Isaiah 28:29
This also comes forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts.—The force of the climax lies in the use of the highest of the Divine names instead of “God” (Elohim), as in Isaiah 28:26. The wisdom of the husband man was His gift in the highest aspect of the being that had been revealed to men, and that gift was in itself a parable of the method of His own government.

28:23-29 The husbandman applies to his calling with pains and prudence, in all the works of it according to their nature. Thus the Lord, who has given men this wisdom, is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in his working. As the occasion requires, he threatens, corrects, spares, shows mercy, or executes vengeance. Afflictions are God's threshing instruments, to loosen us from the world, to part between us and our chaff, and to prepare us for use. God will proportion them to our strength; they shall be no heavier than there is need. When his end is answered, the trials and sufferings of his people shall cease; his wheat shall be gathered into the garner, but the chaff shall be burned with unquenchable fire.This also cometh ... - That is, these various devices for threshing his grain comes from the Lord no less than the skill with which he tills his land. (see Isaiah 28:26).

And excellent in working - Or rather, who magnifies (חגדיל chigdiyl) his wisdom ( תוּשׁיה tûshı̂yâh). This word properly means wisdom, or understanding Job 11:6; Job 12:16; Job 26:3; Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 8:14; Proverbs 18:1. The idea of the prophet is, that God, who had so wisely taught the farmer, and who had instructed him to use such various methods in his husbandry, would also be himself wise, and would pursue similar methods with his people. He would not always pursue the same unvarying course, but would vary his dispensations as they should need, and as would best secure their holiness and happiness. We see:

1. The reason of afflictions. It is for the same cause which induces the farmer to employ various methods on his farm.

2. We are not to expect the same unvarying course in God's dealings with us. It would be as unreasonable as to expect that the farmer would be always plowing, or always threshing.

3. We are not to expect always the same kind of afflictions. The farmer uses different machines and modes of threshing, and adapts them to the nature of the grain. So God uses different modes, and adapts them to the nature, character, and disposition of his people. One man requires one mode of discipline, and another another. At one time we need one mode of correction to call us from sin and temptation; at another another. We may lay it down as a general rule, that "the divine judgments are usually in the line of our offences;" and by the nature of the judgment we may usually ascertain the nature of the sin. If a man's besetting sin is "pride," the judgment will usually be something that is suited to humble his pride; if it be covetousness, his property may be removed, or it may be made a curse; if it be undue attachment to children or friends, they may be removed.

4. God will not crush or destroy his people. The farmer does not crush or destroy his grain. In all the various methods which he uses, he takes care not to pursue it too far, and not to injure the grain. So with God's dealings with his people. His object is not to destroy them, but it is to separate the chaff from the wheat; and he will afflict them only so much as may be necessary to accomplish this. He will not be always bruising his people, but will in due time remit his strokes - just as the thresher does.

5. We should, therefore, bear afflictions and chastisements with patience. God deals with us in mercy - and the design of all his dispensations toward us in prosperity and adversity; in sickness and in health; in success and in disappointment, is to produce the richest and most abundant fruits of righteousness, and to prepare us to enter into his kingdom above.

29. This also—The skill wherewith the husbandman duly adjusts his modes of threshing is given by God, as well as the skill (Isa 28:26) wherewith he tills and sows (Isa 28:24, 25). Therefore He must also be able to adapt His modes of treatment to the several moral needs of His creatures. His object in sending tribulation (derived from the Latin tribulum, a "threshing instrument," Lu 22:31; Ro 5:3) is to sever the moral chaff from the wheat, not to crush utterly; "His judgments are usually in the line of our offenses; by the nature of the judgments we may usually ascertain the nature of the sin" [Barnes]. This also; this part of the husbandman’s discretion, expressed Isaiah 28:27,28, as well as that expressed Isaiah 28:24,25.

Which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working: these words contain the application of the similitude. The husbandman manageth all his affairs with common discretion; but God governs the world and his church with wonderful wisdom; he is great and marvellous, both in the design or contrivance of things, and in the execution of them. This also cometh from the Lord of hosts,.... All this wisdom the husbandman has, in manuring his ground, in sowing it with proper seed, and in threshing it out in a manner suitable to it. Agriculture or husbandry, even among the Heathens, is always ascribed to God, as an invention of his, and it was the first work which God put man to, and instructed him in, Genesis 3:23 and as this, so all other arts, and sciences, and manufactures, come from God, even all things in nature, providence, and grace, and the knowledge of them; wherefore he himself must be infinitely wise and knowing; see Psalm 94:9 and be as he is next described:

which is wonderful in counsel: in giving counsel to man, both with respect to things temporal and spiritual; and whose counsel is always wise and good, and for the best; and, when taken, infallibly succeeds. See an instance of his wonderful counsel, Revelation 3:18 and also he is "wonderful" in forming wise plans and schemes of operation; the wise plan of his works of creation and providence was formed in his vast and infinite mind from eternity; the wise scheme of our redemption and salvation by Christ was concerted by him, wherein he has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; and the manner, means, time, and place, of his gathering and the effectual calling of his people, are all wisely fixed by him; and he does all things after "the counsel of his will", Ephesians 1:11 and therefore it follows:

and excellent in working; both as to the matter or things wrought by him, which are the most excellent things in nature, providence, and grace, wrought out either by the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit; and as to manner of working, all being done well and wisely; and likewise with respect to the end, his own glory, and the good of his people.

This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. To Isaiah there is something very impressive in the peasant’s subtle yet unpretentious knowledge of his craft; he is like a part of nature, and his wisdom seems a direct emanation from the infinite Wisdom to which all things owe their being (cf. Isaiah 28:26).

which is wonderful … working] wonderful is His counsel, great His wisdom; lit. “He produces wonderful counsel, He magnifies wisdom” (cf. “Wonderful Counseller,” ch. Isaiah 9:6). The word rendered “working” is a technical term of the Wisdom Literature. It seems to denote that which is essentially rational. “It is said of a state or action when it corresponds to the idea; and conversely of thought when it corresponds to the reality” (Davidson, Job, p. 39, in this series).Verse 29. - This also (comp. ver. 26). This prudent dealing of the husbandman with his produce is the result of the wisdom implanted in him by God. The prophet goes no further, but leaves his disciples to draw the conclusion that God's own method of working will be similar. Wonderful in counsel (comp. Isaiah 9:6). Excellent in working; rather, great in wisdom (comp. Job 6:13: 12:16; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 8:14; Proverbs 18:1; Micah 6:9). Proverbs 8:14 is especially in point, since there the same two qualities are ascribed to God as in the present passage.



The address of the prophet is here apparently closed. But an essential ingredient is still wanting to the second half, to make it correspond to the first. There is still wanting the fringe of promise coinciding with Isaiah 28:5, Isaiah 28:6. The prophet has not only to alarm the scoffers, that if possible he may pluck some of them out of the fire through fear (Judges 5:23); he has also to comfort believers, who yield themselves as disciples to him and to the word of God (Isaiah 8:16). He does this here in a very peculiar manner. He has several times assumed the tone of the mashal, more especially in chapter 26; but here the consolation is dressed up in a longer parabolical address, which sets forth in figures drawn from husbandry the disciplinary and saving wisdom of God. Isaiah here proves himself a master of the mashal. In the usual tone of a mashal song, he first of all claims the attention of his audience as a teacher of wisdom. V. 23 "Lend me your ear, and hear my voice; attend, and hear my address!" Attention is all the more needful, that the prophet leaves his hearers to interpret and apply the parable themselves. The work of a husbandman is very manifold, as he tills, sows, and plants his field. Vv. 24-26 "Does the ploughman plough continually to sow? to furrow and to harrow his land? Is it not so: when he levels the surface thereof, he scatters black poppy seed, and strews cummin, and puts in wheat in rows, and barley in the appointed piece, and spelt on its border? And He has instructed him how to act rightly: his God teaches it him." The ploughing (chârash) which opens the soil, i.e., turns it up in furrows, and the harrowing (siddēd) which breaks the clods, take place to prepare for the sowing, and therefore not interminably, but only so long as it necessary to prepare the soil to receive the seed. When the seed-furrows have been drawn in the levelled surface of the ground (shivvâh), then the sowing and planting begin; and this also takes place in various ways, according to the different kinds of fruit. Qetsach is the black poppy (nigella sativa, Arab. habbe soda, so called from its black seeds), belonging to the ranunculaceae. Kammōn was the cummin (cuminum cyminum) with larger aromatic seeds, Ar. kammūn, neither of them our common carraway (Kmmel, carum). The wheat he sows carefully in rows (sōrâh, ordo; ad ordinem, as it is translated by Jerome), i.e., he does not scatter it about carelessly, like the other two, but lays the grains carefully in the furrows, because otherwise when they sprang up they would get massed together, and choke one another. Nismân, like sōrâh, is an acc. loci: the barley is sown in a piece of the field specially marked off for it, or specially furnished with signs (sı̄mânı̄m); and kussemeth, the spelt (ζειά, also mentioned by Homer, Od. iv 604, between wheat and barley), along the edge of it, so that spelt forms the rim of the barley field. It is by a divine instinct that the husbandman acts in this manner; for God, who established agriculture at the creation (i.e., Jehovah, not Osiris), has also given men understanding. This is the meaning of v'yisserō lammishpât: and (as we may see from all this) He (his God: the subject is given afterwards in the second clause) has led him (Proverbs 31:1) to the right (this is the rendering adopted by Kimchi, whilst other commentators have been misled by Jeremiah 30:11, and last of all Malbim Luzzatto, "Cosi Dio con giustizia corregge;" he would have done better, however, to say, con moderazione).
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