Isaiah 29:20
For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
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(20) The terrible one.—The word stands, as in Isaiah 29:5, for the Assyrian invader; the “scorner,” for the prophet’s enemies who derided his message, and sought, “watching for iniquity,” to find an accusation against him.

Isaiah 29:20-21. For, &c. — Here we have the second event connected with the calling of the Gentiles, the punishment of the enemies of God and his truth. For the terrible one is brought to naught — The proud and potent enemies of those meek and poor believers, mentioned in the last verse, such as the unbelieving Jews and their rulers, and the heathen potentates, were in the first age of Christianity. And the scorner is consumed — The scornful opposers of God’s word and servants. And all that watch for iniquity — That early and diligently apply themselves to the practice of wickedness. That make a man an offender for a word — That condemn a man, as if he were a great criminal, for a verbal reproof; and lay a snare for him that reproveth — For God’s faithful prophets and ministers, whose office it is to reprove ungodly men; in the gate — Where the people used to assemble, both upon civil and sacred accounts, and where prophets used to deliver their prophecies. And turn aside — From his right; the just — Hebrew, the just, or righteous one, meaning chiefly the prophets and ministers of God, and especially Christ, often called the Just One, both in the Old and New Testaments; for a thing of naught — Not for any great advantage, but for a trifle, which was a great aggravation of their injustice, or, with vanity, as כתהוsignifies, that is, with vain and frivolous pretences, or without any colour of reason or justice. Vitringa applies all this to those who opposed Christ and his apostles.

29:17-24 The wonderful change here foretold, may refer to the affairs of Judah, though it looks further. When a great harvest of souls was gathered to Christ from among the Gentiles, then the wilderness was turned into a fruitful field; and the Jewish church, that had long been a fruitful field, became as a deserted forest. Those who, when in trouble, can truly rejoice in God, shall soon have cause greatly to rejoice in him. The grace of meekness contributes to the increase of our holy joy. The enemies who were powerful shall become mean and weak. To complete the repose of God's people, the scorners at home shall be cut off by judgements. All are apt to speak unadvisedly, and to mistake what they hear, but it is very unfair to make a man an offender for a word. They did all they could to bring those into trouble who told them of their faults. But He that redeemed Abraham out of his snares and troubles, will redeem those who are, by faith, his true seed, out of theirs. It will be the greatest comfort to godly parents to see their children renewed creatures, the work of God's grace. May those who now err in spirit, and murmur against the truth, come to understanding, and learn true doctrine. The Spirit of truth shall set right their mistakes, and lead them into all truth. This should encourage us to pray for those that have erred, and are deceived. All who murmured at the truths of God, as hard sayings, shall learn and be aware what God designed in all. See the change religion produces in the hearts of men, and the peace and pleasure of a humble and devout spirit.For the terrible one - The violent one (עריץ ‛ârı̂yts), the oppressor, who had exercised cruelty over them. This, I suppose, refers to the haughty among the Jews themselves; to those who held offices of power, and who abused them to oppress the poor and needy.

And the scorner - (see Isaiah 28:14, Isaiah 28:22).

Is consumed - Shall be entirely destroyed.

And all that watch for iniquity - That is, who anxiously seek for opportunities to commit iniquity.

20. terrible—namely, the persecutors among the Jewish nobles.

scorner—(Isa 28:14, 22).

watch for—not only commit iniquity, but watch for opportunities of committing it, and make it their whole study (see Mic 2:1; Mt 26:59; 27:1).

The terrible one; the proud and potent enemies of those meek and poor believers now mentioned, such as the unbelieving Jews and the heathen potentates were in the first age of Christianity.

The scorner; the scornful opposers of God’s word and people. That watch for iniquity; that early and diligently apply themselves to the practice of wickedness, or to do mischief to others.

For the terrible one is brought to nought,.... Who before was so to the people of God; meaning not Sennacherib king of Assyria, but some formidable enemy or enemies under the Gospel dispensation; as the Scribes and Pharisees, and the Jewish sanhedrim; who were "violent" (c), as it may be rendered, violent persecutors of the followers of Christ, the meek and poor before described; who were brought to nought, and their power ceased at the destruction of Jerusalem; and the Roman emperor, with all subordinate rulers and governors in the empire, who harassed the Christians in a terrible manner, but were at last brought to nought by Constantine, and their persecution ceased; and the Romish antichrist, who has been so terrible, that none could or dared oppose him; he in a little time will be brought to nought, and cease to be. The Septuagint version renders it, "the wicked one faileth"; and uses the same word (d), by which antichrist is described, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 also Satan, that terrible enemy of the saints, shall be brought to nought; first bound for a thousand years; and afterwards, being loosed, shall be taken again, and cast into the lake of fire; all which will be matter of joy to the meek and lowly:

and the scorner is consumed; the same as before, only represented under a different character; the Jew, that mocked at Christ, because of his meanness, and that of his followers, that scoffed at his doctrines and miracles; and the Gentile, that derided his cross, and the preaching of it; and antichrist, whose mouth is full of blasphemies against God, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in it:

and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; that cannot sleep unless they commit it, and seek for and take all opportunities of doing it; or watch for iniquity in others, in Christ, and the professors of his religion; or for anything they could call so, that they might have something to accuse them of, and charge them with, and a pretence to proceed against them in colour of law and justice: which has been the practice of Jews, Pagans, and Papists.

(c) "violentus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (d)

For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
20. the terrible one] or “tyrant” probably denotes an external oppressor (the Assyrian); cf. Isaiah 25:3-4; the scorner is the despiser of religion (ch. Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22; Psalm 1:1, &c.).

all that watch for iniquity] Perhaps “those who are wakefully intent upon plans of mischief” (Micah 2:1; Amos 8:5). Some think the phrase is ironical, implying that those spoken of were appointed to watch over right, but betrayed their trust in the manner described in Isaiah 29:21.

Verse 20. - The terrible one... the scorner. "The terrible one" may be the foreign enemy, as in ver. 5, or, possibly, the native oppressor (Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:93, etc.) - a still more tearful evil. "The scorner" is the godless man, who scoffs at religion (Isaiah 28:14, 22). Both classes would be "consumed" and "brought to naught" when the new state of things was established. All that watch for iniquity; i.e. "all those who, for the furtherance of their iniquitous schemes, rise up early and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness" (Psalm 127:2). Isaiah 29:20But the prophet's God, whose omniscience, creative glory, and perfect wisdom they so basely mistook and ignored, would very shortly turn the present state of the world upside down, and make Himself a congregation out of the poor and wretched, whilst He would entirely destroy this proud ungodly nation. "Is it not yet a very little, and Lebanon is turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field esteemed as a forest? And in that day the deaf hear scripture words, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the joy of the humble increases in Jehovah, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For tyrants are gone, and it is over with scoffers; and all who think evil are rooted out, who condemn a man for a word, and lay snares for him that is free-spoken in the gate, and overthrow the righteous through shameful lies." The circumstances themselves, as well as the sentence passed, will experience a change, in complete contrast with the present state of things. This is what is affirmed in Isaiah 29:17; probably a proverb transposed into a more literary style. What is now forest becomes ennobled into garden ground; and what is garden ground becomes in general estimation a forest (לכרמל, ליער, although we should rather expect ל, just as in Isaiah 32:15). These emblems are explained in Isaiah 29:18. The people that are now blind and deaf, so far as the word of Jehovah is concerned, are changed into a people with open ears and seeing eyes. Scripture words, like those which the prophet now holds before the people so unsuccessfully, are heard by those who have been deaf. The unfettered sight of those who have been blind pierces through the hitherto surrounding darkness. The heirs of the new future thus transformed are the anâvı̄m ("meek") and the 'ebhyōnı̄m ("poor"). אדם (the antithesis of אנשׁהים, e.g., Isaiah 29:13) heightens the representation of lowliness; the combination is a superlative one, as in הצאן צעירי, Jeremiah 49:20, and הצאן עניי in Zechariah 11:7 (cf., חיות פריץ in Isaiah 35:9): needy men who present a glaring contrast to, and stand out from, the general body of men. Such men will obtain ever increasing joy in Jehovah (yâsaph as in Isaiah 37:31). Such a people of God would take the place of the oppressors (cf., Isaiah 28:12) and scoffers (cf., Isaiah 28:14, Isaiah 28:22), and those who thought evil (shâqad, invigilare, sedulo agere), i.e., the wretched planners, who made a חטא of every one who did not enter into their plans (i.e., who called him a chōtē'; cf., Deuteronomy 24:4; Ecclesiastes 5:5), and went to law with the man who openly opposed them in the gate (Amos 5:10; yeqōshūn, possibly the perf. kal, cf., Jeremiah 50:24; according to the syntax, however, it is the fut. kal of qūsh equals yâqōsh: see at Isaiah 26:16; Ges. 44, Anm. 4), and thrust away the righteous, i.e., forced him away from his just rights (Isaiah 10:2), by tōhū, i.e., accusations and pretences of the utmost worthlessness; for these would all have been swept away. This is the true explanation of the last clause, as given in the Targum, and not "into the desert and desolation," as Knobel and Luzzatto suppose; for with Isaiah tōhū is the synonym for all such words as signify nothingness, groundlessness, and fraud. The prophet no doubt had in his mind, at the time that he uttered these words, the conduct of the people towards himself and his fellow-prophets, and such as were like-minded with them. The charge brought against him of being a conspirator, or a traitor to his country, was a tōhū of this kind. All these conspirators and persecutors Jehovah would clear entirely away.
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