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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 50



Verse 1

Isaiah 50:1 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.

Ver. 1. Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement.] Heb., Abscission. This bill was called by the Greeks ‘ Aποστασιον: but none such could here be produced or proven as given by God to the Jewish state; but that the disloyalty was theirs, and their dereliction on their part. God had neither rejected them though innocent, (as some husbands did their wives out of a peevish and selfish humour), nor sold them though obedient, as some fathers did their children, for payment of their debts; for he is neither debtor to any nor non-solvent. [Romans 11:35-36]

Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves.] O duram servitutem! O miseram necessitatem! "You have sold yourselves," as Ahab did, to work wickedness, [1 Kings 21:20] and therefore I have justly sold and abandoned you into the hands of your enemies. [ 2:13-14; 3:7-8 Psalms 44:11-12]

Is your mother,] i.e., The synagogue, whereunto the Jews do yet still adhere as to their mother; and the Lord did then acknowledge himself to be her husband, but now he hath worthily cast her off.

Verse 2

Isaiah 50:2 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.

Ver. 2. Wherefore, when I came, was there no man?] Christ "came unto his own, but his own received him not." [John 1:11] This was condemnation, [John 3:19] their rebelling against the light of the gospel; this was the great offence, the damning sin, the very cause of their utter rejection.

Is my hand shortened at all?] Or rather, Have not you, by your obstinace and incredulity, transfused, as it were, a dead palsy into the hand of Omnipotence? "He could do there no mighty work because of their unbelief": [Mark 6:5] of so venomous a nature is that cursed sin.

Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea.] I have done it, you know, [Psalms 106:9] and can do it again. Be not therefore "faithless, but believing." [John 20:27]

Verse 3

Isaiah 50:3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.

Ver. 3. I clothe the heavens with blackness.] I did so in that three days’ darkness in Egypt, [Exodus 10:21-22] and shall do so again at the time of my passion. I can therefore, doubtless, deliver you, not only from Babylon, but from sin, death, and hell, by giving you an entrance into heaven by the waters of baptism, and by bringing you out of darkness into my marvellous light. [1 Peter 2:9]

And make sackcloth their covering.] Ita ut coelum pullata veste obtensum fuisse dixeris. So Revelation 6:12.

Verse 4

Isaiah 50:4 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.

Ver. 4. The Lord God.] Heb., The sovereign self-being.

Hath given me.] Me, Isaiah; but much more Jesus Christ, the arch-prophet of his Church, who "spake as never man spoke." [John 7:46] See Matthew 7:28-29, Luke 4:22. "Grace was poured into his lips," [Psalms 45:2] and it was no less poured out of his lips, while together with his words there went forth a power, and he could persuade as he pleased; for what reason? "God had blessed him" (ib.).

The tongue of the learned.] A learned and elaborate speech it had need to be that shall affect the heart. [Matthew 13:52] Not every dolt can do it; but he who is "an interpreter, one among a thousand" [Job 33:23] who can speak as the oracles of God, [1 Peter 4:11] sell oil to the wiser virgins, [Matthew 25:9] "comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient or forbearant toward all men." [1 Thessalonians 5:14] O quam hoc non est omnium! Such a choice man, thus taught of God, is worth his weight in gold. Such a one was Luther, such was Latimer (who was confessorgeneral to all Protestants troubled in mind), Bradford, Greenham, Dod, Sibbes, &c.

That I might know how to speak a word in season.] Tempestivare, to time or season a word, to set it "on the wheels," as Solomon phraseth it, [Proverbs 25:11] that it may be "as apples of gold in pictures of silver," not only precious for matter, but delectable for order. [Ecclesiastes 12:10] Surely such a speaker "hath joy by the answer of his mouth; and a word spoken in his season how good is it!" [Proverbs 15:23] This is the right medicine for the soul (as heathens also hammered at), far beyond all philosophical discourses, or any other consolatiunculae creaturulae, as Luther fitly expresseth it.

He awakeneth morning by morning.] (a) He constantly calleth me up betime, as a master doth his scholar to his book and business, for the which the morn is fittest. Christ’s indefatigable assiduity in teaching his perverse countrymen, left them without all excuse. [John 15:22]

To hear as the learned,] i.e., Attentively, as those that would be learned, and are therefore φνληκοοι, desirous to hear. Aristotle calleth hearing ‘the learned sense.’

Verse 5

Isaiah 50:5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.

Ver. 5. The Lord God hath opened mine ear.] Removing all lets, and making the bore bigger, as it were, thereby speaking home to my heart, and making me morigerous and obedient, against all affronts and misusages. For here our Saviour setteth forth his active obedience, as in the next verse his passive.

Verse 6

Isaiah 50:6 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.

Ver. 6. I gave my back to the smiters.] Ecce pro impio pietas flagellatur, &c., saith Ambrose. (a) "Behold the man" (as Pilate once said), "the just" man scourged "for the unjust," [1 Peter 3:18] wisdom derided for the fool’s sake, truth denied for the liar’s sake, mercy afflicted for the cruel man’s sake, life dying for the dead man’s sake. What are all our sufferings to his? how oft have we been whipped, depiled, despitefully spat upon, &c., for his sake? Oh that I might have the maidenhead of that kind of suffering! said one of the martyrs in the Marian times; for I have not heard that you have yet whipped any. Bishop Bonner afterwards, with his own hands, whipped some, and pulled a great part of their beards off.

I hid not my face from shame and spitting.] That is, from shameful spitting. See Matthew 26:48; Matthew 27:30. {See Trapp on "Matthew 26:48"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 27:30"} Discamus etiam hoc loco, saith Oecolampadius; Learn here also what is the character of a true Christian minister, namely, to express Christ to the world as much as may be, viz., by apt utterance, seasonable comforts, divine learning, ready obedience, constant patience, exemplary innocence, discreet zeal, &c.

Verse 7

Isaiah 50:7 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.

Ver. 7. For the Lord God will help me.] And again, Isaiah 50:9, "Behold, the Lord God will help me." This lively hope held head above water "Hope" we also "perfectly - or, to the end - for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ." [1 Peter 1:13]

Therefore shall I not be confounded.] Heb., Ashamed, notwithstanding the shame they seek to cast upon me. [Isaiah 50:6] I am as marble, to which no dirt will stick.

Therefore I have set my face as a flint.] Or, As steel (which is medulla slve nucleus ferri, saith Pliny). I have steeled my countenance. {as Luke 9:51} See Ezekiel 3:8-9. So did Luther when he resolved to appear at Worms before the emperor, though he were sure to encounter as many devils there as were tiles upon the houses. (a) See Acts 21:13.

Verse 8

Isaiah 50:8 [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.

Ver. 8. He is near that justifieth me,] i.e., God the Father will shortly clear up mine innocence, and declare me to be the son of God (my only crime now), "with power by the resurrection from the dead." [Romans 1:4]

Who will contend with me?] So John 8:46, Romans 8:33-34, where the apostle Paul, as a stout soldier and imitator of Christ, the "Captain of his salvation," useth the same argument, and teacheth us to do likewise.

Verse 9

Isaiah 50:9 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.

Ver. 9. Behold, the Lord God will help me.] See Isaiah 50:7.

Who is he that shall condemn me.] (a) If Libanius could say of his friend Basil (though of a different religion), Let but him praise me, and I care not who dispraiseth me; how much better might Christ, and may every good Christian say the same of God!

Lo, they shall all wax old as a garment.] The scribes and Pharisees (those old cankered carles) shall; for of them Jerome, Cyril, and others understand it. The Romans - according as they feared, and therefore crucified Christ [John 11:48] - came upon them, and took away both them and their nation.

The moth shall eat them up,] i.e., They shall be irrecoverably ruined, being once laid aside by God as an old wornout garment, which is made thereby food for moths. Thus it befell Pilate (saith Lyra here), banished by Tiberius; and thus it befell the priests, who were burned by Titus in the temple; who also added that it was fit that those which served in the temple should perish together with it.

Verse 10

Isaiah 50:10 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.

Ver. 10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord?] This question implieth that there were not many such among them. See the like, Hosea 14:9.

That obeyeth.] The fear of God frameth the heart to the obedience of faith. [Ecclesiastes 12:13]

That walketh in darkness, and hath no light.] That, being for the time deserted, are in a mist; so as that ye cannot read your own graces, see your own comforts, but walk in darkness though children of light, and are in such a state as Paul and his company was, [Acts 27:20] when they saw neither sun nor stars for many days together, but were almost past hope.

Let him trust in the name of the Lord.] Let him do as those above mentioned did, cast anchor, even in the darkest night of temptation, and pray still for day, and it will dawn at length. Before daybreak the darkness is greatest; so is it oft in this case. Here then, as a child in the dark clasps about his father, so let the poor deserted soul about God. Distrust is worse than distress; and although the liquor of faith is never pure in these vessels of clay, without the lees of distrust; yet true faith will trust in God where it cannot trace him, and by an assurance of adherence, at least, get to heaven through mourning. As Christ was taken up in a cloud, or as the kine that carried the ark went right, but they lowed as they went.

And stay upon his God.] As the vine doth upon some support. Faith hath a catching quality at whatsoever is near to lay hold on; like the branches of the vine, it windeth about that which is next, and stays itself upon it, spreading further and further still. Fides est quae te pullastrum, Christum gallinam facit, saith Luther.

Verse 11

Isaiah 50:11 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.

Ver. 11. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire.] That instead of relying upon God, would relieve yourselves by carnal shifts and fetches, a fire of your own kindling, or rather sparks of your own tinderboxes, strange fire, and not that of God’s sanctuary. Or say they be your own good works you trust to. Like as the phoenix gathereth sweet odoriferous sticks in Arabia together, aud then blows them with her wings, and burns herself with them.

That compass yourselves about with sparks.] Away with those tinder boxes of yours. What are your sparkles but such as are smitten out of a flint, which (1.) Yields no warmth or good light; (2). Are soon extinct; (3.) Nevertheless, you are sure to "lie down in sorrow," to be "cast into utter darkness," where you shall never see the light again till you see the whole world all on a light fire at the last day.

Walk in the light of your fire.] Do so if ye think it good; but your light shall be put out into darkness and worse; like as lightning is followed by rending and roaring thunder.

This shall ye have of my hand.] This I will assure of; and having spoken it with my mouth, I will fulfil it with my hand.

Ye shall lie down in sorrow.] As sick folk, who being in grievous pain, would fain die, but cannot. Cubatum ibitis, ad ignes, ad dolores et cruciatus. You shall make your beds in the bottom of hell, as it is said of the king of Babylon, [Isaiah 14:11] and as of Pope Clement V it was reported, that upon the death of a nephew of his, whom he had sensually abused, he sent to a certain magician to know how it went with his soul in the other world? (a) The magician showed him to the messenger as lying in hell in a bed of fire. Whereupon the Pope was so struck with horror, that he never held up his head more, but soon after died also.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 26th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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