Isaiah 14:14
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) I will be like the most High.—The Chaldaean king is rightly represented as using a Divine name (Elîôn), which was not essentially Israelite, but common to the Phœnicians and other kindred nations. (See Genesis 14:18; Daniel 4:24; Luke 8:28; Acts 16:17.) The Persians carried their adulation still further, and applied the title “god” to their kings (Æsch. Pers. 623), as the Syrians afterwards did in the case of Antiochus Theos. The Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, for the most part, fall short of this, and describe the king as the “servant,” or “priest,” of Assur, or Bel, or Nebo, “the viceroy, or vicar, of the gods.”

14:1-23 The whole plan of Divine Providence is arranged with a view to the good of the people of God. A settlement in the land of promise is of God's mercy. Let the church receive those whom God receives. God's people, wherever their lot is cast, should endeavour to recommend religion by a right and winning conversation. Those that would not be reconciled to them, should be humbled by them. This may be applied to the success of the gospel, when those were brought to obey it who had opposed it. God himself undertakes to work a blessed change. They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, the sense of their present burdens, and the dread of worse. Babylon abounded in riches. The king of Babylon having the absolute command of so much wealth, by the help of it ruled the nations. This refers especially to the people of the Jews; and it filled up the measure of the king of Babylon's sins. Tyrants sacrifice their true interest to their lusts and passions. It is gracious ambition to covet to be like the Most Holy, for he has said, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but it is sinful ambition to aim to be like the Most High, for he has said, He who exalts himself shall be abased. The devil thus drew our first parents to sin. Utter ruin should be brought upon him. Those that will not cease to sin, God will make to cease. He should be slain, and go down to the grave; this is the common fate of tyrants. True glory, that is, true grace, will go up with the soul to heaven, but vain pomp will go down with the body to the grave; there is an end of it. To be denied burial, if for righteousness' sake, may be rejoiced in, Mt 5:12. But if the just punishment of sin, it denotes that impenitent sinners shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Many triumphs should be in his fall. God will reckon with those that disturb the peace of mankind. The receiving the king of Babylon into the regions of the dead, shows there is a world of spirits, to which the souls of men remove at death. And that souls have converse with each other, though we have none with them; and that death and hell will be death and hell indeed, to all who fall unholy, from the height of this world's pomps, and the fulness of its pleasures. Learn from all this, that the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned. The royal city is to be ruined and forsaken. Thus the utter destruction of the New Testament Babylon is illustrated, Re 18:2. When a people will not be made clean with the besom of reformation, what can they expect but to be swept off the face of the earth with the besom of destruction?I will be like the Most High - There is a remarkable resemblance between this language and that used in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, in regard to antichrist: 'He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.' And this similarity is the more remarkable, because antichrist is represented, in Revelation 17:4-5, as seated in babylon - the spiritual seat of arrogance, oppression, and pride. Probably Paul had the passage in Isaiah in his eye when he penned the description of antichrist. 14. clouds—rather, "the cloud," singular. Perhaps there is a reference to the cloud, the symbol of the divine presence (Isa 4:5; Ex 13:21). So this tallies with 2Th 2:4, "above all that is called God"; as here "above … the cloud"; and as the Shekinah-cloud was connected with the temple, there follows, "he as God sitteth in the temple of God," answering to "I will be like the Most High" here. Moreover, Re 17:4, 5, represents Antichrist as seated in Babylon, to which city, literal and spiritual, Isaiah refers here. Above the heights of the clouds, to wit, into heaven, as he said, Isaiah 14:13.

Like the Most High, in the uncontrollableness of my power, and the universal extent of my dominion over all the earth. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,.... Which are the chariots of God, and in which he rides, and so this proud monarch affected to be as he; perhaps some reference is had to the cloud in which Jehovah dwelt in the temple. The Targum is,

"I will ascend above all people,''

compared to clouds for their multitude. In the mystical sense, the true ministers of the word may be meant, so called for their height, motion, swiftness, and fulness of Gospel doctrine, compared to rain; see Isaiah 5:6.

I will be like the most High; so Satan affected to be, and this was the bait he laid for our first parents, and with which they were taken; and nothing less than deity could satisfy some ambitious princes, as Caligula, and others; and this was what the Babylonish monarch aspired to, and ordered to be ascribed to him, and be regarded as such, either while living, or at least after death, which was what had been done to many Heathen princes. So antichrist is represented as showing himself to be God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 by calling and suffering himself to be called God; by assuming all power in heaven and in earth; taking upon him to depose kings and dispose of kingdoms at pleasure; dispensing with the laws of God, and making new ones; absolving men from their oaths, pardoning their sins, setting up himself as infallible, as the sole interpreter of Scripture, and judge of controversies. The Targum is,

"I will he higher than them all;''

than the kings of the earth, and all other bishops.

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. I will be like the most High] Better: I will make myself like to the Most High. The sense of all the previous metaphors is gathered up in this sentence. The king arrogates to himself divine honour.Verse 14. - I will be like the Most High (comp. Isaiah 47:8). It is a mistake to say that "the Assyrians gave the name of God to their monarchs" (Kay), or, at any rate, there is no evidence that they did. Nor does any king, either Assyrian or Babylonian, ever assume a Divine title. There is a marked difference in this respect between the Egyptian and the Assyro-Babylonian religions. Probably Isaiah only means that Babylonian monarchs thought of themselves as gods, worked their own wills, were wrapped up in themselves, did not in heart bow down to a higher Power. "The whole earth rests, is quiet: they break forth into singing. Even the cypresses rejoice at thee, the cedars of Lebanon: 'Since thou hast gone to sleep, no one will come up to lay the axe upon us.'" The preterites indicate inchoatively the circumstances into which the whole earth has now entered. The omission of the subject in the case of pâtz'chu (they break forth) gives the greatest generality to the jubilant utterances: pâtzach rinnâh (erumpere gaudio) is an expression that is characteristic of Isaiah alone (e.g., Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13); and it is a distinctive peculiarity of the prophet to bring in the trees of the forest, as living and speaking beings, to share in the universal joy (cf., Isaiah 55:12). Jerome supposes the trees to be figuratively employed here for the "chiefs of the nations" (principes gentium). But this disposition to allegorize not only destroys the reality of the contents, but the spirit of the poetry also. Cypresses and cedars rejoice because of the treatment which they received from the Chaldean, who made use of the almost imperishable wood of both of them for ornamental buildings, for his siege apparatus, and for his fleets, and even for ordinary ships - as Alexander, for example, built himself a fleet of cypress-wood, and the Syrian vessels had masts of cedar. Of the old cedars of Lebanon, there are hardly thirty left in the principle spot where they formerly grew. Gardner Wilkinson (1843) and Hooker the botanist (1860) estimated the whole number at about four hundred; and according to the conclusion which the latter drew from the number of concentric rings and other signs, not one of them is more than about five hundred years old.

(Note: See Wilkinson's paper in the Athenaeum (London, Noverse 1862).)

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