Isa 59:1-21. The People's Sin the Cause of Judgments: They at Last Own It Themselves: the Redeemer's Future Interposition in Their Extremity.
The reason why Jehovah does not deliver His people, notwithstanding their religious services (Isa 58:3), is not want of power on His part, but because of their sins (Isa 59:1-8); Isa 59:9-15 contain their confession; Isa 59:16-21, the consequent promise of the Messiah.
1. hand ... shortened -- (See on Isa 50:2).
ear heavy -- (Isa 6:10).
2. hid -- Hebrew, |caused Him to hide| (La 3:44).
3. (Isa 1:15; Ro 3:13-15).
hands ... fingers -- Not merely the |hands| perpetrate deeds of grosser enormity (|blood|), but the |fingers| commit more minute acts of |iniquity.|
lips ... tongue -- The lips |speak| openly |lies,| the tongue |mutters| malicious insinuations (|perverseness|; perverse misrepresentations of others) (Jer 6:28; 9:4).
4. Rather, |No one calleth an adversary into court with justice,| that is, None bringeth a just suit: |No one pleadeth with truth.|
they trust ... iniquity -- (So Job 15:35; Ps 7:14).
5. cockatrice -- probably the basilisk serpent, cerastes. Instead of crushing evil in the egg, they foster it.
spider's web -- This refers not to the spider's web being made to entrap, but to its thinness, as contrasted with substantial |garments,| as Isa 59:6 shows. Their works are vain and transitory (Job 8:14; Pr 11:18).
eateth ... their eggs -- he who partakes in their plans, or has anything to do with them, finds them pestiferous.
that which is crushed -- The egg, when it is broken, breaketh out as a viper; their plans, however specious in their undeveloped form like the egg, when developed, are found pernicious. Though the viper is viviparous (from which |vi-per| is derived), yet during gestation, the young are included in eggs, which break at the birth [Bochart]; however, metaphors often combine things without representing everything to the life.
6. not ... garments -- like the |fig leaves| wherewith Adam and Eve vainly tried to cover their shame, as contrasted with |the coats of skins| which the Lord God made to clothe them with (Isa 64:6; Ro 13:14; Ga 3:27; Php 3:9). The artificial self-deceiving sophisms of human philosophy (1Ti 6:5; 2Ti 2:16, 23).
7. feet -- All their members are active in evil; in Isa 59:3, the |hands, fingers, lips, and tongue,| are specified.
run ... haste -- (Ro 3:15). Contrast David's |running and hasting| in the ways of God (Ps 119:32, 60).
thoughts -- not merely their acts, but their whole thoughts.
8. peace -- whether in relation to God, to their own conscience, or to their fellow men (Isa 57:20, 21).
judgment -- justice.
crooked -- the opposite of |straightforward| (Pr 2:15; 28:18).
9. judgment far -- retribution in kind because they had shown |no judgment in their goings| (Isa 59:8). |The vindication of our just rights by God is withheld by Him from us.|
us -- In Isa 59:8 and previous verses, it was |they,| the third person; here, |us ... we,| the first person. The nation here speaks: God thus making them out of their own mouth condemn themselves; just as He by His prophet had condemned them before. Isaiah includes himself with his people and speaks in their name.
justice -- God's justice bringing salvation (Isa 46:13).
light -- the dawn of returning prosperity.
obscurity -- adversity (Jer 8:15).
10. grope -- fulfilling Moses' threat (De 28:29).
stumble at noon ... as ... night -- There is no relaxation of our evils; at the time when we might look for the noon of relief, there is still the night of our calamity.
in desolate places -- rather, to suit the parallel words |at noonday,| in fertile (literally, |fat|; Ge 27:28) fields [Gesenius] (where all is promising) we are like the dead (who have no hope left them); or, where others are prosperous, we wander about as dead men; true of all unbelievers (Isa 26:10; Lu 15:17).
11. roar -- moan plaintively, like a hungry bear which growls for food.
doves -- (Isa 38:14; Eze 7:16).
salvation -- retribution in kind: because not salvation, but |destruction| was |in their paths| (Isa 59:7).
12. (Da 9:5, &c.).
thee ... us -- antithesis.
with us -- that is, we are conscious of them (Job 12:3, Margin; Job 15:9).
know -- acknowledge they are our iniquities.
13. The particulars of the sins generally confessed in Isa 59:12 (Isa 48:8; Jer 2:19, 20). The act, the word, and the thought of apostasy, are all here marked: transgression and departing, &c.; lying (compare Isa 59:4), and speaking, &c.; conceiving and uttering from the heart.
14. Justice and righteousness are put away from our legal courts.
in the street -- in the forum, the place of judicature, usually at the gate of the city (Zec 8:16).
cannot enter -- is shut out from the forum, or courts of justice.
15. faileth -- is not to be found.
he that departeth ... prey -- He that will not fall in with the prevailing iniquity exposes himself as a prey to the wicked (Ps 10:8, 9).
Lord saw it -- The iniquity of Israel, so desperate as to require nothing short of Jehovah's interposition to mend it, typifies the same necessity for a Divine Mediator existing in the deep corruption of man; Israel, the model nation, was chosen to illustrate his awful fact.
16. no man -- namely, to atone by his righteousness for the unrighteousness of the people. |Man| is emphatic, as in 1Ki 2:2; no representative man able to retrieve the cause of fallen men (Isa 41:28; 63:5, 6; Jer 5:1; Eze 22:30).
no intercessor -- no one to interpose, |to help ... uphold| (Isa 63:5).
his arm -- (Isa 40:10; 51:5). Not man's arm, but His alone (Ps 98:1; 44:3).
his righteousness -- the |arm| of Messiah. He won the victory for us, not by mere might as God, but by His invincible righteousness, as man having |the Spirit without measure| (Isa 11:5; 42:6, 21; 51:8; 53:11; 1Jo 2:1).
17. Messiah is represented as a warrior armed at all points, going forth to vindicate His people. Owing to the unity of Christ and His people, their armor is like His, except that they have no |garments of vengeance| (which is God's prerogative, Ro 12:19), or |cloak of zeal| (in the sense of judicial fury punishing the wicked; this zeal belongs properly to God, 2Ki 10:16; Ro 10:2; Php 3:6; |zeal,| in the sense of anxiety for the Lord's honor, they have, Nu 25:11, 13; Ps 69:9; 2Co 7:11; 9:2); and for |salvation,| which is of God alone (Ps 3:8), they have as their helmet, |the hope of salvation| (1Th 5:8). The |helmet of salvation| is attributed to them (Eph 6:14, 17) in a secondary sense; namely, derived from Him, and as yet only in hope, not fruition (Ro 8:24). The second coming here, as often, is included in this representation of Messiah. His |zeal| (Joh 2:15-17) at His first coming was but a type of His zeal and vengeance against the foes of God at His second coming (2Th 1:8-10; Re 19:11-21).
18. deeds -- Hebrew, |recompenses|; |according as their deeds demand| [Maurer]. This verse predicts the judgments at the Lord's second coming, which shall precede the final redemption of His people (Isa 66:18, 15, 16).
islands -- (See on Isa 41:1). Distant countries.
19. (Isa 45:6; Mal 1:11). The result of God's judgments (Isa 26:9; 66:18-20).
like a flood -- (Jer 46:7, 8; Re 12:15).
lift up a standard -- rather, from a different Hebrew root, |shall put him to flight,| |drive him away| [Maurer]. Lowth, giving a different sense to the Hebrew for |enemy| from that in Isa 59:18, and a forced meaning to the Hebrew for |Spirit of the Lord,| translates, |When He shall come as a river straitened in its course, which a mighty wind drives along.|
20. to Zion -- Ro 11:26 quotes it, |out of Zion.| Thus Paul, by inspiration, supplements the sense from Ps 14:7: He was, and is come to Zion, first with redemption, being sprung as man out of Zion. The Septuagint translates |for the sake of Zion.| Paul applies this verse to the coming restoration of Israel spiritually.
them that turn from -- (Ro 11:26). |shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob|; so the Septuagint, Paul herein gives the full sense under inspiration. They turn from transgression, because He first turns them from it, and it from them (Ps 130:4; La 5:21).
21. covenant with them ... thee -- The covenant is with Christ, and with them only as united to Him (Heb 2:13). Jehovah addresses Messiah the representative and ideal Israel. The literal and spiritual Israel are His seed, to whom the promise is to be fulfilled (Ps 22:30).
spirit ... not depart ... for ever -- (Jer 31:31-37; Mt 28:20).