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Israel's Futile Idolatry

1The righteous man perishes,
and no one lays it to heart;
devout men are taken away,
while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity;
2he enters into peace;
they rest in their beds
who walk in their uprightness.
3But you, draw near,
sons of the sorceress,
offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman.
4Whom are you mocking?
Against whom do you open your mouth wide
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
the offspring of deceit,
5you who burn with lust among the oaks,11Or among the terebinths
under every green tree,
who slaughter your children in the valleys,
under the clefts of the rocks?
6Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;
they, they, are your lot;
to them you have poured out a drink offering,
you have brought a grain offering.
Shall I relent for these things?
7On a high and lofty mountain
you have set your bed,
and there you went up to offer sacrifice.
8Behind the door and the doorpost
you have set up your memorial;
for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,
you have gone up to it,
you have made it wide;
and you have made a covenant for yourself with them,
you have loved their bed,
you have looked on nakedness.22Or on a monument (see 56:5); Hebrew on a hand
9You journeyed to the king with oil
and multiplied your perfumes;
you sent your envoys far off,
and sent down even to Sheol.
10You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.33Hebrew and so you were not sick

11Whom did you dread and fear,
so that you lied,
and did not remember me,
did not lay it to heart?
Have I not held my peace, even for a long time,
and you do not fear me?
12I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
but they will not profit you.
13When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
The wind will carry them off,
a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
and shall inherit my holy mountain.

Comfort for the Contrite

14And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people's way.”
15For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
17Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
18I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
“and I will heal him.
20But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”


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Vanity of Idols; Divine Greatness and Condescension. (b. c. 706.)

13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;   14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.   15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.   16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

Here, I. God shows how insufficient idols and creatures were to relieve and succour those that worshipped them and confided in them (v. 13): "When thou criest in thy distress and anguish, lamentest thy misery and callest for help, let thy companies deliver thee, thy idol-gods which thou hast heaped to thyself companies of, the troops of the confederate forces which thou hast relied so much upon, let them deliver thee if they can; expect no other relief than what they can give." Thus God said to Israel, when in their trouble they called upon him (Judg. x. 14), Go, and cry to the gods which you have chosen, let them deliver you. But in vain is salvation hoped for from them: The wind shall carry them all away, the wind of God's wrath, that breath of his mouth which shall slay the wicked; they have made themselves as chaff, and therefore the wind will of course hurry them away. Vanity they are, and vanity shall take them away, to vanity they shall be reduced, and vanity shall be their recompence. Both the idols and their worshippers shall come to nothing.

II. He shows that there was a sufficiency, an all-sufficiency, in him for the comfort and deliverance of all those that put their confidence in him and made their application to him. Their safety and satisfaction appear the more comfortable because their hopes are crowned with fruition, when those that seek to other helpers have their hopes frustrated: "He that puts his trust in me, and in me only, he shall be happy, both for soul and body, for this world and the other."

1. Observe, in general, (1.) Those that trust in God's providence take the best course to secure their secular interests. They shall possess the land, as much of it as is good for them, and what they have they shall have it from a good hand and hold it by a good title. Ps. xxxvii. 3, They shall dwell in the land, and verily they shall be fed. (2.) Those that trust in God's grace take the best course to secure their sacred interests. They shall inherit my holy mountain. They shall enjoy the privileges of the church on earth, and be brought at length to the joys of heaven; and no wind shall carry them away.

2. More particularly,

(1.) The captives, that trust in God, shall be released (v. 14): They shall say (that is, the messengers of his providence, in that great event shall say), Cast you up, cast you up, prepare the way. When God's time shall have come for their deliverance the way of bringing it about shall be made plain and easy, obstacles shall be removed, difficulties that seemed insuperable shall be speedily got over, and all things shall concur both to accelerate and facilitate their return. See ch. xl. 3, 4. This refers to the provision which the gospel, and the grace of it, have made for our ready passage through this world to a better. The way of religion is now cast up; it is a highway; ministers' business is to direct people in it, and to help them over the discouragements they meet with, that nothing may offend them.

(2.) The contrite, that trust in God, shall be revived, v. 15. Those that trusted to idols and creatures for help went with their ointments and perfumes (v. 9); but here God shows that those who may expect help from him are such as are destitute of, and set themselves at a distance from, the gaieties of the world and the delights of sense. God's glory appears here very bright, [1.] In his greatness and majesty: He is the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity. Let this inspire us with very high and honourable thoughts of the God with whom we have to do, First, That his being and perfections are exalted infinitely above every creature, not only above what they have themselves, but above what they can conceive concerning him, far above all their blessing and praise, Neh. ix. 5. He is the high and lofty One, and there is no creature like him, nor any to be compared with him. The language likewise intimates his sovereign dominion over all and the incontestable right he has to give both law and judgment to all. He is higher than the highest (Eccl. v. 8), than the highest heavens, Ps. cxiii. 4. Secondly, That with him there is neither beginning of days nor end of life, nor change of time; he is both immortal and immutable. He only has immortality, 1 Tim. vi. 16. He has it of himself, and he has it constantly; he inhabits it, and cannot be dispossessed of it. We must shortly remove into eternity, but God always inhabits it. Thirdly, That there is an infinite rectitude in his nature, and an exact conformity with himself and a steady design of his own glory in all that he does; and this appears in every thing by which he has made himself known, for his name is holy, and all that desire to be acquainted with him must know him as a holy God. Fourthly, That the peculiar residence and manifestation of his glory are in the mansions of light and bliss above: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and will have all the world to know it." Whoever have any business with God must direct to him as their Father in heaven, for there he dwells. These great things are here said of God to inspire us with a holy reverence of him, to encourage our confidence in him, and to magnify his compassion and condescension to us, that though he is thus high yet he has respect unto the lowly; he that rides on the heavens by his name JAH stoops to concern himself for poor widows and fatherless, Ps. lxviii. 4, 5. [2.] In his grace and mercy. He has a tender pity for the humble and contrite, for those that are so in respect of their state. If they be his people, he will not overlook them though they are poor and low in the world, and despised and trampled upon by men; but he here refers to the temper of their mind; he will have a tender regard to those who, being in affliction, accommodate themselves to their affliction, and bring their mind to their condition, be it ever so low and ever so sad and sorely broken—those that are truly penitent for sin, who mourn in secret for it, and have a dread of the wrath of God, which they have made themselves obnoxious to, and are submissive under all his rebukes. Now, First, With these God will dwell. He will visit them graciously, will converse familiarly with them by his word and Spirit, as a man does with those of his own family; he will be always nigh to them and present with them. He that dwells in the highest heavens dwells in the lowest hearts and inhabits sincerity as surely as he inhabits eternity. In these he delights. Secondly, He will revive their heart and spirit, will speak that to them, and work that in them by the word and Spirit of his grace, which will be reviving to them, as a cordial to one that is ready to faint. He will give them reviving joys and hopes sufficient to counterbalance all the griefs and fears that break their spirits. He dwells with them, and his presence is reviving.

(3.) Those with whom he contends, if they trust in him, shall be relieved, and received into favour, v. 16. He will revive the heart of the contrite ones, for he will not contend for ever. Nothing makes a soul contrite so much as God's contending, and therefore nothing revives it so much as his ceasing his controversy. Here is, [1.] A gracious promise. It is not promised that he will never be angry with his people, for their sins are displeasing to him, or that he will never contend with them, for they must expect the rod; but he will not contend for ever, nor be always wroth. As he is not soon angry, so he is not long angry. He will not always chide. Though he contend with them by convictions of sin, he will not contend for ever; but, instead of the spirit of bondage, they shall receive the Spirit of adoption. He has torn, but he will heal. Though eh contend with them by the rebukes of providence, yet the correction shall not last always, shall not last long, shall last no longer than there is need (1 Pet. i. 6), no longer than they can bear, no longer than till it has done its work. Though their whole life be calamitous, yet their end will be peace, and so will their eternity be. [2.] A very compassionate consideration, upon which this promise is grounded: "If I should contend for ever, the spirit would fail before me, ever the souls which I have made." Note, First, God is the Father of spirits, Heb. xii. 9. Those with whom he will not always contend are the souls that he has made, that he gave being to by creation and a new being to by regeneration. Secondly, Though the Lord is for the body, yet he concerns himself chiefly for the souls of his people, that the spirit do not fail, and its graces and comforts. Thirdly, When troubles last long, the spirit even of good men is apt to fail. They are tempted to entertain hard thoughts of God, to think it in vain to serve him; they are ready to put comfort away from them, and to despair of relief, and then the spirit fails. Fourthly, It is in consideration of this that God will not contend for ever; for he will not forsake the work of his own hands nor defeat the purchase of his Son's blood. The reason is taken not from our merit, but from our weakness and infirmity; for he remembers that we are flesh (Ps. lxxviii. 39) and that flesh is weak.




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