Isaiah 28:20
For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) For the bed is shorter . . .—The image represents vividly a policy that ended in failure. Hezekiah’s counsellors had “made their bed,” and would have to lie on it, in their Egyptian alliance, but it would not meet their wants. Bed and blankets would be all too scanty, and leave them in a restless disquietude.

Isaiah 28:20-21. For the bed is shorter, &c. — For those lying refuges, to which you trust, will not be able to give you that protection which you expect from them, no more than a man can stretch himself upon a bed that is too short for him. For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim — Where he fought against the Philistines, 2 Samuel 5:20. He shall be wroth as in Gibeon — Where he fought against the Canaanites, (Joshua 10:10, &c.,) and afterward against the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 14:16. That he may do his strange work — For this work of bringing total destruction upon Israel was contrary to the benignity of his own nature, and to the usual way of dealing with his people. The calamities and alarms occasioned by the Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib were a partial accomplishment of this prophecy. It was still more fully accomplished in the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Babylonish captivity: but certainly it did not receive its perfect fulfilment till the destruction of that city, and of the church and state of the Jews by the Romans, after their obstinate rejection of their Messiah, the corner- stone, here spoken of. This alone fully answers the import of these awful predictions of divine wrath and vengeance.28:16-22 Here is a promise of Christ, as the only foundation of hope for escaping the wrath to come. This foundation was laid in Zion, in the eternal counsels of God. This foundation is a stone, firm and able to support his church. It is a tried stone, a chosen stone, approved of God, and never failed any who made trial of it. A corner stone, binding together the whole building, and bearing the whole weight; precious in the sight of the Lord, and of every believer; a sure foundation on which to build. And he who in any age or nation shall believe this testimony, and rest all his hopes, and his never-dying soul on this foundation, shall never be confounded. The right effect of faith in Christ is, to quiet and calm the soul, till events shall be timed by Him, who has all times in his own hand and power. Whatever men trust to for justification, except the righteousness of Christ; or for wisdom, strength, and holiness, except the influences of the Holy Ghost; or for happiness, except the favour of God; that protection in which they thought to shelter themselves, will prove not enough to answer the intention. Those who rest in a righteousness of their own, will have deceived themselves: the bed is too short, the covering too narrow. God will be glorified in the fulfilling of his counsels. If those that profess to be members of God's church, make themselves like Philistines and Canaanites, they must expect to be dealt with as such. Then dare not to ridicule the reproofs of God's word, or the approaches of judgements.For the bed is shorter ... - This is evidently a proverbial saying, and means that they would find all their places of defense insufficient to secure them. They seek repose and security - as a man lies down to rest at night. But they find neither. His bed furnishes no rest; his scanty covering furnishes no security from the chills of the night. So it would be with those who sought protection in idols, in the promises of false prophets, and in the aid which might be obtained from Egypt. So it is with sinners. Their vain refuges shall not shield them. The bed on which they seek rest shall give them no repose; the covering with which they seek to clothe themselves shall not defend them from the wrath of God. 20. Proverbial, for they shall find all their sources of confidence fail them; all shall be hopeless perplexity in their affairs. For those lying refuges to which you trust will not be able to give you that protection and comfort which you expect from them, no more than a man can stretch himself (as these luxurious Israelites used to do, Amos 6:4) upon a bed which is too narrow for him, or wrap or keep himself warm with a covering or bed-clothes which are not large enough for him. For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it,.... When a bed is short, a man cannot lie at his full length, and at ease:

and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it; when the bedclothes are narrow a man cannot cover himself with them, so as to be warm and comfortable. These proverbial expressions are interpreted by Kimchi of Jerusalem, when besieged by the Assyrian army, when the inhabitants of it were much straitened, distressed, and made uncomfortable; perhaps it may be better understood of the same city when besieged by the Romans, to which the Jews flocked from all parts, in such numbers, for shelter, that there was not room enough for them, at least not provision, and which was the cause of that great distress and miserable condition they were reduced to: in general, the design of the words may be to show that all refuges and shelters, all means made use of for safety and protection, by which they endeavoured to cover and secure themselves, would be insufficient; and particularly such that laid themselves at ease on the bed of their own righteousness, not submitting to Christ and his righteousness, and covered themselves with the rags of their own doings, and not with the garments of his salvation, would find themselves in a very uncomfortable and unsafe state.

For the bed is {z} shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

(z) Your affliction will be so sore, that you are not able to endure it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. A proverbial expression for the intolerable situation which the politicians are preparing for themselves and their country.Verse 20. - For the bed, etc. We have a proverb, "As a man makes his bed, so must he lie in it." The Jews will have made themselves a bed in which they can have no comfort or ease, and consequently no rest. But they will only have themselves to blame for it. The prophet now directly attacks the great men of Jerusalem, and holds up a Messianic prophecy before their eyes, which turns its dark side to them, as chapter 7 did to Ahaz. "Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful lords, rulers of this people which is in Jerusalem! For ye say, We have made a covenant with death, and with Hades have we come to an agreement. The swelling scourge, when it cometh hither, will do us no harm; for we have made a lie our shelter, and in deceit have we hidden ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am He who hath laid in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone of well-founded founding; whoever believes will not have to move. And I make justice the line, and righteousness the level; and hail sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the hiding-place is washed away by waters." With lâkhēn (therefore) the announcement of punishment is once more suspended; and in Isaiah 28:16 it is resumed again, the exposition of the sin being inserted between, before the punishment is declared. Their sin is lâtsōn, and this free-thinking scorn rests upon a proud and insolent self-confidence, which imagines that there is no necessity to fear death and hell; and this self-confidence has for its secret reserve the alliance to be secretly entered into with Egypt against Assyria. What the prophet makes them say here, they do not indeed say exactly in this form; but this is the essential substance of the carnally devised thoughts and words of the rulers of the people of Jerusalem, as manifest to the Searcher of hearts. Jerusalem, the city of Jehovah, and such princes as these, who either proudly ignore Jehovah, or throw Him off as useless, what a contrast! Chōzeh, and châzūth in Isaiah 28:18, signify an agreement, either as a decision or completion (from the radical meaning of the verb châzâh), or as a choice, beneplacitum (like the Arabic ray), or as a record, i.e., the means of selecting (like the talmudic châzı̄th, a countersign, a ra'ăyâh, a proof or argument: Luzzatto). In shōt shōtēph ("the swelling scourge," chethib שׁיט), the comparison of Asshur to a flood (Isaiah 28:2, Isaiah 28:8, Isaiah 28:7), and the comparison of it to a whip or scourge, are mixed together; and this is all the more allowable, because a whip, when smacked, really does move in waving lines (compare Jeremiah 8:6, where shâtaph is applied to the galloping of a war-horse). The chethib עבר in Isaiah 28:15 (for which the keri reads יעבר, according to Isaiah 28:19) is to be read עבר (granting that it shall have passed, or that it passes); and there is no necessity for any emendation. The Egyptian alliance for which they are suing, when designated according to its true ethical nature, is sheqer (lie) and kâzâb (falsehood); compare 2 Kings 17:4 (where we ought perhaps to read sheqer for qesher, according to the lxx), and more especially Ezekiel 17:15., from which it is obvious that the true prophets regarded self-willed rebellion even against heathen rule as a reprehensible breach of faith.

The lâkhēn (therefore), which is resumed in Isaiah 28:16, is apparently followed as strangely as in Isaiah 7:14, by a promise instead of a threat. But this is only apparently the case. It is unquestionably a promise; but as the last clause, "he that believeth will not flee," i.e., will stand firm, clearly indicates, it is a promise for believers alone. For those to whom the prophet is speaking here the promise is a threat, a savour of death unto death. Just as on a former occasion, when Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, the prophet announced to him a sign of Jehovah's own selection; so here Jehovah opposes to the false ground of confidence on which the leaders relied, the foundation stone laid in Zion, which would bear the believing in immoveable safety, but on which the unbelieving would be broken to pieces (Matthew 21:44). This stone is called 'ebhen boochan, a stone of proving, i.e., a proved and self-proving stone. Then follow other epithets in a series commencing anew with pinnath equals 'ebhen pinnath (compare Psalm 118:22): angulus h. e. lapis angularis pretiositatis fundationis fundatae. It is a corner-stone, valuable in itself (on yiqrath, compare 1 Kings 5:17), and affording the strongest foundation and inviolable security to all that is built upon it (mūsâd a substantive in form like mūsâr, and mūssâd a hophal participle in the form of those of the verba contracta pe yod). This stone was not the Davidic sovereignty, but the true seed of David which appeared in Jesus (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6-7). The figure of a stone is not opposed to the personal reference, since the prophet in Isaiah 8:14 speaks even of Jehovah Himself under the figure of a stone. The majestically unique description renders it quite impossible that Hezekiah can be intended. Micah, whose book forms the side piece of this cycle of prophecy, also predicted, under similar historical circumstances, the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:1). What Micah expresses in the words, "His goings forth are from of old," is indicated here in the preterite yissad connected with hineni (the construction is similar to that in Obadiah 1:2; Ezekiel 25:7; compare Isaiah 28:2 above, and Jeremiah 49:15; Jeremiah 23:19). It denotes that which has been determined by Jehovah, and therefore is as good as accomplished. What is historically realized has had an eternal existence, and indeed an ideal pre-existence even in the heart of history itself (Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 37:26). Ever since there had been a Davidic government at all, this stone had lain in Zion. The Davidic monarchy not only had in this its culminating point, but the ground of its continuance also. It was not only the Omega, but also the Alpha. Whatever escaped from wrath, even under the Old Testament, stood upon this stone. This (as the prophet predicts in יסהישׁ לא המּאמין יחישׁ׃ the fut. kal) would be the stronghold of faith in the midst of the approaching Assyrian calamities (cf., Isaiah 7:9); and faith would be the condition of life (Habakkuk 2:4). But against unbelievers Jehovah would proceed according to His punitive justice. He would make this (justice and righteousness, mishpât and tsedâqâh) a norm, i.e., a line and level. A different turn, however, is given to qâv, with a play upon Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:11. What Jehovah is about to do is depicted as a building which He is carrying out, and which He will carry out, so far as the despisers are concerned, on no other plan than that of strict retribution. His punitive justice comes like a hailstorm and like a flood (cf., Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 10:22). The hail smites the refuge of lies of the great men of Jerusalem, and clears it away (יעה, hence יע, a shovel); and the flood buries their hiding-place in the waters, and carries it away (the accentuation should be סתר tifchah, מים mercha).

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