Isaiah 26:11
LORD, when your hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yes, the fire of your enemies shall devour them.
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(11) They will not see . . .—Better, they did not see, or, they see not, so as to bring out the contrast with the clause that follows. When the “arm of Jehovah,” the symbol of His power, was simply lifted up for the protection of His people, the evildoers closed their eyes and would not see it. A time will come when judgments shall fall on them, and so they shall be made to see.

Shall be ashamed for their envy at the people.—Better, they shall see (and be ashamed) the jealousy (of God) for the people. They shall understand something of God’s watchful and zealous care for those whom He loves. It shall be seen that it is as a consuming “fire” (Psalm 79:5) that shall devour His adversaries.

26:5-11 The way of the just is evenness, a steady course of obedience and holy conversation. And it is their happiness that God makes their way plain and easy. It is our duty, and will be our comfort, to wait for God, to keep up holy desires toward him in the darkest and most discouraging times. Our troubles must never turn us from God; and in the darkest, longest night of affliction, with our souls must we desire him; and this we must wait and pray to him for. We make nothing of our religion, whatever our profession may be, if we do not make heart-work of it. Though we come ever so early, we shall find God ready to receive us. The intention of afflictions is to teach righteousness: blessed is the man whom the Lord thus teaches. But sinners walk contrary to him. They will go on in their evil ways, because they will not consider what a God he is whose laws they persist in despising. Scorners and the secure will shortly feel, what now they will not believe, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. They will not see the evil of sin; but they shall see. Oh that they would abandon their sins, and turn to the Lord, that he may have mercy upon them.Lord, when thy hand is lifted up - This is an explanation of the sentiment expressed in the former verse. The lifting up of the hand here refers, doubtless, to the manifestations of the majesty and goodness of the Lord.

They will not see - They are blind to all the exhibitions of power, mercy, and goodness.

But they shall see - They shall yet be brought to recognize thy hand. They shall see thy favor toward thy children, and thy judgment on thy foes. The divine dealings will be such that they shall be constrained to recognize him, and to acknowledge his existence and perfections.

And be ashamed - Be confounded because they did not sooner recognize the divine goodness.

For their envy at thy people - The word 'their' is not in the Hebrew, and the sense is, that they shall see the zeal of Yahweh in behalf of his people, and shall be ashamed that they did not sooner recognize his hand. The word rendered 'envy' (קנאה qin'âh) may mean envy Ecclesiastes 4:4; Ecclesiastes 9:6, but it more properly and frequently means zeal, ardor, 2 Kings 10:16; Isaiah 9:6).

Yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them - Or rather, 'Yea, the fire in regard to thy enemies shall devour them.' The sense is, that when his people were delivered, his foes would be destroyed; his zeal for his people would also be connected with indignation against his foes. The deliverance of his people from Babylon, and the commencement of the downfall of that city, were simultaneous, and the cause was the same.

11. lifted up—to punish the foes of God's people. They who will not see shall be made to "see" to their cost (Isa 5:12).

their envy at the people—that is, "Thy people." Lowth translates, "They shall see with confusion Thy zeal for Thy people."

fire of … enemies—that is, the fire to which Thine enemies are doomed (Isa 9:18).

When thy hand is lifted up, they will not see; and they are guilty of the same obstinate blindness when thou dost smite and punish them, which is commonly signified by lifting up the hand, as Ezekiel 44:12 Micah 5:9. Compare also 2 Samuel 20:21 1 Kings 11:26. Or, as others render it, when thine hand is high or exalted, i.e. when thy works are most evident and most glorious, when thou appearest most gloriously for the defence of thy people, and for the punishment of thine and their enemies, they will not see.

They shall see: the same word is repeated in another sense. They shall feel and know that by sad and costly experience, which they would not learn by other and easier ways. Seeing is oft put for feeling; in which sense men are said to see affliction, Lamentations 3:1, and to see death, Psalm 89:48, and the like. At the people; or, at or towards thy people, the pronoun thy being repeated out of the following clause, as it is in many other places of Scripture, as hath been before noted. Their envy and hatred against God’s people blinded their minds, that they neither could nor would see that God was on their side, though the tokens of it were most manifest and undeniable; which was the case of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who were not sensible that the Lord fought for Israel against the Egyptians, as they said, Exodus 14:25, till it was too late.

The fire of thine enemies; not efficiently, but objectively; such fire or wrath as thou usest to pour forth upon thine implacable enemies. As my wrong, Genesis 16:5, is not the wrong done by me, but to me; and my violence, Jeremiah 2:35, is the violence done to me, as we translate it, not by me. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see,.... Or, "thy high hand they will not see" (y); when it is exalted, and become glorious in power, in punishing wicked men; though the punishment is visible, yet they will not consider that it comes from the hand of God, but attribute it to chance, misfortune, or second causes, Psalm 28:5 or when the hand the Lord is manifest in doing good to his own people, in delivering them out of their oppressions, and the hands of their oppressors; in reviving his cause and interest, and enlarging the kingdom of his Son; they will not see, own, and acknowledge the power and glory of it. The Targum favours this latter sense,

"Lord, when thou shall be revealed in thy power to do good to them that fear thee, there will be no light to the enemies of thy people:''

but they shall see; whether they will or not; the judgments of God will be manifest, both in his vengeance on antichrist, and in glorifying his own people:

and be ashamed for their envy at the people; their envy at the happiness and prosperity of the Lord's people; their malice towards them, and persecution of them: or, "for the zeal of thy people" (z); not for the zeal of the people to God, but for the zeal of the Lord to them; when they shall see him zealously affected to them, and concerned for them; as they shall see it, whether they will or not; they will then be confounded and ashamed, when he will vindicate his own people, and right their wrongs, and avenge their enemies; so the Targum,

"the revenge of thy people shall cover them:''

yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them: or, "fire shall devour them, thine enemies" (a); the wrath of God, which is like unto fire; or, fire out of the mouth of the witnesses, Revelation 11:5.

(y) "elatam tuam manum non cernunt", Castalio; "celsitudinem manuum tuarum nequaquam vident", Syriac version. (z) "zelum populi tui"; so some in Vatablus; "zelum erga populum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (a) "ignis hostes tuos consumet eos", Pagninus, Vatablus, "comedet eos", Montanus.

LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their {k} envy at the people; yea, the fire of thy {l} enemies shall devour them.

(k) Through envy and indignation against your people.

(l) The fire and vengeance with which you destroy your enemies.

11. To the eye of faith the lifting up of Jehovah’s hand has been manifest in the recent history of Israel, but, as in Isaiah’s time, there are some who “regard not the work of Jehovah nor see the operation of his hands” (ch. Isaiah 5:12); and for them further judgments are necessary. The first part of the verse is a categorical statement: Jehovah, thy hand hath been lifted up, [yet] they see not.

but they shall see … people] Lit., Let them see (and be ashamed) [thy] jealousy for the people; i.e. “let them be put to shame when they see, &c.” The clause “and be ashamed” is a parenthesis, separating the verb from its object. “Jealousy for the people” is gen. of the obj., as Psalm 69:9. For the idea cf. Zephaniah 1:18; Ezekiel 36:5. Similarly, the fire of thine enemies means “the fire (reserved) for thine enemies.”Verse 11. - When thy hand is lifted up, they will not see. The original is more graphic. It runs, "Lord, thy hand is lifted up, [but] they see not. They shall see to their shame thy jealousy for thy people; yea, fire shall devour thy adversaries" God's jealousy "burns like fire" (Psalm 79:9; Zephaniah 1:18) in the cause of his people. He has already proved Himself to be such a rock, on which everything breaks that would attack the faithful whom He surrounds. "For He hath bent down them that dwell on high; the towering castle, He tore it down, tore it down to the earth, cast it into dust. The foot treads it to pieces, feet of the poor, steps of the lowly." Passing beyond the fall of Moab, the fall of the imperial city is celebrated, to which Moab was only an annex (Isaiah 25:1-2; Isaiah 24:10-12). The futures are determined by the preterite; and the anadiplosis, which in other instances (e.g., Isaiah 25:1, cf., Psalm 118:11) links together derivatives or variations of form, is satisfied in this instance with changing the forms of the suffix. The second thought of Isaiah 26:6 is a more emphatic repetition of the first: it is trodden down; the oppression of those who have been hitherto oppressed is trodden down.
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