Isaiah 48:17
Thus said the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD your God which teaches you to profit, which leads you by the way that you should go.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) The Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit.—The words applied to the natural human, perhaps we may add, to the specially national, desire, to make a good investment. The question what was profitable? was one to which men returned very different answers. It was the work of the true Redeemer to lead men to the one true imperishable gain (comp. Matthew 16:26), to lead them in the one right way (John 14:4-6).

Isaiah 48:17-19. I am the Lord, which teacheth thee to profit — Who from time to time has made known to thee all necessary and useful doctrines, which, if observed by thee, would have been infinitely profitable to thee, both for this life and that to come; so that it is not my fault, but thine own, if thou dost not profit: which leadeth thee, &c. — Who acquainteth thee with thy duty in all the concerns of thy life, so that thou canst not pretend ignorance. O that thou hadst hearkened, &c. — This failure hath not been on my part, but on thine: I gave thee my counsels and commands, but thou hast neglected and disobeyed them, and that to thy own great disadvantage. Concerning such wishes as these, when ascribed to God, see note on Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 32:29, and especially on Psalm 81:13. Then had thy peace been as a river — Which runs pleasantly, strongly, plentifully, and constantly. Thou shouldst have enjoyed a series of mercies, one continually following another, as the waters of a river, which always last, and not like the waters of a land-flood, which are soon gone; and thy righteousness — The fruit of thy righteousness, thy peace and prosperity; as the waves of the sea — Numberless and abundant. Or the meaning may be, Thou wouldest have been as remarkable for virtue and holiness as for peace and happiness. Thy seed also had been as the sand — Namely, for multitude, according to my promise made to Abraham; whereas now, for thy sins, I have greatly diminished thy numbers by invasions, captivities, and other judgments. His name — The name of thy seed, or offspring, mentioned in the former clauses; should not have been cut off — As now it hath been in a great measure, namely, from the land of Israel, which is either desolate, or inhabited by strangers; nor destroyed from before me — Or, out of my sight, from the place of my special presence and residence.48:16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.Thy Redeemer - (see the notes at Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:1).

Which teacheth thee to profit - Teaching you what things will most conduce to your welfare. The reference hero is chiefly to the afflictions which they suffered in Babylon.

Which leadeth thee - I am thy conductor and guide. God taught them, as he does his people now, by his Providence, his revealed word, and his Spirit, the way in which they ought to go. It is one of his characteristics that he is the guide and director of his people.

17. teacheth … to profit—by affliction, such as the Babylonish captivity, and the present long-continued dispersion of Israel (Heb 12:10). Which teacheth thee to profit; which from time to time have made known unto thee, not vain and frivolous things, but all necessary and useful doctrines; which, if believed and observed by thee, would have been infinitely profitable to thee, both for this life and that to come. So that it is not my fault, but thine own, if thou dost not profit.

Which leadeth; which acquainteth thee with thy duty and interest in all the parts and concerns of thy life; so that thou canst not pretend ignorance. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer,.... A character peculiar to Christ, who engaged in covenant to be the Redeemer of his people; was promised and prophesied of as such; and who came into this world for this purpose, and has obtained eternal redemption:

the Holy One of Israel; who came of Israel as man, and as such was holy, and without any spot or stain of sin and who, as God, is the most holy, in his nature and works; and, as Mediator, the Sanctifier of Israel, and is in the midst of them as such:

I am the Lord thy God; and so fit to be the Redeemer and Sanctifier of them; and happy are those who can say with Thomas, "my Lord and my God"; and who further describes himself, and declares his work and office:

which teacheth thee to profit; or "teacheth thee profitable things" (p); as the whole of the Gospel ministry is, whether it respects doctrines relating to the knowledge of the Persons in the Godhead; the knowledge of God in Christ; the person and offices of Christ; and the person and operations of the Spirit: or to the knowledge of man; his lost and depraved state; having sinned in Adam, the guilt of his sin is imputed to him, and a corrupt nature propagated; the bias of the mind being to evil, and man impotent to all that is good: or to the way of salvation by the grace of God, as the fruit and effect of the love of God; the doctrines of his eternal love, and of redemption by Christ; of justification by his righteousness; pardon by his blood; atonement by his sacrifice; regeneration by his Spirit and grace; and of the perseverance of the saints in faith and holiness. These are profitable doctrines, which serve to display the riches of divine grace, make for the glory of the Redeemer, and the good of souls, their peace, joy, comfort, and salvation. These are the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus. Or whether these teachings respect ordinances which Christ has appointed, and in his word and by his Spirit teaches men to observe; and which are profitable to lead to him, are breasts of consolation from him, and the means of spiritual strength: or whether they regard the duties of religion, the performance of good works; which, though not profitable to God, and not meritorious of anything from him, yet are profitable to men; to others by way of example, and otherwise, and to the doers of them, who find pleasure, peace, and advantage, by them. Christ was a teacher of these things when on earth, and he still teaches them by his ministers, whom he commissions and qualifies, and by his Spirit accompanying their ministrations:

which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go; Christ leads his people out of the wrong way, in which they naturally are, into the right way; to himself, as the way to the Father, and as the way of salvation, and unto eternal life; he takes them by the hand, and teaches them to go in the path of faith, and to walk in him by it; he leads them in the ways of truth and righteousness, in the highway of holiness, in the path of duty; and, though in a rough way of afflictions, yet in a right way to heaven and happiness.

(p) "utilia", V. L. "quae prosunt sunt", Tigurine version; "ea quae prosunt", Piscator; so the Targum; "condueibilia", Vitringa.

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God who teacheth thee {u} to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

(u) What things will do you good.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. The introduction is in the prophet’s usual manner; cf. ch. Isaiah 41:14, Isaiah 43:14, Isaiah 49:7.

which teacheth thee to profit] i.e. profitably or “for thy profit”; cf. Isaiah 44:10 (“to no profit”), Isaiah 47:12.

17–19. If Israel had but known Jehovah as its faithful Guide, and obeyed His commandments, how different would its present condition have been! The short passage has a striking resemblance to Psalm 81:13-16, and is of singular beauty and depth of feeling. But the disappointment expressed, that Israel has not attained to righteousness by the keeping of the Divine law, is not altogether natural in this connexion, or in the circumstances in which the prophecy was written. It breathes rather the spirit of a time of depression, when Israel seemed in danger of being “cut off,” and when the faith of the Church was not sustained by the immediate prospect of deliverance. Moreover, the song of triumph in Isaiah 48:20 f. is the proper sequel (as in every similar instance) of the announcement of deliverance in 12–16 a.; and it will be felt that the obvious and natural connexion is disturbed by a sigh of regret for what might have been. It is with reluctance that one is driven to assign a thought so finely expressed to an interpolator, but a fair interpretation of the spirit of the passage points strongly to that conclusion (so again Duhm and Cheyne).Verse 17. - The Lord... which teacheth thee to profit. God's teachings are all directed to the "profit" of those to whom they are addressed; and, if received in a proper spirit, actually "profit" them more than anything else can do. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" (2 Timothy 3:16). Very profitable also are the teachings of God's providence, which chasten men, warn men, and tend to keep men in the right path. The people now expiating its offences in exile has been from time immemorial faithless and inclined to apostasy; nevertheless Jehovah will save it, and its salvation is therefore an unmerited work of His compassion. "For my name's sake I lengthen out my wrath, and for my praise I hold back towards thee, that I may not cut thee off. Behold, I have refined thee, and not in the manner of silver: I have proved thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, for mine own sake I accomplish it (for how is it profaned!), and my glory I give not to another." The futures in Isaiah 48:9 affirm what Jehovah continually does. He lengthens out His wrath, i.e., He retards its outbreak, and thus shows Himself long-suffering. He tames or chains it (חטם, like Arab. chṭm, root טם, compare domare, root Sanscr. dam, possibly also to dam or damp) for the sake of Israel, that He may not exterminate it utterly by letting it loose, and that for the sake of His name and His praise, which require the carrying out of His plan to salvation, on which the existence of Israel depends. What Israel has hitherto experienced has been a melting, the object of which was not destruction, but testing and refinement. The Beth of בכסף ולא is not Beth pretii in the sense of "not to gain silver," or "not so that I should have gained silver as operae pretium," as Umbreit and Ewald maintain (and even Knobel, who explains it however as meaning "in the accompaniment of silver," though in the same sense). Such a thought would be out of place and purposeless here. Nor is Rosenmller's explanation admissible, viz., "not with silver, i.e., with that force of fire which is necessary for the smelting out of silver." This is altogether unsuitable, because the sufferings inflicted upon Israel did resemble the smelting out of the precious metal (see Isaiah 1:25). The Beth is rather the Beth essentiae, which may be rendered by tanquam, and introduces the accusative predicate in this instance, just as it introduces the nominative predicate in the substantive clause of Job 23:13, and the verbal clause of Psalm 39:7. Jehovah melted Israel, but not like silver (not as men melt silver); the meaning of which is, not that He melted it more severely, i.e., even more thoroughly, than silver, as Stier explains it, but, as the thought is positively expressed in Isaiah 48:10, that the afflictions which fell upon Israel served as a smelting furnace (kūr as in Deuteronomy 4:20). It was, however, a smelting of a superior kind, a spiritual refining and testing (bâchar is Aramaic in form, and equivalent to bâchan). The manifestation of wrath, therefore, as these expressions affirm, had a salutary object; and in this very object the intention was involved from the very first, that it should only last for a time. He therefore puts an end to it now for His own sake, i.e., not because He is induced to do so by the merits of Israel, but purely as an act of grace, to satisfy a demand made upon Him by His own holiness, inasmuch as, if it continued any longer, it would encourage the heathen to blaspheme His name, and would make it appear as though He cared nothing for His own honour, which was inseparably bound up with the existence of Israel. The expression here is curt and harsh throughout. In Isaiah 48:9, למען and אפּי are to be supplied in thought from Isaiah 48:9; and in the parenthetical exclamation, יחל איך (niphal of חלל, as in Ezekiel 22:26), the distant word שׁים (my name), also from Isaiah 48:9. "I will do it" refers to the carrying out of their redemption (cf., Isaiah 44:23). In Ezekiel 36:19-23 we have, as it were, a commentary upon Isaiah 48:11.
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