Isaiah 64:9
Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech you, we are all your people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
64:6-12 The people of God, in affliction, confess and bewail their sins, owning themselves unworthy of his mercy. Sin is that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Our deeds, whatever they may seem to be, if we think to merit by them at God's hand, are as rags, and will not cover us; filthy rags, and will but defile us. Even our few good works in which there is real excellence, as fruits of the Spirit, are so defective and defiled as done by us, that they need to be washed in the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. It bodes ill when prayer is kept back. To pray, is by faith to take hold of the promises the Lord has made of his good-will to us, and to plead them; to take hold of him, earnestly begging him not to leave us; or soliciting his return. They brought their troubles upon themselves by their own folly. Sinners are blasted, and then carried away, by the wind of their own iniquity; it withers and then ruins them. When they made themselves as an unclean thing, no wonder that God loathed them. Foolish and careless as we are, poor and despised, yet still Thou art our Father. It is the wrath of a Father we are under, who will be reconciled; and the relief our case requires is expected only from him. They refer themselves to God. They do not say, Lord, rebuke us not, for that may be necessary; but, Not in thy displeasure. They state their lamentable condition. See what ruin sin brings upon a people; and an outward profession of holiness will be no defence against it. God's people presume not to tell him what he shall say, but their prayer is, Speak for the comfort and relief of thy people. How few call upon the Lord with their whole hearts, or stir themselves to lay hold upon him! God may delay for a time to answer our prayers, but he will, in the end, answer those who call on his name and hope in his mercy.But now, O Lord, thou art our Father - (See the notes at Isaiah 63:16).

We are the clay - The idea seems to be, that their condition then had been produced by him as clay is moulded by the potter, and that they were to be returned and restored entirely by him - as they had no more power to do it than the clay had to shape itself. The sense is, that they were wholly in his hand and at his disposal (see the notes at Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9).

And thou our potter - Thou hast power to mould us as the potter does the clay.

And we all are the work of thy hand - That is, as the vessel made by the potter is his work. We have been formed by thee, and we are dependent on thee to make us what thou wilt have us to be. This whole verse is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God. It expresses the feeling which all have when under conviction of sin; and when they are sensible that they are exposed to the divine displeasure for their transgressions. Then they feel that if they are to be saved, it must be by the mere sovereignty of God; and then they implore his interposition to 'mould and guide them at his will.'

9. (Ps 74:1, 2).

we are … thy people—(Jer 14:9, 21).

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever, viz. Thou hast been angry with us a long time, be not so for ever; but deal with us as may best consist with a father’s bowels. It hath reference both to quantity and time, that it might not be very great, nor of long durance. See on Psalm 79:8.

We are all thy people, thy peculiar people, Isaiah 28:9. Though we are very bad in ourselves, and very badly handled by our enemies, thou sufferest in our sufferings, for thou hast not people in covenant but us, and wilt thou not leave thyself a people in the world? Be not wroth very sore, O Lord,.... They knew not how to deprecate the displeasure of God entirely; having sinned so greatly against him, they were sensible they deserved his wrath; but entreat it might not be hot and very vehement, and carried to the highest pitch, which would be intolerable:

neither remember iniquity for ever; to afflict and punish for it, but forgive it, for not to remember sin is to forgive it; and not inflict the deserved punishment of it, but take off and remove the effects of divine displeasure, which as yet continued, and had a long time, as this petition suggests; and therefore suits better with the present long captivity of the Jews than their seventy years' captivity in Babylon.

Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people; look upon all our troubles and distresses, and upon us under them, with an eye of pity and compassion; and consider that we are thy people, not only by creation, but by covenant and profession; even everyone of us; or we are all the people thou hast, the Jews looking upon themselves to be the special and peculiar people of God, and the Gentiles as having no claim to such a relation; this is the pure spirit of Judaism. The Targum is,

"lo, it is manifest before thee that we are all of us thy people.''

Be not very angry, O LORD, {k} neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.

(k) For so the flesh judges when God does not immediately send comfort.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. neither remember iniquity for ever] Psalm 79:8. The nation feels that it is bearing the inexhaustible penalty of past sins. Such a thought was specially natural after the Restoration, when it appeared as if even the immeasurable calamity of the Exile had not wiped out the arrears of hereditary guilt (cf. Zechariah 1:12).Verse 9. - Be not wroth very sore. At the time of the Captivity God was wroth very sore (Lamentations 5:22). His auger was hot against the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 74:1). But they had suffered, they had been afflicted many years. Might he not now relent, and remit somewhat from his fierce anger? Neither remember iniquity (comp. Psalm 79:8). God had already made a promise by the mouth of Isaiah, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy trangressions, and will not remember thy sins" (Isaiah 43:25). The captives lay hold, as it were, on this promise, and entreat that their "iniquity" may be not only forgiven, but forgotten (Jeremiah 31:34). We are all thy people. A fresh argument. "We are thy children," individually (ver. 8); "we are thy work, thy creatures" (ver. 8), again individually; but also, "we are all of us (kullanu), collectively, thy people" - the people whom thou hast chosen to thyself, and over whom thou hast watched for so many centuries. Surely this consideration, if no other, will induce thee to forego thy wrath and forgive our iniquity. The following clause gives the reason for this; ו being very frequently the logical equivalent for kı̄ (e.g., Isaiah 3:7 and Isaiah 38:15). The justification of this wish, which is forced from them by the existing misery, is found in the incomparable acts of Jehovah for the good of His own people, which are to be seen in a long series of historical events. Isaiah 64:3 (4.). "For from olden time men have not heard, nor perceived, nor hath an eye seen, a God beside Thee, who acted on behalf of him that waiteth for Him." No ear, no eye has ever been able to perceive the existence of a God who acted like Jehovah, i.e., really interposed on behalf of those who set their hopes upon Him. This is the explanation adopted by Knobel; but he wrongly supplies נוראות to יעשׂה, whereas עשׂה is used here in the same pregnant sense as in Psalm 22:32; Psalm 37:5; Psalm 52:11 (cf., gâmar in Psalm 57:3; Psalm 138:8). It has been objected to this explanation, that האזין is never connected with the accusative of the person, and that God can neither be heard nor seen. But what is terrible in relation to שׁמע in Job 42:5 cannot be untenable in relation to האזין. Hearing and seeing God are here equivalent to recognising His existence through the perception of His works. The explanation favoured by Rosenmller and Stier, viz., "And from olden time men have not heard it, nor perceived with ears, no eye has seen it, O God, beside Thee, what (this God) doth to him that waiteth for Him," is open to still graver objections. The thought is the same as in Psalm 31:20, and when so explained it corresponds more exactly to the free quotation in 1 Corinthians 2:9, which with our explanation there is no necessity to trace back to either Isaiah 42:15-16, or a lost book, as Origen imagined (see Tischendorf's ed. vii. of the N.T. on this passage). This which no ear has heard, no eye seen, is not God Himself, but He who acts for His people, and justifies their waiting for Him (cf., Hofmann, Die h. Schrift Neuen Testaments, ii. 2, 51). Another proof that Paul had no other passage than this in his mind, is the fact that the same quotation is met with in Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. 34), where, instead of "those that love Him," we have "those that wait for Him," a literal rendering of למחכּה־לו. The quotation by Paul therefore by no means leads us to take Elohim as a vocative or וגו יעשׂה as the object, although it must not be concealed that this view of the passage and its reference to the fulness of glory in the eternal life is an old rabbinical one, as Rashi expressly affirms, when he appeals to R. Jose (Joseph Kara) as bondsman for the other (see b. Sanhedrin 99a). Hahn has justly objected to this traditional explanation, which regards Elohim as a vocative, that the thought, that God alone has heard and perceived and seen with His eye what He intends to do to His people, is unsuitable in itself, and at variance with the context, and that if וגו יעשׂה was intended as the object, אשר (את) would certainly be inserted. And to this we may add, that we cannot find the words Elohim zūlâthekhâ (God beside Thee) preceded by a negation anywhere in chapters 40-66 without receiving at once the impression, that they affirm the sole deity of Jehovah (comp. Isaiah 45:5, Isaiah 45:21). The meaning therefore is, "No other God beside Jehovah has ever been heard or seen, who acted for (ageret pro) those who waited for Him." Mechakkēh is the construct, according to Ges. 116, 1; and ya‛ăsēh has tsere here, according to Kimchi (Michlol 125b) and other testimonies, just as we meet with תעסה four times (in Genesis 26:29; Joshua 7:9; 2 Samuel 13:12; Jeremiah 40:16) and ונעשׂה once (Joshua 9:24), mostly with a disjunctive accent, and not without the influence of a whole or half pause, the form with tsere being regarded as more emphatic than that with seghol.

(Note: In addition to the examples given above, we have the following forms of the same kind in kal: ימּצה (with tiphchah) in Jeremiah 17:17; תּראה (with tsakpeh) in Daniel 1:13, compare תּגלּה (with athnach) in Leviticus 18:7-8, and תגלּה (with the smaller disjunctive tiphchah) in Leviticus 18:9-11; ינקּה (with athnach) in Nahum 1:3; אזרה (with tsakeph) in Ezekiel 5:12. This influence of the accentuation has escaped the notice of the more modern grammarians (e.g., Ges. 75, Anm. 17).)

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