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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 57

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 57:1 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth [it] to heart: and merciful men [are] taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil [to come].

Ver. 1. The righteous perisheth.] So the world deemeth, but not rightly, for "the righteous hath hope in his death," when "the wicked dying is driven away in his wickedness" [Proverbs 14:32] - by "him that had the power of death, even the devil" [Hebrews 2:14] - having been "through fear of death all their lifetime subject to bondage." The Lacedaemonians all the time of their life adored death. The righteous can defy death, with Paul, and sing, Death, where is thy sting? hell, where is thy victory? He is not "killed with death," as Jezebel’s children were; [Revelation 2:23] but dieth in peace, though he die in battle, as Josiah did, of whom some interpret this text.

And no man layeth it to heart.] Heb., Upon his heart, that it may sink and soak into it, so as to be soundly sensible of God’s holy hand and end in such a providence. See Isaiah 5:12. There is a woe to oscitancy and stupidity of this kind.

And merciful men.] Heb, Men of piety or pity, such as all righteous persons are. They have received mercy, and they can show it; [Colossians 3:12] they have steeped their thoughts in the mercies of God, which have dyed theirs as the dye fat doth the cloth.

Are taken away.] Heb., Gathered, as grain is into the garner, or fruit into the storehouse; so they into Abraham’s bosom. As men gather flowers, and candy them, and preserve them by them, so doth God his pious ones.

No man considering.] None of those debauched ones [Isaiah 56:12] to be sure of. These are glad to be rid of the righteous, as the Sodomites were of righteous Lot; as the heathen persecutors were of the martyrs, whom they counted καθαρματα, the "sweepings of the world, and the offscourings of all things." [1 Corinthians 4:13]

That the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.] As was Methuselah a year before the flood; Jeroboam’s best son, before the downfall of his father’s family; [1 Kings 14:12-13] Josiah before the captivity and first destruction of Jerusalem; [2 Kings 22:20] James before the second; [Acts 12:2] Augustine a little before the sack of his city Hippo, by the Vandals. Felix Nepotianus qui haec non vidit, saith Jerome. Stilico said, that when Ambrose was dead great changes would follow; and it happened accordingly. Luther was taken away in peace, (a) a little before the calamity of Germany, which he foretold, for contempt of the gospel. Pareus died a little before Heidelberg was taken, futuro malo substractus. Mr Brightman was buried a day or two before the pursuivant was sent for him. God had housed him, as he had Lot before the storm; hid him, as he had done Moses in the hole of the rock, till the tempest was blown over; dealt by him, as once by Daniel, [Daniel 12:13] who was bid to go away and rest before those great clashings and confusions should come, which had been foreshown to him. Howbeit this is not generally so; for Jeremiah lived to see the first destruction of Jerusalem, John the Evangelist the last. Mr Dod and many other holy men outlived our recent unhappy wars, and deeply shared in them. But usually God taketh away his most eminent servants from the evil to come. As when there is a fire in a house or town men carry out their jewels; ωκυμοροι οι θεοφιλεις, saith an ancient, (b) the best die first commonly. The comfort is, that though as grapes they be gathered before they are ripe, and as lambs, slain before they be grown, yet this benefit they have, that they are freed from the violence of the winepress that others fall into, and they escape many storms that others live to taste of.


Verse 2

Isaiah 57:2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, [each one] walking [in] his uprightness.

Ver. 2. He shall enter into peace,] i.e., Into heaven, where the righteous - however looked upon as lost [Isaiah 57:1] - shall have "life and peace," [Romans 8:6] joy and bliss, [Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23] rest and peace, [Revelation 14:13] and this απαρτι amodo, strait upon it so soon as ever they are dead; from henceforth forthwith their souls have happiness inconceivable. As for their bodies,

They shall rest in their beds.] So their graves are called, by an elegant metaphor, like as the bier that carrieth to it is called matteh, a couch, [2 Samuel 3:31] the burying place, a dormitory, (a) or place to sleep in, and the resurrection an awakening. [Psalms 17:15] To this bed Moses went up when his Father bade. He died ad os Iehovae according to the word of God, [Deuteronomy 34:5] which the Jewish doctors (b) expound as though God did take away his soul with a kiss, like as the loving mother kisseth the child, and then layeth it down to sleep. Rhodingus, a Dutch divine, when he perceived he should die, desired to be laid in another bed, which he called his bed of rest, and upon which he had long before written this verse - (c)

Ut somnus mortis, sic lectus imago sepulchri.

In this short bed of the grave shall be laid up the infinite miseries of many years; the bodies of the saints shall, by rotting, be refined, their precious dust preserved, till at last it arise incorruptible. O dieculam illam!

Each one walking in his uprightness.] Or, Walking before him, or right over against him; that is, keeping equipage with him, as when one friend walketh with another.


Verse 3

Isaiah 57:3 But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.

Ver. 3. But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress.] Here "Esaias is very bold," as the apostle saith of him in another case, [Romans 10:20] and maketh it appear that he was none of those dumb dogs he had rated at in the former chapter. The Jews gloried much in their pedigree and descent from Abraham, and that they were "born of the free woman." He telleth them flat and plain that they were witches’ children, whores’ sons, a bastardly brood, (a) as our Saviour afterwards called them, a race of rebels, a seed of serpents, shamefully degenerate from their praiseworthy progenitors.


Verse 4

Isaiah 57:4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, [and] draw out the tongue? [are] ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

Ver. 4. Against whom do ye sport yourselves?] You that are the wits, the merry Greeks of the times, that, instead of "trembling at God’s word," and humbling before him, hold it a goodly thing to gibe and jeer at it, to mock and scoff at those that preach it. [2 Chronicles 36:16 Isaiah 5:18-19; Isaiah 22:13; Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22] These were their game stocks, and the matter of their mad mirth. Neither is it any otherwise to this day; for the world ever was, and will be still, beside itself in point of salvation. (a) Not the sinful Sodomites only, but Lot’s sons-in-law, who should have learned better, laughed him to scorn for his good counsel. [Genesis 19:14] Ridetur cum suo Iehova. Lot is counted but a lob, and bid to keep his breath to cool his broth. Erasmus is blamed for his dry scoffs at Capito and other reformers; but Parsons, the Jesuit, is able to put Rabshakeh, Thersites, and Lucian himself to school for railing, deriding, and scurrilous language.

Against whom make yea wide mouth, and draw out the tongue?] By such base gestures did they show their contempt of the prophets, as they thought; but indeed, and as it was construed, of God himself. See Exodus 16:8, Numbers 16:11, Luke 10:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:8. Look how unskilful hunters, shooting at wild beasts, do sometimes kill a man; so profane persons, shooting at God’s ministers, hit him. If we be served in like sort as those of old were - if we be for "signs and for wonders in Israel," as Isaiah and his fellows were [Isaiah 8:18] - if in mockage they imitate our language, as they did good Jeremiah’s, crying at him, "The burden of the Lord, the burden of the Lord" [Jeremiah 23:38] - if they blow their noses at us, as they did at our Saviour, {εμυκτηριζον, Luke 16:14} taunt and reproach us, as they did Paul, [Acts 17:32] set us upon a stage (b) to be laughed and hooted at, as they did those worthies of whom the world was not worthy [Hebrews 10:33 1 Corinthians 4:9] - let us not strange or startle at the matter, as if some new thing had befallen us; but "rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before us" [Matthew 5:12 1 Peter 4:14] {See Trapp on "1 Peter 4:14"}


Verse 5

Isaiah 57:5 Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?

Ver. 5. Inflaming yourselves with idols.] That it might appear that there was good cause of so much sharpness, and that he did them no wrong. He painteth them out in their colours to the life: Incalescitis, id est, concumbitis; while ye commit folly and filthiness with your idols, ye are all "adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker; your baker sleepeth all the night, in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire." [Hosea 7:4; Hosea 7:6] And as the love of harlots is oft hotter than that of husband and wife, so superstition many times outdoeth true religion.

Slaying the children.] A barbarous practice, taught them by that old man slayer. Careless parents do little less, whom, therefore, Bernard calleth peremptores potius quam parentes, rather parricides than parents.


Verse 6

Isaiah 57:6 Among the smooth [stones] of the stream [is] thy portion; they, they [are] thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?

Ver. 6. Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion.] Pars et sors tua. A poor portion it is, but such as thou art well apaid of, viz., thine altars and thine idol service, and settest up in my place. How exceeding devout in their way are some misled and muzzled Papists, those of the weaker sex especially, in the service of their god, Mauzzim, in the honour of their too admired relics, which they esteem no less than the people of the isle Ceylon, in the East Indies, did their consecrated ape’s tooth, which being got from them, they offered an incredible mass of treasure to recover it.

Should I receive comfort in these?] Or, Should I not ease myself of these? {as Jeremiah 5:9}


Verse 7

Isaiah 57:7 Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.

Ver. 7. Upon a lofty and high mountain.] In all places hast thou poured out thy whoredoms, setting thy sin "upon the cliff of the rock," as it were sunning, so shameless art thou grown.

Thy bed,] i.e., Thy temples and altars; as likewise do the mass mongers to this day.


Verse 8

Isaiah 57:8 Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered [thyself to another] than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee [a covenant] with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest [it].

Ver. 8. Behind the doors also, and the posts.] Where my law should have been written. [Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20]

Hast thou set up thy remembrance?] Thy idols and monuments of idolatry, such as Papists now call memories and laymen’s books.

Thou hast discovered thyself] Thy nakedness, like a meretrix meretricissima, divaricasti tibias {as Ezekiel 23:29} Omnibus modis te comparans ut impudentissimum scortum, prostituting thyself as a most impudent harlot, prodigiously lascivious.


Verse 9

Isaiah 57:9 And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase [thyself even] unto hell.

Ver. 9. And thou wentest to the king.] The King of Assyria, who styled himself the Great King, to whom Ahaz both sent and went. [2 Kings 16:8; 2 Kings 16:10]

With ointment.] Heb., With oil - that is, with balsam, such as Judea only afforded, and was therefore highly esteemed in other countries.

And didst debase thyself even unto hell.] By crouching and cringing to those foreign states in a most submissive and servile way, as Ahaz had done with his, "I am thy servant and thy son," [2 Kings 16:7] to the dishonour of God, and to the reproach of Israel, who was God’s "firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." [Psalms 89:27]


Verse 10

Isaiah 57:10 Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; [yet] saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved.

Ver. 10. Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way.] Great pains thou hast taken to small purpose, and yet thou thinkest and hopest, but groundlessly, that

Thou hast found the life of thy hand.] A sure way of subsistence; thy desired help and safety.


Verse 11

Isaiah 57:11 And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid [it] to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?

Ver. 11. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared?] q.d., Not me surely, as thou oughtst; but thy fellow creatures, whom thou shouldst have looked upon as so many mice.

That thou hast lied,] i.e., So basely flattered the Assyrian.

Have I not held my peace?] i.e., Borne with thee, more than any else would ever have done? And yet my lenity is even worse than lost upon thee.


Verse 12

Isaiah 57:12 I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

Ver. 12. I will declare thy righteousness,] i.e., Thine unrighteousness, by an irony; (a) or, Thy righteousness secundum dici, non secundum esse, thine hypocrisy.

For they shall not profit thee.] Nay, they shall undo thee.


Verse 13

Isaiah 57:13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take [them]: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;

Ver. 13. When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee.] "Thy companies"; Heb., Thy gathered ones, or troops. See Deuteronomy 32:37-38, 10:13-14. {See Trapp on " 10:14"}

But the wind shall carry them all away.] The wind of God’s power shall scatter them, quisquiliarum in morem.


Verse 14

Isaiah 57:14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.

Ver. 14. And they shall say.] Or, And it shall be said. This is further added, for the comfort of those that trusted in God, that they shall have a smooth and clear passage home. This is literally meant of their return from Babylon; but mystically of the recollection of the Church out of the captivity of the devil and power of sin.


Verse 15

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Ver. 15. For thus saith the high and lofty One.] Higher than the highest; so high, that he is said to "humble himself to behold things done in heaven"; [Psalms 113:6] to look out of himself upon the saints and angels there. He is a God, saith one, whose nature is majesty, whose place is immensity, whose time is eternity, whose life is sanctity, whose power is omnipotence, whose work is mercy, whose wrath is justice, whose throne is sublimity, whose seat is humility.

That inhabiteth eternity.] Gigas saeculorum, saith the Syriac. The apostle Paul hath a like stately description of almighty God, [1 Timothy 6:16] who yet is above all name or notion, and must be thought of as one not to be thought of. Herein he is most unlike to men, who the higher they are, the less they look after the poor afflicted.

I dwell in the high and holy place.] In "the light which no man can approach unto." [1 Timothy 6:16] In the holy place of the material temple, which was without windows, there burned lights perpetually, to represent the celestial lights; but in the most holy place there was no light at all, to show that all outward light is but darkness being compared with that light which God inhabiteth, and which is inaccessible.

With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.] In the lowest hearts he dwelleth, as well as in the highest heavens. A broken heart is God’s lesser heaven; here he dwelleth with delight. Not that the affliction of a man’s spirit is pleasing to God, but the separation of sin from the soul. When the solder that joineth a sinful action and the heart together is dissolved, this pleaseth the Lord.

To revive the spirit of the humble.] As this very text hath done many a one.


Verse 16

Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls [which] I have made.

Ver. 16. For I will not contend for ever.] It soon repenteth the Lord concerning his servants. Et pro magno peccato parum supplicii satis est patti. (a) See Psalms 103:9.

For the spirit would fail before me.] Heb., Would be overcovered - sc., tenebris ac terroribus, it would even sink and faint away. When the child swoons in the whipping, God lets fall the rod, and falls akissing it, to fetch life into it again. [Jeremiah 31:20] As the rule in medicine is still to maintain nature, so doth he their spirits by cordials.


Verse 17

Isaiah 57:17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.

Ver. 17. For the iniquity of his covetousness.] Or, Of his concupiscence, the sin of his nature. But covetousness is a wickedness with a witness, the "root of all evil." [1 Timothy 6:10] Timon could say that there were two sources of all sin, viz., απληστιαν και φιλοδοξιαν, covetousness and vainglory.

And he went on frowardly in the way of his own heart,] i.e., Excaecotus sequitur animalem suum spiritum, he, blindling, blundered on, without fear or wit, cross grained and irreclaimable.


Verse 18

Isaiah 57:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.

Ver. 18. I have seen his ways.] His ways of covetousness, crossness, &c. I could be as cross as he for the heart of him, [Psalms 18:26] but

I will heal him,] q.d., I see these froward children will lay nothing to heart; frowns will not humble them, blows will not benefit them; if I do not save them till they seek me, they will never be saved. Therefore I will work for mine own name’s sake. See Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22; Ezekiel 20:44.

And restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners.] To those that mourn in secret for his sins and miseries; [Ezekiel 9:4 Matthew 5:4] and to others for their sakes, ratione consortii.


Verse 19

Isaiah 57:19 I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to [him that is] far off, and to [him that is] near, saith the LORD and I will heal him.

Ver. 19. I create the fruit of the lips,] i.e., I speak peace to my people by the mouths of my faithful ministers, applying and setting home the promises; and this I do most magnificently and mightily.

Peace, peace.] See on Isaiah 26:3.


Verse 20

Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked [are] like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Ver. 20. But the wicked are like the troubled sea.] Whose surges are not more lofty than muddy. The sea is of itself unquiet and troublesome, much more when tossed with winds and tempests; so wicked men, when it is at best with them, are restless; but under terrors and temptations, they cast up the mire and dirt of desperation and blasphemy, as did Cain, Judas, Julian, Latomus, &c. God in afflictions marks men out; and then conscience will prey upon them, as Simeon and Levi did upon the Shechemites when sore. Then, {as Proverbs 5:12} men shall cry out, "How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!" Then, {as Genesis 42:21} afflictions are to the soul as storms are to the sea, or as earthquakes to the ground, which reveals a great deal of filth. Vatablus rendereth the text thus, Impii autem Euripi instar fremunt. Now Euripus ebbeth and floweth seven times a day, and must needs therefore be in continual motion and agitation. Mr Dod (a) was wont to compare wicked men to the waves of the sea: those which were of a great estate were great waves, said he; those that were of small estate were small waves; but all were restless as waves. [Job 20:20]


Verse 21

Isaiah 57:21 [There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

Ver. 21. There is no peace.] A truce there may be for a time, and a seeming peace; but it is pax infida, pax incerta, (a) peace, no peace. The sea may seem sometimes still, but it is never so; no more are the wicked. And this is twice here affirmed for more assurance; like as he had twice said, "I will heal them"; [Isaiah 57:18-19] and as he had promised peace, peace to the mourners (ib.), who, having soaked themselves in godly sorrow, are washed from their wickedness by the blood of Jesus Christ; and being justified by faith, have peace with God. This is a peerless pearl, which no cock on the dunghill ever knew the worth of.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 57:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-57.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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