|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
59:1-8 If our prayers are not answered, and the salvation we wait for is not wrought for us, it is not because God is weary of hearing prayer, but because we are weary of praying. See here sin in true colours, exceedingly sinful; and see sin in its consequences, exceedingly hurtful, separating from God, and so separating us, not only from all good, but to all evil. Yet numbers feed, to their own destruction, on infidel and wicked systems. Nor can their skill or craft, in devising schemes, as the spider weaves its web, deliver or save them. No schemes of self-wrought salvation shall avail those who despise the Redeemer's robe of righteousness. Every man who is destitute of the Spirit of Christ, runs swiftly to evil of some sort; but those regardless of Divine truth and justice, are strangers to peace.
Verses 1-8. - A GENERAL REBUKE OF ISRAEL FOR ITS MANIFOLD SINS, The command given to the prophet in Isaiah 58:1 to "show God's people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins " - partly executed in Isaiah 58:4-7 and 13 - is now further carried out by a scathing denunciation of various forms of wickedness, more or less prevalent in Israel, the effect of which has been to separate between Israel and God, to "shorten God's hand" and "make his ears heavy." The passage has many analogies with Isaiah 1:2-23. Verse 1. - The Lord's hand is not shortened; i.e. God is not less able to help than of old; his "hand" has lost none of its power. That he does not help is owing to the iniquities of his people, which have separated between him and them (ver. 2). It is the same fact which has made his ear heavy. He cannot hear prayers that are not sincere - not from the heart.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,.... It is not for want of power in the Lord, that he has not as yet destroyed the enemies of his people, antichrist, and the antichristian states, and saved them out of their hands, and made them to triumph over them; or brought on the glorious state of the church, and fulfilled the promises of good things, suggested in the latter part of the preceding chapter. His hand is as long as ever, and as able to reach his and their enemies in the greatest height of power, or at the greatest distance, and to do every good thing for them; his power is as great as ever, and not in the least abridged or curtailed.
Neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: the prayers of his people, their cries unto him on their fast days, of which he seemed to take no notice, complained of Isaiah 58:3, this is not owing to any want of attention in him, or of readiness to hear prayer made unto him; for he is a God hearing and answering prayer, and is ready to help his people in every time of need, who apply to him in a proper and suitable manner; his eyes are upon them, and his ears are open to their cries. And this is introduced with a "behold", as requiring attention, and deserving the notice and consideration of his people. The Targum is,
"behold, not through defect of hand (or power) from the Lord ye are not saved; nor because it is heavy to him to hear, that your prayer is not received.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Isa 59:1-21. The People's Sin the Cause of Judgments: They at Last Own It Themselves: the Redeemer's Future Interposition in Their Extremity.
The reason why Jehovah does not deliver His people, notwithstanding their religious services (Isa 58:3), is not want of power on His part, but because of their sins (Isa 59:1-8); Isa 59:9-15 contain their confession; Isa 59:16-21, the consequent promise of the Messiah.
1. hand … shortened—(See on Isa 50:2).
ear heavy—(Isa 6:10).
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