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transgressing, and denying the Lord,

and turning away from following our God,

talking oppression and revolt,

conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.


Justice is turned back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

for truth stumbles in the public square,

and uprightness cannot enter.

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13. We have done wickedly. Here he enumerates certain classes of sins, in order to arouse the people more keenly to an acknowledgment of their sin. It must be regarded as monstrous, that men, who have been chastised and almost crushed by the hand of God, are still proud, and so obstinate that they cannot bend or be humbled by a conviction of their sin. The Lord endeavors to soften our obduracy by stripes and wounds; but when chastisements do us no good, our case must be given up as hopeless. Isaiah therefore labors to show how wretched is the condition of the people, who, while they endured severe hardships, yet murmured against God, and did not suffer themselves to be brought into a state of obedience. And therefore he frequently repeats this warning, and reproves sharply, in order to subdue this obstinacy of the people.

And we have lied to Jehovah. By a variety of terms he rebukes their vices, and enumerates classes of them, after having pointed out in a general manner that corruption which everywhere prevailed.: Nor does he mention only slight faults, or those of a small number of persons, but a universal revolt. By these words he pronounces them to have been so deeply corrupted, that no sincerity, uprightness, fear, or conscience remained in them. For what is meant by “lying to God,” but to revolt treacherously from him, as if all obedience were refused? Thus he does not reproach them with one or a few transgressions of the Law, but says that, like fugitives, they have forsaken God, so that they do not follow him when he calls.

Conceiving and uttering from the heart. He now adds that they were devoted to the invention of mischief, and thoroughly imbued with falsehood; for “to utter a lie from the heart,” is far worse than to tell lies thoughtlessly, or even to deceive when an occasion presents itself. 142142     “What they think in their heart, and utter from the thought to speech and to action, that is, their thoughts, and words, and actions, are falsehoods.” ­ Kimchi. Nor is there any room to doubt that those reproofs grievously offended the Jews, who, puffed up with pride, imagined that they were exceedingly holy. But it was proper to treat their hypocrisy in this manner, because mere doctrine produced little effect upon them. Taught by this example, pastors, when they see the Church of God corrupt, and men pleasing themselves and flattering their vices, ought to make strenuous opposition, accompanied by loud and sharp reproof.

14. And judgment is driven back. It is a mistake to suppose that the Prophet returns to his earliest subject, (Isaiah 1:5) and speaks of the punishments which the people had suffered at the hand of God; for he still proceeds with the preceding narrative, and explains the diseases under which the people labored, that they may see clearly that they are justly punished. But we must distinguish this verse from the ninth, in which he said that “judgment had gone back;” for there he declared that they were deprived of God’s assistance, because they did not deserve to have him as the defender of their cause; but here he says that “judgment is driven back” in a different sense, that is, because they have overthrown all justice and equity among themselves. They have therefore received a just reward, because no justice of God has shone forth to render assistance, when they have banished far from them justice and equity; for in vain do we expect from God what we have refused to others and cast away from ourselves.

In the street. That is, in a public place. He describes those places in which judicial sentences were pronounced. When he says that “truth is fallen in the street,” he means that not only some private individuals have been corrupted, but the whole condition of the people is so thoroughly depraved as to leave no part sound; for, if some vices reign among the common people, some remedy may be obtained, so long as there is room for judgment; but if judgments are overthrown or corrupted, it follows that all things are infected by a universal contagion. He describes also their unbridled licentiousness, in not being ashamed of conduct openly wicked, and in not shrinking from the light and from the eyes of men.