Isaiah 26:9
With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
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(9) With my soul have I desired thee in the night . . .—Soul and spirit are joined together to express the fulness of personality. The “night” is the time of sorrow and expectation, in which the saints of God shall “watch for the morning” of the great day of judgment and deliverance. They welcomed the judgments” as the discipline, by which those who had failed to learn before would at last, it might be, learn and acknowledge the righteousness of God.

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.With my soul ... in the night - By desiring God in the night, and by seeking him early, is meant that the desire to seek him was unremitted and constant. The prophet speaks of the pious Jews who were in captivity in Babylon; and says that it was the object of their unremitted anxiety to please God, and to do his will.

For when thy judgments are in the earth - This is given as a reason for what had just been said, that in their calamity they had sought God without ceasing. The reason is, that the punishments which he inflicted were intended to lead people to learn righteousness. The sentiment is expressed in a general form, though there is no doubt that the immediate reference is to the calamities which the Jews had suffered in their removal to Babylon as a punishment for their sins.

Learn righteousness - The design is to warn, to restrain, and to reform them. The immediate reference here was undoubtedly to the Jews, in whom this effect was seen in a remarkable manner in their captivity in Babylon. But it is also true of other nations; and though the effect of calamity is not always to turn a people to God, or to make them permanently righteous, yet it restrains them, and leads them at least to an external reformation, It is also true in regard to nations as well as individuals, that they make a more decided advance in virtue and piety in days of affliction than in the time of great external prosperity (compare Deuteronomy 6:11-12).

9. With, … soul … I—literally, "I … my soul," in apposition; the faithful Jews here speak individually. The overthrow of the foe and the restoration of the Jews are to follow upon prayer on the part of the latter and of all God's people (Isa 62:1-4, 6, 7; Ps 102:13-17).

in the night—(Ps 63:6; So 3:1).

world … learn … righteousness—the remnant left after judgments (Ps 58:10, 11; Zec 14:16).

With my soul; sincerely and most affectionately, as Psalm 63:1, and elsewhere.

Have I: the prophet speaks this in the name of all God’s people, by comparing this with the foregoing verse. In the night; either,

1. Figuratively, in the time of affliction, which is often called night or darkness; or rather,

2. Properly, as appears from the next clause, wherein early or in the morning is opposed to it. When others are sleeping, my thoughts and desires are working towards God. Will I seek thee, by fervent prayer for thy loving-kindness. Early; betimes in the morning, as the word signifies.

For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness: and good reason it is that we should thus desire and seek thee in the way of thy judgments, because this is the very design of thy judgments, that men should thereby be awakened to learn and return to their duty; and this is a common effect of them, that those who have been careless in prosperity, are made wiser and better by afflictions. The inhabitants of the world seem to be here taken not in opposition to God’s people, as if not they only, but even the wicked world, would do thus; but in a general notion, so as to include, yea principally to design, God’s people, as may be gathered both from the former part of this, and the foregoing verse, in which he describes their pious carriage under affliction; as also from the two following verses, in which he speaks of the wicked, whom he seems to oppose to these inhabitants of the world, because these learn righteousness, whilst those wicked men remain incorrigible both under mercies and judgments, Isaiah 26:10,11. With my soul have I desired thee in the night,.... Either literally, when others were asleep: or figuratively, in the captivity; which, as Jarchi says, was like unto the night; or in the time of Jewish and Gentile darkness, preceding the coming of Christ; or rather in the time of latter day darkness, when the church is represented as heartily desirous of, and importunately praying for, the latter day glory, the rising of the sun of righteousness, the spiritual reign of Christ, the spread of his Gospel, and the setting up of his kingdom and glory in the world; so the Targum,

"my soul desireth to pray before thee in the night;''

her desires were expressed by prayer:

yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early; she determines to continue seeking the Lord night and day, with the greatest intenseness of spirit, and eagerness of soul, until she obtained and enjoyed what she sought for; namely, the presence of Christ, communion with him, the discoveries of his love, and larger measures of his grace, light, and knowledge;

for when thy judgments are in the earth; such as pestilence, famine, sword, and the like; especially the judgments of God on antichrist, and the antichristian states, which will be just and righteous; see Revelation 19:2,

the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness; not the wicked inhabitants of the world, for the contrary is suggested in the following verses; but the saints that are in the world, the upright ones, the righteous before mentioned, the church and her members; these, by the judgments of God in the world, learn what a righteous Being he is, how unrighteous men are, on whose account these judgments come, and themselves too, as in his sight; and they learn the insufficiency of their own righteousness to justify them before him, and their need, the worth and value, of the righteousness of Christ: and also learn hereby to live soberly, righteously, and godly, Psalm 119:67 they learn to ascribe righteousness to God, and to fear and worship him, Revelation 15:3.

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn {h} righteousness.

(h) Meaning that by afflictions men will learn to fear God.

9. The first half of the verse completes the thought of Isaiah 26:8; the second is linked to Isaiah 26:10. The speaker is the individualised community.

will I seek thee early] Rather, I seek thee earnestly.

9 b, 10. The motive of this eager longing for judgment is the conviction that only by this method can the world be brought to the practice of righteousness.Verse 9. - In the night; i.e. "the long night of their affliction." The sentiment is identical with that of the preceding verse. Will I seek thee early; rather, did I seek thee. For when thy judgments, etc. It was not a mere selfish desire for the cessation of persecution that caused the righteous to long for the time when God's judgments would be manifested upon the earth, but a conviction that so only would an impression be made on the persecutors, and a certain number of them be induced to learn righteousness. A desire for the conversion of sinners to God characterizes God's saints generally, and none more than Isaiah, who is here expressing what he conceives will be the thoughts of the redeemed, and naturally judges their thoughts and feelings by his Own. The relation of Israel and Jehovah to one another is now a permanent one. "Thou keepest the firmly-established mind in peace, peace; for his confidence rests on Thee." A gnome (borrowed in Psalm 112:7-8), but in a lyrical connection, and with a distinct reference to the church of the last days. There is no necessity to take סמוּ יצר as standing for יצר סמוּך, as Knobel does. The state of mind is mentioned here as designating the person possessing it, according to his inmost nature. יצר (the mind) is the whole attitude and habit of a man as inwardly constituted, i.e., as a being capable of thought and will. סמוּך is the same, regarded as having a firm hold in itself, and this it has whenever it has a firm hold on God (Isaiah 10:20). This is the mind of the new Israel, and Jehovah keeps it, shâlom, shâlom (peace, peace; accusative predicates, used in the place of a consequential clause), i.e., so that deep and constant peace abides therein (Philippians 4:7). Such a mind is thus kept by Jehovah, because its trust is placed in Jehovah. בּטוּח refers to יצר, according to Ewald, 149, d, and is therefore equivalent to הוּא בּטוּח (cf., Psalm 7:10; Psalm 55:20), the passive participle, like the Latin confisus, fretus. To hang on God, or to be thoroughly devoted to Him, secures both stability and peace.
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