Isaiah 24:16
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe to me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yes, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
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(16) From the uttermost part of the earth . . .—The words “glory to the righteous” sound at first like a doxology addressed to Jehovah as essentially the Righteous One. Two facts militate, however, against this view. The word translated “glory” is not that commonly used in doxologies, but rather “honour” or “praise,” such as is applied to men (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 23:9; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 28:4-5; 2Samuel 1:19). (2) The term “the Righteous One “is never used absolutely as a name of ‘God. On these grounds, therefore, it seems better to render “honour to the righteous” (comp. Romans 2:7), to the true Israel of God as a righteous people. The “uttermost part” is, literally, the wing or skirt of the earth.

But I said, My leanness, my leanness . . .—The prophet is recalled from the ideal to the actual, from the glory of the future to the shame and misery of the present. “Leanness,” as in Psalm 22:17; Psalm 109:24, was the natural symbol of extremest sorrow. In the “treacherous dealers,” literally, robbers, or barbarians, we may find primarily the Assyrian invaders, who were making the country desolate, or the unjust rulers of Judah, who oppressed the people.

Isaiah 24:16. From the uttermost part, &c. — From all parts of the earth, or land, where the Jews are, or shall be, have we heard songs — Songs of joy and praise; even glory to the righteous — By the righteous, may be here understood, either, 1st, righteous and holy men, who formerly were despised, but now shall be honoured; or, 2d, the Lord, the righteous one, as the Hebrew לצדיק, being singular, properly means; or, 3d, the Messiah, to whom this title of the just, or righteous one, is frequently given. But I said — But in the midst of these joyous tidings, I discern something which interrupts my joys, and gives me cause of bitter complaint and lamentation; My leanness! my leanness! — I faint and pine away for grief; for the following reason: The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously — The Jews, who have been frequently guilty of great perfidiousness toward God, are now acting the same part. This he speaks of those who should live when the Messiah should be upon earth, fore- seeing, by the Holy Spirit, that they would forsake God and reject their Messiah, and thereby bring utter destruction upon themselves. For even the Hebrew doctors expound this place of the perfidiousness of some Jews in the times of the Messiah. And it is not strange that so sad a sight made the prophet cry out, My leanness, &c., the treacherous dealers, &c. This he repeats, to show the horridness of the crime, and how deeply he was affected with it.24:16-23 Believers may be driven into the uttermost parts of the earth; but they are singing, not sighing. Here is terror to sinners; the prophet laments the miseries he saw breaking in like a torrent; and the small number of believers. He foresees that sin would abound. The meaning is plain, that evil pursues sinners. Unsteady, uncertain are all these things. Worldly men think to dwell in the earth as in a palace, as in a castle; but it shall be removed like a cottage, like a lodge put up for the night. It shall fall and not rise again; but there shall be new heavens and a new earth, in which shall dwell nothing but righteousness. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, under which it groans now, and will sink at last. The high ones, that are puffed up with their grandeur, that think themselves out of the reach of danger, God will visit for their pride and cruelty. Let us judge nothing before the time, though some shall be visited. None in this world should be secure, though their condition be ever so prosperous; nor need any despair, though their condition be ever so deplorable. God will be glorified in all this. But the mystery of Providence is not yet finished. The ruin of the Redeemer's enemies must make way for his kingdom, and then the Sun of Righteousness will appear in full glory. Happy are those who take warning by the sentence against others; every impenitent sinner will sink under his transgression, and rise no more, while believers enjoy everlasting bliss.From the uttermost part of the earth - The word 'earth' here seems to be taken in its usual sense, and to denote countries without the bounds of Palestine, and the phrase is equivalent to remote regions or distant countries (see the note at Isaiah 11:12). The prophet here represents himself as hearing those songs from distant lands as a grand chorus, the sound of which came in upon and pervaded Palestine. The worship of God would be still continued, though the temple should be destroyed, the inhabitants of the land dispersed, and the land of Judea be a widespread desolation. Amidst the general wreck and woe, it was some consolation that the worship of Yahweh was celebrated anywhere.

Have we heard songs - Or, we do hear songs. The distant celebrations of the goodness of God break on the ear, and amidst the general calamity these songs of the scattered people of God comfort the heart.

Glory to the righteous - This is the burden and substance of those songs. Their general import and design is, to show that there shall be honor to the people of God. They are now afflicted and scattered. Their temple is destroyed, their land waste, and ruin spreads over the graves of their fathers. Yet amidst these desolations, their confidence in God is unshaken; their reliance on him is firm. They still believe that there shall be honor and glory to the just, and that God will be their protector and avenger. These assurances served to sustain them in their afflictions, and to shed a mild and cheering influence on their saddened hearts.

But I said - But I, the prophet, am constrained to say. This the prophet says respecting himself, viewing himself as left in the land of Canaan; or more probably he personifies, in this declaration, Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of the land that still remained there. The songs that came in from distant lands; the echoing praises from the exiles in the east and the west seeming to meet and mingle over Judea, only served to render the abounding desolation more manifest and distressing. Those distant praises recalled the solemn services of the temple, and the happiness of other times, and led each one of those remaining, who witnessed the desolations, to exclaim, 'my leanness.'

My leanness, my leanness - The language of Jerusalem, and the land of Judea. This language expresses calamity. The loss of flesh is emblematic of a condition of poverty, want, and wretchedness - as sickness and affliction waste away the flesh, and take away the strength; Psalm 109:24 :

My knees are weak through fasting,

And my flesh faileth of fatness.

16. Songs to God come in together to Palestine from distant lands, as a grand chorus.

glory to the righteous—the burden of the songs (Isa 26:2, 7). Amidst exile, the loss of their temple, and all that is dear to man, their confidence in God is unshaken. These songs recall the joy of other times and draw from Jerusalem in her present calamities, the cry, "My leanness." Horsley translates, "glory to the Just One"; then My leanness expresses his sense of man's corruption, which led the Jews, "the treacherous dealers" (Jer 5:11), to crucify the Just One; and his deficiency of righteousness which made him need to be clothed with the righteousness of the Just One (Ps 106:15).

treacherous dealers—the foreign nations that oppress Jerusalem, and overcome it by stratagem (so in Isa 21:2) [Barnes].

From the uttermost part of the earth, from all the parts of the earth or land in which the Jews are or shall be,

have we heard songs, songs of joy and praise.

Even glory to the righteous; or, glory be

to the righteous; which may seem to be the matter of the song. By the righteous may be understood either,

1. The generation of righteous and holy men, who formerly were despised, but now upon this eminent deliverance shall be highly honoured; or,

2. The Lord, whom they were exhorted to glorify in the foregoing verse, and who may well be called the righteous one, as he is frequently styled the Holy One, as Hosea 11:9 Habakkuk 3:3, &c.; or,

3. The Messiah, to whom this title of just or righteous is frequently given, as Isaiah 53:11 Jeremiah 23:5 Zechariah 9:9, &c. And the believing Jews call him righteous emphatically, partly to intimate that he is the author and procurer of all true righteousness, and partly in opposition to their unbelieving brethren, who rejected and condemned him as a malefactor; all which the prophet foresaw by the Spirit of prophecy. But I said; but in the midst of these joyful tidings I discern something which interrupts my joys, and gives me cause of bitter complaint and lamentation. My leanness, my leanness; I faint and pine away for grief, for the following reason. The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; the Jews, who have been frequently guilty of great perfidiousness towards God, are now acting the same part; which he speaks either,

1. Of those who lived in his time; or rather,

2. Of those who should live when the Messias was upon earth, of whom he foresaw by the Spirit that they would forsake God, and reject their Messiah, and thereby bring utter destruction upon themselves. For even the Hebrew doctors expound this place of the perfidiousness of some Jews in the times of the Messiah. And it is not strange that so sad a sight made the prophet cry out, My leanness, &c. The treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously; he repeats it to show the horridness of the crime, and how deeply he was affected with it. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs,.... Of praise and thanksgivings, on account of the judgments of God on antichrist; for the glorious appearance of Christ's kingdom; for the spread of his Gospel throughout the world; for the conversion of the Jews, and the bringing in of the fulness of the Gentiles everywhere; wherefore these songs are heard from all parts of the world, and the uttermost parts of them; these are the voices said to be heard in heaven, or in the church, everywhere, Revelation 11:15 so some Jewish writers (x) interpret the words of the days of the Messiah, and of the songs then to be sung:

even glory to the righteous; to the righteous One; meaning either the righteous God, who is essentially righteous in himself, and declaratively in his works of providence and grace, and in the judgments he executes on his enemies; on account of which, particularly, glory is here ascribed unto him, even for his judgments on the great whore, they being just and true, Revelation 16:6 or to Christ the righteous One, who is so as God, and as Mediator, and is the author of righteousness to his people; who ascribe the glory of deity, of salvation, and of righteousness to him, who is crowned with glory and honour now, and will be glorified on earth at this time; for then he, and he alone, will be exalted, and will reign before his ancients gloriously: or to righteous men, such who are made righteous by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them: it is a glory to have on the righteousness of Christ; and such as have it are all glorious within, and will be remarkably glorious in the latter day, a crown of glory in the hands of the Lord; and especially in the New Jerusalem church state, when they will have the glory of God upon them, as well as in the ultimate state. Ben Melech observes, that signifies desire and good will; and so may suggest, that the righteous at this time will have all that their hearts can wish for and desire, as well as visibly appear to be the objects of God's light and pleasure. Some think that the word "tzebi", translated "glory", signifies the land of Judea, called "the glory of all lands", Ezekiel 20:6 which will at this time be restored to the Jews, who will now be converted, and be all righteous:

but I said, my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me: the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously, yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously: this the prophet said, which brought leanness upon him; he either pining and fretting at the present state of his people, so very unlike to that which he now had a view of; they being a set of treacherous men, there being no faith in them, with respect to God or one another; no religion or truth, no honour nor honesty among them: or having in view the future state of this people when the Messiah should come; whom they would reject, and treacherously betray into the hands of the Gentiles, and crucify: or else, rather foreseeing, by a spirit of prophecy, the sad times that would be previous to those glorious ones before mentioned; as great declensions among professors; great coldness and lukewarmness in religious affairs, the consequence of which is leanness of soul; the interest of Christ brought very low, his witnesses being slain, and prophesying at an end; and all this through the treachery of false teachers that lie in wait to deceive: unless, rather, it can be thought that this refers to the Laodicean state, when there will be great lukewarmness and indifference in the professors of religion; great carnality and security, and much spiritual leanness, though great boasts of riches and fulness; and which will issue in the dissolution of the world, and the personal appearance of Christ, to which the following part of the chapter seems to relate. The Targum interprets the word "razi", which is repeated, and rendered "leanness", by a "secret" or mystery, thus,

"the prophet said, a secret, a reward for the righteous is shown unto me; a secret punishment for the wicked is revealed unto me;''

and so Jarchi explains it of two secrets, the secret of punishment, and the secret of salvation; but of the latter especially the prophet would not say woe unto me, nor indeed of the former; for as the one is desirable, so the other is but just and righteous, and neither of them secrets, or mysteries: rather, if the idea of a mystery or secret is to be retained, the prophet may be thought to be thrown into distress, in the foreview of the blindness that should happen to Israel, and continue till the fulness of the Gentiles came in, which the apostle calls a mystery, Romans 11:25 and of their rejection, because of their disbelief of the Messiah, and their perfidious usage of him and his followers, dealing very treacherously with them, and betraying them into the hands of wicked men.

(x) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 62. 3.

From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the {k} righteous. But I said, {l} My leanness, my leanness, woe to me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.

(k) Meaning to God, who will publish his gospel through all the world.

(l) I am consumed with care, considering the affliction of the Church, both by foreign enemies and domestic. Some read, My secret, my secret: that is, it was revealed to the prophet, that the good would be preserved and the wicked destroyed.

16. Other voices from the uttermost part (strictly, “the skirt”) of the earth are heard singing “Glory to the righteous,” i.e. the righteous people, Israel. But these jubilant utterances of his more fortunately situated fellow-believers only extort from the prophet a cry of despair.

My leanness] Lit. “emaciation to me,” hence R.V. “I pine away.”

the treacherous dealers …] Cf. ch. Isaiah 21:2, Isaiah 33:1. Assonance is here carried to an extreme: “deceivers deceive, yea with deceit do deceivers deceive.”Verse 16. - Glory to the righteous. The righteous remnant perceive that the calamities which have come upon the earth are ushering in a time of honor and glory for themselves; and they console themselves by making this fact the burden of some of their songs. Their honor, it must be remembered, is bound up with God's glory; which will not shine forth fully till their salvation is complete, and they "reign with him" in glory (2 Timothy 2:12). But I said, My leanness. The thought of this joyful time, when the saints shall reign with their Lord in a new heaven and a new earth, recalls the prophet (contrast being one of the laws of the association of ideas) to the misery of the present, and his own participation therein. A time of suffering, of wasting, and pining away must be endured - for how long he knows not - before the joyous consummation, towards which he stretches in hope and confident expectancy, can be reached. This is the period of his "leanness." The treacherous dealers, or ungodly of the earth, will bear sway during this period, and will deal treacherously and cruelly with God's saints, persecuting them incessantly in a thousand ways. Have dealt. The perfect of prophetic certainty. The world with its pleasure is judged; the world's city is also judged, in which both the world's power and the world's pleasure were concentrated. "The city of tohu is broken to pieces; every house is shut up, so that no man can come in. There is lamentation for wine in the fields; all rejoicing has set; the delight of the earth is banished. What is left of the city is wilderness, and the gate was shattered to ruins. For so will it be within the earth, in the midst of the nations; as at the olive-beating, as at the gleaning, when the vintage is over." The city of tohu (kiryath tōhu): this cannot be taken collectively, as Rosenmller, Arndt, and Drechsler suppose, on account of the annexation of kiryath to tohu, which is turned into a kind of proper name; for can we understand it as referring to Jerusalem, as the majority of commentators have done, including even Schegg and Stier (according to Isaiah 32:13-14), after we have taken "the earth" (hâ'âretz) in the sense of kosmos (the world). It is rather the central city of the world as estranged from God; and it is here designated according to its end, which end will be tohu, as its nature was tohu. Its true nature was the breaking up of the harmony of all divine order; and so its end will be the breaking up of its own standing, and a hurling back, as it were, into the chaos of its primeval beginning. With a very similar significance Rome is called turbida Roma in Persius (i. 5). The whole is thoroughly Isaiah's, even to the finest points: tohu is the same as in Isaiah 29:21; and for the expression מבּוא (so that you cannot enter; namely, on account of the ruins which block up the doorway) compare Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:1, also Isaiah 5:9; Isaiah 6:11; Isaiah 32:13. The cry or lamentation for the wine out in the fields (Isaiah 24:11; cf., Job 5:10) is the mourning on account of the destruction of the vineyards; the vine, which is one of Isaiah's most favourite symbols, represents in this instance also all the natural sources of joy. In the term ‛ârbâh (rejoicing) the relation between joy and light is presupposed; the sun of joy is set (compare Micah 3:6). What remains of the city בּעיר is partitive, just as בּו in Isaiah 10:22) is shammâh (desolation), to which the whole city has been brought (compare Isaiah 5:9; Isaiah 32:14). The strong gates, which once swarmed with men, are shattered to ruins (yuccath, like Micah 1:7, for yūcath, Ges. 67, Anm. 8; שׁאיּה, ἁπ λεγ, a predicating noun of sequence, as in Isaiah 37:26, "into desolated heaps;" compare Isaiah 6:11, etc., and other passages). In the whole circuit of the earth (Isaiah 6:12; Isaiah 7:22; hâ'âretz is "the earth" here as in Isaiah 10:23; Isaiah 19:24), and in the midst of what was once a crowd of nations (compare Micah 5:6-7), there is only a small remnant of men left. This is the leading thought, which runs through the book of Isaiah from beginning to end, and is figuratively depicted here in a miniature of Isaiah 17:4-6. The state of things produced by the catastrophe is compared to the olive-beating, which fetches down what fruit was left at the general picking, and to the gleaning of the grapes after the vintage has been fully gathered in (câlâh is used here as in Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 16:4; Isaiah 21:16, etc., viz., "to be over," whereas in Isaiah 32:10 it means to be hopelessly lost, as in Isaiah 15:6). There are no more men in the whole of the wide world than there are of olives and grapes after the principal gathering has taken place. The persons saved belong chiefly, though not exclusively, to Israel (John 3:5). The place where they assemble is the land of promise.
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