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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 6

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Ver. 1. In the year that Uzziah died.] This was 1590 years from Noah’s flood, say chronologers, where one (a) well observeth how divers things were done in this year within the Church, and without. The Gentiles in Greece, at the town of Eleum, behold their Olympic games; the prophet Isaiah in Judea beholdeth the glory of God, and heareth the trisagion of the blessed angels. So in the year of grace 1617 the Pope proclaimed a jubilee for the peace of Italy and Austria, &c. The Reformed Churches in Germany kept a jubilee likewise at the same time, in way of thankfulness to God for the gospel restored just a hundred years before by Luther, Zuinglius, and other reformers. (b)

I saw also,] sc., In spiritu et in ecstasi, In spirit and in a rapture. Some compare it with that vision which Ezekiel saw afterwards. [Ezekiel 1:4-28] This whole book is called ‘the vision of Isaiah’; [Isaiah 1:1] and why? {See Trapp on "Isaiah 1:1"} Est autem celeberrima haec prophetia, but this is a most famous prophecy of the utter excaecation and excision of the Jews; and is alleged against them by all the four evangelists, and by St Paul. [Romans 11:8]

The Lord.] The Three in One, and One in Three: Isaiah 6:8, "Who shall go for us?" Compare Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22. See John 12:41, where it is applied to God the Son; and Acts 5:3-4, where to God the Holy Ghost. This Lord of all was seen by the prophet, not in his essence, or in the infinite excellence of his majesty, [Exodus 33:20 1 Timothy 6:16] but in some visible model of his glory; like as we cannot see the sun in rota, but in radiis, in the body of it, but in the beams only.

Sitting upon a throne.] Instar iudicis et vindicis, as a just judge and sharp revenger of this people’s rebellions; and this throne is in the temple too, the place wherein they most of all trusted, crying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord." [Jeremiah 7:4] Lo, here they were to be sentenced, because they had cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. [Isaiah 5:24]

High and lifted up.] Stately for sight, and lofty for site, as was Solomon’s. [1 Kings 10:18; 1 Kings 10:20]

And his train filled the temple.] His train, or his skirts (c) - viz., of his robes. The Sept. and Chaldee have it, "The house was full of his glory." The sense is, saith Oecolampadius, that the least part of the divine majesty is greater than the greatest glory of men. {as 1 Corinthians 1:25} "He hath upon his vesture and on his thigh this name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords." [Revelation 19:16] Here we can see but his back parts, his train and line. We need see no more that we may live. Zeuxis, the famous painter, drew in a table a fair temple with the doors open, and Venus going in, so as the beholders could behold but her back and her train, as not able to depaint her fair face and fore parts.


Verse 2

Isaiah 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Ver. 2. Above it stood the seraphims.] Those heavenly salamanders that are all on a light fire with love to God and zeal of his glory. [Numbers 21:6 Isaiah 30:6] Fiery serpents, full of deadly poison, are also called seraphims, πρηστηρας the Greeks call them. That old serpent the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, At bonum erat tibi si ignifer magis esses quam lucifer, saith Bernard, in his third sermon upon this vision of Isaiah.

Each one had six wings.] So had those four beasts or living wights; [Revelation 4:8] {See Trapp on "Revelation 4:8"} and observe that in the Revelation the Holy Ghost borroweth most of the elegancies and flowers found in the Old Testament to set out the story of the New in succeeding ages.

With twain he covered his face.] As with a double scarf, before God’s surpassing brightness, that would put out their eyes else. When the lightning flasheth in men’s eyes they clap their hands on their faces, so here do the angels. The moon never casteth less light than when she is nearest the sun. Sol reliqua sidera occultat, quibus et lumen suum faenerat; { a} sic et Deus gloriae [Acts 7:2] Neither are any so humble as they who are nearest to God. Angels make their addresses with greatest self-abasements; what then should vile men do? worms and not men!

And with twain he covered his feet.] As conscious to themselves of a kind of comparative impurity, [Job 4:18; Job 15:15] and unworthiness so to stand before God - i.e., to minister unto him.

And with twain he did fly.] That is, he was ready to fly; velabant, et volabant; as Gabriel came to Daniel with weariness of flight [Daniel 9:21] - that is, with incredible swiftness. Their six wings, say some, (b) might set forth a six fold motion, upward, downward, forward, backward, to the right hand or to the left - any way were they ready to fly where God would, ita ut celeritate superent ventos, falmina, solem, coelosque omnes, swifter than the wind, thunderbolt, sun, or any of the celestial orbs.


Verse 3

Isaiah 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.

Ver. 3. And one cried to another.] Hymnum cantant τρισαγιον, and that, as it may seem, by way of antiphony, as those did. [Exodus 15:1; Exodus 15:21]

And said, Holy, holy, holy.] Hereby showing their earnestness and insatiability in praising God. {as Jeremiah 22:20 Matthew 23:39} The ingemination importeth strong affection. Infinitis vicibus iterant, saith Procopius; the holy angels "have no rest," and yet they have no unrest either, "day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty which was, and is, and is to come." [Revelation 4:8] The ancient Rabbis, as R, Simeon Ben Joai, proved the trinity of persons from this text, saith Galatin, (a) appointing their posterity to repeat these words twice a day at least - viz., at the rising and setting of the sun, which also they do to this day, and when they do it they leap three times.

The whole earth is full of his glory.] Not the land of Judea only, but the wide world, {as Psalms 97:6; Psalms 97:8 Isaiah 40:5} shall be full of God’s glory, when the gospel shall be preached to all nations. This was for comfort to our prophet, that although his countrymen were cast off for their contumacy, yet he should not lose the fruit of his labours when once that "great mystery of godliness" was revealed; "God" - whom he had now seen upon the throne, and that purposely for his confirmation - "manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." [1 Timothy 3:16]


Verse 4

Isaiah 6:4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Ver. 4. And the posts of the door were moved.] Presently upon the angels’ hymn this occured, with such a force it was uttered, as it was at the time of our Saviour’s resurrection, when the angel rolled back the stone and sat upon it there was a great earthquake. [Matthew 28:2] By the moving of the "posts" or thresholds was signified the destruction of the temple, when the smoke with which the house was filled, when it was burned down by the Chaldees, as also the just excaecation of the Jews. Their temple, that had been filled with the train of glory, is now filled with smoke going out of God’s nostrils when he was angry. [Psalms 18:8 Deuteronomy 29:20]


Verse 5

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Ver. 5. Then said I, Woe is me.] The ordinary fear of the faithful, when they had seen the Lord in his majesty. [Genesis 16:13 Deuteronomy 5:24 Hebrews 12:21 13:22] How shall the wicked then be able to stand before him at the last day?

For I am undone.] I am a dead man, since no man shall see God and live. [Exodus 33:20]

Because I am a man of unclean lips,] i.e., Of a foul nature and sinful practice; his original uncleanness, that filthy fountain and well spring of wickedness, made him cry out in this manner, Pollutior sum quam ut laudem Deum. Angels praise God, as I have heard them; but I, wicked wretch, am altogether unfit for such an employment. Infinite is the distance and disproportion between the high and holy God and me, a loathsome leper, a sordid wretch, &c. The nearer a man draweth to God, the more doth rottenness enter into his bones. [Habakkuk 3:16] "Now mine eyes have seen thee," saith Job, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. [Job 42:6] "Depart from me, Lord," saith Peter, "for I am a sinful man," [Luke 5:8] Gr., A man a sinner - that is, a compound or hodgepodge of dirt and sin. Quis tu, Domine? quis ego? said one; Tu abyssus essentiae, veritatis, et gloriae: ego abyssus nihili, vanitatis et miseriae, Who art Thou, Lord? and what am I? Thou art an abyss of essence, truth, and glory, and I an abyss of nothing, of sin, and of misery.

And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.] Whose language I have learned, with whose sinful practices I have too much symbolised, and in whose punishments therefore I am like to be involved; for there is a double danger to a man by conversing with the ungodly; (1.) Infection of sin; (2.) Infliction of punishment. Lot was the world’s miracle, who kept himself fresh in Sodom’s salt water.


Verse 6

Isaiah 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

Ver. 6. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me.] Relinquit chorum illum sanctissimum ut serviat polluto; He leaveth that holy company that he may do service to a poor polluted creature! The brightest angel in heaven thinketh not himself too good to serve the saints. [Hebrews 1:14] If there come to us at any time a messenger, one of a thousand, to declare unto us our righteousness, to be unto us a minister of reconciliation, we are to receive him as an angel of God.

Having a live coal in his hand.] A coal from the altar, shadowing the merit and Spirit of Christ purging his people from all sin. The tongs whereby this live coal of Christ’s righteousness is applied to the soul is the grace of faith. [Acts 15:9]


Verse 7

Isaiah 6:7 And he laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Ver. 7. And he laid it upon my mouth.] Not to burn him, for all this was visional, but to expiate and purify his lips by the "spirit of judgment and of burning"; [Isaiah 4:4] to fire him up to a holy contention in godliness, and to fit him yet further for his office, as the apostles were for theirs by cloven tongues of fire [Acts 2:3-4]

And said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips.] To the sign words are used to make a perfect sacrament. And here the cautiousness of the angel is to be noted. He saith not, I have touched, but, lo, this coal hath touched thy lips. So Paul, "Yet not I, but the grace of God in me." [1 Corinthians 15:10] So the good and faithful servant, Not I, but "Thy talent hath gained ten talents." [Luke 19:16] The seraph was himself a burning creature, as his very name importeth; howbeit it was not the seraph but the retheph or burning coal that did the deed, that God might have all the glory.

Thine iniquity is taken away.] Sacraments take not away sin, but only testify that iniquity is purged by Christ alone, who hath merited justification and sanctification.


Verse 8

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I send me.

Ver. 8. Whom shall I send?] "Lay hands upon no man rashly," but with deliberation. The mystery of the Trinity is well observed by some in the following words, as by others this, that ministers serve not men, but the only true God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. [1 Corinthians 4:1 2 Corinthians 5:21]

Who shall go for us?] (a) God knew whom he would send, but he will have the prophet offer himself; for he loveth a cheerful server, and ministers must take the oversight of God’s flock, "not of constraint, but willingly." [1 Peter 5:2]

Here am I send me.] This was right, and this was wrought in him, not by base fear of punishment, - as we read of one Balthus, a dumb man, that wandering in a desert, and met with a lion, he was struck with such exceeding fear and trepidation, that thereupon the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake ever after - sed igne Dei tactus et actus est. (b) The seraph had comforted him, and this was the effect of it. The prophet, after the touch of the live coal, felt his gifts increased, his zeal kindled, and hence his forwardness thus to offer God his service. So ought such to do as find themselves fitted for the work: If thou hast not manchet, (c) said Bucer to Bradford, give the people barley bread, such as thou canst, it will be accepted. It is no small commendation to a man to addict himself to the ministry of the saints, as the house of Stephanas did, [1 Corinthians 16:15] and to be to every good work ready [Titus 3:1] - that is, forward and forthputting, cheerful and vigorous.


Verse 9

Isaiah 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Ver. 9. And he said, Go and tell this people.] (a) Once my people, but now no more so, Loammi, but a people laden with iniquity, and so a people of my wrath and of my curse, no longer owned by me, but disavowed and abandoned, as their fathers once were. [Exodus 32:7]

Hear ye, indeed, but understand not.] This is that heavy and dreadful doom, whereunto for authority’s sake is premised that glorious vision of the Lord sitting on his throne and passing sentence, together with the renewed mission of this prophet on so pleasing an errand. "Hear" ye shall for a mischief to you, but "understand" no more than the seats you sit on, or the pillars you lean against, because stupified, delivered up to a reprobate sense.

And see indeed,] sc., Both my words, [Jeremiah 2:31] and my works, when my hand is lifted up especially. [Isaiah 26:11] See Isaiah 42:18-20.

But perceive not,] sc., That the cause of your calamity is your sin, the end repentance, the author God, with whom, therefore, it is a righteous thing to punish you with spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, that ye may proceed and perish. Now, then, "if any be ignorant, let him be ignorant" for me. {as 1 Corinthians 14:38} And, "let him that is filthy be filthy still," or let him be yet more filthy [Revelation 22:11] Abeat in malam crucem, as a father saith to his incorrigible child. See the like angry expressions, Ezekiel 20:39, Isaiah 50:11, Psalms 81:12-13, Matthew 23:32; Matthew 23:34.


Verse 10

Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Ver. 10. Make the heart of this people fat,] sc., By preaching to them the Word of God, which, because they regard not, it shall become unto them a savour of death, as sweet ointments kill beetles, as a shrill voice hurteth weak ears, as lime is kindled by cold water cast upon it. Of such a fat heart beware. Fat things are less sensible, and fat hearted people are noted by Aristotle for dull and stupid. There is not a greater mischief can befall a man on this side hell than to be given up to a dead and dedolent disposition, such as was that of those [Ephesians 4:18] of the Jews in Christ’s time, and ever since, and of many Papists, who continue blind in the midst of so much light, and will not renounce those errors whereof they are clearly convinced.

And make their ears heavy.] Preach them to hell. This is an accidental effect of the word preached, and proceedeth from men’s corruptions. [Zechariah 7:11] But as a hard heart, so a heavy ear is a singular judgment. [Acts 7:51] Antagoras, reciting his "Thebais," a book that he had made, among the Boeotians, and they little regarding him, he folded up his book, and said, Ye may well be called Boeotians, quia boum habetis aures, for ye have oxes’ ears - playing upon the notation of their name. (a)

Lest they should see with their eyes, &c.] Or, That they may not see with their eyes, or hear, &c., but be as so many sots and stocks or statues, that have eyes and see not, &c., to their utter ruin and destruction. Neither is there any the least injustice in such a proceeding. An apprentice hath given him by his master a candle to light him to bed, which he abuseth to light him to game or drink. Hereupon his master taketh it from him, bloweth it out, and sendeth him darkling to bed, in the way whereto he breaketh his arms or his face by some fall: will any man blame the master, since the candle was his, and allowed for use? I think not. Think the like here.

And convert.] Which at times they would not, now they shall not; but having made a match with mischief, they shall henceforth have enough of it; they "love to have it so"; [Jeremiah 5:31] they "forsake their own mercies"; [Jonah 2:8] they are miserable by their own election.

And be healed,] i.e., Pardoned and purged. Atque hic pulchre exprimitur, saith one, ordo obtinendae salutis; and here is excellently set forth the order of obtaining salvation. For (1.) It is requisite that we have ears to hear, and eyes to see - not ears stopped, and eyes daubed up as these had; (2.) That what we hear and see, we understand with the heart - that is, that there be yielded thereunto both assent of the mind and consent of the will, this is faith; (3.) That we turn to the Lord by true repentance, and then we are sure of healing, which is by pardon of sin, and power against it.


Verse 11

Isaiah 6:11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,

Ver. 11. Then said I, Lord, how long?] sc., Shall this sad stroke upon the souls of this poor people last? Is there no hope of an end? Hast thou utterly cast off Israel? See here the good affection of godly ministers towards even obdurate and obstinate sinners; how deeply and dearly they oft pity them and pray for them, as did also Moses, Samuel, Paul.

Until the cities be wasted, &c.] Till these uncounselable and incorrigible refractories be utterly rooted out by the Babylonians first: and then by the Romans.


Verse 12

Isaiah 6:12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and [there be] a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

Ver. 12. And the Lord have removed men far away.] Judea lay utterly waste for seventy years, insomuch that after the slaughter of Gedaliah, when all - man, woman, and child - fled into Egypt, there was not a Jew left in the country. And in that last desolation by the Romans, such affliction befell them as never had been from the beginning, nor shall be to the world’s end. [Mark 13:19] After Titus had slain a million of them, and carried away captive ninty-seven thousand more, Adrian the emperor, for their sedition under Barchochach, drove all the Jews utterly out of Jewry, set a sow of white marble over the chief gate of Jerusalem in reproach of their religion, and by proclamation forbade them so much as to look toward that land from any high tower or mountain. (a) Howbeit, they afterwards obtained leave to go in once a year and bewail the destruction of their temple, giving a piece of money to the soldiers; and at this day, when or wherever they build a house, they use to leave about a yard square of it unplastered, on which they write, Zecher lechorban, The memory of the desolation. (b)


Verse 13

Isaiah 6:13 But yet in it [shall be] a tenth, and [it] shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance [is] in them, when they cast [their leaves: so] the holy seed [shall be] the substance thereof.

Ver. 13. But yet in it shall be a tenth,] (a) i.e., Some elect left in the land for a reserve. And these are called a tenth - (1.) Because, as the tenths, they are consecrated to God; [Leviticus 27:30-32] (2.) Because but a few. So that God may say, as once of the cured lepers, "Where are the other nine?" Such were those that looked for the consolation of Israel when Christ came in the flesh, Zacharias, Simeon, Anna, the Marys, Joseph of Arimathea, the apostles, Peter’s converts, &c.

And it shall return and shall be eaten.] Or, It shall, after its return again, be burnt up or removed; so they were to some purpose by the Romans. See on Isaiah 6:12.

As a teil tree, or as an oak.] Trees that are durae ac durabiles, hard and long lasting; and although they lose their fruit and leaves, or be cut down, yet

Their substance is in them.] The substance of the matter, the sap remaineth in the trunk and root. (b) Some think there is an allusion in this text to a bank or causeway that went from the king’s house to the temple, and was borne up with trees planted on either side of it; which trees, as they kept up the causeway, so do the godly the state. [1 Chronicles 26:16; 1 Chronicles 26:18 1 Kings 10:12 2 Chronicles 9:11] Semen sanctum statumen terrae.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-6.html. 1865-1868.

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