Isa 57:1-21. The Peaceful
Death of the Righteous Few: the Ungodliness of the Many: a Believing
Remnant Shall Survive the General Judgments of the Nation, and Be
Restored by Him Who Creates
In the midst of the excesses of the unfaithful
watchmen (Isa 56:10, 11, 12), most of the few that are godly perish:
partly by vexation at the prevailing ungodliness; partly by violent
death in persecution: prophetical of the persecuting times of Manasseh,
before God's judgments in causing the captivity in Babylon; and again
those in the last age of the Church, before the final judgments on the
apostasy (2Ki 21:16; Mt 23:29-35, 37; Re
11:17). The Hebrew for
"perisheth," and "is taken away," expresses a violent death
1. no man layeth it to heart—as a public
merciful men—rather, godly men;
the subjects of mercy.
none considering—namely, what was the
design of Providence in removing the godly.
from the evil—Hebrew, from the
face of the evil, that is, both from the moral evil on every side
56:10-12), and from the evils
about to come in punishment of the national sins, foreign invasions,
&c. (Isa 56:9; 57:13). So Ahijah's death is represented as a
blessing conferred on him by God for his piety (1Ki 14:10-13; see also 2Ki 22:20).
2. Or, "he entereth into peace"; in
contrast to the persecutions which he suffered in this world
3:13, 17). The Margin
not so well translates, "he shall go in peace" (Ps 37:37; Lu
rest—the calm rest of their bodies in
their graves (called "beds," 2Ch 16:14; compare Isa 14:18; because they "sleep" in them, with the
certainty of awakening at the resurrection, 1Th 4:14) is the emblem of the eternal "rest"
(Heb 4:9; Re 14:13).
each one walking in …
uprightness—This clause defines the character of those who at
death "rest in their beds," namely, all who walk uprightly.
3. But … ye—In contrast to "the
righteous" and their end, he announces to the unbelieving Jews their
sons of the sorceress—that is, ye that
are addicted to sorcery: this was connected with the worship of false
21:6). No insult is greater
to an Oriental than any slur cast on his mother (1Sa 20:30;
seed of the adulterer—Spiritual
adultery is meant: idolatry and apostasy (Mt 16:4).
4. sport yourselves—make a mock (Isa 66:5). Are ye aware of the glory of Him
whom you mock, by mocking His servants ("the righteous," Isa 57:1)? (2Ch 36:16).
make … wide mouth—(Ps
22:7, 13; 35:21; La 2:16).
children of transgression, &c.—not
merely children of transgressors, and a seed of false
parents, but of transgression and falsehood itself,
utterly unfaithful to God.
5. Enflaming yourselves—burning with
lust towards idols [Gesenius]; or
else (compare Margin), in the terebinth groves, which the
Hebrew and the parallelism favor (see on Isa
under … tree—(2Ki 17:10). The tree, as in the Assyrian
sculptures, was probably made an idolatrous symbol of the heavenly
slaying … children—as a
sacrifice to Molech, &c. (2Ki 17:31; 2Ch 28:3;
in … valleys—the valley of the
son of Hinnom. Fire was put within a hollow brazen statue, and the
child was put in his heated arms; kettle drums (Hebrew, toph)
were beaten to drown the child's cries; whence the valley was called
Tophet (2Ch 33:6; Jer 7:3).
under … clifts—the gloom of
caverns suiting their dark superstitions.
6. The smooth stones, shaped as idols, are the
gods chosen by thee as thy portion (Ps 16:5).
meat offering—not a bloody sacrifice,
but one of meal and flour mingled with oil. "Meat" in Old English meant
food, not flesh, as it means now (Le 14:10).
Should I receive comfort—rather,
"Shall I bear these things with patience?" [Horsley].
7. Upon … high mountain …
bed—image from adultery, open and shameless (Eze 23:7); the "bed" answers to the
idolatrous altar, the scene of their spiritual unfaithfulness to
their divine husband (Eze 16:16, 25; 23:41).
8. "Remembrance," that is, memorials of thy
idolatry: the objects which thou holdest in remembrance. They hung
up household tutelary gods "behind the doors"; the very place where
God has directed them to write His laws "on the posts and gates" (De 6:9;
11:20); a curse, too, was
pronounced on putting up an image "in a secret place" (De 27:15).
discovered thyself—image from an
enlarged … bed—so as to receive
the more paramours.
made … covenant—with idols: in
open violation of thy "covenant" with God (Ex 19:5;
23:32). Or, "hast made
assignations with them for thyself" [Horsley].
thy bed … their bed—The Jews'
sin was twofold; they resorted to places of idolatry ("their
bed"), and they received idols into the temple of God ("thy
where—rather, "ever since that" [Horsley]. The Hebrew for "where"
means "room" (Margin), a place; therefore, translate,
"thou hast provided a place for it" (for "their bed"), namely, by
admitting idolatrous altars in thy land [Barnes]; or "thou choosest a (convenient) place for
thyself" in their bed [Maurer] (Isa 56:5).
9. the king—the idol which they
came to worship, perfumed with oil, like harlots (Jer 4:30;
Eze 23:16, 40). So "king"
means idol (Am 5:26; Zep 1:5); (malcham meaning "king") [Rosenmuller]. Rather, the king of
Assyria or Egypt, and other foreign princes, on whom Israel
relied, instead of on God; the "ointment" will thus refer to the
12:1), and perhaps the
compliances with foreigners' idolatries, whereby Israel sought to gain
their favor [Lowth] (Isa 30:6; Eze 16:33; 23:16; Ho 7:11).
send … messengers far off—not
merely to neighboring nations, but to those "far off," in search of new
idols, or else alliances.
even unto hell—the lowest possible
10. greatness of … way—the
length of thy journey in seeking strange gods, or else foreign
2:23, 24). Notwithstanding
thy deriving no good from these long journeys (so, "send … far
off," Isa 57:9),
thou dost not still give up hope (Jer 2:25; 18:12).
hast found … life of …
hand—for "thou still findest life (that is, vigor) enough in
thy hand" to make new idols [Maurer], or
to seek new alliance ("hand" being then taken for strength in
grieved—rather, "therefore thou art
not weak" [Maurer]; inasmuch as
having "life in thy hand," thou art still strong in hope.
11. Israel wished not to seem
altogether to have denied God. Therefore they "lied" to Him. God
asks, Why dost thou do so? "Whom dost thou fear? Certainly not Me;
for thou hast not remembered Me." Translate, "seeing that
thou hast not remembered Me."
laid it to … heart—rather, "nor
hast Me at heart"; hast no regard for Me; and that, because I have been
long silent and have not punished thee. Literally, "Have I not held My
peace, and that for long? and so thou fearest Me not" (Ps 50:21; Ec
8:11). It would be better
openly to renounce God, than to "flatter Him" with lies of false
professions (Ps 78:36)
[Ludovicus De Dieu]. However, Isa 51:12,
13 favors English
Version of the whole verse; God's "silent" long-suffering, which
was intended to lead them to repentance, caused them "not to fear Him"
12. declare—I will expose publicly thy
(hypocritical) righteousness. I will show openly how vain thy works, in
having recourse to idols, or foreign alliances, shall prove (Isa 57:3).
13. When thou criest—In the time of thy
companies—namely, of idols, collected
by thee from every quarter; or else, of foreigners, summoned to thy
wind … carry … away—(Job
21:18; Mt 7:27).
vanity—rather, "a breath" [Lowth].
possess … land …
inherit—that is, the literal land of Judea and Mount Zion;
the believing remnant of Israel shall return and inherit the land.
Secondarily, the heavenly inheritance, and the spiritual Zion (Isa 49:8; Ps 37:9, 11; 69:35, 36; Mt 5:5; Heb
12:22). "He that putteth his
trust in Me," of whatever extraction, shall succeed to the spiritual
patrimony of the apostate Jew [Horsley].
14. shall say—The nominative is,
"He that trusteth in Me" (Isa 57:13).
The believing remnant shall have every obstacle to their return cleared
out of the way, at the coming restoration of Israel, the antitype to
the return from Babylon (Isa 35:8; 40:3, 4; 62:10, 11).
Cast … up—a high road before the
stumbling-block—Jesus had been so to
the Jews, but will not be so then any longer (1Co 1:23); their prejudices shall then be
taken out of the way.
15. The pride and self-righteousness of the
Jews were the stumbling block in the way of their acknowledging Christ.
The contrition of Israel in the last days shall be attended with
God's interposition in their behalf. So their self-humiliation, in
66:2, 5, 10, &c.,
precedes their final prosperity (Zec 12:6, 10-14); there will, probably, be a previous
period of unbelief even after their return (Zec 12:8, 9).
16. For—referring to the promise in
57:14, 15, of restoring
Israel when "contrite" (Ge 6:3; 8:21;
Ps 78:38, 39; 85:5; 103:9, 13, 14; Mic 7:18). God "will not contend for ever"
with His people, for their human spirit would thereby be utterly
crushed, whereas God's object is to chasten, not to destroy them
(La 3:33, 34; Mic 7:8, 9). With the ungodly He is "angry
every day" (Ps 7:11; Re 14:11).
spirit … before me—that is, the
human spirit which went forth from Me (Nu 16:22), answering to "which I have made" in
the parallel clause.
17. covetousness—akin to idolatry; and,
like it, having drawn off Israel's heart from God (Isa 2:7; 56:11; 58:3; Jer 6:13; Col 3:5).
hid me—(Isa 8:17; 45:15).
went on frowardly—the result of God's
hiding His face (Ps 81:12; Ro 1:24, 26).
18. Rather, "I have seen his ways (in sin),
yet will I heal him," that is, restore Israel spiritually and
temporally (Jer 33:6; 3:22; Ho 14:4, 5) [Horsley].
I will … restore comforts unto him and to
his mourners—However, the phrase, "his mourners," favors
English Version; "his ways" will thus be his ways of
repentance; and God's pardon on "seeing" them answers to the like
promise (Isa 61:2, 3; Jer 31:18, 20).
19. fruit of … lips—that is,
thanksgivings which flow from the lips. I make men to return thanks to
Me (Ho 14:2; Heb 13:15).
Peace, peace—"perfect peace"
26:3, Margin; Joh 14:27). Primarily, the cessation of the
troubles now afflicting the Jews, as formerly, under the
Babylonian exile. More generally, the peace which the Gospel proclaims
both to Israel "that is near," and to the Gentiles who are "far off"
2:39; Eph 2:17).
20. when it cannot rest—rather,
"for it can have no rest" (Job 15:20, &c.; Pr 4:16,
17). English Version
represents the sea as occasionally agitated; but the
Hebrew expresses that it can never be at rest.
21. (Isa 48:22; 2Ki 9:22).
my God—The prophet, having God as
his God, speaks in the person of Israel, prophetically regarded
as having now appropriated God and His "peace" (Isa 11:1-3), warning the impenitent that,
while they continue so, they can have no peace.