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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 50

 

 

Verses 1-11

II.—THE SECOND DISCOURSE

The Connection between the Guilt of Israel and the Suffering of the Servant, and the Deliverance from Guilt by Faith in the Latter

Isaiah 50

With reference to Isaiah 49:14 the Prophet inquires: Where is Zion’s writing of divorcement? Zion is not repudiated, but only punished, because when its Lord came it did not receive Him. But that is the connection between the guilt of Israel and the sufferings of the Servant, who willingly takes them on Himself because He is strong in God and assured of His final victory. Also Israel can become free from its guilt and the punishment of it by turning again to the Lord in the exercise of faith. Of course those that persevere in their sin must be destroyed in it as in a self-kindled flame.

The discourse accordingly subdivides into three parts: 1) Isaiah 50:1-3; Isaiah 2) Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 3) Isaiah 50:10-11.

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1. TO WHAT EXTENT AND WHY ZION IS A FORSAKEN WIFE

Isaiah 50:1-3

1 Thus saith the Lord,

Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement,

[FN1]Whom I have put away?

Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?

Behold, for your iniquities have ye [FN2]sold yourselves,

And for your transgressions is your mother put away.

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, [FN3]at my rebuke I dry up the sea,

[FN4]I make the rivers a wilderness:

Their fish [FN5]stinketh, because there is no water,

And [FN6]dieth for thirst.

3 dI clothe the heavens with blackness,

And dI make sackcloth their covering.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 50:2. מדוע—פדות—גערה often used of dividing waters, Psalm 18:16; Psalm 104:7. Isaiah 50:3. קדרות, comp. Joel 2:10; 4:15.——שׂק. Note the comparatively numerous relative or absolute ἅπ. λεγ. ending וּת, occurring in verses1–3. There are four: קדרות,פדות,כריתות and כסות.

Isaiah 50:1. אֲשֶׁר after ספר כריתות אמכם is the acc. instrumenti = “wherewith.”

Isaiah 50:2. מִפְדוּת (comp. Exodus 8:19; Psalm 111:9; Psalm 130:7). The construction with מִן is as in Isaiah 49:19; Isaiah 7:13; Isaiah 33:19.—וְתָמֹת is the jussive form without jussive meaning. The like often occurs: Isaiah 27:6; 1 Samuel 2:10; Psalm 9:10; Psalm 11:6; Psalm 104:20.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The Prophet here introduces the Lord as the speaker, letting Him explain Himself His relation to Zion, which all through these chapters He has in mind, viz. to the Zion that has rejected the Servant of God, and thus is self rejected, still not on that account repudiated forever. This Zion has exclaimed, Isaiah 49:14 : “The Lord hath forsaken me, the Lord hath forgotten me.” The Lord has already replied to this Isaiah 49:15 by emphasizing His paternal or rather His maternal position, but not His position as husband. Here He replies to that complaint as Zion’s husband. He does not deny that in a certain sense Zion is a divorced wife, her children sold into captivity. But He denies that Zion is definitively divorced by a writing of divorcement, and that the children are sold to a creditor as equivalent for a debt. Rather both the divorce and the sale are come on them only as a means of chastisement, as punishment for their sins ( Isaiah 50:1). This punishment, of course, needed to be because the Lord, in coming to His own possession, found no one to receive Him, because when He called, no one answered, although His redeeming power was in no way exhausted. For He is and continues under all circumstances the Lord of heaven and earth, who can dry up sea and river ( Isaiah 50:2), and can clothe the heavens with darkness ( Isaiah 50:3).

2. Thus saith——put away, Isaiah 50:1. Of course this verse refers to Isaiah 44:14. But one must not on that account separate Isaiah 50:1-3 from what follows and join them to chap49, as many do. For apart from chap49, being well rounded and complete in itself in its homogeneous parts, Isaiah 50:1-3, after a joyous beginning, have a very serious meaning that points to what follows. Zion has, indeed, received no writing of divorcement; but still it needed to be punished for its sins (see under § 1above). The manner of the coming is described Isaiah 50:4-9, and the unavoidable punishment, Isaiah 50:10-11.

Some have found in [This reference to Jeremiah seems fatal to the Author’s interpretation, and completely to confirm that of J. A. A, given above.—Tr.].

The distinction that the Prophet makes between mother and children in the two clauses of this comparison is intended only to emphasize the notion of totality; not merely the abstract communion shall be preserved, but it shall retain its natural members. For it were conceivable that the Lord would restore an Israel community with the institutions of the old, but with a non-Israelitish population, with foreign born, branches only grafted into the olive tree Israel ( Romans 11:17 sqq.). This, says the Prophet, shall not be; but to the olive tree shall be given also the natural branches, to the national communion the natural children shall be given back. Not all! For only the שְׁאָר, the ἐκλογὴ is worthy and capable of being the heir to this promise. This distinction is further marked by representing the mother as divorced, the children as sold. In Matthew 18:25, Jesus speaks of selling wife and children to pay debts. The Old Testament indeed speaks of a man selling himself with wife and children ( Exodus 21:1-6; Leviticus 25:39 sqq.; Deuteronomy 15:12 sqq.). But it is controverted that a man might legally sell his wife or his children in order to pay his debts (comp. Saalschuetz,Mos. Recht. p860, and (Œhler Herz. R-Encycl. XIV. p465 sq, against Michaelis,Mos. Recht. III. p36 sqq.). But whether legal or not, it seems as a matter of fact to have been a practice to sell children or to take them by force from their father in discharge of a debt, and I think that in this sense Michaelis not unjustly appeals to 2 Kings 4:1; Job 24:9; Nehemiah 5:1. Naturally the selling of children would occur oftener than the selling of a wife. How deep rooted a law of custom may become, even when contrary to statute law, is seen in the analogous case related in Jeremiah 34:8 sqq. נֹשֶׁה (comp. Isaiah 24:2) is the creditor that loans money and demands repayment. The Babylonian Exile was such a temporary sending away of the wife and sale of children. But also the Roman Exile is such; for both are of a sort, and the Prophet contemplates both together. Israel is never to be entirely and definitively repudiated.

3. Wherefore when I came——their covering.

Isaiah 50:2-3. The sin for which Israel must be punished consisted in this, that “the Lord came to His own and His own received Him not” ( John 1:11). It was as if a stranger, unknown and without rights had come. The servants went each his way; He called, no one answered Him ( Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4). Most recent commentators understand this to refer to the Lord’s coming by the Prophets. Without saying that this is impossible, I must still maintain that it is unusual, on which account it is not by the commentators supported by examples. That the Lord unceasingly sent His prophets to call Israel to repentance, that Israel would not hear, and that therefore the Babylonian Exile must come on them, became, especially in Jeremiah, almost a standing expression. But the word שָׁלַח is always used with emphasis: Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:15; Jeremiah 44:4. That Isaiah writes באתי and not שָׁלַחְתִּי has doubtless its reason. And it is precisely this, that he really meant a personal coming of the Lord, and conceives of it as mediated by the Servant of the Lord, whose appearance forms the chief contents of this second Ennead.

Israel’s not receiving the Lord, might be explained were the Lord grown powerless. But such is not the case. Therefore it has no reasonable ground. It is base contempt, deserving punishment. As the long hand is a figure for wide reaching power (num nescis longas regibus esse manus? comp. Gesen.in loc.), so the short hand is of a power confined to a narrow sphere. The expression is founded on Numbers 11:23, and occurs again only Isaiah 37:27; Isaiah 59:1. In proof that Israel had no reason for rejecting Him as weak and powerless because He came in the form of a servant, the Lord urges that He is still able to do what He could do at that time when He appeared in majesty before the eyes of Israel, when the people did not dare to refuse Him. For “at my rebuke I dry up the sea,etc., recalls the passage through the dead sea and the Jordan, and I clothe the heavens with blackness,etc., recalls the black cloud on Sinai that veiled the sight of God from the people. One ought to see the δόξα under the present ταπεινότης. The Prophet had repeatedly, in what precedes, used the deliverance out of the Egyptian captivity as a type and pledge of future deliverance ( Isaiah 43:2; Isaiah 43:16-17; Isaiah 44:27). He does the same here. As regards the passage of the Red Sea, Psalm 106:9 has a manifest connection with our passage, the latter clause of which corresponds with the words “I make the rivers a wilderness.” These same words occur verbatim Psalm 107:33, as proof of the divine omnipotence in general that can both make waters a desert and the desert waters. The latter is expressed by a word drawn from Isaiah 41:18. The stinking and dying of the fish are cited as proof of the entire drying up of the waters. This trait, which is no where mentioned in reference to the passage of the Red Sea and Jordan, seems to me to be drawn from the events attending the turning the Nile water into blood ( Exodus 7:18; Exodus 7:21). In this case there would be, in some sense, a confusio duarum figurarum, the poetic transference of an Egyptian event to a fact of later date connected with it. Also the words of Isaiah 50:3 remind one of the exodous from Egypt; comp. Exodus 19:9; Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:18; Exodus 24:15 sqq.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - With which I put her away.

FN#2 - been sold.

FN#3 - by.

FN#4 - I will.

FN#5 - shall stink.

FN#6 - shall die.

2. THE OFFENSE OF ISRAEL CORRESPOND TO THE SUFFERING OF THE SERVANT, WHO WILLINGLY SUFFERS, YET IS STRONG IN GOD

Isaiah 50:4-9

4 [FN7]The Lord God hath given me the tongue of [FN8]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 athe learned.

5 eThe Lord God hath opened mine ear,

And I was not rebellious,

Neither turned away back.

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.

7 eFor the Lord God [FN9]will help me;

Therefore eshall I not be confounded:

Therefore have I set my face like a flint,

[FN10]And I know that I shall not be ashamed.

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.

9 Behold, ethe 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.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 50:4-5; Isaiah 50:7; Isaiah 50:9. אדני יהוה. Isaiah 50:4. עוּת. Isaiah 50:5. מָרָה. Isaiah 50:6. מרטים. Isaiah 50:7. כָּלַמ—חלמישׁ, comp. Ezekiel 3:8-9. Isaiah 50:8. מצדיק.

Isaiah 50:4. For עוּת an analogous Arabic root gives sufficient reason for adopting the meaning “succurrere, sustentare.” The combination with לָעוֹתלָעוּת) עֵת from עָתַת, denomin. from עֵת, Abulwalid, Kimchi, Luther, et al.) is on the contrary quite uncertain. The derivation from לָעָה (לָעוּת substantive, as כְּדוּת, etc.), is impossible because לָעָה is used only in a bad sense = “to babble, βαττολογεῖν.”—דָּבָר is—with the word. It is the same accusative that we had in אֲשֶׁר שׁלחתיה verse1.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The form of the Servant of God develops with increasing distinctness. The Prophet characterizes Him here in a double aspect. First he describes Him as docile in respect to learning what He was called to perform actively: viz., raising up the weary by means of the word. By this the schoolmaster (pedagogical) activity of the Servant of God is intimated ( Isaiah 50:4). But the Servant of God is docile in another sense. He is obedient and willing to suffer according to God’s will. He does not elude the abuse to which men subject Him, and which answers to just that unsusceptibility of Israel intimated in Isaiah 50:2 ( Isaiah 50:5-6). But He knows, too, that the Lord will sustain Him, and He shall not come to shame, and this enables Him to harden His face like a flint ( Isaiah 50:7). He knows that the Lord will conduct His cause and justify Him, and can, therefore, boldly summon His adversaries before the bar of judgment. They shall pass away as a moth-eaten garment ( Isaiah 50:8. 9).

2. The Lord God——as the learned.

Isaiah 50:4. The divine name אדני יהוה (The Lord Jehovah) occurs in this chapt. relatively oftener than in any other Isaianic passage, viz., four times, vera4, 5, 7, 9. The tongue of a disciple is a docile tongue, willing and capable of learning. The Prophet, therefore, sees in the Servant of God one who must learn, and who likes to learn. The picture of the Servant of God that appears before the spiritual eye of the Prophet has not entirely clear and complete outlines. It is one that is prophetically obscure, not wholly comprehensible to the Seer himself. One learns from it only this much, that the Prophet sees the Servant of God active in the service of the “weary and heavy laden.” For those described, Matthew 11:28, best answer to the יָעֵף.

According to the accents, בברק בבקר should be joined together as in Isaiah 28:19. But it seems to me more fitting to arrange them palindromically after the example of Isaiah 27:5 (שָׁלוֹם יַעֲשֶׂה לִייַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם לִי). Delitzsch well remarks that the Servant is here plainly distinguished from the prophets. For the latter receive their revelations mostly by night. But the Servant of God says that His ear is every morning awakened in order to hear after the manner of a disciple. He is thought of, therefore, not as under the influence of a momentary inspiration repeated at intervals, coming upon Him in the condition of sleep, but as under the constant influence of the Spirit that gives testimony of itself to Him every day from the moment He awakes to consciousness in the morning and on. Evidently the latter is a higher form of spiritual communication; it implies a more intimate relation between God and him who receives it. But this communication concerning the way in which the Servant of God receives the revelation of the Spirit stands between the descriptions of His active ( Isaiah 50:4 a) and passive obedience ( Isaiah 50:5 sqq.), if I may use the expression. Is it, then, to be referred to both kinds of obedience? At least it is not to be conceived why “opening my ear” should accomplish itself in another way.

3. The Lord God—eat them up.

[“ Romans 8:33-34 is an obvious imitation of this passage as to form. But even Vitringa, and the warmest advocates for letting the New Testament explain the Old, are forced to acknowledge that in this case Paul merely borrows his expressions from the Prophet, and applies them to a different object.”—J. A. Alex.]. The words כלם כבגד יבלו are quoted from our text in Psalm 102:27. Comp, moreover, Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 51:8; Job 13:28, and the List.

Footnotes:

FN#7 - The Lord Jehovah.

FN#8 - disciples.

FN#9 - helps.

FN#10 - For I knew.

3. THE CONDITION ON WHICH ISRAEL MAY BE RECEIVED TO GRACE

Isaiah 50:10-11

10 Who is among you that feareth the Lord,

That obeyeth the voice of his servant,

[FN11]That walketh in darkness, and hath no [FN12]light?

Let him trust in the name of the Lord,

And stay upon his God.

11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire,

That [FN13]compass yourselves about with [FN14]sparks:

Walk in the light of your fire,

And in the dsparks that ye have kindled.

This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in [FN15]sorrow.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 50:11. קָדַח, comp. Deuteronomy 32:22; Jeremiah 15:14; Jeremiah 17:4.—זיִקוֹת comp. זִקִּים Isaiah 45:14.

Isaiah 50:10. The passage at first sight seems to admit of a double construction. Either one may understand the question מי בכם וגו׳ as one that requires the answer “no one;” then the second half of the verse must be referred to the Servant of Jehovah. Or one takes מִי in the sense of “quisquis,” and יבטח וגו׳ as a comforting call to those who incline to put their trust in the Servant of God spite of his humble condition. I regard the latter construction as the correct one, for the following reasons: First, according to the former construction, the whole characteristic of the Servant (אֲשֶׁר as far as בֵּאלהָיו) is superfluous, for it contains nothing but a needless repetition of what is said immediately before in Isaiah 50:5-9. For it is said in Isaiah 50:6-7, that the Servant of the Lord walks in rayless darkness; and he himself testifies in Isaiah 50:7-9 that he trusts in the Lord. Why this repetition?——Second, in that case Isaiah 50:10 b must read וְהוּא יִבְטַח וגו׳. For there is no justification of what Hahn says: viz., that, by the use of the perfect, the clause is subordinated to that beginning with יבטח, so that we are to translate: “who trusts, although he walks.” If the notion “athough” needed to be expressed, it could not be done by means of the perfect חָלַךְ, but it must then read: וְהוּא יִבְטַח וגו׳. Hence I share the view of Gesenius, Maurer, Knobel, Delitzsch, that the question מי בכם וגו׳ singles out of the totality of Israel all the individuals to whom apply the predicates ירא י׳ and שׁמע בִקול עבדו. The words מִי as far as לוֹ are subject of the whole clause, as Knobel correctly says. It is quite natural that ירא י׳ should stand first; for only he that fears God hears also the voice of His Servant ( John 8:47). The relative sentence אֲשֶׁר as far as נגה לו is regarded by many as a continuation of the particip. construction שֹׁמֵעַ–יִרֵא, so that it describes the situation of the God-fearing, that makes them appear as those that need help. But, first one looks in that case for וִהָלַךְ, and, second, the negative ואין נגה לו would be too weak a description of the mournful condition implied in their case. Hence I think the relative clause is to be referred to the Servant. Then אֲשֶר involves a significant contrast: he who fears Jehovah and hearkens to the voice of His Servant, which (i.e., although the same) walks in darkness and dispenses with all splendor,—let him trust, etc.—הָלַךְ חֲשֵׁכִים, comp. Isaiah 9:1; the accusative is the acc. localis according to analogy of הָלָךְ רוּחַ,צְדָקוֹת.

Isaiah 50:11. Instead of מְאַזְּרֵי some would read מְאִירֵי according to the Syriac; or even arbitrarily change the reading (Hitz.) to מְאַוְּרֵי (a non-Hebrew word formed from the Arabic). Both are unnecessary. אִזַּר is the direct causative Piel=“to make compass about.”—למעצבה וגו׳ is not=ye shall lie in torment; לְ denotes the terminus in quem of the laying ( Job 7:21; Lamentations 2:21, comp. 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 12:16; 2 Samuel 13:31).

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. As the discourse of the Servant, which forms the pith of this chapter, was introduced by a word of Jehovah’s, so now it is concluded in the same way. For that Isaiah 50:10-11, are the words of Jehovah appears from this ye shall have from my hand. He turns to the two classes into which Israel separates in relation to the Servant of God. Even after Israel, for the most part, has rejected the Servant of Jehovah, those that fear God and hearken to the voice of the Servant spite His lowliness and obscurity, and lean on Him, may still be blessed ( Isaiah 50:10). But those who with flaming torches and burning arrows raged against the Servant of God and His cause are told that the fire kindled by them shall devour themselves. That will be the painful punishment prepared for them by the Lord ( Isaiah 50:11).

2. Who is among—in sorrow, Isaiah 50:10-11. As Isaiah 50:6 in a measure formed a prelude to the positive statements concerning the suffering of the Servant contained in53, so hath no light (splendor) are a prelude to the negative ones ( Isaiah 53:2 b). Walketh in darkness along with hath no light, which is the reverse side, is the Biblical expression for the deepest misery, unalleviated by a ray. Therefore whoever, spite of this miserable exterior (see Text. and Gram.), still heeds the voice of the Servant, may trust in the name of Jehovah ( Psalm 33:21) and lean on his God ( Isaiah 10:20; comp. Isaiah 30:12; Isaiah 31:1); therefore he may comfort himself by the promises of grace given Isaiah 50:1-3.—The enemies of the Servant are called fire-kindlers. Doubtless a fire is meant that burns in them and by which they then set the outward world on fire. For wickedness is a fire, and the wicked, poisonous tongue (which we are specially to understand by זִיקוֹת) Isaiah, in James 3:5-6, expressly called a little fire that yet sets a world on fire, and a world of iniquity. Making one’s girding of fiery darts may be said in the same sense as one speaks of girding with strength ( Psalm 18:33; Psalm 18:40), or with joy ( Psalm 30:12), i.e. figuratively. Fiery darts are their favorite weapons. Gesenius seems to think of a fire inadvertently kindled, because in Isaiah 50:11 a he finds only the continuation of the figure of the darkness and the thought of arbitrary self-help. Others refer the kindling of a fire to the persecutions of the prophets, or to the insurrections of the Jews against the Romans. Of course events of this sort may contribute to the accomplishment of what the Prophet would say. But it is perverse to think exclusively of special events. All that wicked Israel did, directly and indirectly, against the Servant of God, with fiery darts kindled with hell fire, only kindled a fire that consumed themselves. Thus their own fire turned into a fire of divine wrath, and into that they were constrained to enter. Jerusalem with the Temple perished in it. Of that day when this fire must burn, the Lord says in advance to them: from my hand is this come upon you; in torment ye shall lay yourselves down. The day when Israel shall experience that fiery judgment from the Lord is the day when, after having played their part, they shall lie down; but they then lie down not in repose, but in torment.

Footnotes:

FN#11 - Who.

FN#12 - splendor about him.

FN#13 - gird.

FN#14 - fiery darts.

FN#15 - torment.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 50:1. The church of the Lord may be sorely punished, it may be overrun with enemies, partly destroyed, reduced, as in the days of Elijah, to7,000 that are invisible, but it can never receive a bill of divorce. For what God has joined together men shall not put asunder. If this be true of the original and Christian marriage, why not still more of the original type of marriage? Ephesians 5:23 sqq.

2. On Isaiah 50:2. “Quia veni et non erat vir. Veni in carnem, inquit, sum mortuus pro vobis, resurrexi, implevi et exhibui praesens omnes promissiones. Verum vos me non recepistis. Sicut est Joh. i.: ‘venit in propria et sui eum non receperunt.’—Numquid abbreviata et parvula, etc. Jactat potentiam suam contra Judaeos et objurgat eos. Quasi dicat: vos me ideo negligitis, quod sine aliqua pompa veniam. Spectatis corporale regnum et hanc infirmitatem contemnitis. Verum ego sic soleo; numquam liberavi vos per virtutem, sed semper per infirmitatem, in qua summa virtus et potentia Esther, et tum soleo esse potentissimus, cum prorsus nihil posse existimor.” Luther.

3. On Isaiah 50:2. At My rebuke. “God can destroy the wicked by a rebuke ( Psalm 9:6). When He rebuked the Red sea it became dry ( Psalm 106:9). And when Christ threatened the wind it became still ( Luke 8:24). If God can then do so much by chiding, what will happen when He joins the deed to the word, and takes the iron sceptre or the goad in hand ( Psalm 2:9; Acts 9:5)?” Cramer.

4. On Isaiah 50:4 sqq. Luther, who renders לשׁון למודים by “learned tongue” still gives in his commentary the explanation that thereby is not to be understood a “lingua magistri,” but a “lingua discipuli” or a “lingua discipulata, quae nihil loquitur, nisi quod a Deo didicit.” And with this agrees admirably what the Lord, especially in the Gospel by John, so often affirms, that He says nothing but what He has heard from His Father, that He does nothing but what He has received from the same, wills nothing but what He wills ( John 3:11; John 3:32; John 4:34; John 5:19; John 5:30; John 6:38; John 7:16; John 8:16; John 8:38; John 10:18; John 10:37-38; John 12:49-50; John 14:10; John 14:31; John 15:15; John 16:32). But that the Lord was not docile only with reference to speaking and doing, but also with reference to suffering, He says Himself in the words: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” Matthew 26:39. And hence, Paul testifies that Christ was obedient unto death, even the death on the cross ( Philippians 2:8).

5. On Isaiah 50:6. The Lord said, Luke 18:31-33 : “Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” Regarding this it must be noted, that there is no other Old Testament passage that declares that the Servant of God would be spit upon. Moreover no other passage speaks at least so plainly of scourging and smiting. It is further very probable that “ὑβρισθήσεται” especially answers to לחיי למרטים; for if anything can be an ὕβρις, it is this ill-treatment of the face. It is accordingly in the highest degree probable that in Luke 18:31 sqq. the Lord had especially in mind our passage. It then appears also what good reason we have for referring our passage to the Servant of Jehovah.

On Isaiah 50:7-9. “Spes confisa Deo nunquam confusa recedit.”—“He who holds out through Passion-week with Christ alone, must and shall also keep Easter there with Him.” Foerster.

7. On Isaiah 50:11. Regarding the meaning and the fulfilment of this passage, both may be best learned from what Josephus (bell. jud. VI:4, 5 sqq.) relates concerning the taking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Titus had commanded to preserve the Temple. But “τοῦδὲ (viz., τοῦ ναοῦ) κατεψήφιστο τὸ πῦρ θεὸς πάλαι.” A Roman soldier, “δαιμονίω ὁρμῇ τινι χρώμενος” casts a fire-brand through the golden window into the Temple. Titus hastens up and commands to extinguish the conflagration. He is not heard, or men will not hear. A soldier secretly applies fire to the door-posts of the Temple building proper. The Temple was consumed “ἄκοντος καίσαρος.” Josephus repeatedly testifies that it was the Lord that gave the Temple to the flames, and thereafter the whole city of Jerusalem. One might fancy, while reading his account, that he had in mind the words of our text: “This shall ye have of Mine hand.” And who does not think also of: “ye shall lie down in sorrow” (torment) when reading of the surviving Jews, how some were sent off to the mines, some kept to contend as gladiators and with wild beasts in the theatres, the rest sold as slaves (Josephus, l. c. VI:9, 2).

HOMILETICAL HINTS

7. On Isaiah 50:1-3. Sermon of consolation in times of the Church’s distress. What are we to think of the present conflicts of the Church? 1) We must regard them as a divine chastisement for the sins of the church, and suffer ourselves to be led by them to repentance (behold for your iniquities are ye sold—and no one answered Isaiah 50:1-2)—2) We ought not to despair in these conflicts, but comfort ourselves in the expectation of a gracious deliverance. For God a. is willing for it, because He has neither given the church a bill of divorce, nor can give it ( Isaiah 50:1, where is the bill, etc.); b. He has also the power to do it (is my hand shortened, etc., Isaiah 50:1, I clothe the heavens, etc., Isaiah 50:3).

2. On Isaiah 50:4. The Lord says Matthew 11:28 : “Come unto me all ye that are weary,” etc. That is a right well-intended summons and worthy of all confidence. For no one can in fact so refresh the weary as He. Has not God just for this given Him an instructed tongue? “This too may serve to comfort (the weary) when they pour out their hearts toward the servants and children of the Lord, who, mighty in His word, tried and preserved under many a cross, have learned by experience, after their Redeemer’s example, to speak a word in season to the weary (weak, wretched, comfortless, that bear away at their cross nearly tired out, and nearly unable to get on).” Schriver, Seelenschatz, Theil. IV:9 Pred. § 6. If, by the waters of such distress and tribulation, there remain still a little spark of faith, apply yourself diligently to consider the word of God, that it may not be utterly quenched, although the devil will be marvellously glad to hinder it. How Christ comforts one by His dear word! As also it is said: “The Lord hath given me a learned tongue,” etc. Tholuck, “Hours of Devotion,” p252.

3. On Isaiah 50:4-9. Passion Sermon. The sufferings of the Lord. 1) The ground of them (obedience, Isaiah 50:4-5); 2) The nature of them (ill-use of every sort on the part of those that hated the Lord, Isaiah 50:6-7); 3) The use of them (that we may boldly say: who will contend with me? who is He that condemneth? [ Romans 8:33-34] Isaiah 50:8-9).

4. On Isaiah 50:6. “O Lamb of God, how hast Thou tasted to their full extent the impositions of human sinfulness! The blindness and wickedness of the human heart could only become manifest by contrast with Thy holiness, as night is only known in its entire darkness by contrast with the spotless light; and thus it has now even happened. And thou wast silent, and Thou hast endured all contradiction of sinners, silent when they struck Thee with their fists, when they spit in Thy face—the unjust thus treating the Just one, the servants their Lord, the creature the Only Begotten of the Father! “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks … shame and spitting:” thus it is written of Thee. Innocent Lamb of God, how hast Thou borne the sins of the world, and been obedient unto the depths of humiliation! Tholuck, l. c. 493.

5. On Isaiah 50:10-11. Penitential Sermon. God is love, and at the same time holiness and justice. He bears the rod Gentle and the rod Woe. He announces to us the law and the gospel. To-day also He turns to the pious and the wicked, and offers to each His own. The Lord to-day presents to us life and death. 1) He offers life to those that fear Him ( Isaiah 50:10). 2) But He presents death to those who have kindled their heart, word and work at the flames of hell, and thereby set ablaze a fire in which they shall themselves perish ( Isaiah 50:11).

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-50.html. 1857-84.

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