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 unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, 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. Isaiah 24:16This appeal is not made in vain. Isaiah 24:16. "From the border of the earth we hear songs: Praise to the Righteous One!" It no doubt seems natural enough to understand the term tzaddı̄k (righteous) as referring to Jehovah; but, as Hitzig observes, Jehovah is never called "the Righteous One" in so absolute a manner as this (compare, however, Psalm 112:4, where it occurs in connection with other attributes, and Exodus 9:27, where it stands in an antithetical relation); and in addition to this, Jehovah gives צבי (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 28:5), whilst כבוד, and not צבי, is ascribed to Him. Hence we must take the word in the same sense as in Isaiah 3:10 (cf., Habakkuk 2:4). The reference is to the church of righteous men, whose faith has endured the fire of the judgment of wrath. In response to its summons to the praise of Jehovah, they answer it in songs from the border of the earth. The earth is here thought of as a garment spread out; cenaph is the point or edge of the garment, the extreme eastern and western ends (compare Isaiah 11:12). Thence the church of the future catches the sound of this grateful song as it is echoed from one to the other.

The prophet feels himself, "in spirit," to be a member of this church; but all at once he becomes aware of the sufferings which will have first of all to be overcome, and which he cannot look upon without sharing the suffering himself. "Then I said, Ruin to me! ruin to me! Woe to me! Robbers rob, and robbing, they rob as robbers. Horror, and pit, and snare, are over thee, O inhabitant of the earth! And it cometh to pass, whoever fleeth from the tidings of horror falleth into the pit; and whoever escapeth out of the pit is caught in the snare: for the trap-doors on high are opened, and the firm foundations of the earth shake. The earth rending, is rent asunder; the earth bursting, is burst in pieces; the earth shaking, tottereth. The earth reeling, reeleth like a drunken man, and swingeth like a hammock; and its burden of sin presseth upon it; and it falleth, and riseth not again." The expression "Then I said" (cf., Isaiah 6:5) stands here in the same apocalyptic connection as in Revelation 7:14, for example. He said it at that time in a state of ecstasy; so that when he committed to writing what he had seen, the saying was a thing of the past. The final salvation follows a final judgment; and looking back upon the latter, he bursts out into the exclamation of pain: râzı̄-lı̄, consumption, passing away, to me (see Isaiah 10:16; Isaiah 17:4), i.e., I must perish (râzi is a word of the same form as kâli, shâni, ‛âni; literally, it is a neuter adjective signifying emaciatum equals macies; Ewald, 749, g). He sees a dreadful, bloodthirsty people preying among both men and stores (compare Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1, for the play upon the word with בגד, root גד, cf., κεύθειν τινά τι, tecte agere, i.e., from behind, treacherously, like assassins). The exclamation, "Horror, and pit," etc. (which Jeremiah applies in Jeremiah 48:43-44, to the destruction of Moab by the Chaldeans), is not an invocation, but simply a deeply agitated utterance of what is inevitable. In the pit and snare there is a comparison implied of men to game, and of the enemy to sportsmen (cf., Jeremiah 15:16; Lamentations 4:19; yillâcēr, as in Isaiah 8:15; Isaiah 28:13). The על in עליך is exactly the same as in Judges 16:9 (cf., Isaiah 16:9). They who should flee as soon as the horrible news arrived (min, as in Isaiah 33:3) would not escape destruction, but would become victims to one form if not to another (the same thought which we find expressed twice in Amos 5:19, and still more fully in Isaiah 9:1-4, as well as in a more dreadfully exalted tone). Observe, however, in how mysterious a background those human instruments of punishment remain, who are suggested by the word bōgdim (robbers). The idea that the judgment is a direct act of Jehovah, stands in the foreground and governs the whole. For this reason it is described as a repetition of the flood (for the opened windows or trap-doors of the firmament, which let the great bodies of water above them come down from on high upon the earth, point back to Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:2, cf., Psalm 78:23); and this indirectly implies its universality. It is also described as an earthquake. "The foundations of the earth" are the internal supports upon which the visible crust of the earth rests. The way in which the earth in its quaking first breaks, then bursts, and then falls, is painted for the ear by the three reflective forms in Isaiah 24:19, together with their gerundives, which keep each stage in the process of the catastrophe vividly before the mind. רעה is apparently an error of the pen for רע, if it is not indeed a n. actionis instead of the inf. absol. as in Habakkuk 3:9. The accentuation, however, regards the ah as a toneless addition, and the form therefore as a gerundive (like kob in Numbers 23:25). The reflective form התרעע is not the hithpalel of רוּע, vociferari, but the hithpoel of רעע (רצץ), frangere. The threefold play upon the words would be tame, if the words themselves formed an anti-climax; but it is really a climax ascendens. The earth first of all receives rents; then gaping wide, it bursts asunder; and finally sways to and fro once more, and falls. It is no longer possible for it to keep upright. Its wickedness presses it down like a burden (Isaiah 1:4; Psalm 38:5), so that it now reels for the last time like a drunken man (Isaiah 28:7; Isaiah 29:9), or a hammock (Isaiah 1:8), until it falls never to rise again.

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