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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Isaiah 64

 

 

Verse 1

Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens - bursting forth to execute vengeance, suddenly descending on thy people's foe (Psalms 18:9; Psalms 144:5; Habakkuk 3:5-6).

That thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence - (Judges 5:5; Mic That thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence - (Judges 5:5; Micah 1:4.)


Verse 2

As when the 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!

As (when) the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil: to make thy name known to thine adversaries. Oh that thy wrath would consume thy foes as the fire of meltings burneth. Or, 'as the fire burneth the dry brushwood' [ h


Verse 3

When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

When thou didst. Supply from Isaiah 64:2, As when, etc.

Terrible things - (Psalms 65:5.)

(Which) we looked not for - far exceeding the expectation of any of our nation: unparalleled before (Exodus 34:10; Psalms 68:8).

Thou camest down - on mount Sinai.

The mountains flowed down at thy presence - repeated from Isaiah 64:1; they pray God to do the very same things for Israel now as in former ages. Gesenius, instead of "flowed" here, and "flow" in Isaiah 64:1, translates ( naazoluw (Hebrew #2151)), with the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic, from a different Hebrew root, 'quake ... quaked;' but "fire" melts and causes to flow, rather than to quake (Isaiah 64:2). The Vulgate supports the English version.


Verse 4

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

For since the beginning of the world (men) have not heard, nor perceived by the ear. Paul (1 Corinthians 2:9) has for this latter clause "nor have entered into the heart of man" - the virtual sense, sanctioned by his inspired authority: men might hear with the outward ear, but they could only by the Spirit 'perceive' with the 'heart' the spiritual significancy of God's acts, both those in relation to Israel, primarily referred to here, and those relating to the Gospel secondarily, which Paul refers to.

Neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, (what) he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him - or, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic, 'nor hath eye seen a god beside thee who doeth (or will do: ya`


Verse 5

Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

Thou meetest - i:e., Thou makest peace, or enterest into covenant with him (note, Isaiah 47:3).

Him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness - i:e., who with joyful willingness worketh (Gesenius.) (Hosea 14:9; Micah 2:7; Acts 10:35; John 7:17).

(Those that) remember thee in thy ways - (Isaiah 26:8.) Thou meetest "those," etc., in apposition to "him," who represents a class whose characteristics the prophet describes in the words "those that remember thee in thy ways."

Behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned - literally, tripped, or slipped ( necheTaa' (Hebrew #2398)), carrying on the figure in "ways."

In those is continuance, and we shall be saved - a plea to deprecate the continuance of God's wrath: it is not in thy wrath that there is continuance (Isaiah 54:7-8; Psalms 30:5; Psalms 103:9), but in thy ways ("those") - namely, of covenant-mercy to thy people (Micah 7:18-20; Malachi 3:6); on the strength of the everlasting continuance of His covenant they infer by faith, "we shall be saved." God "remembered for them His covenant" (Psalms 106:45), though they often "remembered not" Him (Psalms 78:42). Castalio translates, 'we have sinned for long in them ("thy ways"), and could we then be saved?' But they hardly would use such a plea when their very object was to be saved.


Verse 6

But we are all as 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.

But we are all as an unclean (thing) ( kaTaamee' (Hebrew #2931)) - legally unclean as a leper. True of Israel, everywhere now cut off by unbelief, and by God's judgments, from the congregation of the saints.

And all our righteousnesses - plural, 'uncleanness' extended to every particular act of theirs, even to their prayers and praises. True of the best doings of the unregenerate (Philippians 3:6-8; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 11:6).

(Are) as filthy rags - literally a cloth of removals [ `idiym (Hebrew #5708), from `eed (Hebrew #5708), to remove or put away as unclean]; a menstruous rag (Leviticus 15:33; Leviticus 20:18; Lamentations 1:17).

Fade as a leaf - (Psalms 90:5-6.)


Verse 7

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 consumed us, because of our iniquities.

And (there is) none that ... stirreth up himself - rouseth himself from spiritual drowsiness.

To take hold of thee - (Isaiah 27:5.)


Verse 8

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.

But now, O Lord, thou (art) our Father - (Isaiah 63:16.)

We (are) the clay, and thou our potter - (Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9.) Unable to mould themselves aright, they beg the sovereign will of God to mould them unto salvation, even as He made them at the first, and is their "Father."


Verse 9

Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord - (Psalms 74:1-2.)

We (are) all thy people - (Jeremiah 14:9; Jeremiah 14:21.)


Verse 10

Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. No city but Jerusalem is called "the holy city" (Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 52:1); the plural, therefore, refers to the upper and the lower parts of the same city, Jerusalem (Vitringa); or, all Judea was holy to God, so its cities were deemed 'holy' (Maurer). But the parallelism favours Vitringa. Zion and Jerusalem (the one city) answering to "holy cities."


Verse 11

Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee - the temple. "Beautiful" includes the idea of glorious (Mark 13:1; Acts 3:2).

Is burned - (Psalms 74:7; Lamentations 2:7; 2 Chronicles 36:19.) Its destruction under Nebuchadnezzar prefigured that under Titus.

And all our pleasant things are laid waste - Hebrew, all our objects of desire; our homes, our city, and all its dear associations.


Verse 12

Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?

Wilt thou refrain thyself for these (things), O Lord? - Wilt thou, notwithstanding these calamities of thy people, still refuse thy aid? (Isaiah 42:14.)

Remarks: In this appeal of Israel to God we have an admirable sample of what should be our prayer in times when seemingly all things go against us, and God has forsaken us. First, we must beseech God to open the "heavens," which are apparently shut against our cry, and to "come down" by His Spirit to our help, so that "mountains" of opposition may melt away at His presence. Next, we must appeal to His concern for the honour of His "name," which is at stake in the case of all who cry to Him. God's "terrible" doings, exceeding all expectation, are another strong ground of the believer's expectation that He will again interpose in behalf of His suffering people, and that mountain-like obstacles, as in times past, will disappear at His presence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-64.html. 1871-8.

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Sunday, May 26th, 2019
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