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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 59

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

Ver. 1. Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened.] That their fasts were not regarded, their Sabbath keeping rewarded, [Isaiah 58:3; Isaiah 58:14] their prayers answered, [Isaiah 59:1-2] according to expectation, the fault is not at all in God, saith the prophet, as if he were now grown old, impotent, deafish, or bison, as they were apt to conceit it, but merely in themselves, as appeareth by the following catalogue of sins, which he therefore also, in his own and their names, confesseth to God, and assigneth for the cause of their so long lasting calamity.


Verse 2

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.

Ver. 2. But your iniquities have severed,] i.e., Have set you at a very great distance (hinted also by the redundance of speech that is here in the original), or rather defiance. [Psalms 5:5 Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 29:13] Nothing intricates our actions more than our sins, which do likewise ensnare our souls, while they are as a wall of separation between God and us, [Ezekiel 43:8] and as an interstitium, such as is the firmament that divideth the upper and the lower waters. [Genesis 1:6]

And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.] Crudelem modicum intemperans aeger facit. (a) Sin is as a devil in the air, saith one, to hinder our prayers; turning from sin will charm the devil, and make him fall from heaven.


Verse 3

Isaiah 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

Ver. 3. For your hands are defiled with blood.] The prophet well knew that these perverse Jews would stand upon their justification, and put God to his proofs, as their posterity also did, [Jeremiah 2:35] catalogum ergo bene longum texit; therefore he here brings in a long bead roll of their sins, wherein their hands, lips, heart, feet, &c., were found guilty of high offence. See Isaiah 1:15.

Your lips have spoken lies.] Those very "lips" of yours that have uttered prayers, have muttered lies. See James 3:10.

And your tongue hath muttered perverseness.] How this was done, none hath better set forth than the prophet Jeremiah [Jeremiah 9:3-8]


Verse 4

Isaiah 59:4 None calleth for justice, nor [any] pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

Ver. 4. None calleth for justice.] Mindeth the judges of their duty, but rather connive, collogue, partake, &c. The Chaldee hath it, ‘There is none that delivereth the poor and needy.’

They trust in vanity.] As those did; [Jeremiah 7:4] making a bridge of their own shadows, they fall into the brook.

They conceive mischief, &c.] This is taken out of Psalms 7:14, Job 15:35; {See Trapp on "Psalms 7:14"} {See Trapp on "Job 15:35"} Heb., Going great with grievance, and bringing forth vexation.


Verse 5

Isaiah 59:5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.

Ver. 5. They hatch cockatrice’ eggs,] i.e., Poisonous and pernicious designs; there are that interpret it of false doctrines, as destruetive to men’s souls, as cockatrice’ eggs eaten, or but broken, would be to their bodies. As the bird that sitteth on the serpent’s eggs, by breaking and hatching them, bringeth forth a perilous brood to her own destruction, so here.

And weave the spider’s web.] Good for nothing but to catch flies. The natural man is ever either weaving spider’s webs, which are futiles and fragiles, or hatching cockatrice’ eggs. Vanity or villany is his whole study and practice.


Verse 6

Isaiah 59:6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works [are] works of iniquity, and the act of violence [is] in their hands.

Ver. 6. Their webs shall not become garments.] "Garments" quasi gardments; one use of them being to guard our bodies from the injury of wind and weather. Wicked devices and false doctrines profit not those that are therein occupied. {as Hebrews 13:9} In the day of God’s wrath, they will prove but as a coat of cobweb.

Their works are works of iniquity.] Here ministers may learn roundly to reprove the sins of the people.


Verse 7

Isaiah 59:7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts [are] thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction [are] in their paths.

Ver. 7. Their feet run to evil, &c.] They trot apace toward hell; they take long strides, as if they feared lest hell should be full before they come thither.

And they make haste to shed innocent blood.] This is taken from Proverbs 1:16, and fitly applied by St Paul to the whole race of mankind, [Romans 3:15] since by nature there is never a better of us; we are all in a pickle: Ecce hic telas arantarum et ova aspidum explicat. (a)

Wasting and destruction are in their paths.] A metaphor from torrents or tempests; or from a pestilence that sweepeth all, as now it doth at Genoa, and as it did not long since at Naples.


Verse 8

Isaiah 59:8 The way of peace they know not; and [there is] no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

Ver. 8. The way of peace they know not.] Like salamanders, they love to live in the fire of contention, to swim against the stream with the trout, to sow sedition, as the devil, &c.

Shall not know peace.] Shall not know what it meaneth.


Verse 9

Isaiah 59:9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, [but] we walk in darkness.

Ver. 9. Therefore is judgment far from us.] Here followeth the complaint of the godly party, together with their confession; this they knew well to be the readiest way to get off with comfort. God, say they here, hath neither avenged us on our enemies, nor showed us favour; he letteth our foes deal with us as we have dealt one with another.

We wait for light, but behold obscurity.] We promised ourselves a better estate, but ‘the matter mendeth with us,’ quoth that martyr, ‘as sour ale doth in summer.’


Verse 10

Isaiah 59:10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if [we had] no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; [we are] in desolate places as dead [men].

Ver. 10. We grope for the wall like the blind.] We are altogether to seek, utterly destitute of good counsel or advice; neither can we enjoy those comforts that we have.

We are in desolate places as dead men.] As "free among the dead," free of that company. [Psalms 88:5] Leo Judae rendereth it, We are in our graves as dead carcases; Piscator thus, In fatness (that is, in the abundance of all things) we are as dead men.


Verse 11

Isaiah 59:11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but [there is] none; for salvation, [but] it is far off from us.

Ver. 11. We roar all like bears.] Fremimus, ac gemimus. The bear, when hurt or robbed, runs into his den and roareth; doves, when bereft of their mates, sit solitary and groan; so do we, indesinenter et intime gemimus, make pitiful moan; and that is all we can do.


Verse 12

Isaiah 59:12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions [are] with us; and [as for] our iniquities, we know them;

Ver. 12. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee.] When complaints end in confessions, it is right - the medicine worketh kindly. Some furious fools have brutish and fell affections, full of rage; when in pain or grief, they fly upon God and man, and all that comes next hand, hoping to ease themselves, not by confession or reformation, but by revenge.

And our sins testify against us.] (a) Sin put a sting into their cresses, and hence it was they lay so heavy. This brought such roarings and groanings upon them, and that also when salvation was looked for.

For our transgressions are with us.] They lie like a load of lead upon our consciences, where they are yet unpardoned.

And as for our iniquities, we know them.] Our consciences are burdened with them, and we feel the terrors of God in our souls. Conscientia nihil aliud est quam cordis scientia; Conscience is the reflection of the soul upon itself. See 1 Corinthians 4:4. So here, "As for our iniquities, we know them" - namely, by a second act of the understanding, whereby, after we think or know a thing, we think what we think, and know what we know, and this is properly the action of conscience.


Verse 13

Isaiah 59:13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

Ver. 13. In transgressing and lying against the Lord.] Or, Dealing disloyally with him. This is to lay on load, to be full in the mouth, to enter into particulars, and to confess them all with utmost aggravation.


Verse 14

Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

Ver. 14. And judgment is turned away backward.] Nihil amplius ex aequo et bono agitur; all is out of order, causes are carried the contrary way.

Truth is fallen in the streets.] When the disputation at Oxford with Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, martyrs, was finished, Weston, the prolocutor, triumphed with Vicit veritas, whereas he should rather have said, Vicit potestas - not truth, but force, hath carried it. In the convocation at Paul’s about the same time, when Philpot and other good men argued for the truth against the Popish prelates, it was said that those distressed ministers had the Word for them, but the prelates had the sword on their side, and would therefore get the better. (a)


Verse 15

Isaiah 59:15 Yea, truth faileth; and he [that] departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw [it], and it displeased him that [there was] no judgment.

Ver. 15. Yea, truth faileth.] See Isaiah 59:13.

And he that departethfrom evil maketh himself a prey.] Praedae pater; is like to suffer for his singularity and preciseness. The luxurious Ephesians once made this decree, Oυδεις ημων ονηιστος εστω, Let there be never a sober man allowed to live among us. The Athenians were wont to cast good men out of their commonwealth by an ostracism. Thraseaes was commanded by Nero to die, because he was a better man than was fit to live in so loose an age. Josephus saith, that before the last destruction of Jerusalem, religion was not only a matter of form, but of scorn. Bede reporteth of the ancient Britons, immediately before their destruction by the Saxons, that they were come to that height of wickedness as to cast odium in religionis professores tanquam in adversarios, hatred upon professors of religion, looking upon them as their adversaries.


Verse 16

Isaiah 59:16 And he saw that [there was] no man, and wondered that [there was] no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

Ver. 16. And wondered.] The Vulgate hath it, Aporiatus est.

That there was no intercessor.] No interposer {as Job 36:31} that would stickle for truth and right, as did Nehemiah, Athanasius, Luther, &c.

Therefore his arm brought salvation … and his righteousness,] i.e., Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God (a) [1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30]


Verse 17

Isaiah 59:17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance [for] clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

Ver. 17. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate,] i.e., Christ did; and so must every Christian, [Ephesians 6:14] where the apostle Paul soundeth the alarm, and describeth his weapons as here, defensive and offensive, alluding likely to this text.


Verse 18

Isaiah 59:18 According to [their] deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.

Ver. 18. Fury to his adversaries,] viz., The devil and his agents, his people’s adversaries.


Verse 19

Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

Ver. 19. So shall they fear the name of the Lord.] Christ shall get him a great name, as a renowned conqueror.

When the enemy shall come in like a flood.] When they shall pour out a deluge of evils upon the Church. [Revelation 12:15]

The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him,] i.e., Against strong temptations, corruptions, persecutions. The motto shall be, as once Christus nobiscum: state. stand with our Christ.


Verse 20

Isaiah 59:20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

Ver. 20. And the Redeemer.] Shall come to the Israel of God.

That turn from transgression.] See Romans 11:26. {See Trapp on "Romans 11:26"}


Verse 21

Isaiah 59:21 As for me, this [is] my covenant with them, saith the LORD My spirit that [is] upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

Ver. 21. My Spirit which is upon thee, and my words.] The efficacy of the Word is by the Spirit, the expression of the Spirit by the Word; both are here promised to the Church as her true goods. [Isaiah 30:20-21 Job 14:16-17] It is with the Word and Spirit as with the veins and arteries in the body; as the veins carry the blood, so the arteries carry the spirits to quicken the blood.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 59:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-59.html. 1865-1868.

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