversary ( ba`al (Hebrew #1167) mishpaaTiy (Hebrew #4941)) - literally, master of my cause; i:e., who has real ground of accusation against me, so that he can demand judgment to be given in his favour (cf. Zechariah 3:1, etc; Revelation 12:10).


Verse 9

Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.

Behold, the Lord God will help me - cf. Isaiah 52:13, margin; Isaiah 53:10; Psalms 118:6; Jeremiah 23:5).

Who (is) he (that) shall condemn me? - (Romans 8:34.)

They all shall wax old as a garment - (Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 51:8; Psalms 102:26.) A leading constituent of wealth in the East in change of clothing, which is always liable to the inroads of the moth: hence, the frequency of the image in Scripture.


Verse 10

Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. Who is among you that feareth the Lord ... that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord. Messiah exhorts the godly after His example (Isaiah 49:4-5; Isaiah 42:4), when in circumstances of trial ("darkness, Isaiah 47:5), to trust in the arm of Yahweh alone. "Who is among" - i:e., Whosoever (Judges 7:3).

That obeyeth the voice of his servant - namely, Messiah. The godly, 'honour the Son, even as they honour the Father' (John 5:23).

Darkness - (Micah 7:8-9.) God never had a son who was not sometimes in the dark. For even Christ, His only Son, cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

No light - rather, no splendour: bright sunshine for the servant of God is never, wholly without "light" (Vitringa). A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and light. A wicked man's way may be bright, but his end shall be utter darkness (Psalms 112:4; Psalms 97:11; Psalms 37:24).

Let him trust in the name of the Lord - as Messiah did (Isaiah 50:8-9).


Verse 11

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass (yourselves) about with sparks. In contrast to the godly (Isaiah 50:10), the wicked, in times of darkness, instead of trusting in God, trust in themselves (kindle a light for themselves to walk by) (Ecclesiastes 11:9). The image is continued from Isaiah 50:10, "darkness;" human devices for salvation (Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 16:25) are like the spark that goes out in an instant in darkness (cf. Job 18:6; Job 21:17, with Psalms 18:28).

Sparks - not a steady light, but blazing sparks extinguished in a moment.

Walk in the light of your fire ... ye shall lie down in sorrow - not a command, but implying that as surely as they would do so, they should he down in sorrow (Jeremiah 3:25). In exact proportion to mystic Babylon's previous "glorying" of herself shall be her sorrow (Matthew 25:30; Matthew 8:12; Revelation 18:6-7).

Remarks: The Lord hath for a time "put away," not permanently 'divorced,' Israel, whom He has betrothed to Himself spiritually. He therefore still has the conjugal right of a Husband over her, and can take her back to Him on her submission. It was indeed meet sad that 'when He came' the nation was not willing to accept His proffered salvation. Yet notwithstanding their past unbelief, His 'hand is not shortened, that it cannot redeem' them from their bondage, and their dispersion. He can and will repeat upon their past enemy all the judgments that were inflicted on Egypt. He will "dry up" the fountain of the enemy's resources, and "clothe the heavens with blackness." Messiah has been given by the Father "the tongue of the learned" in heavenly science, qualifying Him to "speak a word in season to him that is weary." His own experimental knowledge in suffering, the smiting, the shame, and the spitting which He endured, all enable Him to sympathize with in suffering, the smiting, the shame, and the spitting which He endured, all enable Him to sympathize with His people in affliction, as no other can.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-50.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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