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57. God's Accusation Against Wicked

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

3But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. 4Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, 5Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? 6Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? 7Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. 8Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. 9And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. 10Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. 11And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? 12I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

13When 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; 14And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people. 15For 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. 16For 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. 17For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. 18I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. 19I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. 20But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

18. I have seen his ways. 115115     “When he (the people of Israel) humbled himself during the affliction which came upon him.” ­ Jarchi. Here the Lord, on the contrary, magnifies his mercy, because he is gracious to that people, though obstinate and rebellious, and anticipates them by his grace and mercy. As if he had said, “I labored to bring back this people to repentance by my chastisements, because they violently pursued their lusts; but they were obstinate and untameable; all that I did was of no avail. I might justly, indeed, have ruined him, but I choose rather to heal and preserve. This cannot be done but by distinguished and incomparable mercy. I will therefore cease to punish them.” For these reasons Isaiah gradually magnifies the mercy of God, whom he represents as a physician considering what remedies are best adapted for healing this people. Now, our diseases are incurable, if the Lord do not anticipate us by his mercy.

And will guide him. No chastisements, however severe, will drive us to repentance, if the Lord do not quicken us by his Spirit; for the consequence will be, to render us more rebellious and hard­hearted. And so we may behold, in the example of this people, an image of mankind; that we may clearly see what is our rebellion and obstinacy against God, and what remedies are necessary for curing our diseases; and that, when we are diseased and almost beyond hope, we are healed, are brought back to the right path, and afterwards continue in it. Hence follows consolation:

Restoring comforts to him. If piety be wanting, there can be no faith and no consolation; for they who are not dissatisfied with themselves on account of their vices can look for nothing but the wrath of God, terrors and despair. It is proper, therefore, to observe the context, in which the Prophet, after mentioning “healing,” next mentions “consolation;“ for they whose diseases have been cured obtain, at the same time, that joy of heart and that consolation of which they had been deprived.

When he adds, To his mourners, he appears especially to denote good men, 116116     “Fideles.” “Believers.” who were few in number; as appears clearly from the complaints of the prophets, who exclaim loudly against the stupidity which had seized the people on every side. Thus he describes those who, amidst the universal guilt, were constrained by sincere grief to mourn, and who not only bewailed the miseries of the people, but deeply groaned under the burden of God’s wrath, while others indulged freely in their pleasures.


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