|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
44:9-20 Image-making is described, to expose the folly of idolaters. Though a man had used part of a log for fuel, he fell down before an image made of the remainder, praying it to deliver him. Man greatly dishonours God, when he represents him after the image of man. Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers, causing absurd reasonings in matters of religion. Whether men seek happiness in worldly things, or run into unbelief, superstition, or any false system, they feed on ashes. A heart deceived by pride, love of sin, and departure from God, turns men aside from his holy truth and worship. While the affections are depraved, a man holds fast the lie as his best treasure. Are our hearts set upon the wealth of the world and its pleasures? They will certainly prove a lie. If we trust to outward professions and doings, as if those would save us, we deceive ourselves. Self-suspicion is the first step towards self-deliverance. He that would deliver his soul, must question his conscience, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
Verse 20. - He feedeth on ashes; i.e. on vanity - on what can give no support or sustenance (comp. Proverbs 15:14; Hosea 12:1). A deceived heart. Either self-deceived, or imposed upon by illusions from without; e.g. the seeming power of the idols, as seen in the victories and conquests of their worshippers. He cannot deliver his soul. The deceived soul is bound in trammels, which it feels to be irksome, and from which it would fain be free. But it cannot deliver itself. Deliverance must come from some external source; in other words, man needs a Deliverer. Is there not a lie in my right hand? An idol is "a lie." It professes to have power, strength, ability to help and save, whereas it has no power at all. It cannot even save itself. Savages often beat their fetishes. Diagoras of Melos threw an image of Hercules into the fire on which he was cooking his dinner, and bade Hercules make himself of some use by boiling his turnips. The powerlessness of idols even to help themselves is represented with much force in the Book of Baruch (6:12-15, 17-22, 27, 49, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He feedeth of ashes,.... That is, the idolater delights in his idol, pleases himself with seeks comfort and satisfaction from it, fills and feeds himself with hopes and expectations of being helped and delivered by it; but this is all vain hope, a mere delusion; it is as if a man fed on ashes instead of food; it is feeding on that which has no savour nor substance, can yield no nourishment, but, on the contrary, is pernicious and hurtful; and it is like Ephraim's feeding on wind, Hosea 12:1 or on chaff instead of wheat, Jeremiah 23:28 and so such who feed upon and delight themselves in sinful lusts, or false doctrines, may be said to feed on the same sort of food: and here it may be true of the idol in a literal sense; part of the wood of which it was made being reduced to ashes, to which some respect may be had, Isaiah 44:15, and that itself was capable of the same fate. The Targum is,
"behold his god, part of it is ashes;''
so the Vulgate Latin version: "a deceived heart hath turned him aside" from the true God, and the right worship of him, unto idolatry; the heart of man is deceitful, and desperately wicked; a man needs no other to entice him, and draw him away into any sin, and from the living God, than his own evil heart; which, being deceived itself, deceives him, and leads him to the commission of such things as are contrary to reason and common sense: and he is so infatuated with them, and possessed with a strong belief of them,
that he cannot deliver his soul: divest himself of his erroneous and wicked principles, and leave his idolatrous practices, or be persuaded that he is in the wrong:
nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand? that the idol, which his right hand has made, is a lie, a mere vanity, not to be depended upon and trusted in: or which is in, or "at his right hand" (m); and worshipped by him, and is highly esteemed and loved as his right hand; this he cannot be persuaded to believe, and say that it is a falsehood and a work of errors; such is the force and fascination of idolatry, when once persons are ensnared and entangled with it.
(m) "quod est in dextera mea", Piscator; "ad dexteram meam", Junius & Tremellius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. feedeth on ashes—figuratively, for the idolater delights in what is vain (Pr 15:14; Ho 12:1). "Feedeth on wind." There is an allusion, perhaps, also, to the god being made of a tree, the half of which was reduced to ashes by fire (Isa 44:15-17); the idol, it is implied, was no better, and could, and ought, to have been reduced to ashes like the other half.
deceived heart—The heart and will first go astray, then the intellect and life (Ro 1:28; Eph 4:18).
lie in … right hand—Is not my handiwork (the idol) a self-deceit?
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