Isaiah 28:17
Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
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(17) Judgment also will I lay to the line . . .—Rather, I make judgment for a line, and righteousness for a plummet. The architectural imagery is continued. The “elect corner stone” shall come up to the standard of perfection, laid four-square (Revelation 21:16); and, therefore, should be the true place of refuge; while? the boast of the scorners, which the prophet repeats in the words that follow, should prove a false one. They would see their place of refuge swept away by the great waters. (Comp. Matthew 7:26-27.) Their treaty with death and Hades should be treated as null and void, They should be trampled under foot by the invading armies.

Isaiah 28:17. Judgment also will I lay to the line, &c. — I will execute just judgment, as it were by a line and plummet annexed to it; that is, with exactness and care. I will severely punish and utterly destroy all who reject that stone. For the line and plummet, or the plumb-line, was not only used in erecting buildings, but also in pulling them down; those parts of the building being thus marked out which were to be demolished. And the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, &c. — My judgments (which in the Scriptures are compared to a storm of hail or rain) shall discover the vanity of all your crafty and wicked devices, and shall sweep you away with the besom of destruction in spite of them.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.Judgment also will I lay to the line - The sense of this is, I will judge them according to the exact rule of law, as an architect frames everything according to the rule which he uses. In other words, there shall be no mercy intermingled. The line is used by a carpenter for measuring; the plummet consists of a piece of lead attached to a string, and is also used by carpenters to obtain a perpendicular line. A carpenter works exactly according to the lines which are thus indicated, or his frame would not be properly adjusted. So God says that he would judge the people of Jerusalem according to the exact rule, without any intermingling of mercy.

And the hail ... - (see the note at Isaiah 28:2). Hail, hailstones, and floods of waters are frequent images of the divine vengeance and wrath Psalm 105:32; Isaiah 22:19; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:13; Ezekiel 38:22; Revelation 8:7; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 16:21.

17. line—the measuring-line of the plummet. Horsley translates, "I will appoint judgment for the rule, and justice for the plummet." As the corner-stone stands most perpendicular and exactly proportioned, so Jehovah, while holding out grace to believers in the Foundation-stone, will judge the scoffers (Isa 28:15) according to the exact justice of the law (compare Jas 2:13).

hail—divine judgment (Isa 30:30; 32:19).

Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; I will execute just judgment, as it were by a line and plummet annexed to it, i.e. with exactness and care. And this may be understood either,

1. That God would so order and settle things in his church, that justice and judgment should prevail, and not iniquity, as hitherto it had done; or rather,

2. That as God would build up and preserve all believers upon that Foundation-stone, so he would severely punish and utterly destroy all those unbelieving Jews who should reject that Stone. For

the line and

plummet, or the plumb-line, was not only used in erecting buildings, but also in pulling them down; those parts of the building being thus marked out which were to be demolished; and therefore is used in Scripture to signify the destruction of a place or people, as is evident from 2 Kings 21:13 Isaiah 34:11 Lamentations 2:8 Amos 7:7,8. And this sense agrees best with the following clause and verse.

The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place; my judgments, which in Scripture are compared to a storm of hail or rain, shall discover the vanity of all your crafty and wicked devices, and shall sweep you away with the besom of destruction in spite of them. Judgment also will I lay to the line,.... A metaphor taken from builders, who in building use the line and plummet to carry on their work even and regular, retaining such stones as agree thereunto, and rejecting such as do not; signifying, that in the spiritual building, where Christ is the foundation and cornerstone, such as are built thereon shall continue and grow up regularly into a holy temple; but those that set at nought this precious stone, and build upon the sandy foundation of their own righteousness, betake themselves to a refuge of lies, and cover themselves in their own hiding places, as well as all such who go on in their sins, shall be rejected by the righteous judgment of God:

and righteousness to the plummet; meaning the same as before; or, "I will lay judgment by the line, and righteousness by the plummet" (w); the rule of the divine law, by which it will appear whether their actions are agreeable to it, or the righteousness they trust in answerable to it; or the sense is, that at the same time that God would preserve and secure his own people upon the sure foundation Christ, he would punish others, according to the strict rules of justice, as his righteous law required, and according to the just demerit of sin. Kimchi interprets it, but very wrongly, of the justice and equity that should take place in the reign of Hezekiah, which were wanting at the time of this prophecy; but the preceding prophecy regards Christ, and not Hezekiah; and therefore is rather to be understood of the right and equal distribution of justice and judgment in the administration of government by him:

and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies; the lies they made their refuge, Isaiah 28:15 their lying prophets, their idols, their riches, their righteousness, and everything in which they placed their confidence; for all refuges, be they what they will, are lying ones, and will deceive, excepting Christ and his righteousness; all which are easily and at once swept away, with the besom of avenging justice, when God takes it in hand. The phrase denotes the facility and suddenness of the destruction, and the entirety of it, which should be brought about by means of a "hail" storm, the same with that in Isaiah 28:2 which designs the Assyrian, or rather the Roman army, since the prophecy preceding relates to the times of Christ; and it may be, by the refuge of lies may be meant the temple, in which the Jews greatly placed their confidence, as Cocceius thinks:

and the waters shall overflow the hiding place; the city of Jerusalem, where they hid, and thought themselves safe: a mighty army rushing into a city, and putting the inhabitants to the sword, or to flight, or obliging them to surrender, may be fitly signified by an inundation of water; see Isaiah 8:7 very probably the army of the Romans under Vespasian.

(w) So Gataker.

Judgment also will I lay to the line, and {t} righteousness to the plummet: and the {u} hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow {x} the hiding place.

(t) In the restitution of his Church, judgment and justice will reign.

(u) God's corrections and affliction.

(x) Affliction will discover their vain confidence, which they kept secret to themselves.

17. Thé first half of the verse continues Isaiah 28:16. In order to build on this foundation, it is necessary that political conduct be conformed to the eternal principles of the Divine government; these are “judgment” and “righteousness” (see on Isaiah 1:21), which are here compared to the builder’s line and plummet. Render as in R.V. I will make judgment the line and righteousness the plummet. Cf. ch. Isaiah 34:11.

and the hail …] Every course of action not based on faith in Jehovah, and not in accordance with the strict rule of the Divine righteousness will prove a false refuge in the day of judgment, see Isaiah 28:15 and cf. Isaiah 28:2. Comp. also Matthew 7:24-27. The verb “sweep away” is not found elsewhere.Verse 17. - Judgment also will I lay to the line, said righteousness to the plummet; rather, justice also will I set for my rule, and righteousness for my plumb-line; i.e. I will execute justice and judgment on the earth with all strictness and exactness. The scorners had implied that, by their clever devices, they would escape the judgment of God (ver. 15). The hail (comp. ver. 2). The storm of Assyrian invasion will overwhelm Egypt, which is a "refuge of lies," false and untrustworthy (see the comment on ver. 15). The hiding-place. Mr. Cheyne adds, "of falsehood," supposing a word to have fallen out of the text. Such an addition seems almost required to complete the parallelism of the two clauses, and also for the balance between this verse and ver. 15. The prophet takes the ki ("for") out of their mouths, and carries it on in his own way. It was quite right that their ungodliness should show itself in such a way as this, for it would meet with an appropriate punishment. "For through men stammering in speech, and through a strange tongue, will He speak to this people. He who said to them, There is rest, give rest to weary ones, and there is refreshing! But they would not hear. Therefore the word of Jehovah becomes to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there, that they may go and stumble backwards, and be wrecked to pieces, and be snared and taken." Jehovah would speak to the scoffing people of stammering tongue a language of the same kind, since He would speak to them by a people that stammered in their estimation, i.e., who talked as barbarians (cf., βαρβαρίζειν and balbutire; see Isaiah 33:19, compared with Deuteronomy 28:49). The Assyrian Semitic had the same sound in the ear of an Israelite, as Low Saxon (a provincial dialect) in the ear of an educated German; in addition to which, it was plentifully mixed up with Iranian, and possibly also with Tatar elements. This people would practically interpret the will of Jehovah in its own patios to the despisers of the prophet. Jehovah had directed them, through His prophets, after the judgments which they had experienced with sufficient severity (Isaiah 1:5.), into the true way to rest and refreshing (Jeremiah 6:16), and had exhorted them to give rest to the nation, which had suffered so much under Ahaz through the calamities of war (2 Chronicles 28), and not to drag it into another way by goading it on to rise against Assyria, or impose a new burden in addition to the tribute to Assyria by purchasing the help of Egypt. But they would not hearken (אבוּא equals אבוּ, Isaiah 30:15-16; Ges. 23, 3, Anm. 3). Their policy was a very different one from being still, or believing and waiting. And therefore the word of Jehovah, which they regarded as en endless series of trivial commands, would be turned in their case into an endless series of painful sufferings. To those who thought themselves so free, and lived so free, it would become a stone on which they would go to pieces, a net in which they would be snared, a trap in which they would be caught (compare Isaiah 8:14-15).
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