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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 2 - Verse 13
Verse 13. And again. That is, it is said in another place, or language is used of the Messiah in another place, indicating the confidence which he put in God, and showing that he partook of the feelings of the children of God, and regarded himself as one of them.
I will put my trust in him. I will confide in God; implying
(1.) a sense of dependence on God, and
(2.) confidence in him. It is with reference to the former idea that the apostle seems to use it here—as denoting a condition where there was felt to be need of Divine aid. His object is to show that he took part with his people, and regarded them as brethren; and the purpose of this quotation seems to be, to show that he was in such a situation as to make an expression of dependence proper. He was one with his people, and shared their dependence and their piety—using language which showed that he was identified with them, and could mingle with the tenderest sympathy in all their feelings. It is not certain from what place this passage is quoted. In Ps 18:3, and the corresponding passage in 2 Sa 22:3, the Hebrew is
—"I will trust in him;" but this Psalm has never been regarded as having any reference to the Messiah, even by the Jews— and it is difficult to see how it could be considered as having any relation to him. Most critics therefore, as Rosenmuller, Calvin, Koppe, Bloomfield, Stuart, etc., regard the passage as taken from Isa 8:17. The reasons for this are,
(1.) that the words are the same in the Septuagint as in the epistle to the Hebrews;
(2.) the apostle quotes the next verse immediately as applicable to the Messiah;
(3.) no other place occurs where the same expression is found. Isa 8:17, is
"I will wait for him," or I will trust in him — rendered by the Septuagint pepoiywv esomai ep autw— the same phrase precisely as is used by Paul—and here can be no doubt that he meant to quote it here. The sense in Isaiah is, that he had closed his message to the people; he had been directed to seal up the testimony; he had exhorted the nation to repent, but he had done it in vain; and he had now nothing to do but to put his trust in the Lord, and commit the whole cause to him. His only hope was in God; and he calmly and confidently committed his cause to him. Paul evidently designs to refer this to the Messiah; and the sense as applied to him is—"The Messiah in using this language expresses himself as a man. It is men who exercise dependence on God; and by the use of this language he speaks as one who had the nature of man, and who expressed the feelings of the pious, and showed that he was one of them, and that he regarded them as brethren." There is not much difficulty in the argument of the passage; nor it is seen that in such language he must speak as a man, or as one having human nature; but the main difficulty is on the question how this and the verse following can be applied to the Messiah? In the prophecy they seem to refer solely to Isaiah, and to be expressive of his feelings alone— the feelings of a man who saw little encouragement in his work, and who having done all that he could do, at last put his sole trust in God. In regard to this difficult and yet unsettled question, the reader may consult my introduction to Isaiah, & 7. The following remarks may serve in part to remove the difficulty.
(1.) The passage in Isaiah (Isa 8:17,18) occurs in the midst of a number of predictions relating to the Messiah—preceded and followed by passages that had an ultimate reference undoubtedly to him. See Isa 7:14; 9:1-7 and Notes on those passages.
(2.) The language, if used of Isaiah, would as accurately and fitly express the feelings and the condition of the Redeemer. There was such a remarkable similarity in the circumstances, that the same language would express the condition of both. Both had delivered a solemn message to men; both had come to exhort them to turn to God, and to put their trust in him, and both with the same result. The nation had disregarded them alike; and now their only hope was to confide in God; and the language here used would express the feelings of both—" I will trust in God. I will put confidence in him, and look to him."
(3.) There can be little doubt that, in the time of Paul, this passage was regarded by the Jews as applicable to the Messiah. This is evident, because
(a.) Paul would not have so quoted it as a proof-text, unless it would be admitted to have such a reference by those to whom he wrote; and
(b.) because, in Ro 9:32,33, it is evident that the passage in Isa 8:14, is regarded as having reference to the Messiah, and as being so admitted by the Jews. It is true that this may be considered merely as an argument ad hominem—or an argument from what was admitted by those with whom he was reasoning, without vouching for the precise accuracy of the manner in which the passage was applied—but that method of argument is admitted elsewhere, and why should we not expect to find the sacred writers reasoning as other men do, and especially as was common in their own times? The apostle is showing them, that according to their own Scripture, and in accordance with principles which they themselves admitted, it was necessary that the Messiah should be a man and a sufferer; that he should be identified with his people, and be able to use language which would express that condition. In doing this, it is not remarkable that he should apply to him language which they admitted to belong to him, and which would accurately describe his condition.
(4.) It is not necessary to suppose that the passage in Isaiah had an original and primary reference to the Messiah. It is evident from the whole passage that it had not. There was a primary reference to Isaiah himself, and to his children as being emblems of certain truths. But still there was a strong resemblance, in certain respects, between his feelings and condition and those of the Messiah. There was such a resemblance, that the one would not unaptly symbolize the other. There was such a resemblance that the mind—probably of the prophet himself, and of the people—would look forward to the more remote, but similar event—the coming and the circumstances of the Messiah. So strong was this resemblance, and so much did the expressions of the prophet here accord with his declarations elsewhere pertaining to the Messiah, that in the course of time they came to be regarded as relating to him in a very important sense, and as destined to have their complete fulfillment when he should come. As such they seem to have been used in the time of Paul; and no one can PROVE that the application was improper. Who can demonstrate that God did not intend that those transactions referred to by Isaiah should be designed as symbols of what would occur in the time of the Redeemer? They were certainly symbolical actions—for they are expressly so said to have been by Isaiah himself, (Isa 8:18;) and none can demonstrate that they might not have had an ultimate reference to the Redeemer.
And again. In another verse, or in another declaration; to wit, Isa 7:18.
Behold I and the children which God hath given me. This is only a part of the passage in Isaiah, and seems to have been partially quoted, because the point of the quotation consisted in the fact, that he sustained to them somewhat of the relation of a parent towards his children—as having the same nature, and being identified with them in interest and feeling. As it is used by Isaiah, it means that he and his children were "for signs and emblems" to the people of his time—to communicate and confirm the will of God, and to be pledges of the Divine favour and protection. See Barnes "Isa 7:18".
As applied to the Messiah, it means that he sustained to his people a relation so intimate, that they could be addressed and regarded as his children. They were of one family; one nature. He became one of them, and had in them all the interest which a father has in his sons, He had, therefore, a nature like ours; and though he was exalted above the angels, yet his relation to man was like the most tender and intimate earthly connexions, showing that he took part in the same nature with them. The point is that he was a man; that since those who were to be redeemed partook of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same, (Heb 2:14,) and thus identified himself with them.
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