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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 48

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 48:1 Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, [but] not in truth, nor in righteousness.

Ver. 1. Hear ye this, O house of Jacob.] Ye stiffnecked of Israel, and "uncircumcised in heart and ears, who do always resist the Holy Ghost," [Acts 7:51] to you be it spoken; for to the "Israelites indeed" enough hath been said of this subject already.

Which are called by the name of Israel] (a) Sed nomen inane crimen immane. Ye are "called Jews, and make your boast of God," [Romans 2:17] having a form of knowledge, [Romans 2:20] and of godliness, [2 Timothy 3:5] and that is all; the voice of Jacob, but the hands of Esau. Let such fear Jacob’s fear, "My father perhaps will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing." [Genesis 27:12] It is sure enough.

And are come forth out of the waters (b) of Judah,] i.e., Out of the bowels, {as Genesis 15:4} as waters out of a spring. [Deuteronomy 33:28 Psalms 68:26] Judah was the tribe royal: hence they so gloried, and remained "ruling with God, and faithful with the saints," when other tribes revolted.

Which swear by the name of the Lord.] And not of Baal.

And make mention of the God of Israel.] Who was near in their mouths, but far from their reins. [Jeremiah 12:2 Psalms 50:16] Religionem simulabant, cum in cute essent nequissimi. Arrant hypocrites.

But not in truth, nor in righteousness,] i.e., Without faith and sound conversion.


Verse 2

Isaiah 48:2 For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts [is] his name.

Ver. 2. For they call themselves of the holy city.] Inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah; yea, they swore by their city and temple, as appeareth in the gospel, and cried out, ad ravim usque, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord," [Jeremiah 7:4] like as the Romists now do, The Church, the Church, glorying in the false and empty title of Roman Catholics. Sed grande est Christianum esse, non dici, saith Jerome; and it is a great vanity, saith the poet,

Respicere ad fumos et nomina vana Catonum.

And stay themselves.] As far as a few good words will go. See on Micah 3:11.

The Lord of hosts is his name.] So said these hypocrites, bearing themselves bold upon so great a God, who had all creatures at his command.


Verse 3

Isaiah 48:3 I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did [them] suddenly, and they came to pass.

Ver. 3. I have declared the former things.] This God had said oft before; but being now to conclude this comfortable sermon, he repeats here the heads of what had been spoken in the seven foregoing chapters.


Verse 4

Isaiah 48:4 Because I knew that thou [art] obstinate, and thy neck [is] an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;

Ver. 4. Because I knew that thou art obstinate.] Heb., Hard, obdurate; therefore do I so inculcate these things, if by any means I may mollify thee. Hypocrites are harder to be wrought upon than other sinners.

And thy neck is an iron sinew.] Thou art utterly averse from, yea, adverse to any good; no more bended thereunto than if the body had for every sinew a plate of iron.

And thy brow brass.] Sinews of iron argue a natural impotence, and somewhat more; but brows of brass impudence in evil; quando pudet non esse impudentes, when men are shameless in sin, setting it "upon the cliff of the rock," [Ezekiel 24:7] and "declaring it as Sodom." [Isaiah 3:9]


Verse 5

Isaiah 48:5 I have even from the beginning declared [it] to thee; before it came to pass I shewed [it] thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.

Ver. 5. I have even from the beginning, &c.] See Isaiah 48:3. It is probable that there were many among the Jews who, when they saw themselves to be so punished, and the heathen prospered, would be ready to think that the God of Israel either could not or would not do for his people, as those devil gods did for theirs. For their help, therefore, under such a temptation, God was pleased to foretell his people what good or evil should betide them, and accordingly to accomplish it.


Verse 6

Isaiah 48:6 Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare [it]? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

Ver. 6. Thou hast heard, see all this.] Here God extorteth from them a confession of the aforesaid truth, and urgeth them to attest and publish it.


Verse 7

Isaiah 48:7 They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.

Ver. 7. They are created now,] i.e., They are now brought to light by my revelations and predictions.

Behold, I knew them.] By my gods or diviners, or by my natural sagacity.


Verse 8

Isaiah 48:8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time [that] thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

Ver. 8. Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not.] "Yea," so oft used here, is very emphatic, and showeth how hardly sinners are borne down, and made to believe plain truths where they are prepossessed with conceits to the contrary.

And wast called a transgressor from the womb.] Ever since thou madest and worshippedst a golden calf in the wilderness, {See Trapp on "Psalms 58:3"} and art still as good at resisting the Holy Ghost as ever thy fathers were. [Acts 7:51]


Verse 9

Isaiah 48:9 For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

Ver. 9. For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger.] Heb., Prolong it. Here he setteth forth the cause of his patience toward so perverse a people, viz., the sole respect to his own glory, whereof he is so tender, and so loath to be a loser in. Propter me faciam.

And for my praise.] The praise of my might and mercy.

That I cut thee not off.] Which I would do, "were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest thine adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this." [Deuteronomy 32:27]


Verse 10

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Ver. 10. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver.] Much less as gold, which is wont to be fined most exactly, and to the uttermost, because these precious metals will not perish by fire. But thou hast more dross in thee than good ore; therefore I have refined thee with favour, [Psalms 118:18] Ne totus disperires, lest I should undo thee; for if thy punishment should be commensurate to thine offence thou must needsly perish. (a)

I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,] i.e., In affliction, which is as a furnace or crucible. See Ezekiel 20:37.


Verse 11

Isaiah 48:11 For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Ver. 11. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake.] This is oft repeated, that it may once be well observed. Bene cavet Spiritus Sanctus ubique in Scripturis ne nostris operibus salutem tribuamus; it is Oecolampadius’s note upon the first verse of this chapter, i.e., the Holy Ghost doth everywhere in Scripture take course that we ascribe not our safety to our own works. See on Isaiah 43:13.

For how should my name be polluted?] As it will be by the blasphemous heathens, who else will say that their gods are fortiores et faventiores, more powerful and more merciful than the God of the Hebrews. Thus the Turks at this day, when they have beaten the Christians, cry up their Mohammed as mightier than Christ.

And I will not give my glory to another.] Press this in prayer: it is an excellent argument. [Exodus 32:12 Joshua 7:9 Psalms 79:9-10; Psalms 115:1-2] The saints, after all other arguments used, hunc quasi arietem admovent, mind God of his glory engaged, and then doubt not to prevail with him.


Verse 12

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I [am] he; I [am] the first, I also [am] the last.

Ver. 12. I am he.] Heb., Hu; this the Rabbis make to be one of the names of God. Sanchez here observeth, that by this threefold "I" is meant the holy Trinity: the deity of Jesus Christ is rightly proved from this text, compared with Revelation 1:11; Revelation 22:13.


Verse 13

Isaiah 48:13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: [when] I call unto them, they stand up together.

Ver. 13. My hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth.] My left hand, say the Rabbis, as "my right hand spanned the heavens"; that is, meted them out as a workman doth his work. (a) God did but "call unto them" both, "and they stood up together." Vain therefore and needless was the disputation of the Samerites and the Hillelites among the Jews, whether was first created the heaven or the earth?


Verse 14

Isaiah 48:14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these [things]? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm [shall be on] the Chaldeans.

Ver. 14. The Lord hath loved him,] i.e., Cyrus. He so loveth his people that for their sakes he loveth all their benefactors and well wishers. See Genesis 12:3.

He will do his pleasure.] See Isaiah 43:14.


Verse 15

Isaiah 48:15 I, [even] I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.

Ver. 15. I have brought him.] Heb., Made him to go, or caused him to come, who of himself had no such mind to come on such a design. Herodotus telleth us that Cyrus had once resolved to abandon the siege of Babylon as unfeasible: but God altered his mind, as we here read, and prospered his work.


Verse 16

Isaiah 48:16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there [am] I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

Ver. 16. Come ye near unto me and hear this.] God calleth often for audience, as knowing our dulness and crossness, our oscitance and inadvertence: a good mirror for ministers.

I have not spoken in secret.] See Isaiah 41:26.

From the time that it was, there am I,] viz., At the creation. {as Proverbs 8:22-23} Or, I have from everlasting been the author of that counsel by which all these things have had, as it were, their first beginning; and afterwards, in their appointed time, I have brought them forth by my power. (a)

And now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me,] i.e., Me, Isaiah the prophet, whose writings should therefore be prized and believed by us as most authentic and authoritative, because he was commissioned by the blessed Trinity.


Verse 17

Isaiah 48:17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I [am] the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way [that] thou shouldest go.

Ver. 17. I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit.] And do therefore so oft call upon thee to hear me, not for any benefit to myself, but to thee alone. And the truth is, in all the commandments of God, if they were open to us, if we did see the ground of them, we should see there were so much reason for them, and so much good to be got by them, that if God did not command them, yet it would be best for us to practise them.

Which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.] Heb., Making thee to tread in the way thou shalt walk, carefully choosing thy steps for thee, and setting thy foot right: thus "he led Joseph like a sheep," [Psalms 80:1] and "Israel through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble." [Isaiah 63:13] Thrice happy are the saints in such a guide. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way." [Psalms 37:23]


Verse 18

Isaiah 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

Ver. 18. Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments.] See the like wishes, Deuteronomy 32:29; Deuteronomy 5:29, Psalms 81:13, implying that so they might have redeemed many sorrows, escaped many miseries.

Then had thy peace been as a river] "Great peace have all they that love God’s law, and nothing shall offend them," [Psalms 119:165] they shall have a confluence of all comforts and contentments: yet ever with an exception of the cross, as need requireth.

And thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.] Which are perpetual, fluctus fluctum trudit.


Verse 19

Isaiah 48:19 Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

Ver. 19. Thy seed also had been as the sand.] As was promised to Abraham, and performed to his posterity; such a μυριομακαριοτης there is in godliness, and in doing of God’s commandments so great reward.

His name should not have been cut off.] As it was of old among the heathens (see Horace, Juvenal, Martial, &c.), and is at this day among the Turks, who usually swear, Iudaeus sim si fallam, &c. See Zechariah 8:13. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 8:13"}


Verse 20

Isaiah 48:20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it [even] to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

Ver. 20. Go ye forth of Babylon.] The word among the Jews that despaired of ever returning from Babylon: but the prophet, by an unexpected alarm, commandeth them to return, showing how and why they should do so, and carrieth himself no otherwise than as if he had been a captain in the midst of those captives, &c.


Verse 21

Isaiah 48:21 And they thirsted not [when] he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.

Ver. 21. And they thirsted not when he led, &c.] Your fathers did not of old: nor shall you now in your return homeward. The Jews tell us of many miracles then wrought also, but we read of no such matter in Ezra; and we know that God’s pilgrims shall want no necessary accommodation: that he will be sure to see to.


Verse 22

Isaiah 48:22 [There is] no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.

Ver. 22. There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.] Babylon’s best days are past: therefore go ye forth of her. [Isaiah 48:20] The wicked of what nation soever that hearken not to God’s commandments, {as Isaiah 48:18} well they may have a truce, but no true peace certainly. That which they have is pax infida, pax incerta (a) (as that of the Romans with the Samnites), a peace no peace; and how can it be better so long as their wickednesses and witchcrafts are so many? [2 Kings 9:22] Tranquillitas illa tempestas erit; as after a south wind arose Euroclydon, [Acts 27:13-14] so, after a false peace, storm and tempest everlasting: this shall be the portion of their cup [Psalms 11:6] See Isaiah 57:20-21.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 48:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-48.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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