Isaiah 57:17
For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) For the iniquity of his covetousness . . .—Literally, of his gain. This was the root-evil, out of which all others sprang (Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 33:31; 1Timothy 6:10), and for this, therefore, a sharp chastisement was needed that men might learn what their true wealth consisted in. The last clause may either state the guilt Which caused the wrath, or paint the obduracy which went on doing evil in spite of it.

Isaiah 57:17. For the iniquity of his covetousness — The covetousness of the Jewish people, (here addressed as one man,) who were eminently guilty of this sin before the Babylonish captivity, as is expressly affirmed, Jeremiah 6:13; and Jeremiah 8:10; and they were still more addicted to it in the time of Christ, and previous to the destruction of their city by the Romans; Christ himself testifying, that the greatest professors of sanctity among them devoured widows’ houses, and, for a pretence, made long prayers. But this sin is not mentioned exclusively of others, but so as to comprehend all those sins for which God was wroth, and smote them: covetousness, however, joined with a froward going on in the way of their own hearts, has been the characteristic sin of that people, in all ages, since the overturning of their commonwealth by the Romans. If Vitringa’s exposition of this chapter be adopted, this verse must be understood of the avarice of the Church of Rome, manifested by her enormous exactions, and her infamous traffic in indulgences, dispensations, and a variety of equally abominable practices, which, for many ages, have disgraced that church in the view of all intelligent and pious Christians. I hid me, and was wroth

I withdrew my favour and help from him, and left him in great calamities. And he went on frowardly — Yet he was not reformed by corrections, but in his distresses trespassed more and more, and obstinately persisted in those sinful courses which were most pleasing to the lusts of his own corrupt heart.57:13-21 The idols and their worshippers shall come to nothing; but those who trust in God's grace, shall be brought to the joys of heaven. With the Lord there is neither beginning of days, nor end of life, nor change of time. His name is holy, and all must know him as a holy God. He will have tender regard to those who bring their mind to their condition, and dread his wrath. He will make his abode with those whose hearts he has thus humbled, in order to revive and comfort them. When troubles last long, even good men are tempted to entertain hard thoughts of God. Therefore He will not contend for ever, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands, nor defeat the purchase of his Son's blood. Covetousness is a sin that particularly lays men under the Divine displeasure. See the sinfulness of sin. See also that troubles cannot reform men unless God's grace work in them. Peace shall be published, perfect peace. It is the fruit of preaching lips, and praying lips. Christ came and preached peace to Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; to after-ages, who were afar off in time, as well as to those of that age. But the wicked would not be healed by God's grace, therefore would not be healed by his comforts. Their ungoverned lusts and passions made them like the troubled sea. Also the terrors of conscience disturbed their enjoyments. God hath said it, and all the world cannot unsay it, That there is no peace to those who allow themselves in any sin. If we are recovered from such an awful state, it is only by the grace of God. And the influences of the Holy Spirit, and that new heart, from whence comes grateful praise, the fruit of our lips, are his gift. Salvation, with all its fruits, hopes, and comforts, is his work, and to him belongs all the glory. There is no peace for the wicked man; but let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.For the iniquity of his covetousness - The guilt of his avarice; that is, of the Jewish people. The word rendered here 'covetousness' (בצע betsa‛) means "plunder, rapine, prey"; then unjust gains, or lucre from bribes 1 Samuel 7:3; Isaiah 33:15; or by any other means. Here the sense is, that one of the prevailing sins of the Jewish people which drew upon them the divine vengeance, was avarice, or the love of gain. Probably this was especially manifest in the readiness with which those who dispensed justice received bribes (compare Isaiah 2:7). See also Jeremiah 6:13 : 'For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness.'

And smote him - That is, I brought heavy judgments on the Jewish people.

I hid me - I withdrew the evidences of my presence and the tokens of my favor, and left them to themselves.

And he went on frowardly - Margin, 'Turning away.' That is, abandoned by me, the Jewish people declined from my service and sunk deeper into sin. The idea here is, that if God withdraws from his people, such is their tendency to depravity, that they will wander away from him, and sink deeper in guilt a truth which is manifest in the experience of individuals, as well as of communities and churches.

17. covetousness—akin to idolatry; and, like it, having drawn off Israel's heart from God (Isa 2:7; 56:11; 58:3; Jer 6:13; Col 3:5).

hid me—(Isa 8:17; 45:15).

went on frowardly—the result of God's hiding His face (Ps 81:12; Ro 1:24, 26).

Covetousness; of which sin the Jews were eminently guilty, as is expressly affirmed, Jeremiah 6:13 8:10. But this is not mentioned exclusively as to other sins, but synecdochically, so as to comprehend all those sins for which God contended with them.

I hid me; I withdrew my favour and help from him, and left him in great calamities.

And he went on frowardly in the way of his heart; yet he was not reformed by corrections, but in his distresses trespassed more and more, as was said of Ahaz, and obstinately persisted in those sinful courses which were chosen by and were most pleasing to the lusts of his own corrupt heart. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him, .... Not the greedy watchmen of the church of Rome, Isaiah 56:10, but teachers and preachers in the reformed churches, who mind their own things, and not the things of Christ; seek after good benefices and livings, temporalities and pluralities, and to be lord bishops; taking the oversight of the flock for filthy lucre sake; which may easily be observed to be the predominant sin of the preachers and professors of the reformed churches; for which God has a controversy with them, and, resenting it, has smote and rebuked them in a providential way; and has threatened them, as he did the church at Sardis, the emblem of the reformed churches, that he will come upon them as a thief, Revelation 3:4.

I hid me, and was wroth: showed his displeasure by departing from them; and how much God has withdrawn his presence, and caused his spirit to depart from the churches of the Reformation, is too notorious:

and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart; took no notice of the reproofs and corrections of God; was unconcerned at his absence; not at all affected with his departure, and the withdrawings of his Spirit; these had no effect to cause a reformation, as is now too visibly the case; the same evil is pursued with equal eagerness; this is a way the heart of man is set upon, and they do not care to be turned out of it; and are like froward peevish children under the rod, receive no correction by it.

For the {t} iniquity of his covetousness I was angry, and smote him: I hid myself, and was angry, and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.

(t) That is, for the vices and faults of the people, which is here meant by covetousness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. For the iniquity of his covetousness] The mention of “covetousness” as the typical sin of the community here addressed affords some support to the theory that the post-exilic Jews are referred to. See Haggai 1:2; Haggai 1:9; Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:13-14; Malachi 3:8; Nehemiah 5. These passages shew that a sordid, avaricious spirit was characteristic of the returned exiles, although on the other hand Jeremiah 6:13 shews that it was prevalent before the Captivity (cf. Ezekiel 33:31). The same feature is touched on in ch. Isaiah 56:11 and in ch. 58. The significant thing is that it is specified as the besetting sin of the time, and this again appears to indicate that the people spoken of are distinct from those who were guilty of the more heinous offences enumerated in Isaiah 57:5-9.

covetousness is strictly “gain”; (Genesis 37:26) then unjust gain.

I hid me, and was wroth] hiding myself in my wrath (lit. “hiding and being wroth”; see Davidson’s Syntax, § 87 R. 1).

and he went on frowardly] (cf. Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 31:22; Jeremiah 49:4) lit. “turning away” (R.V. marg.). The meaning can hardly be that the effect of punishment was to harden the people in sin, and that therefore Jehovah desists from it. The clause does not give the consequence of the chastisement, but continues the description of the sinful life of the people which had drawn forth the Divine anger.Verse 17. - For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth. Among the sins that angered God most against the Jews of the later kingdom of Judah was their covetousness - that desire of unjust gain which led them continually to oppress their weaker brethren, to remove their neighbours' landmarks, to harass them with lawsuits, to obtain from the courts corrupt judgments against them, and so to strip them of their inheritances (see Isaiah 1:15-23; Isaiah 3:5, 14, 15; Isaiah 5:8, 23; Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 33:31, etc.). This was far from being their only sin; but it was their besetting sin, and it led on to a number of others. It would seem even to have been the principal cause of those judicial murders with which they are so constantly taxed by the prophets (Isaiah 1:15, 21: 33:15; 59:3; Jeremiah 2:34; Jeremiah 19:4; Ezekiel 7:23; Ezekiel 11:6; Hosea 4:2; Micah 3:10; Micah 7:2, etc.). Isaiah selects the sin of covetousness here, as typical or representative of the entire class of Judah's besetting sins - the most striking indication of that alienation of their hearts from God, which constituted their real guilt, and was the true cause of their punishment. And smote him. The form of the verb marks repeated action. God gave Judah many warning's before the final catastrophe. He punished Judah by the hand of Sargon, by that of Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14-16), by that of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11), by that of Pharaoh-Necho (2 Chronicles 35:20-24), by that of the Syrians, the Moabites and the Ammonites (2 Kings 24:2), and others, during the hundred and forty years which intervened between the accession of Hezekiah and the completion of the Captivity. I hid me (comp. Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 54:8). From fear of man, Israel, and still more Judah, had given up the fear of Jehovah. "And of whom hast thou been afraid, and (whom) didst thou fear, that thou becamest a liar, and didst not continue mindful of me, and didst not take it to heart?" It was of men - only mortal men, with no real power (Isaiah 51:12) - that Israel was so needlessly afraid, that it resorted to lies and treachery to Jehovah (kı̄, ut, an interrogative sentence, as in 2 Samuel 7:18; Psalm 8:5): purchasing the favour of man out of the fear of man, and throwing itself into the arms of false tutelar deities, it banished Jehovah its true shelter out of its memory, and did not take it to heart, viz., the sinfulness of such infidelity, and the eventful consequences by which it was punished (compare Isaiah 47:7 and Isaiah 42:25).

With Isaiah 57:11 the reproaches are addressed to the present. The treachery of Israel had been severely punished in the catastrophe of which the captivity was the result, but without effecting any improvement. The great mass of the people were as forgetful of God as ever, and would not be led to repentance by the long-suffering of God, which had hitherto spared them from other well-merited punishments. "Am I not silent, and that for a long time, whereas thou wast not afraid of me?" A comparison with Isaiah 42:14 will show that the prophecy returns here to its ordinary style. The lxx and Jerome render the passage as if the reading were מעלם (viz., עיני equals παρορῶν, quasi non videns), and this is the reading which Lowth adopts. We may see from this, that the original text had a defective ומעלם, which was intended, however, to be read וּמעלם. The prophet applies the term ‛ōlâm (see Isaiah 42:14) to the captivity, which had already lasted a long time - a time of divine silence: the silence of His help so fas as the servants of Jehovah were concerned, but the silence of His wrath as to the great mass of the people.

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