|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
57:1,2 The righteous are delivered from the sting of death, not from the stroke of it. The careless world disregards this. Few lament it as a public loss, and very few notice it as a public warning. They are taken away in compassion, that they may not see the evil, nor share in it, nor be tempted by it. The righteous man, when he dies, enters into peace and rest.
Verses 1, 2. - THE EARLY DEATH OF RIGHTEOUS MEN ACCOUNTED FOR. The Hebrews were given to expect that long life should, as a general rule, accompany righteousness (Exodus 20:12; 1 Kings 3:14; Psalm 91:16; Proverbs 3:1, 2, etc.); and under the Mosaical dispensation we must suppose that it did so. But there were exceptions to the rule. Wicked persecutors, like Ahab, Jezebel, and Athaliah, cut off the righteous ere they had seen half their days. So probably did Manasseh (2 Kings 24:3, 4). And God sometimes removed the righteous from earth by a natural death before they had grown old (Ecclesiastes 7:15; Ecclesiastes 8:14). At the time of which Isaiah is here speaking there had been such removals; and of this he takes note, partly to rebuke those who lightly passed over the phenomenon, partly to justify God's ways to such as were perplexed by it. Verse 1. - The righteous perisheth. The word translated "perisheth" does not imply any violence; but the context implies a premature death. The righteous disappear - are taken from the earth before their natural time. Yet no man layeth it to heart; i.e. no one asks what it means - no one is disturbed, no one grieves. The general feeling was either one of indifference, or of relief at the departure of one whose life was a reproach to his neighbours. Merciful men; rather, godly men, or pious men (comp. Micah 7:2). Are taken away; literally, are gathered in. Compare the phrase so frequently used, "gathered to his fathers" (Genesis 49:29; Numbers 27:13; Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28). From the evil; or, out of the way of the evil - in order that he may escape it (comp. 2 Kings 22:20, where Josiah is promised that he shall be gathered to his fathers (prematurely), in order that he may escape the sight of the evil that was coming on Jerusalem soon after his decease.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The righteous perisheth,.... Not eternally; he may fear he shall, by reason of sin and temptation; he may say his strength and hope are perished; and his peace and comfort may perish for a time; but he cannot perish everlastingly, because he is one that believes in Christ, and is justified by his righteousness, from whence he is denominated righteous; and such shall never perish, but have everlasting life: but the meaning is, that he perisheth as to his outward man, or dies corporeally, which is called perishing, Ecclesiastes 7:15 and so the Targum renders it,
"the righteous die.''
Or it may be rendered, "the righteous man is lost" (b); not to himself, his death is a gain to him; but to the church, and to the world, which yet is not considered:
and no man layeth it to heart; takes any notice of it, thinks at all about it, far from being concerned or grieved; instead of that, rather rejoice, and are pleased that they are rid of such persons; which will be the case when the witnesses are slain, Revelation 11:10. The Targum is,
"and no man lays my fear to heart;''
or on his heart; whereas such providences should lead men to fear the Lord, and seek to him, and serve him, as it did David, Psalm 12:1,
and merciful men are taken away; or "gathered" (c); out of the world, to their own people, to heaven; these are such who obtain mercy of the Lord, and show mercy to others, holy good men: the former character may respect the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, this his grace implanted in them, discovered by acts of mercy and goodness; for one and the same persons are intended:
none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come; that there are evil times coming, great calamities, and sore judgments upon men; and therefore these righteous ones are gathered out of the world, and are gathered home, and safely housed in heaven, that they may escape the evil coming upon a wicked generation; and who yet have no thought about it, nor are they led to observe it as they might, from the removal of good men out of the world; see 2 Kings 22:20. All this may be applied to the martyrs of Jesus in times of Popish persecution; or to the removal of good men by an ordinary death before those times came.
(b) , Sept. (c) "colliguntur", V. L. Munster, Piscator, Cocceius; "congregantur", Pagninus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Isa 57:1-21. The Peaceful Death of the Righteous Few: the Ungodliness of the Many: a Believing Remnant Shall Survive the General Judgments of the Nation, and Be Restored by Him Who Creates Peace.
In the midst of the excesses of the unfaithful watchmen (Isa 56:10, 11, 12), most of the few that are godly perish: partly by vexation at the prevailing ungodliness; partly by violent death in persecution: prophetical of the persecuting times of Manasseh, before God's judgments in causing the captivity in Babylon; and again those in the last age of the Church, before the final judgments on the apostasy (2Ki 21:16; Mt 23:29-35, 37; Re 11:17). The Hebrew for "perisheth," and "is taken away," expresses a violent death (Mic 7:2).
1. no man layeth it to heart—as a public calamity.
merciful men—rather, godly men; the subjects of mercy.
none considering—namely, what was the design of Providence in removing the godly.
from the evil—Hebrew, from the face of the evil, that is, both from the moral evil on every side (Isa 56:10-12), and from the evils about to come in punishment of the national sins, foreign invasions, &c. (Isa 56:9; 57:13). So Ahijah's death is represented as a blessing conferred on him by God for his piety (1Ki 14:10-13; see also 2Ki 22:20).
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