Isaiah 1:20
But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:16-20 Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression; though we have often dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will take out the stain, Ps 51:7. They should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live to thy glory.But if ye refuse, ye shall be devoured with the sword - Your enemies shall come in, and lay waste the land. This prediction was fulfilled, in consequence of their continuing to rebel, when the land was desolated by Nebuchadnezzar, and the nation was carried captive to Babylon. It illustrates a general principle of the divine government, that if people persevere in rebelling against God, they shall be destroyed. The word devour is applied to the sword, as if it were insatiable for destruction. Whatever destroys may be figuratively said to devour; see the notes at Isaiah 34:5-6; compare Isaiah 5:24; Lamentations 2:3; Ezekiel 15:4; Joel 2:3; Revelation 11:5 - where fire is said to devour.

The mouth of the Lord - Yahweh Himself. This had been spoken by the mouth of the Lord, and recorded, Leviticus 26:33 :

And I will scatter you among the heathen,

And will draw out a sword after you;

And your land shall be desolate

And your cities waste.

On these points God proposed to reason; or rather, perhaps, these principles are regarded as reasonable, or as commending themselves to men. They are the great principles of the divine administration, that if people obey God they shall prosper; if not, they shall be punished. They commend themselves to people as just and true; and they are seen and illustrated every where.

20. Lord hath spoken it—Isaiah's prophecies rest on the law (Le 26:33). God alters not His word (Numbers 23. 19). If ye refuse and rebel; if you obstinately persist in your disobedience to me, as hitherto you have done.

The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; he hath said it, who can as easily do it as speak the words, and who cannot lie, and therefore will do it. But if ye refuse and rebel,.... The Targum is, "and do not receive my Word"; the Messiah, when come, neither his person, nor his doctrines and ordinances:

ye shall be devoured with the sword; of the Roman armies, as they were under Titus Vespasian; see Matthew 22:7.

for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; now, by Isaiah, as well as in former times, Leviticus 26:25.

But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. ye shall be devoured with the sword] “Sword” is here taken as an acc. of instrument, a construction of more than doubtful validity in Hebr. A more idiomatic rendering is: ye shall be made to eat the sword. An exactly similar expression is used by the Arabs, although Hebr. analogies are wanting.

21 ff. The elegy (qînâh, distinguished by a peculiar rhythm and by the opening word ’êkâh, “how”) is a frequent vehicle of prophetic utterance. This is the clearest instance in the genuine writings of Isaiah, and it is characteristic of the ‘city prophet’ (Cheyne), that the subject is not the nation but the idealised capital. Isaiah is in a good sense ‘laudator temporis acti.’ He laments the degeneracy of Jerusalem, looking back probably to the days of David, when it was the abode of judgment and righteousness.Verse 20. - If ye refuse and rebel; i.e. "if ye neither consent in will, nor obey in act, "antithetical to the two verbs in the first clause of ver. 19. Ye shall be devoured; or, ye shall be eaten. The same verb as in the latter clause of ver. 19. With the sword. The metaphor is not a common one, but occurs in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 12:12; Jeremiah 46:10, 14) and Nahum (Nahum 2:13). The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. A weighty ending, indicating the certainty of fulfillment, Jehovah, who cannot lie, has spoken; the result will assuredly follow. He gives a still stronger expression to His repugnance: "Your new-moons and your festive seasons my soul hateth; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them." As the soul (nephesh) of a man, regarded as the band which unites together bodily and spiritual life, though it is not the actual principle of self-consciousness, is yet the place in which he draws, as it were, the circle of self-consciousness, so as to comprehend the whole essence of His being in the single thought of "I;" so, according to a description taken from godlike man, the "soul" (nephesh) of God, as the expression "my soul" indicates, is the centre of His being, regarded as encircled and pervaded (personated) by self-consciousness; and therefore, whatever the soul of God hates (vid., Jeremiah 15:1) or loves (Isaiah 42:1), is hated or loved in the inmost depths and to the utmost bounds of His being (Psychol. p. 218). Thus He hated each and all of the festivals that were kept in Jerusalem, whether the beginnings of the month, or the high feast-days (moadim, in which, according to Leviticus 23, the Sabbath was also included) observed in the course of the month. For a long time past they had become a burden and annoyance to Him: His long-suffering was weary of such worship. "To bear" (נשׂא), in Isaiah, even in Isaiah 18:3, for שׂאת or שׂאת ro , and here for לשׂאת: Ewald, 285, c) has for its object the seasons of worship already mentioned.
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