Isaiah 21:4
My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.
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(4) The night of my pleasure . . .—The words point to the prophet’s longing for the darkness of night, either as a time of rest from his labour, or, more probably, for contemplation and prayer (Psalm 119:148), and to the invasion of that rest by the vision of terror. The suggestion that the prophet speaks as identifying himself with the Babylonians, and refers to the capture of their city during a night of revelry (Daniel 5:1; Daniel 5:30; Herod., i. 121; Xenoph. Cyrop., vii. 23), is hardly tenable.

21:1-10 Babylon was a flat country, abundantly watered. The destruction of Babylon, so often prophesied of by Isaiah, was typical of the destruction of the great foe of the New Testament church, foretold in the Revelation. To the poor oppressed captives it would be welcome news; to the proud oppressors it would be grievous. Let this check vain mirth and sensual pleasures, that we know not in what heaviness the mirth may end. Here is the alarm given to Babylon, when forced by Cyrus. An ass and a camel seem to be the symbols of the Medes and Persians. Babylon's idols shall be so far from protecting her, that they shall be broken down. True believers are the corn of God's floor; hypocrites are but as chaff and straw, with which the wheat is now mixed, but from which it shall be separated. The corn of God's floor must expect to be threshed by afflictions and persecutions. God's Israel of old was afflicted. Even then God owns it is his still. In all events concerning the church, past, present, and to come, we must look to God, who has power to do any thing for his church, and grace to do every thing that is for her good.My heart panted - Margin, 'My mind wandered.' The Hebrew word rendered 'panted' (תעה tâ‛âh) means to wander about; to stagger; to be giddy; and is applied often to one that staggers by being intoxicated. Applied to the heart, it means that it is disquieted or troubled. The Hebrew word "heart" here is to be taken in the sense of "mind."

The night of my pleasure - There can be no doubt that the prophet here refers to the night of revelry and riot in which Babylon was taken. The prophet calls it the night of "his" pleasure, because he represents himself as being "in" Babylon when it should be taken, and, therefore, uses such language as an inhabitant of Babylon would use. "They" would call it the night of their pleasure, because it was set apart to feasting and revelry.

Hath he turned into fear - God has made it a night of consternation and alarm. The prophet here refers to the fact that Babylon would be taken by Cyrus during that night, and that consternation and alarm would suddenly pervade the affrighted and guilty city (see Daniel 5).

4. panted—"is bewildered" [Barnes].

night of my pleasure—The prophet supposes himself one of the banqueters at Belshazzar's feast, on the night that Babylon was about to be taken by surprise; hence his expression, "my pleasure" (Isa 14:11; Jer 51:39; Da 5:1-31).

The night of my pleasure; the night, in which I used to have a sweet repose and sleep. He seems to have had this vision in a night. But withal this horror of the prophet by night was typical, and did signify that grievous horror and destruction which should befall the Babylonians in a night of great feasting and jollity, as it did, Daniel 5:1,30.

Hath he, God, who showed him that vision,

turned into fear unto me; into a time and matter of fear.

My heart panted,.... Fluttered about, and could hardly keep its place: or, "my mind wandered" (r); like a person in distraction and confusion, that knew not what to think say or do:

fearfulness affrighted me; the terror of Cyrus's army seized him, of its irruption into the city, and of his being destroyed by it; the writing on the wall threw him into a panic, and the news of the Medes and Persians being entered the city increased it:

the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me; in which he promised himself so much pleasure, at a feast he had made for his princes, wives, and concubines; either in honour of his god, as some think (s), being an annual one; or, as Josephus ben Gorion (t) says, on account of the victory he had obtained over the Medes and Persians; and so was quite secure, and never in the least thought of destruction being at hand; but in the midst of all his revelling, mirth, and jollity, the city was surprised and taken, and he slain, Daniel 5:1. So mystical Babylon, in the midst of her prosperity, while she is saying that she sits a queen, and knows no sorrow, her judgment and plagues shall come upon her, Revelation 18:7.

(r) "erravit cor meum", Montanus; "errat animus meus", Junius & Tremellius; "errat cor meum", Piscator. (s) Vid. Herodot. l. 1. c. 191. Xenophon. l. 7. c. 23. (t) L. 1. c. 5. p. 24. Ed. Braithaupt.

My heart panted, fearfulness terrified me: the night {g} of my pleasure hath he turned into fear to me.

(g) He prophecies the death of Belshazzar as in Dan 5:30 who in the midst of his pleasures was destroyed.

4. My heart panted] lit. strayeth; as we should say “my reason reels.” “Heart,” as often, is used of the intellect. fearfulness] R.V. horror.

the night of my pleasure] i.e. “my pleasant evening hours,” favourable for visionary communications and therefore dear to a prophet. (Job 4:13).

hath he turned] Better: “is turned”; or “it (the vision) turns.”

fear] trembling (as R.V.).

Verse 4. - My heart panted; rather, my heart trembleth, or fluttereth. The night of my pleasure; i.e. "the night, wherein, I am wont to enjoy peaceful and pleasant slumbers." Isaiah 21:4Here again, as in the case of the prophecy concerning Moab, what the prophet has given to him to see does not pass without exciting his feelings of humanity, but works upon him like a horrible dream. "Therefore are my loins full of cramp: pangs have taken hold of me, as the pangs of a travailing woman: I twist myself, so that I do not hear; I am brought down with fear, so that I do not see. My heart beats wildly; horror hath troubled me: the darkness of night that I love, he hath turned for me into quaking." The prophet does not describe in detail what he saw; but the violent agitation produced by the impression leads us to conclude how horrible it must have been. Chalchâlâh is the contortion produced by cramp, as in Nahum 2:11; tzirim is the word properly applied to the pains of childbirth; na‛avâh means to bend, or bow one's self, and is also used to denote a convulsive utterance of pain; tâ‛âh, which is used in a different sense from Psalm 95:10 (compare, however, Psalm 38:11), denotes a feverish and irregular beating of the pulse. The darkness of evening and night, which the prophet loved so much (chēshek, a desire arising from inclination, 1 Kings 9:1, 1 Kings 9:19), and always longed for, either that he might give himself up to contemplation, or that he might rest from outward and inward labour, had bee changed into quaking by the horrible vision. It is quite impossible to imagine, as Umbreit suggests, that nesheph chishki (the darkness of my pleasure) refers to the nocturnal feast during which Babylon was stormed (Herod. i. 191, and Xenophon, Cyrop. vii. 23).
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