Isaiah 58:14
Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) I will cause thee to ride upon the high, places of the earth.—Better, of the land: i.e., of Canaan, the idea being that of a victorious march to occupy all commanding positions, and thus connecting itself with the full enjoyment of the heritage of Israel in the next clause.

Isaiah 58:14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord — This refers to the preceding verse, as if he had said, If thou wilt delight thyself in the sabbath, then thou shalt delight in the God of the sabbath, namely, in his goodness and faithfulness to thee, and in the assurance of his love and favour. I will cause thee to ride, &c. — Thou shalt be above the reach of danger. And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob — Thou shalt enjoy the good of the land of Canaan, which God promised as a heritage to Jacob and his seed, Genesis 35:12. Or, figuratively understood, thou shalt enjoy temporal as well as spiritual blessings. The Lord will withhold from thee no manner of thing which he sees to be for thy prosperity and happiness. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it — The promise is sure, and shall infallibly be fulfilled, having proceeded from the mouth of him who cannot lie. 58:13,14 The sabbath is a sign between God and his professing people; his appointing it is a sign of his favour to them; and their observing it is a sign of their obedience to him. We must turn from travelling on that day; from doing our pleasure on that holy day, without the control and restraint of conscience; or from indulging in the pleasures of sense. On sabbath days we must not follow our callings, or our pleasures. In all we say and do, we must put a difference between this day and other days. Even in Old Testament times the sabbath was called the Lord's day, and is fitly called so still; and for a further reason, it is the Lord Christ's day, Re 1:10. If we thus remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, we shall have the comfort and profit of it, and have reason to say, It is good to draw near to God.Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord - That is, as a consequence of properly observing the Sabbath, thou shalt find pleasure in Yahweh. It will be a pleasure to draw near to him, and you shall no longer be left to barren ordinances and to unanswered prayers. The delight or pleasure which God's people have in him is a direct and necessary consequence of the proper observance of the Sabbath. It is on that day set apart by his own authority, for his own service, that he chooses to meet with his people, and to commune with them and bless them; and no one ever properly observed the Sabbath who did not find, as a consequence, that he had augmented pleasure in the existence, the character, and the service of Yahweh. Compare Job 22:21-26, where the principle stated here - that the observance of the law of God will lead to happiness in the Almighty - is beautifully illustrated (see also Psalm 37:4).

And I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth - A phrase like this occurs in Deuteronomy 32:13 : 'He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of fields.' In Habakkuk 3:19, the phrase also occurs: 'He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.' So also Psalm 18:33 : 'He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.' In Amos 4:13, it is applied to God: 'He maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth.' Kimchi, Calvin, and Grotius suppose that the idea here is, that God would restore the exiled Jews to their own land - a land of mountains and elevated places, more lofty than the surrounding regions. Vitringa says that the phrase is taken from a conqueror, who on his horse or in his chariot, occupies mountains, hills, towers, and monuments, and subjects them to himself. Rosenmuller supposes it means, 'I will place you in lofty and inaccessible places, where you will be safe from all your enemies.' Gesenius also supposes that the word 'high places' here means fastnesses or strongholds, and that to walk over those strongholds, or to ride over them, is equivalent to possessing them, and that he who has possession of the fastnesses has possession of the whole country (see his Lexicon on the word במה bâmâh, No. 2). I give these views of the most distinguished commentators on the passage, not being able to determine satisfactorily to myself what is the true signification. Neither of the above expositions seems to me to be entirely free from difficulty. The general idea of prosperity and security is undoubtedly the main thing intended; but what is the specific sense couched under the phrase 'to ride on the high places of the earth,' does not seem to me to be sufficiently explained.

And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father - That is, thou shalt possess the land promised to Jacob as an inheritance.

For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it - This formula often occurs when an important promise is made, and it is regarded as ample security for the fulfillment that Yahweh has promised it. What more ample security can be required, or conceived, than the promise of the eternal God?

Remarks on Isaiah 58:1-14

I. From Isaiah 58:1-6, and the exposition given of these verses, particularly Isaiah 58:6, we may make the following remarks respecting slavery.

1. That the prophets felt themselves at entire liberty to animadvert on slavery as an evil. They did not feel themselves restrained from doing it by the fact that slavery was sustained by law, or by the plea that it was a civil institution, and that the ministers of religion had nothing to do with it. The holy men who were sent by God as his ambassadors, did not suppose that, in lifting up the voice against this institution, they were doing anything contrary to what fairly came within their notice as religious teachers, nor did they regard it as, in such a sense, a civil institution that they were not to advert to it.

It is often said in our country that slavery is a civil institution; that it pertains solely to political affairs; that the constitution and the laws suppose its existence, and make provision for its perpetuity; that it is not appropriate for the ministers of religion, and for ecclesiastical bodies to intermeddle with it. This plea, however, might have been urged with much more force among the Hebrews. Their constitution was, what ours is not, of divine appointment, and it would have been easy for a friend of slavery to say that the prophets were interfering with what was sanctioned by the laws, and with the arrangements which were made for its perpetuity in the commonwealth. Why would not such an argument have as much weight then as it should be allowed to have now?

2. The prophet Isaiah felt himself at entire liberty to exhort the people to restore their slaves to freedom. He considered that slavery was as proper a subject for him to discuss as any other. He treated it as entirely within his province, and did not hesitate at all to express his views on it as an evil, and to demand that the evil should cease, in order to an acceptable worship of God.

3. He does not speak of it as a good and desirable institution, or as contributing to the welfare of the community. It is, in his view, a hard and oppressive system; a system which should be abandoned if people would render acceptable service to God. There is no apology made for it; no pleading for it as a desirable system; no attempt made to show that it is in accordance with the laws of the land and with the laws of God. It would not be difficult to imagine what would be the emotions of Isaiah if, after he had written this 58th chapter of his prophecies, it should be represented that he was the friend of slavery, or if he were to read some of the vindications of the systems published in this Christian land by ministers of the gospel, and by ecclesiastical bodies, or should hear the sentiments uttered in debate in Synods, Assemblies, Conferences, and Conventions.

4. It may be inferred from the exposition given, that Isaiah did not suppose that slavery was in accordance with the spirit of the Mosaic institutions, or that those institutions were designed to perpetuate it. His treatment of it is just such as would be natural on the supposition that the Mosaic institutions were so made that, while it was for a while tolerated - just as polygamy and divorce were - yet that it was the tendency and design of the Mosaic system ultimately to remove the evil entirely, and to make the Hebrews throughout a free people, and that it was therefore proper for him, as a prophet, to enjoin on them the duty of letting all the oppressed go free. It may be added, that if this was proper in the time of Isaiah, it cannot be less proper under the light of the gospel and in the nineteenth century.

II. From the closing portion of this chapter Isaiah 58:13-14, we may derive the following important inferences respecting the Sabbath:

1. It is to be of perpetual obligation. The whole chapter occurs in the midst of statements that relate to the times of the Messiah. There is no intimation that the Sabbath was to be abolished, but it is fairly implied that its observance was to be attended with most happy results in those future times. At all events, Isaiah regarded it as of binding obligation, and felt that its proper observance was identified with the national welfare.

2. We may see the manner in which the Sabbath is to be observed. In no place in the Bible is there a more full account of the proper mode of keeping that holy day. We are to refrain from ordinary traveling and employments; we are not to engage in doing our own pleasure; we are to regard it with delight, and to esteem it a day worthy to be honored; and we are to show respect to it by not performing our own ordinary works, or pursuing pleasures, or engaging in the common topics of conversation. In this description there occurs nothing of unique Jewish ceremony, and nothing which indicates that it is not to be observed in this manner at all times. Under the gospel, assuredly, it is as proper to celebrate the Sabbath in this way, as it was in the times of Isaiah, and God doubtless intended that it should be perpetually observed in this manner.

continued...

14. delight … in … Lord—God rewards in kind, as He punishes in kind. As we "delight" in keeping God's "Sabbath," so God will give us "delight" in Himself (Ge 15:1; Job 22:21-26; Ps 37:4).

ride upon … high places—I will make thee supreme lord of the land; the phrase is taken from a conqueror riding in his chariot, and occupying the hills and fastnesses of a country [Vitringa], (De 32:13; Mic 1:3; Hab 3:19). Judea was a land of hills; the idea thus is, "I will restore thee to thine own land" [Calvin]. The parallel words, "heritage of Jacob," confirm this (Ge 27:28, 29; 28:13-15).

mouth of … Lord … spoken it—a formula to assure men of the fulfilment of any solemn promise which God has made (Isa 40:5).

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord: this hath reference to the foregoing verse. If thou wilt delight thyself in the sabbath, then thou shalt delight in the God of the sabbath; or thou shalt have cause to delight in the Lord, viz. in his goodness and faithfulness to thee, and so shalt live by faith in him as the Fountain of all good, as Psalm 37:4, in the assurance of his love and favour, Psalm 33:21, and that in great abundance, Psalm 36:8; such delights as no wicked man call have, Proverbs 14:10.

I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth; thou shalt be above the reach of danger, Isaiah 33:16. Or it may have respect to their being brought out of Babylon, which lay very low in respect of Judea, called the earth, as it is elsewhere, Luke 23:44; and high, both in respect of the situation of it, as also its mountainousness. Or the expression may import the subduing of their enemies, as it is Deu 33:29. Riding is oft used for conquering, Psalm 45:4; see the note there; Revelation 6:2. The sense is, they shall come out of Babylon, not sneakingly, as on foot, but triumphantly and gloriously, riding, as God brought Israel out of Egypt harnessed, in good order, and with a high hand; or, they shall ride to and fro in their chariots at their pleasure.

And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, i.e. thou shalt enjoy the good of the land of Canaan, which God had promised as a heritage of Jacob and his seed, Genesis 35:12, and feed on the fruits of it.

Quest. Why doth he say of the heritage of Jacob, and not of Abraham or Isaac.

Answ. Because the whole posterity of Jacob was within the covenant, but Ishmael and Esau, one the seed of Isaac, the other the seed of Abraham, were both excluded.

For the mouth of the Lord: this is to express the certainty and indubitableness of it, being from the mouth of him who cannot lie: see of the same expression of assurance, Isaiah 1:20 40:5. And this Calvin refers both to what was spoken in the beginning of the chapter, that it was in vain for those hypocrites to contend with God; and also as the confirmation of his promise, if they would rightly observe those promises. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it: he speaks of himself, as of a man, by a prosopopoeia; or it may relate to the prophet, the Lord, whose mouth and instrument I am. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord,.... In his perfections; in his omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, immutability, holiness, justice, truth, and faithfulness; in his wisdom, love, grace, and mercy, especially as displayed in Christ, and salvation by him; in the relations he stands in to his people, as their covenant God and Father, and in what he is to them, their shield and exceeding great reward, their portion and inheritance; in his works of creation, providence, and grace; in his word, the Gospel, the truths, doctrines, and promises of it; in his ways and worship: in his ordinances and commandments; in communion with him, and with his people; in all which, abundance of delight, pleasure, and satisfaction, is found by those who know him in Christ, have tasted that he is gracious; who have some likeness to him, love him, and are the objects of his love and delight:

and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth; to live above the world, and to have their conversation in heaven; to be in the utmost safety, and enjoy the greatest plenty, especially of spiritual things: or to be superior to the men of the world, even the highest of them; to have power and authority in the earth, as the saints will have in the latter day; particularly this will be true when the mountain of the Lord's house is established upon the top of the mountains, Isaiah 2:2,

and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: the Jewish writers inquire why Jacob is mentioned, and not Abraham nor Isaac; and answer, as in the Talmud (p), not Abraham, of whom it is written, "arise, walk through the land in the length of it", &c. Genesis 13:17, nor Isaac, of whom it is written, "for unto thee, and to thy seed, will I give all these countries", &c. Genesis 26:3, but Jacob, of whom it is written, "and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south", &c. Genesis 28:14 expressing the larger extent of the inheritance; so Jarchi and Samson account for it; but Kimchi gives a better reason, because the sons of Jacob, and not Ishmael the son of Abraham, nor Esau the son of Isaac, inherited the land of Canaan: but rather the reason is, because he is the father of all true Israelites, who are, as he was, wrestling and prevailing; these the Lord feeds with spiritual provisions here, and glory hereafter; which the good things of the land of Canaan, the inheritance of Jacob and his sons, were a type of: and perhaps this may have respect to the conversion of the Jews, when they shall return to their own land, and enjoy the good things of it, as well as all spiritual blessings:

for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; who is faithful to his covenant, true to his word; cannot lie, will never deceive; performs whatsoever he has promised, being able to do it; and therefore it may be depended upon that all this shall be as he has said.

(p) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 118. 2.

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. Then shalt thou delight thyself] Better: Then shalt thou have thy delight; Job 22:26. The same verb as in ch. Isaiah 57:4.

and I will cause thee to ride over the heights of the earth] Apparently a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:13. The meaning is “I will carry thee triumphantly over all obstacles” (cf. Deuteronomy 32:11).

and feed thee with] and make thee to eat, i.e. enjoy; cf. ch. Isaiah 1:19.Verse 14. - Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord. Then shall communion with Jehovah become a real pleasure to thee. The acts of worship shall not be done merely from a sense of duty, because commanded, but because they are congenial to the soul of the worshipper. A right use of the sabbath will help to form in men habits of devotion, which will make religion a joy and a delight to them. I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth; i.e. "I will give thee a prominent position in the earth, and cause thee to occupy its high places, and hear rule over many nations." Something more than a "taking triumphal possession of Palestine" is evidently pointed at (see Deuteronomy 32:13). And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father. The world itself was the "heritage of Jacob," since in him and his seed "all the families of the earth were to be blessed" (Genesis 28:14). Israel, having laid aside its formalism, and turned to God sincerely. keeping fast and sabbath as God would have them kept, not in the letter, but in the spirit, would enter upon the promised heritage, and occupy the position originally assigned to it. Israel's rejection of the gospel made the mixed Christian Church the inheritress of the old promises.



The prophet now proceeds to point out the reward of divine grace, which would follow such a fast as this, consisting of self-renouncing, self-sacrificing love; and in the midst of the promise he once more reminds of the fact, that this love is the condition of the promise. This divides the promises into two. The middle promise is linked on to the first; the morning dawn giving promise of the "perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). The first series of promises we have in Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 58:9. "Then will thy light break forth as the morning dawn, and thy healing will sprout up speedily, and thy righteousness will go before thee, the glory of Jehovah will follow thee. Then wilt thou call and Jehovah will answer; thou wilt beseech, and He will say, Here am I!" The love of God is called "light" in contrast with His wrath; and a quiet cheerful life in God's love is so called, in contrast with a wild troubled life spent in God's wrath. This life in God's love has its dawn and its noon-day. When it is night both within and around a man, and he suffers himself to be awakened by the love of God to a reciprocity of love; then does the love of God, like the rising sun, open for itself a way through the man's dark night and overcome the darkness of wrath, but so gradually that the sky within is at first only streaked as it were with the red of the morning dawn, the herald of the sun. A second figure of a promising character follows. The man is sick unto death; but when the love of God stimulates him to reciprocal love, he is filled with new vigour, and his recovery springs up suddenly; he feels within him a new life working through with energetic force like a miraculous springing up of verdure from the earth, or of growing and flowering plants. The only other passages in which ארוּכה occurs are in the books of Jeremiah, Chronicles, and Nehemiah. It signifies recovery (lxx here, τὰ ἰάματά σου ταχὺ ἀνατελεῖ, an old mistake for ἱμάτια, vestimenta), and hence general prosperity (2 Chronicles 24:13). It always occurs with the predicate עלתה (causative העלה, cf., Targ. Psalm 147:3, ארכא אסּק, another reading ארוּכין), oritur (for which we have here poetically germinat) alicui sanitas; hence Gesenius and others have inferred, that the word originally meant the binding up of a wound, bandage (impontiru alicui fascia). But the primary word is ארך equals ארך, to set to rights, to restore or put into the right condition (e.g., b. Sabbath 33b, "he cured his wounded flesh"), connected with אריך, Arab. ârak, accommodatus; so that ארוּכה, after the form מלוּכה, Arab. (though rarely) arika, signifies properly, setting to rights, i.e., restoration.

The third promise is: "thy righteousness will go before thee, the glory of Jehovah will gather thee, or keep thee together," i.e., be thy rear-guard (lxx περιστελεῖ σε, enclose thee with its protection; אסף as in מאסּף, Isaiah 52:12). The figure is a significant one: the first of the mercies of God is δικαιοῦν, and the last δοξάζειν. When Israel is diligent in the performance of works of compassionate love, it is like an army on the march or a travelling caravan, for which righteousness clear and shows the way as being the most appropriate gift of God, and whose rear is closed by the glory of God, which so conducts it to its goal that not one is left behind. The fourth promise assures them of the immediate hearing of prayer, of every appeal to God, every cry for help.

But before the prophet brings his promises up to their culminating point, he once more lays down the condition upon which they rest. "If thou put away from the midst of thee the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking of evil, and offerest up thy gluttony to the hungry, and satisfiest the soul that is bowed down: thy light will stream out in the darkness, and thy darkness become like the brightness of noon-day. And Jehovah will guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in droughts, and refresh thy bones; and thou wilt become like a well-watered garden, and like a fountain, whose waters never deceive. And thy people will build ruins of the olden time, foundations of earlier generations wilt thou erect; and men will call thee repairers of breaches, restorers of habitable streets." מוטה, a yoke, is here equivalent to yoking or oppression, as in Isaiah 58:6, where it stands by the side of רשׁע. שׁלח־אצבּא (only met with here, for שׁלח, Ges. 65, 1, a), the stretching out of the finger, signifies a scornful pointing with the fingers (Proverbs 6:13, δακτυλοδεικτεῖν) at humbler men, and especially at such as are godly (Isaiah 57:4). דּבּר־און, the utterance of things which are wicked in themselves and injurious to one's neighbour, hence sinful conversation in general. The early commentators looked for more under נפשׁך, than is really meant (and so does even Stier: "they soul, thy heart, all thy sympathetic feelings," etc.). The name of the soul, which is regarded here as greedily longing (Isaiah 56:11), is used in Deuteronomy 24:6 for that which nourishes it, and here for that which it longs for; the longing itself (appetitus) for the object of the longing (Psychol. p. 204). We may see this very clearly from the choice of the verb תּפק (a voluntative in a conditional clause, Ges. 128, 2), which, starting from the primary meaning educere (related to נפק, Arabic anfaqa, to give out, distribute, nafaqa, distribution, especially of alms), signifies both to work out, acquire, carry off (Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 8:35, etc.), and also to take out, deliver, offer, expromere (as in this instance and Psalm 140:9; Psalm 144:13). The soul "bowed down" is bowed down in this instance through abstinence. The apodoses commence with the perf. cons. וזרח. אפלה is the darkness caused by the utter absence of light (Arab. afalat esh-shemsu, "the sun has become invisible"); see at Job 10:22. This, as the substantive clause affirms, is like the noon-day, which is called צהרים, because at that point the daylight of both the forenoon and afternoon, the rising and setting light, is divided as it were into two by the climax which it has attained. A new promise points to the fat, that such a man may enjoy without intermission the mild and safe guidance of divine grace, for which נחה (הנחה, syn. נהל) is the word commonly employed; and another to the communication of the most copious supply of strength. The ἅπαξ γεγρ בצחצחות does not state with what God will satisfy the soul, as Hahn supposes (after Jerome, "splendoribus"), but according to צסהיחה (Psalm 68:7) and such promises as Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 48:21; Isaiah 49:10, the kind of satisfaction and the circumstances under which it occurs, viz., in extreme droughts (Targ. "years of drought"). In the place of the perf. cons. we have then the future, which facilitates the elevation of the object: "and thy bones will He make strong," יחליח, for which Hupfeld would read יחליף, "will He rejuvenate." חחליץ is a denom. of חלוּץ, expeditus; it may, however, be directly derived from a verb חלץ, presupposed by חלצים, not, however, in the meaning "to be fat" (lxx πιανθήσεται, and so also Kimchi), but "to be strong," lit., to be loose or ready for action; and b. Jebamoth 102b has the very suitable gloss גרמי זרוזי (making the bones strong). This idea of invigorating is then unfolded in two different figures, of which that of a well-watered garden sets forth the abundance received, that of a spring the abundance possessed. Natural objects are promised, but as a gift of grace; for this is the difference between the two testaments, that in the Old Testament the natural is ever striving to reach the spiritual, whereas in the New Testament the spiritual lifts up the natural to its own level. The Old Testament is ever striving to give inwardness to what was outward; in the New Testament this object is attained, and the further object now is to make the outward conformed to the inward, the natural life to the spiritual.

The last promise (whether the seventh or eighth, depends upon whether we include the growing of the morning light into the light of noon, or not) takes its form from the pining of the exiles for their home: "and thy people (ממּך) build" (Ewald, 295, c); and Bttcher would read ממך וּבנּוּ; but מן with a passive, although more admissible in Hebrew than in Arabic, is very rarely met with, and then more frequently in the sense of ἀπό than in that of ὑπό, and בּנּוּ followed by a plural of the thing would be more exact than customary. Moreover, there is no force in the objection that ממּך with the active can only signify "some of thee," since it is equivalent to ממך אשׁר, those who sprang from thee and belong to thee by kindred descent. The members born to the congregation in exile will begin, as soon as they return to their home, to build up again the ruins of olden time, the foundations of earlier generations, i.e., houses and cities of which only the foundations are left (Isaiah 61:4); therefore Israel restored to its fatherland receives the honourable title of "builder of breaches," "restorer of streets (i.e., of places much frequented once) לשׁבת" (for inhabiting), i.e., so that, although so desolate now (Isaiah 33:8), they become habitable and populous once more.

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