Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
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(16) Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation . . .—We have first to deal with the imagery, then with the interpretation. The former connects itself with the importance which attached, in ancient as in modern architecture, to the foundation stone of a building (1Kings 5:17). So in Zion the foundation stone was laid, as witnessed in the Arabic name of the Mosque of Omar (Kubhet-es-Sakhra),(i.e., “dome of the rock”), on the solid rock. In the stone which was made “the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22) we have a like thought. From the prophet’s stand-point this was identical with the manifestation of Jehovah’s righteousness in and through the Temple in its higher spiritual aspect. Christian interpreters have rightly found the true fulfilment of the words in the person of the Christ (Ephesians 2:20; 1Peter 2:6-7). The “corner stone,” the lapis angularis of the Vulg. is that upon which two walls at right angles to each other rest and are bonded together. The “tried stone” (literally, stone of proof) may be one (1) which stands every test, or (2) one which tries those who come in contact with it, becoming an asylum, or a “stone of stumbling,” according to their character. (Comp. Luke 2:34-35; Luke 20:18.)

He that believeth shall not make haste.—The LXX. and some other versions give “shall not be ashamed,” which is a paraphrase rather than a translation. The English Version, following the Vulgate, represents the meaning of the Hebrew, haste and hurry being regarded in their contrast to the calm temper of a steadfast faith. (Comp. Isaiah 5:19.)



Isaiah 28:16

‘Therefore thus saith the Lord.’ Then these great words are God’s answer to something. And that something is the scornful defiance by the rulers of Israel of the prophet’s threatenings. By their deeds, whether by their words or no, they said that they had made friends of their enemies, and that so they were sure that, whatsoever came, they were safe. To this contemptuous and false reliance God answers, not as we might expect, first of all, by a repetition of the threatenings, but by a majestic disclosure of the sure refuge which He has provided, set in contrast to the flimsy and false ones, on which these men built their truculent confidence; ‘I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone.’ And then, after the exhibition of the great mercy which has been evoked by the very blasphemy of the rulers, and not till then, does He reiterate the threatenings of judgment, against which this foundation is laid, that men may escape; God first declares the refuge, and then warns of the tempest.

Without entering at all upon the question, which for all believing and simple souls is settled by the New Testament, of the Messianic application of the words before us, I take it for granted. There may no doubt be an allusion here to the great solid blocks which travellers tell us may still be seen at the base of the encircling walls of the Temple hill. A stone so gigantic and so firm God has laid for man to build upon.

I. Note, then, first, the foundation, which is Christ.

There are many aspects of the great thought on which I cannot touch even for a moment. For instance, let me remind you how, in a very deep sense, Jesus Christ is the foundation of the whole of the divine dealings with us; and how, in another aspect, historically, since the day on which He appeared on earth, He has more and more manifestly and completely been the foundation of the whole history of the world. But passing these aspects, let us rather fix upon those which are more immediately in the prophet’s mind.

Jesus Christ is the foundation laid for all men’s security against every tempest or assault. The context has portrayed the coming of a tremendous storm and inundation, in view of which this foundation is laid. The building reared on it then is, therefore, to be a refuge and an asylum. Have not we all of us, like these scornful men in Jerusalem, built our refuges on vain hopes, on creatural affections, on earthly possessions, on this, that, and the other false thing, all of which are to be swept away when the storm comes? And does there not come upon us all the blast of the ordinary calamities to which flesh is heir, and have we not all more or less consciousness of our own evil and sinfulness; and does there not lie before every one of us at the end of life that solemn last struggle, and beyond that, as we most of us believe, a judgment for all that we have done in the body? ‘I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone.’ Build upon that, and neither the tempest of earthly calamities, changes, disappointments, sorrows, losses, nor the scourge that is wielded because of our sins, nor the last wild tempest that sweeps a man on the wings of its strong blast from out of life into the dark region, nor the solemn final retribution and judgment, shall ever touch us. And when the hail sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the waters overflow the hiding-place, this foundation stands sure-

And lo! from sin and grief and shame

I hide me, Jesus, in Thy name.

Brethren, the one foundation on which building, we can build secure, and safe as well as secure, is that foundation which is laid in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God. The foundation of all our security is Jesus Christ.

We may look at the same thought under somewhat different aspects. He is the foundation for all our thinking and opinions, for all our belief and our knowledge. ‘In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ and whatsoever of solid fact men can grasp in their thinkings in regard to all the most important facts and truths with which they come into relation, is to be found in the life and death of Jesus Christ, and in the truths which these reveal. He is the foundation of all our knowledge of God, and of all our true knowledge of ourselves, of all our true knowledge of duty, and all our true knowledge of the relations between the present and the future, between man and God.

And in His life, in the history of His death and resurrection, is the only foundation for any real knowledge of the awful mysteries that lie beyond the grave. He is the Alpha from whom all truth must be deduced, the Omega to which it all leads up. Certitude is in Him. Apart from Him we are but groping amid peradventures. If we know anything about God it is due to Jesus Christ. If we know anything about ourselves it is due to Him. If we know anything about what men ought to do, it is because He has done all human duty. And if, into the mist and darkness that wraps the future, there has ever travelled one clear beam of insight, it is because He has died and risen again. If we have Him, and ponder upon the principles that are involved in, and flow from, the facts of His life and death, then we know; and ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’ is the truth indeed. To possess Him is to hold the key to all mysteries, and knowledge without Him is but knowledge of the husk, the kernel being all unreached. That Stone is the foundation on which the whole stately fabric of man’s knowledge of the highest things must ever be reared.

He is the foundation of all restful love. A Czar of Russia, in the old days, was mad enough to build a great palace upon the ice-blocks of the Neva. And when the spring came, and the foundations melted, the house, full of delights and luxury, sank beneath the river. We build upon frozen water, and when the thaw comes, what we build sinks and is lost to sight. Instead of love that twines round the creature and trails, bleeding and bruised, along the ground when the prop is taken away, let us turn our hearts to the warm, close, pure, perfect changeless love of the undying Christ, and we shall build above the fear of change. The dove’s nest in the pine-tree falls in ruin when the axe is laid to the root. Let us build our nests in the clefts of the rock and no hand will ever reach them. Christ is the foundation on which we may build an immortal love.

He is the foundation for all noble and pure living. He is the fixed pattern to which it may be conformed. Otherwise man’s notions of what is virtuous and good are much at the mercy of conventional variations of opinion. This class, that community, this generation, that school, all differ in their notions of what is true nobleness and goodness of life. And we are left at the mercy of fluctuating standards unless we take Christ in His recorded life as the one realised ideal of manhood, the pattern of what we ought to be. We cannot find a fixed and available model for conduct anywhere so useful, so complete, so capable of application to all varieties of human life and disposition as we find in Him, who was not this man or that man, in whom the manly and the feminine, the gentle and the strong, the public and the private graces were equally developed. In Christ there is no limitation or taint. In Christ there is nothing narrow or belonging to a school. This water has no taste of any of the rocks through which it flowed. You cannot say of Jesus Christ that He is a Jew or a Gentile, that He is man or woman, that He is of the ancient age or the modern type, that He is cut after this pattern or that. All beauty and all grace are in Him, and every man finds there the example that he needs. So, as the perfect pattern, He is the foundation for all noble character.

As the one sufficient motive for holy and beauteous living, He is the foundation. ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments.’ That is a new thing in the world’s morality, and that one motive, and that motive alone, has power, as the spring sunshine has, to draw beauty from out the little sheaths of green, and to tempt the radiance of the flowers to unfold their lustre. They that find the reason and the motive for goodness and purity in Christ’s love to them, and their answering love to Christ, will build a far fairer fabric of a life than any others, let them toil at the building as they may. So, dear brethren, on this foundation God has built His mercy to all generations, and on this foundation you and I may build our safety, our love, our thinkings, our obedience, and rest secure.

II. Note next the tried preciousness of the foundation.

The language of the text, ‘a stone of proof,’ as it reads in the original, probably means a stone which has been tested and stood the trial. And because it is thus a tested stone, it therefore is a precious stone. There are two kinds of testing-the testing from the assaults of enemies, and the testing by the building upon it of friends. And both these methods of proof have been applied, and it has stood the test.

Think of all the assaults that have been made from this side and the other against Christ and His gospel, and what has become of them all? Travellers tell us how they often see some wandering tribes of savage Arabs trying to move the great stones, for instance, of Baalbec-those wonders of unfinished architecture. But what can a crowd of such people, with all their crowbars and levers, do to the great stone bedded there, where it has been for centuries? They cannot stir it one hair’s-breadth. And so, against Jesus Christ and His gospel there has stormed for eighteen hundred years an assaulting crowd, varying in its individuals and in its methods of attack, but the same in its purpose, and the same in the fruitlessness of its effort. Century after century they have said, as they are saying to-day, ‘Now the final assault is going to be delivered; it can never stand this.’ And when the smoke has cleared away there may be a little blackening upon the edge, but there is not a chip off its bulk, and it stands in its bed where it did; and of all the grand preparations for a shattering explosion, nothing is left but a sulphurous smell, and a wreath of smoke, and both are floating away down into the distance. Generation after generation has attacked the gospel; generation after generation has been foiled; and I do not need to be a prophet, or the son of a prophet, to be quite sure of this, that all who to-day are trying to destroy men’s faith in the Incarnate Son of God, who died for them and rose again, will meet the same fate. I can see the ancient and discredited systems of unbelief, that have gone down into oblivion, rising from their seats, as the prophet in his great vision saw the kings of the earth, to greet the last comer who had fought against God and failed, with ‘Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us?’ The stone will stand, whosoever tries to blow it up with his dynamite, or to pound it with his hammers.

But there is the other kind of testing. One proves the foundation by building upon it. If the stone be soft, if it be slender, if it be imperfectly bedded, it will crumble, it will shift, it will sink. But this stone has borne all the weight that the world has laid upon it, and borne it up. Did any man ever come to Jesus Christ with a sorrow that He could not comfort, with a sin that He could not forgive, with a soul that He could not save? And we may trust Him to the end. He is a ‘tried stone.’ ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles,’ has been the experience of nineteen centuries.

So, being tried, it is precious,-precious to God who laid it there at a great and real cost to Himself-having given up ‘His only begotten Son’; precious, inasmuch as building upon it is the one safety from the raging tempest and flood that would else engulf and destroy us.

III. Note, next, the process of building.

The metaphor seems to be abandoned in the last words of our text, but it is only apparently so. ‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’ So, then, we build by believing. The act of building is simple faith in Jesus Christ. We come to Him, as the Apostle Peter has it in his quotation of this text-come to Him as unto a living stone, and the coming and the building are both of them metaphors for the one simple thing, trust in the Lord. The bond that unites men on earth with Christ in Heaven, is the exercise of simple faith in Him. By it they come into contact with Him, and receive from Him the security and the blessing that He can bestow. Nothing else brings a man into living fellowship with Him. When we trust in the Lord we, as it were, are bedded into Him; and resting upon Him with all our weight, then we are safe. That confidence involves the abandonment of all the ‘refuges of lies.’ There must be utter self-distrust and forsaking and turning away from every dependence upon anything else, if we are to trust ourselves to Jesus Christ. But the figure of a foundation which gives security and stability to the stones laid upon it, does not exhaust all the blessedness of this building upon Christ. For when we really rest upon Him, there comes from the foundation up through all the courses a vital power. Thus Peter puts it: ‘To whom, coming as unto a living stone, ye also as living stones are built up.’ We might illustrate this by the supposition of some fortress perched upon a rock, and in the heart of the rock a clear fountain, which is guided by some pipe or other into the innermost rooms of the citadel. Thus, builded upon Christ, ‘our defence shall be the munitions of rocks, and our waters shall be sure.’ From Him, the foundation, there will rise into all the stones, built upon Him, the power of His own endless life, and they, too, become living stones.

IV. So note, lastly, the quiet confidence of the builders.

‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’ The word is somewhat obscure, and the LXX., which is followed by the New Testament, readers it, ‘Shall not be confounded or put to shame.’ But the rendering of our text seems to be accurate enough. ‘He shall not make haste.’ Remember the picture of the context-a suddenly descending storm, a swiftly rising and turbid flood, the lashing of the rain, the howling of the wind. The men in the clay-built hovels on the flat have to take to flight to some higher ground above the reach of the innundation, on some sheltered rock out of the flashing of the rain and the force of the tempest. He who is built upon the true foundation knows that his house is above the water-level, and he does not need to be in a hurry. He can remain quietly there till the flood subsides, knowing that it will not rise high enough to drown or even disturb him. When all the other buildings are gone, his stands. And he that thus dwells on high may look out over the wild flood, washing and weltering to the horizon, and feel that he is safe. So shall he not have to make haste, but may wait calm and quiet, knowing that all is well.

Dear friends, there is only one refuge for any of us-only one from the little annoyances and from the great ones; from to-day’s petty troubles, and from the day of judgment; from the slight stings, if I may so say, of little sorrows, cares, burdens, and from the poisoned dart of the great serpent. There is only one refuge for any of us, to build upon Jesus Christ, as we can do by simple faith.

And oh! remember, He must either be the foundation on which we build, or the stone of stumbling against which we stumble, and which one day will fall upon us and grind us to powder. Do you make your choice; and when God says, as He says to each of us: ‘Behold! I lay in Zion a foundation,’ do you say, ‘And, Lord, I build upon the foundation which Thou hast laid.’

Isaiah 28:16. Therefore, thus saith the Lord — Because your refuges are vain and deceitful; therefore I will direct you to a better and surer refuge, which will never fail those that trust to it, which God hath prepared in Zion. But if you shall despise and reject that refuge, which I now offer to you all; if you will not believe, then know, that I will lay judgment to the line, &c., as it follows, Isaiah 28:17. Some think that in this famous prophecy, Behold I lay in Zion, &c., the prophet only means to tell these scorners, that God would protect Jerusalem, but not them, whom he would suffer to perish; and that he “expresses the protection which God would afford it under the image of laying a foundation for new walls, with the largest and hardest stones, and those most fit for the purpose, to make it impregnable, and to stand for ages.” But to understand the prophet thus, is to make him utter a false prophecy, which was afterward contradicted by facts. For Jerusalem, whether we understand thereby the city or its inhabitants, was not protected, but given up into the hands, first of the Chaldeans, and then of the Romans, to be destroyed. Certainly, as Lowth observes, “this prophecy cannot belong to any but Christ, to whom it is often applied in the New Testament. But it may import thus much, with respect to the time wherein Isaiah lived, that those should never be disappointed who believed in God, who had made peculiar promises to his church, which should be eminently fulfilled at the coming of the Messiah, in whom all God’s promises made to his people should receive their final accomplishment.” Understood of Christ, the interpretation of every expression in the passage is natural and easy; Behold I lay — I have promised it, and in the fulness of time will perform it; in Zion — In my church; for a foundation — Upon which I will build my church, the foundation of all the confidence, hope, and comfort of my people; a stone — Not Hezekiah, as some have supposed, but the Messiah, as appears, 1st, From those passages of the Old Testament, in which he is called a stone, as Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; Daniel 2:34-45; Zechariah 3:9. 2d, From those texts of the New Testament, in which this prophecy is directly expounded of him, as Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:4. 3d, From the last clause, wherein faith in this stone is required, which is not to be placed in any mere man, or mere creature. A tried stone — Which I have tried and approved, as every way sufficient for a foundation to support the building. A precious corner-stone — Uniting the several parts of the building together, making Ephraim and Judah, and Jews and Gentiles, though now implacable enemies, one church, and giving not only strength, but beauty and glory to the building, as cornerstones frequently do. A sure foundation — Upon whom you may securely rest; one who will not fail nor deceive you, as your refuges of lies will. He that believeth — Namely, this promise, or places his confidence in this stone, as it is explained 1 Peter 2:6; shall not make haste — Shall not hastily catch at any way of escaping his danger, whether it be right or wrong, but shall patiently wait upon God in his way till he deliver him. The words

לא יחישׁ, here rendered, shall not make haste, are by the LXX. translated,

ου μη καταισχυνθη, shall in no wise be ashamed or confounded, because precipitation, or haste, commonly exposes men to shame and confusion.

28:16-22 Here is a promise of Christ, as the only foundation of hope for escaping the wrath to come. This foundation was laid in Zion, in the eternal counsels of God. This foundation is a stone, firm and able to support his church. It is a tried stone, a chosen stone, approved of God, and never failed any who made trial of it. A corner stone, binding together the whole building, and bearing the whole weight; precious in the sight of the Lord, and of every believer; a sure foundation on which to build. And he who in any age or nation shall believe this testimony, and rest all his hopes, and his never-dying soul on this foundation, shall never be confounded. The right effect of faith in Christ is, to quiet and calm the soul, till events shall be timed by Him, who has all times in his own hand and power. Whatever men trust to for justification, except the righteousness of Christ; or for wisdom, strength, and holiness, except the influences of the Holy Ghost; or for happiness, except the favour of God; that protection in which they thought to shelter themselves, will prove not enough to answer the intention. Those who rest in a righteousness of their own, will have deceived themselves: the bed is too short, the covering too narrow. God will be glorified in the fulfilling of his counsels. If those that profess to be members of God's church, make themselves like Philistines and Canaanites, they must expect to be dealt with as such. Then dare not to ridicule the reproofs of God's word, or the approaches of judgements.Therefore thus saith the Lord - God. This verse is introductory to the solemn threatening which follows. Its design seems to be this. The prophet was about to utter an awful threatening of the judgment of God upon the nation. It might be supposed, perhaps, that the intention was completely to sweep them, and destroy them - that the threatened calamity would remove every vestige of the Jewish people and of the true religion together. To meet this supposition, God says that this should not occur. Zion was founded on a rock. It should be like an edifice that was reared on a firm, well-tried cornerstone - one that could endure all the storms that should beat around it, and be unmoved. The general sentiment of the verse is, therefore, that though a tempest of calamity was about to beat upon the people for their sins; though the temple was to be destroyed, the city laid in ashes, and many of the people slain; yet it was the purpose of God that his empire on earth should not be destroyed. A foundation, a cornerstone was to be laid that would be unshaken and unmoved by all the assaults of the foes of God, and all who were truly resting on that should be safe. The perpetuity of his kingdom, and the safety of his true people, is, therefore, the essential idea in this passage. That it refers to the Messiah, and is designed to show that his kingdom will be perpetual because it is reared on him, we shall see by an examination of the words which occur in the verse.

In Zion - (see the note at Isaiah 1:8). Zion here is put for his empire, kingdom, or church in general on earth. To lay a cornerstone in Zion, means that his kingdom would be founded on a rock, and would be secure amidst all the storms that might beat upon it.

For a foundation a stone - That is, I lay a firm foundation which nothing can move; I build it on a rock so that the storms and tempests of calamity cannot sweep it away (compare Matthew 7:24-25). The Targum renders this, 'Lo! I appoint in Zion a king, a strong, mighty, and terrible king.' That the passage before us has reference to the Messiah there can be no doubt. The writers of the New Testament so understood and applied it. Thus it is applied by Peter 1 Peter 2:6, 'Wherefore, also, it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded' (see the notes at Romans 9:33; compare Romans 10:11; Matthew 21:42; Luke 20:17-18; Luke 2:34; Ephesians 2:20). Such a reference also exactly suits the conection. The stability of the kingdom of God on earth rests on the Messiah. God had determined to send him; and, consequently, amidst all the agitations and revolutions that could take place among his ancient people, this promise was sure, and it was certain that he would come, and that his church would be preserved.

A tried stone - The word which is used here is applied commonly to "metals" which are tried in the fire to test their quality (see Job 23:10; Psalm 66:10; Jeremiah 9:6; Zechariah 13:9). The idea is, that God would lay for a foundation not a stone whose qualities are unknown, and whose stability might be doubtful, but one whose firmness and solidity were so fully known, that the foundation and the superstructure would be secure.

A precious cornerstone - The word 'precious' (Septuagint, and 1 Peter 2:6, ἔμτιμον entimon) refers to the fact that the most solid stone would be used to sustain the corner of the edifice. The principal weight of the superstructure rests on the corners, and hence, in building, the largest and firmest blocks are selected and placed there.

He that believeth - He that confides in that; he that believes that that foundation is firm, and that he is secure in trusting in that, shall not make haste. The great doctrine of faith in the Messiah as a ground of security and salvation, on which so much stress is laid in the New Testament, is here distinctly adverted to. The sense is, that confidence in him should keep the mind firm, and preserve him that believes in safety.

Shall not make haste - The Septuagint renders it, Ου ̓ μὴ καταισχυνθῆ Ou mē kataischunthē - 'Shall not be ashamed.' So Peter, 1 Peter 2:6; and Paul, Romans 9:33. The Hebrew word יחישׁ yachiysh, from חוּשׁ chôsh, means properly "to make haste;" and then to urge on; and then to be afraid, to flee. The idea is derived from one who is alarmed, and flees to a place of safety. The specific thought here is that of a man on whose house the tempest beats, and who apprehends that the foundation is insecure, and leaves it to seek a more safe position. The prophet says here, that the foundation on which Zion was reared would be so firm that if a man trusted to that he would have no cause of alarm, however, much the storms should beat around it. The same idea essentially is conveyed in the version of the Septuagint, and by Paul and Peter, where it is rendered 'shall not be ashamed,' or 'confounded.' That is, he shall have no reason to be ashamed of his confidence in the firm foundation; he shall not flee from it as a man does who puts his trust in that which fails him in the day of trial.

16. Literally, "Behold Me as Him who has laid"; namely, in My divine counsel (Re 13:8); none save I could lay it (Isa 63:5).

stone—Jesus Christ; Hezekiah [Maurer], or the temple [Ewald], do not realize the full significancy of the language; but only in type point to Him, in whom the prophecy receives its exhaustive accomplishment; whether Isaiah understood its fulness or not (1Pe 1:11, 12), the Holy Ghost plainly contemplated its fulfilment in Christ alone; so in Isa 32:1; compare Ge 49:24; Ps 118:22; Mt 21:42; Ro 10:11; Eph 2:20.

tried—both by the devil (Lu 4:1-13) and by men (Lu 20:1-38), and even by God (Mt 27:46); a stone of tested solidity to bear the vast superstructure of man's redemption. The tested righteousness of Christ gives its peculiar merit to His vicarious sacrifice. The connection with the context is, though a "scourge" shall visit Judea (Isa 28:15), yet God's gracious purpose as to the elect remnant, and His kingdom of which "Zion" shall be the center, shall not fail, because its rests on Messiah (Mt 7:24, 25; 2Ti 2:19).

precious—literally, "of preciousness," so in the Greek, (1Pe 2:7). He is preciousness.

corner-stone—(1Ki 5:17; 7:9; Job 38:6); the stone laid at the corner where two walls meet and connecting them; often costly.

make haste—flee in hasty alarm; but the Septuagint has "be ashamed"; so Ro 9:33, and 1Pe 2:6, "be confounded," substantially the same idea; he who rests on Him shall not have the shame of disappointment, nor flee in sudden panic (see Isa 30:15; 32:17).

Therefore: the coherence is something obscure and difficult. It may be made either,

1. Thus, Therefore I will bring most terrible judgments upon you; which are fully expressed, Isaiah 28:17-21. But before he comes to the commination, to which therefore properly belongs, he first propoundeth a comfortable promise concerning the sending of the Messiah, partly for the support of believers, who are apt to tremble at God’s word, and might otherwise be apt to despond at the prediction of such dreadful things; and partly to aggravate their misery, by comparing it with the safety and happiness which the godly and believing Jews, whom they despised and mocked, should find in Zion; and by signifying that that blessed and sure Foundation laid in Zion should yield them no support nor benefit, nor secure them from the vengeance of God. Or,

2. Thus, Because your refuges are so mean, and vain, and deceitful; therefore I will direct you to a better and surer Refuge, which will never fail those that trust to it, which God hath made in Zion. But if you shall despise and reject that Refuge, which I now offer to you all, if you will believe, then know that I will lay judgment to the line, &c., as it follows, Isaiah 28:17. And this seems to me to be the most natural and easy connexion.

I lay; I have purposed and promised it, and will, in the fulness of time, actually perform it.

In Zion in my church, which is commonly called Zion; and in Jerusalem, where this Stone shall be first laid, which afterwards spread further, and filled the whole earth, as it is said of it, Daniel 2:35. For a Foundation, upon which I will build my church, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles, the Foundation of all the hopes, and comfort, and happiness of my people; the Foundation of my covenant made with my church, and of all my promises.

A Stone; not Hezekiah, but the Messiah, as appears,

1. From those Scriptures of the Old Testament, in which Christ is called a Stone, as Psalm 118:22 Isaiah 8:14 Daniel 2:34,35,45 Zec 3:9.

2. From the New Testament, where this text is directly expounded of Christ, as Romans 9:32,33 1 Peter 2:4.

3. From the last clause, wherein he requires faith in this Stone, which is not to be given to any mere man, Jeremiah 17:5; and wherein he implies that this Stone was not yet come, nor to come speedily, into the world; whereas Hezekiah was king at the time of this prophecy.

4. From the usual practice of the prophets, and especially of this prophet, which is to comfort and fortify God’s people against the dread of approaching calamities by that great and fundamental promise of the Messiah, in whom alone all other promises are yea and amen; whereof we have seen some instances already, and shall see more hereafter.

A tried Stone; which I have tried, and approved as every way sufficient to be a Corner-stone, and a Foundation-stone. Such stones in buildings use to be chosen with care, and to be thoroughly examined by the builder.

Precious; giving not only strength, but beauty and glory, to the building, as corner-stones frequently do, Psalm 144:12.

Corner-stone; uniting the several parts of the building together, making Ephraim and Judah, now sadly divided, one stick, Ezekiel 37:19,24; and Jews and Gentiles, now implacable enemies, one church and people, Ephesians 2:14, &c.

A sure Foundation, upon whom you may securely rest; one who will not fail nor deceive you, as your lying refuges will.

He that believeth, to wit, this promise, or in this Stone, as it is explained, 1 Peter 2:6,

shall not make haste; shall not make more haste than he ought, or, as we say, more haste than good speed; shall not hastily and greedily catch at any way of escaping his danger, whether it be right or wrong, but shall patiently wait upon God in his way till he deliver him. Withal, here is a plain intimation that the mercy here promised was not to be given presently, but after some considerable time; and therefore that they should quietly and patiently submit to God’s will under their present difficulties, and expect the accomplishment of it in God’s due time: compare Haggai 2:3. The word here rendered make haste, is by the seventy interpreters rendered be confounded, whom the apostles follow, Romans 9:33 1 Peter 2:6, either because they thought it most convenient, in a matter where the difference was not considerable, to follow that translation which was most used and best understood by the generality of Jewish and Gentile Christians; or because the same word hath both these significations in the Eastern languages, as the most learned and worthy Dr. Pocock hath proved; or because the one follows upon the other, and precipitation or haste commonly exposeth men to shame and confusion; which also is implied in the following verses, wherein the dreadful judgments of God are denounced against those who should not believe, and would make haste to prevent or remove their dangers by any means whatsoever.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD,.... In order to show what is the true foundation of hope and trust for security from death and hell, and to convince men of their vain and false confidence, as well as to comfort the people of God, such as truly feared him in Jerusalem; who, bearing the judgment denounced, might conclude that they were going to be cut off from being a nation, and that the family and kingdom of David would be at an end, and then where was the promise of the Messiah? wherefore, to relieve the minds of such, a promise of him is delivered out in the midst of a denunciation of judgment upon the wicked:

Behold, (a note of attention and admiration, as well as asseveration,)

I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone; which the Targum interprets of a king; and Jarchi of the King Messiah, who undoubtedly is meant, as is clear from Romans 9:33 and not Hezekiah, as Kimchi, and others, who was now king, when this prophecy was made, and therefore cannot respect him; but Christ, who is frequently spoken of, under the simile of a stone, Genesis 49:24 and may be compared to one for his usefulness in the spiritual building, being both foundation and cornerstone, and for his great strength and durableness; and this is a stone of the Lord's laying, which he had been laying in his eternal purposes and decrees, as the Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer of his people; and whom he was about to lay, by sending him forth, in the fulness of time, to be incarnate, suffer, and die for them: and whom he lays as the foundation in the effectual calling of his people, to build their faith and hope upon; and this is done in Zion, in the church, which is built upon him, and where he is revealed and made known to be what he is, and as here described:

a tried stone; by the Old Testament saints, and by saints in all ages, who have ventured their souls on him, and laid the whole stress of their salvation upon him, and have been saved by him; and by Satan, and his principalities and powers, by his temptations of him in the wilderness, and by his attacks upon him in the garden, and on the cross, and found him to be an immovable stone, and were broken by him; and by his divine Father, who tried his faithfulness by trusting him with all his elect, and the salvation of them; and his great strength, by laying upon him all their sins, and the punishment due unto them. Some render it, "a stone of trial", or "a trying stone" (t); by which men are tried, and discovered to be what they are, whether believers or unbelievers, sincere Christians or hypocrites; which may be known by their conduct and behaviour to Christ; if they come to him as a living stone, and he is precious to them, they are true believers; but if he is to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, they are unbelievers, and reprobate persons, 1 Peter 2:4,

a precious corner stone; which, as it is both for the beauty and strength of the building, so it knits, cements, and keeps the parts together; and of this use is Christ in the spiritual building; angels and men are knit together in him, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, saints above and saints below, saints in all ages, times, and places: and a "precious" stone he is, a pearl of great price; precious to his Father, who loves him, and delights in him, and has chosen and laid him as the foundation of his church, and of every true believer; to whom also he is precious, his person, names, offices, and relations, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, his word, ordinances, and people, and everything belonging to him:

a sure foundation; a well founded one (u); which will never give way; a rock on which the church is built, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; a sure foundation of faith and hope, of peace, joy, and comfort, and of eternal happiness, to all that build upon it; a foundation firm and strong, immovable and everlasting; and so is every thing that is laid or depends upon it, the covenant of grace, and the promises of it, the persons of the Lord's people, and their salvation:

he that believeth; either those things, as the Targum adds, this promise and prophecy, and the things contained therein; or in Christ, the foundation laid, the tried and precious cornerstone, so it is explained in 1 Peter 2:6,

shall not make haste; or be impatient for the fulfilment of this prophecy, but patiently wait for it, knowing that it is for an appointed time, and will not tarry; and that God will hasten it in his own time; or will not make haste to lay any other foundation, being satisfied with this that is laid; nor make haste to a strange god, to another Saviour, knowing there is salvation in him, and in no other. The Targum is,

"shall not be moved when trouble comes;''

being founded upon this Rock of ages, which is proof against all storms and tempests; see Matthew 7:24. The Apostles Paul and Peter, agreeably to the Septuagint version, render it, "shall not be ashamed", or "confounded"; See Gill on Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:6.

(t) "lapidem probationis", Junius & Tremellius, Calvin, Vitringa. (u) "fundamentum fundatum"; so some in Vatablus; "fundationem fundatissimam", Junius & Tremellius; "fundamentum solidum", Calvin; "solidissimum" Tigurine version; So Ben Melech interprets it a strong foundation.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a {r} tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth {s} shall not make haste.

(r) That is, Christ, by whom all the building must be tried and upheld, Ps 118:22, Mt 21:42, Ac 4:11, Ro 9:33, 1Pe 2:6.

(s) He will be quiet, and seek no other remedies, but be content with Christ.

16. There is but one true ground of confidence—Jehovah’s revealed purpose with regard to Zion.

Behold, I lay] Strictly: Behold, I am he that hath laid (for the Hebr. construction cf. ch. Isaiah 29:14, Isaiah 38:5). The figure of the verse requires little explanation; it is illustrated by the massive and “costly” stones which formed the foundations of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 5:17). And the general idea is that Jehovah’s relation to Israel is the stable and permanent, though invisible, foundation of all God’s work in the world. Beyond this it is hardly necessary to go in seeking an answer to the question, Of what is the stone an emblem? It is not Jehovah Himself, since it is Jehovah who lays it; it is not the Temple, nor Mount Zion, nor the Davidic dynasty, for these are at most but visible symbols of a spiritual fact disclosed to the prophet’s faith. The foundation stone represents the one element in human history which is indestructible, viz., the purpose of God, and that purpose as historically realised in the relation which He has established between Himself and the people of Israel.

a sure foundation] Transl. with R.V. of sure foundation.

he that believeth shall not make haste] The LXX. reads “shall not be ashamed” (yçbôsh for yâḥîsh). Cheyne and others propose a slight emendation (yâmûsh) which gives the sense “shall not give way.” This is the second great passage in which Isaiah emphasises faith as the primary condition of salvation (ch. Isaiah 7:9).

The image of the verse recurs in Psalm 118:22; and is applied to the Messiah in Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6-8 (following the LXX. text).

Verse 16. - Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone. In contrast with the insecure refuge and false ground of confidence whereon the nobles relied, the prophet puts forward the one sure "Rock" on which complete dependence may be placed - which he declares that Jehovah is laying, or "has laid," in Zion as a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. The imagery is, no doubt, drawn from the practice of Oriental kings, and notably Solomon, to employ foundation-stones of enormous size and weight at the corners of buildings. Some of those uncovered at the corners of Solomon's temple by the Palestine Exploration Fund are more than thirty-eight feet long, and weigh above a hundred tons (see 'Our Work in Palestine,' pp. 38, 115). But the reference cannot, of course, be to the material structure of the temple as Israel's true refuge. Rather, Jehovah himself would seem to be the Rock (Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 30:29, etc.) intended; and hence the application to Christ by the writers of the New Testament (Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8) was natural and easy. But it may be questioned whether the passage was to Isaiah himself "Messianic," or meant more than that God had set his Name and his presence at Jerusalem from the time that the temple was built there, and that it was a mistake to look elsewhere titan to him for deliverance or security. He that believeth shall not make haste. The LXX. have "He that believeth shall not be ashamed" or "confounded;" and St. Paul (Romans 9:33) follows this rendering. It is conjectured that the Hebrew had originally yabish instead of yakhish. Isaiah 28:16The prophet now directly attacks the great men of Jerusalem, and holds up a Messianic prophecy before their eyes, which turns its dark side to them, as chapter 7 did to Ahaz. "Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful lords, rulers of this people which is in Jerusalem! For ye say, We have made a covenant with death, and with Hades have we come to an agreement. The swelling scourge, when it cometh hither, will do us no harm; for we have made a lie our shelter, and in deceit have we hidden ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am He who hath laid in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone of well-founded founding; whoever believes will not have to move. And I make justice the line, and righteousness the level; and hail sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the hiding-place is washed away by waters." With lâkhēn (therefore) the announcement of punishment is once more suspended; and in Isaiah 28:16 it is resumed again, the exposition of the sin being inserted between, before the punishment is declared. Their sin is lâtsōn, and this free-thinking scorn rests upon a proud and insolent self-confidence, which imagines that there is no necessity to fear death and hell; and this self-confidence has for its secret reserve the alliance to be secretly entered into with Egypt against Assyria. What the prophet makes them say here, they do not indeed say exactly in this form; but this is the essential substance of the carnally devised thoughts and words of the rulers of the people of Jerusalem, as manifest to the Searcher of hearts. Jerusalem, the city of Jehovah, and such princes as these, who either proudly ignore Jehovah, or throw Him off as useless, what a contrast! Chōzeh, and châzūth in Isaiah 28:18, signify an agreement, either as a decision or completion (from the radical meaning of the verb châzâh), or as a choice, beneplacitum (like the Arabic ray), or as a record, i.e., the means of selecting (like the talmudic châzı̄th, a countersign, a ra'ăyâh, a proof or argument: Luzzatto). In shōt shōtēph ("the swelling scourge," chethib שׁיט), the comparison of Asshur to a flood (Isaiah 28:2, Isaiah 28:8, Isaiah 28:7), and the comparison of it to a whip or scourge, are mixed together; and this is all the more allowable, because a whip, when smacked, really does move in waving lines (compare Jeremiah 8:6, where shâtaph is applied to the galloping of a war-horse). The chethib עבר in Isaiah 28:15 (for which the keri reads יעבר, according to Isaiah 28:19) is to be read עבר (granting that it shall have passed, or that it passes); and there is no necessity for any emendation. The Egyptian alliance for which they are suing, when designated according to its true ethical nature, is sheqer (lie) and kâzâb (falsehood); compare 2 Kings 17:4 (where we ought perhaps to read sheqer for qesher, according to the lxx), and more especially Ezekiel 17:15., from which it is obvious that the true prophets regarded self-willed rebellion even against heathen rule as a reprehensible breach of faith.

The lâkhēn (therefore), which is resumed in Isaiah 28:16, is apparently followed as strangely as in Isaiah 7:14, by a promise instead of a threat. But this is only apparently the case. It is unquestionably a promise; but as the last clause, "he that believeth will not flee," i.e., will stand firm, clearly indicates, it is a promise for believers alone. For those to whom the prophet is speaking here the promise is a threat, a savour of death unto death. Just as on a former occasion, when Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, the prophet announced to him a sign of Jehovah's own selection; so here Jehovah opposes to the false ground of confidence on which the leaders relied, the foundation stone laid in Zion, which would bear the believing in immoveable safety, but on which the unbelieving would be broken to pieces (Matthew 21:44). This stone is called 'ebhen boochan, a stone of proving, i.e., a proved and self-proving stone. Then follow other epithets in a series commencing anew with pinnath equals 'ebhen pinnath (compare Psalm 118:22): angulus h. e. lapis angularis pretiositatis fundationis fundatae. It is a corner-stone, valuable in itself (on yiqrath, compare 1 Kings 5:17), and affording the strongest foundation and inviolable security to all that is built upon it (mūsâd a substantive in form like mūsâr, and mūssâd a hophal participle in the form of those of the verba contracta pe yod). This stone was not the Davidic sovereignty, but the true seed of David which appeared in Jesus (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6-7). The figure of a stone is not opposed to the personal reference, since the prophet in Isaiah 8:14 speaks even of Jehovah Himself under the figure of a stone. The majestically unique description renders it quite impossible that Hezekiah can be intended. Micah, whose book forms the side piece of this cycle of prophecy, also predicted, under similar historical circumstances, the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:1). What Micah expresses in the words, "His goings forth are from of old," is indicated here in the preterite yissad connected with hineni (the construction is similar to that in Obadiah 1:2; Ezekiel 25:7; compare Isaiah 28:2 above, and Jeremiah 49:15; Jeremiah 23:19). It denotes that which has been determined by Jehovah, and therefore is as good as accomplished. What is historically realized has had an eternal existence, and indeed an ideal pre-existence even in the heart of history itself (Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 37:26). Ever since there had been a Davidic government at all, this stone had lain in Zion. The Davidic monarchy not only had in this its culminating point, but the ground of its continuance also. It was not only the Omega, but also the Alpha. Whatever escaped from wrath, even under the Old Testament, stood upon this stone. This (as the prophet predicts in יסהישׁ לא המּאמין יחישׁ׃ the fut. kal) would be the stronghold of faith in the midst of the approaching Assyrian calamities (cf., Isaiah 7:9); and faith would be the condition of life (Habakkuk 2:4). But against unbelievers Jehovah would proceed according to His punitive justice. He would make this (justice and righteousness, mishpât and tsedâqâh) a norm, i.e., a line and level. A different turn, however, is given to qâv, with a play upon Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:11. What Jehovah is about to do is depicted as a building which He is carrying out, and which He will carry out, so far as the despisers are concerned, on no other plan than that of strict retribution. His punitive justice comes like a hailstorm and like a flood (cf., Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 10:22). The hail smites the refuge of lies of the great men of Jerusalem, and clears it away (יעה, hence יע, a shovel); and the flood buries their hiding-place in the waters, and carries it away (the accentuation should be סתר tifchah, מים mercha).

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