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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 59

 

 

Verses 1-8

Isaiah 59:1-8. Solely the Sins of the People Delay Yahweh's Intervention.

Isaiah 59:5-8, with their fantastic metaphors and bitter invective, are probably a later addition made in even gloomier times. Note the third person, and the good connexion between Isaiah 59:4 and Isaiah 59:9. Not the waning of Yahweh's power, nor His deafness, explains His failure to aid His people. Their sins are like a wall between them and the Divine Presence. In act and word they are cruel and false. In the law-courts false dealing and speaking rule; a just cause counts for less than lying words. (Isaiah 59:5-8 pictures the schemes of the wicked under two figures. They hatch out poisonous serpents' eggs; anyone who eats the eggs dies, and if an egg is broken a young viper is disclosed. They weave spiders' webs; but these are useless to cover their iniquity. They haste eagerly to accomplish their wicked purposes. In their pathway they leave ruin. The path of peace they pursue not, and no right-dealing marks their tracks, for they choose crooked ways.)

Isaiah 59:2. his face: literally, "face," probably a proper noun used for the Divine Presence, the Shekinah.

Isaiah 59:4. pleadeth: in the legal sense.


Verses 9-15

Isaiah 59:9-15 a. The People Confess that their Piteous Plight is the Fruit of their Wrongdoing.—The poet now joins himself to his people and, speaking in their name, owns the truth of the indictment in Isaiah 59:1-4. True! that is why we do not attain our right, and victory is not ours! No gleam of hope lightens our darkness. We grope like blind men along a wall instead of treading firmly. We stumble in broad daylight. We moan and murmur like growling bears or cooing doves. Right and deliverance seem ever further off, for our numberless rebellions bear witness before Thee against us. Their guilt is ever on our hearts—rebellion and transgression against Yahweh, uttering perverseness (so read for "oppression"), defection, and lying words. So Right turns her back upon us and Victory keeps her distance, since Truth stumbles in our market-square, and Straight-dealing cannot make her way in. So Truth is not to be seen, and Insight departs from the city (cf. LXX).

Isaiah 59:10. Read (cf. mg.) "We dwell in darkness like the dead" (in the gloomy underworld).

Isaiah 59:13. in: delete.


Verses 15-21

Isaiah 59:15 b - Isaiah 59:21. Yahweh Himself Becomes the Champion of the Right.—Yahweh is indignant that Right is absent. He sees there is none to interpose (mg.) for her, so His own power brings the deliverance He desires, His victorious might sustaining Him in His strife. He arrays Himself as a warrior, Victory His cuirass, Deliverance His helmet, Vengeance His garments, and the Wrath of Indignation His cloak. Thus equipped, He proceeds to render to every deed its recompence, fury to His foes, shame (LXX) to His enemies. His administration of justice among His people shall bring Him world-wide glory, for His vengeance shall be swift and sudden like the movement of a stream pent in a gorge (cf. mg.) and driven fiercely before the breath of Yahweh. To Zion He shall come as a redeemer to remove rebellion from Jacob (LXX, and Romans 11:26).

Isaiah 59:16. unto him: rather, "for him," "in accord with his wish."—righteousness: here and in Isaiah 59:17 the power to make things right = might.

Isaiah 59:18. According to . . . repay: read probably, "according to deserts so is their recompence."—to the islands . . . recompence: an incorrect gloss on "enemies," absent from LXX.

Isaiah 59:19. fear: read, "see," with many MSS.—he: rather, "it," the recompence.

Isaiah 59:21. A late gloss, asserting the permanence of the covenant with the reformed community.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 59:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-59.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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