Isaiah 27:4
Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
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(4) Fury is not in me.—Better, There is no wrath in me. Who will set briars and thorns before me? With war will I go forth against them; I will burn them up together. The reversal of the sentence is continued. Wrath against this vineyard has passed away from Jehovah. Should briars and thorns (symbols of the enemies of His people, as in Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:17; 2Samuel 23:6-7; Ezekiel 2:6) spring up, he will do battle against them, and consume them utterly.

Isaiah 27:4-5. Fury is not in me — Namely, against my vineyard or my people; I have been displeased with them, and have chastized them, but I am not implacable toward them, and resolved utterly to destroy them, as their enemies are. Who would set the briers and thorns against me, &c. — Yet if any hypocrite in the church, false professor, or wilful sinner, shall offer to contend with me, he shall feel the effects of my fury. Or, more largely, thus: “Though fury doth not belong to me, and vengeance be called my strange work, (Isaiah 28:21,) yet if the briers and thorns, that is, the wicked and incorrigible, bid defiance to me, they will find I shall soon destroy and consume them like fire.” Or let him take hold of my strength, &c. — Rather, let such a one return to me, and make his peace with me, by unfeigned repentance and living faith, and he shall make peace with me — For I am always ready to receive returning sinners, and to pardon the truly penitent, who have recourse to me for mercy and salvation.27:1-5 The Lord Jesus with his strong sword, the virtue of his death, and the preaching of his gospel, does and will destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that old serpent. The world is a fruitless, worthless wilderness; but the church is a vineyard, a place that has great care taken of it, and from which precious fruits are gathered. God will keep it in the night of affliction and persecution, and in the day of peace and prosperity, the temptations of which are not less dangerous. God also takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard. We need the continual waterings of Divine grace; if these be at any time withdrawn, we wither, and come to nothing. Though God sometimes contends with his people, yet he graciously waits to be reconciled unto them. It is true, when he finds briers and thorns instead of vines, and they are set in array against him, he will tread them down and burn them. Here is a summary of the doctrine of the gospel, with which the church is to be watered every moment. Ever since sin first entered, there has been, on God's part, a righteous quarrel, but, on man's part, most unrighteous. Here is a gracious invitation given. Pardoning mercy is called the power of our Lord; let us take hold on that. Christ crucified is the power of God. Let us by lively faith take hold on his strength who is a strength to the needy, believing there is no other name by which we can be saved, as a man that is sinking catches hold of a bough, or cord, or plank, that is in his reach. This is the only way, and it is a sure way, to be saved. God is willing to be reconciled to us.Fury is not in me - That is, I am angry with it no more. He had punished his people by removing them to a distant land. But although he had corrected them for their faults, yet he had not laid aside the affection of a Father.

Who would set - Hebrew, 'Who would give me.' The Septuagint renders this, 'Who would place me to keep the stubble in the field?' Great perplexity has been felt in regard to the interpretation of this passage. Lowth translates it:

'O that I had a fence of the thorn and the brier;'

evidently showing that he was embarrassed with it, and could not make of it consistent sense. The whole sentence must refer either to the people of God, or to his enemies. If to his people, it would be an indication that they were like briers and thorns, and that if his fury should rage they would be consumed, and hence, he calls upon them Isaiah 27:5 to seize upon his strength, and to be at peace with him. If it refers to his enemies, then it expresses a wish that his enemies were in his possession; or a purpose to go against them, as fire among thorns, and to consume them if they should presume to array themselves against his vineyard. This latter I take to be the true sense of the passage. The phrase 'who would set me,' or in Hebrew, 'who will give me,' may be expressed by "utinam," indicating strong desire; and may be thus paraphrased: 'I retain no anger against my people. I have indeed punished them; but my anger has ceased. I shall now defend them. If they are attacked by foes, I will guard them. When their foes approach, "I desire, I earnestly wish," that they may be in my possession, that I may destroy them - as the fire rages through briers and thorns.' It expresses a firm determination to defend his people and to destroy their enemies, unless Isaiah 27:5, which he would prefer, they should repent, and be at peace with him.

The briers and thorns - His enemies, and the enemies of his people (compare the notes at Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 10:17). Perhaps the phrase is used here to denote enemies, because briers and thorns are so great enemies to a vineyard by impeding growth and fertility.

I would go through them - Or, rather, I would go against them in battle to destroy them.

I would burn them up together - As fire devours the thorns and briers; that is, I would completely destroy them.

4. Fury is not in me—that is, I entertain no longer anger towards my vine.

who would set … in battle—that is, would that I had the briers, &c. (the wicked foe; Isa 9:18; 10:17; 2Sa 23:6), before me! "I would go through," or rather, "against them."

Fury, to wit, against my vineyard, or my people; which is easily understood both from the foregoing and following verses. I have been displeased with them, and have chastised them; but I am not implacable towards them, and resolved utterly to destroy them, as their enemies are, and would have me to be.

I would go through them, I would burn them together: this is added as a reason of the foregoing clause and assertion; which may be conceived either,

1. Thus, I rather desire to contend with briers and thorns, i.e. with the wicked enemies of my church, who are thus called, Isaiah 10:17 Ezekiel 28:24; and if my wrath was now kindled against them, as it is against my people, I would be furious towards them, and never leave till I had utterly consumed them; but I will deal more indulgently with my people. Which exposition seems to receive some light and strength from Isaiah 27:6-8. Or,

2. Thus, For I consider the weakness of my people, that if I should let loose my fury upon them, they could no more stand before me than briers and thorns (to which God’s people, when they fall into sin, and provoke God, are not unfitly resembled) can stand before a devouring fire, and therefore they would in an instant be utterly destroyed; which I will not do. And this consideration of man’s imbecility is elsewhere alleged as a reason of God’s indulgence, as Psalm 103:13-16 Isaiah 57:16. But this I deliver with submission. Fury is not in me,.... Against his vineyard he takes so much care of, his church and people, whom he has loved with an everlasting love; they are indeed deserving of his wrath, but he has not appointed them to it, but has appointed his Son to bear it for them, who has delivered them from wrath to come, and they being justified by his blood and righteousness, are saved from it; and though the Lord chastises them for their sins, yet not in wrath and sore displeasure; there is no wrath or fury in his heart towards them, nor any expressed in the dispensations of his providence:

who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? either suggesting the weakness of his people, who, was he to deal with them as their sins and corruptions deserved, for which they may be compared to thorns and briers, they would be as unable to bear his wrath and fury as briers and thorns could to withstand a consuming fire; or rather intimating, that should such persons rise up in his vineyard, the church, as often do, comparable to briers and thorns for their unfruitfulness and unprofitableness, for the hurt and mischief they do, and the grief and trouble they give to the people of God, as hypocrites and false teachers, and all such as are of unsound principles, and bad lives and conversations, and which are very offensive to the Lord; and therefore, though there is no fury in him against his vineyard, the church, yet there is against those briers and thorns, wicked men, whom he accounts his enemies, and will fight against them in his wrath, and consume them in his fury; see 2 Samuel 23:6,

I would go through them: or, "step into it" (p); the vineyard, where those briers or thorns are set and grow up; the meaning is, that he would step into the vineyard, and warily and cautiously tread there, lest he should hurt any of the vines, true believers, while he is plucking up and destroying the briers and thorns; or contending, in a warlike manner, with carnal and hypocritical professors:

I would burn them together; or, "I would burn" out of it (q); that is, gather out of the vineyard the briers and thorns, and bind them up in bundles, as the tares in the parable, which signify the same as here, and burn them, or utterly destroy them; though the words may be rendered, "who will give, or set, me a brier and thorn in battle, that I should go against it, and burn it up together?", or wholly (r) and the meaning is, who shall irritate or provoke me to be as a brier and thorn, to hurt, grieve, and distress my people, to cause me to go into them, and against them, in a military way, in wrath and fury to consume them? no one shall. This rendering and sense well agree with the first clause of the verse. Jerom renders it thus, "who will make me an adamant stone?" as the word "shamir" is rendered in Ezekiel 3:9, Zechariah 7:12 and gives the sense, who will make me hard and cruel, so as to overcome my nature, my clemency, to go forth in a fierce and warlike manner, and walk upon my vineyard, which before I kept, and burn it, which I had hedged about?

(p) "gradiar in eam"; so some in Vatablus; "caute ingrediar eam", Piscator. (q) "succendam ex ea", Junius & Tremellius; "comburam illos ex ipsa", Piscator. (r) So De Dieu; and some in Vatablus; and which is approved by Noldius, who renders it in like manner, to the same sense, Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 409. No. 1671.

Fury {d} is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.

(d) Therefore he will destroy the kingdom of Satan, because he loves his Church for his own mercies sake, and cannot be angry with it, but wishes that he may pour his anger on the wicked infidels, whom he means by briers and thorns.

4. Fury is not in me] Or, wrath have I none. These words naturally go with the first stanza, expressing, as they seem to do, Jehovah’s contentment with the condition of His vineyard.

who would set … battle] The phrase “Who will give?” is the well known Hebrew equivalent of the Latin utinam, “Would that!” Hence the R.V.: O that the briers and thorns were against me in battle!

briers and thorns] (ch. Isaiah 5:6) must here mean heathen intruders. The next clause reads as in R.V.: I would march upon them. Cf. 2 Samuel 23:6 f.Verse 4. - Fury is not in me; i.e. "I am not now angered against my vineyard, as on the former occasion (Isaiah 5:4-7); or at any rate my anger now is not fury." (Isaiah frequently ascribes "fury" to God, as in Isaiah 34:2; Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 51:17, 20, 22; Isaiah 59:18; Isaiah 63:3, 5, 6; Isaiah 66:15.) Who would set the briars and thorns against me in battle? The "briars and thorns" are apparently unrighteous members of the Church, who have fallen below their privileges. God asks, "Who will set the briars and thorns in array against me?" in a tone of contempt. "Who will dare to do battle against me with such weak material?" And then he adds a forecast of the result in such a case: "I would move forward; I would burn them all together" (comp. Isaiah 10:17). But now all this had taken place. Instead of singing what has occurred, the tephillah places itself in the midst of the occurrence itself. "Thy dead will live, my corpses rise again. Awake and rejoice, ye that lie in the dust! For thy dew is dew of the lights, and the earth will bring shades to the day." The prophet speaks thus out of the heart of the church of the last times. In consequence of the long-continued sufferings and chastisements, it has been melted down to a very small remnant; and many of those whom it could once truly reckon as its own, are now lying as corpses in the dust of the grave. The church, filled with hope which will not be put to shame, now calls to itself, "Thy dead will live" (מתיך יחיוּ, reviviscent, as in המּתים תּסהיּת, the resurrection of the dead), and consoles itself with the working of divine grace ad power, which is even now setting itself in motion: "my corpses will rise again" (יקמוּן נבלתי, nebēlah: a word without a plural, but frequently used in a plural sense, as in Isaiah 5:25, and therefore connected with יקמוּן, equivalent to תקמנה: here before a light suffix, with the ê retained, which is lost in other cases). It also cries out, in full assurance of the purpose of God, the believing word of command over the burial-ground of the dead, "Wake up and rejoice, ye that sleep in the dust," and then justifies to itself this believing word of command by looking up to Jehovah, and confessing, "Thy dew is dew born out of (supernatural) lights," as the dew of nature is born out of the womb of the morning dawn (Psalm 110:3). Others render it "dew upon herbs," taking אורות as equivalent to ירקות, as in 2 Kings 4:39. We take it as from אורה (Psalm 139:12), in the sense of החיּים אור. The plural implies that there is a perfect fulness of the lights of life in God ("the Father of lights," James 1:17). Out of these there is born the gentle dew, which gives new life to the bones that have been sown in the ground (Psalm 141:7) - a figure full of mystery, which is quite needlessly wiped away by Hofmann's explanation, viz., that it is equivalent to tal hōrōth, "dew of thorough saturating." Luther, who renders it, "Thy dew is a dew of the green field," stands alone among the earlier translators. The Targum, Syriac, Vulgate, and Saad. all render it, "Thy dew is light dew;" and with the uniform connection in which the Scriptures place 'or (light) and chayyı̄m (life), this rendering is natural enough. We now translate still further, "and the earth (vâ'âretz, as in Isaiah 65:17; Proverbs 25:3, whereas וארץ is almost always in the construct state) will bring shades to the day" (hippil, as a causative of nâphal, Isaiah 26:18), i.e., bring forth again the dead that have sunken into it (like Luther's rendering, "and the land will cast out the dead" - the rendering of our English version also: Tr.). The dew from the glory of God falls like a heavenly seed into the bosom of the earth; and in consequence of this, the earth gives out from itself the shades which have hitherto been held fast beneath the ground, so that they appear alive again on the surface of the earth. Those who understand Isaiah 26:18 as relating to the earnestly descried overthrow of the lords of the world, interpret this passage accordingly, as meaning either, "and thou castest down shades to the earth" (ארץ, acc. loci, equals עד־ארץ, Isaiah 26:5, לארץ, Isaiah 25:12), or, "and the earth causeth shades to fall," i.e., to fall into itself. This is Rosenmller's explanation (terra per prosopopaeiam, ut supra Isaiah 24:20, inducta, deturbare in orcum sistitur impios, eo ipso manes eos reddens). But although rephaim, when so interpreted, agrees with Isaiah 26:14, where this name is given to the oppressors of the people of God, it would be out of place here, where it would necessarily mean, "those who are just becoming shades." But, what is of greater importance still, if this concluding clause is understood as applying to the overthrow of the oppressors, it does not give any natural sequence to the words, "dew of the lights is thy dew;" whereas, according to our interpretation, it seals the faith, hope, and prayer of the church for what is to follow. When compared with the New Testament Apocalypse, it is "the first resurrection" which is here predicted by Isaiah. The confessors of Jehovah are awakened in their graves to form one glorious church with those who are still in the body. In the case of Ezekiel also (Ez. EZechariah 37:1-14), the resurrection of the dead which he beholds is something more than a figurative representation of the people that were buried in captivity. The church of the period of glory on this side is a church of those who have been miraculously saved and wakened up from the dead. Their persecutors lie at their feet beneath the ground.
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