Isaiah 26:16
LORD, in trouble have they visited you, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was on them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Lord, in trouble have they visited thee.—Better, have they missed Thee (as in 1Samuel 20:6; 1Samuel 25:15), or sought after Thee, or, remembered Thee.

They poured out a prayer . . .—The word for “prayer” is a peculiar one, commonly used, as in Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 8:19, for the whispered incantations of the heathen. Here it appears to mean the low-toned prayers, pitched as in a minor key, of the afflicted. In Isaiah 29:4 we have the same thought more fully developed.

Isaiah 26:16-18. O Lord, in trouble — Amidst the various calamities brought upon them for their correction and especially in their captivity; have they — Namely, thy people; visited thee — Come into thy presence with their prayers and supplications; they poured out a prayer — Prayed much and earnestly, as the expression implies; when thy chastening was upon them — When thou wast punishing them for their sins. Like as a woman is in pain, &c. — A comparison often used to express men’s consternation under great calamities, from which they cannot deliver themselves; so have we been in thy sight — Such has been our anguish and danger, of which thou, O Lord, hast been a witness. We have been with child — That is, we have had great expectation of a speedy and happy deliverance, have been big with hopes; and we have been in pain — Have comforted ourselves with this, that the joyful birth would make us forget our misery, but, alas! we have, as it were, brought forth wind — We have had the torment of a woman in child-bearing, but not the comfort of a living child. “We have had no good issue of all our pangs and throes; they did not produce deliverance and ease, as in the case of travailing women, but all our own labours proved abortive: in vain we struggled with our enemies, who were still too mighty for us,” and we were utterly unable to effect our deliverance. To bring forth wind, is much the same kind of phrase with feeding on wind, and reaping wind, Hosea 12:1; Hosea 8:7; and signifies, to take a great deal of pains to no purpose. This seems to be spoken of the siege which the Jewish people endured, and of all their other labours and sufferings to prevent their coming under the Chaldean yoke. Thus the attempt of Zedekiah to withstand Nebuchadnezzar we find only brought greater evils upon the country, 2 Chronicles 36:13. We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth — In our land, where we had far greater advantages than we could have had elsewhere. Neither have the inhabitants of the world — The Assyrians, Chaldeans, or our other enemies; fallen — By our means.26:12-19 Every creature, every business, any way serviceable to our comfort, God makes to be so; he makes that work for us which seemed to make against us. They had been slaves of sin and Satan; but by the Divine grace they were taught to look to be set free from all former masters. The cause opposed to God and his kingdom will sink at last. See our need of afflictions. Before, prayer came drop by drop; now they pour it out, it comes now like water from a fountain. Afflictions bring us to secret prayer. Consider Christ as the Speaker addressing his church. His resurrection from the dead was an earnest of all the deliverance foretold. The power of his grace, like the dew or rain, which causes the herbs that seem dead to revive, would raise his church from the lowest state. But we may refer to the resurrection of the dead, especially of those united to Christ.Poured out a prayer - Margin, 'Secret speech.' The Hebrew word לחשׁ lachash means properly a whispering, muttering; and thru a sighing, a calling for help. This is the sense here. In their calamity they sighed, and called on God for help. 16. visited—sought.

poured out—(Ps 62:8), as a vessel emptying out all its contents.

prayer—literally, "a whispered prayer," Margin, "a secret sighing" to God for help (compare Jer 13:17; De 8:16).

They, to wit, thy people, as appears both from the matter of this verse, and from the following verses.

Visited thee; come into thy presence, with their prayers and supplications, as the next clause explains it.

They poured out; which notes the plenty or rather the earnestness of their prayers, as Psalm 42:4 142:2.

A prayer, Heb. a muttering or lowly speech, such as charmers use, and such as Hezekiah used when he was in great distress, Isaiah 38:14, Like a crane or swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove; and such as is usual in case of great humiliation and dejection of mind. When thy chastening was upon them; when thou wast punishing them for their sins. Lord, in trouble have they visited thee,.... This, and the two following verses Isaiah 26:17, represent the troubles and disappointments of the church and people of God, before the destruction of antichrist; in which time of trouble they will visit the Lord, frequent the throne of grace, as saints in afflictions are wont to do; and sometimes this is the end to be answered by afflictions, Hosea 5:15,

they poured out a prayer; or "muttering" (e); they will pray with a low voice, in an humble and submissive way, as persons in dejected circumstances; not a few words, but many, will they use; their petitions will be numerous; they will continue praying, and be constant at it, and out of the abundance of their hearts their mouth will speak; and they will pour out their souls and their complaints to the Lord, though privately, and with a low voice, and with groans unutterable:

when thy chastening was upon them; the afflicting hand of God, not as a punishment, but as a fatherly chastisement upon them; so all their persecutions from men are considered as permitted by the Lord for their instruction and correction; and these will not drive them from God, but bring them to him to seek him by prayer and supplication.

(e) "mussitationem", Montanus; "submissam orationem", Junius & Tremellius.

LORD, in trouble have they {p} visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

(p) That is, the faithful by the rods were moved to pray to you for deliverance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. in trouble (“distress” or “straits,” as ch. Isaiah 25:4) have they visited thee] i.e. sought after thee. The verb might also mean “missed thee”—felt their need of thee. This was no doubt a spiritual gain, but the author’s complaint is that so little outward benefit has accrued from the nation’s discipline of sorrow.

they poured out … upon them] A difficult clause. The rendering of A.V. (and R.V.) is perhaps the best that can be made of the received text, but it can hardly be defended. The root-meaning of the word for “prayer” is “whisper,” but in usage it is confined to the sense of “enchantment.” It is questionable if it could mean “whispered prayer,” although the cognate verb in 2 Samuel 12:19 and Psalm 41:7 might be appealed to in support of this view. Moreover, the verbal form “they poured out” is anomalous, and the syntax of “when thy chastisement was upon them” is at least hard. The only alternative translation that requires notice is that of Koppe (adopted by several good commentators): “the binding of a spell was thy chastisement unto them,” i.e. it acted on them with the potency of a spell. The construction there is easy enough and the textual change is only in the vowel-points; but the noun “binding” (“pressure”) does not occur, and the simile is perhaps too bold.

16–18. The poet plunges abruptly into a train of reflection on the depressing side of the nation’s experience.Verse 16. - Lord, in trouble have they visited thee. Here, at any rate, the redeemed go back in thought to their time of trouble. They remember that what brought them back to God from that alienation which they have confessed (ver. 13) was the affliction which they so long endured. Their present bliss is the result of their former woe, and recalls the thought of it. They poured out a prayer; rather, as in the margin, a secret speech, or a low whisper (Kay); comp. Isaiah 29:4. The word elsewhere means "the muttering of a charm," but must here signify the "whispered prayer" of one in deep humiliation. Here again the shiir has struck the note of a mâshâl. And proceeding in this tone, it pauses here once more to reflect as at the close of a strophe. "If favour is shown to the wicked man, he does not learn righteousness; in the most upright land he acts wickedly, and has no eye for the majesty of Jehovah." רשׁע יחן is a hypothetical clause, which is left to be indicated by the emphasis, like Nehemiah 1:8 (Ewald, 357, b): granting that favour (chēn equals "goodness," Romans 2:4) is constantly shown to the wicked man. "The most upright land:" 'eretz necochoth is a land in which everything is right, and all goes honourably. A worthless man, supposing he were in such a land, would still act knavishly; and of the majesty of Jehovah, showing itself in passing punishments of sin, though still sparing him, he would have no perception whatever. The prophet utters this with a painful feeling of indignation; the word bal indicating denial with emotion.
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