Isaiah 30:15
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
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(15) In returning and rest . . .—The words describe a process of conversion, but the nature of that conversion is determined by the context. In this case it was the turning from the trust in man, with all its restless excitement, to a trust in God, full of calmness and of peace.



Isaiah 30:15

ISRAEL always felt the difficulty of sustaining itself on the height of dependence on the unseen, spiritual power of God, and was ever oscillating between alliances with the Northern and Southern powers, linking itself with Assyria against Egypt, or with Egypt against Assyria. The effect was that whichever was victorious it suffered; it was the battleground for both, it was the prize of each in turn. The prophet’s warnings were political wisdom as truly as religious.

Here Judah is exhorted to forsake the entangling dependence on Egypt, and to trust wholly to God. They had gone away from Him in their fears. They must come back by their faith. To them the great lesson was trust in God. Through them to us the same lesson is read. The principle is far wider than this one case. It is the one rule of life for us all.

The two clauses of the text convey substantially the same idea. They are in inverted parallelism. ‘Returning and rest’ correspond to ‘quietness and confidence,’ so as that ‘rest’ answers to ‘quietness’ and ‘returning’ to ‘confidence.’ In the former clause we have the action towards God and then its consequence. In the latter we have the consequence and then the action.

I. The returning.

Men depart from God by speculative thought or by anxious care, or by sin.

To ‘return’ is just to trust.

The parallel helps us here-’returning’ is parallel with ‘confidence.’ This confidence is to be exercised especially in relation to one’s own path in life and the outward trials and difficulties which we meet, but its sphere extends far beyond these. It is a disposition of mind which covers all things. The attitude of trust, the sense of dependence, the assurance of God’s help and love are in all life the secrets of peace and power.

Am I sinful? then trust. Am I bewildered and ignorant? then trust. Am I anxious and harassed? then trust.

Note the thought, that we come back to God by simple confidence, not by preparing ourselves, not by our expiation, but only by trusting in Him.

Of course the temptations to the opposite attitude are many and great.

Note, too, that every want of confidence is a departure from God. We go away from Him not only by open sin, not only by denial of Him, but by forgetfulness, by want of faith.

The ground of this confidence is laid in our knowledge of Him, especially in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The exercise of this confidence is treated as voluntary. Every man is responsible for his faith.

The elements of this confidence are, as regards ourselves, our sense of want in all its various aspects; and, as regards Him, our assurance of His love, of His nearness to help.

II. Confiding nearness to God brings quiet rest.

‘Rest’ and ‘being quiet’ are treated here partly as consequences of faith, partly as duties which we are bound to strive to achieve.

1. See how confidence in God stills and quiets the soul.

The very exercise of communion with Him brings peace and rest, inasmuch as all things are then possessed which we can desire. There is a still fruition which nothing can equal and nothing destroy.

Trust in God brings rest from our own evil consciences.

It brings rest from our own plans and purposes.

Trust gives insight into the meaning of all this else unintelligible world.

It brings the calming and subduing of desires, which in their eagerness torture, in their fruition trouble, and in their disappointment madden.

It brings the gathering in of ourselves from all the disturbing diffusion of ourselves through earthly trifles.

2. Notice what this rest is not.

It does not mean the absence of causes of disturbance.

It does not mean the abnegation of forethought.

It does not mean an indolent passiveness.

3. Notice the duty of being thus quiet and resting.

How much we fail in this respect.

We have faith, but there seems some obstruction which stops it from flowing refreshingly through our lives.

We are bound to seek for its increased continuity and power in our hearts and lives.

III. Confidence and rest in God bring safety and strength.

That is true in the lowest sense of ‘saved,’ and not less true in the highest. The condition of all our salvation from temporal as well as spiritual evils lies thus in the same thing-that we trust God.

No harm comes to us when we trust, because then God is with us, and works for us, and cares for us. So all departments of life are bound together by the one law. Trust is the condition of being ‘saved.’

And not only so, but also trust is strength. God works for us; yes, but better than that, God works in us and fits us to work.

What powers we might be in the world! Trust should make us strong. To have confidence in God should bring us power to which all other power is as nothing. He who can feel that his foot is on the rock, how firm he should stand!

Best gives strength. The rest of faith doubles our forces. To be freed from anxious care makes a man much more likely to act vigorously and to judge wisely.

Stillness of soul, born of communion with God, makes us strong.

Stillness of soul, born of deliverance from our fears, makes us strong.

Here then is a golden chain-or shall we rather say a live wire?- whereof one end is bound to the Throne and the other encircles our poor hearts. Trust, so shall we be at rest and safe. Being at rest and safe, we shall be strong. If we link ourselves with God by faith, God will flash into us His mysterious energy, and His strength will be made perfect in our weakness.

Isaiah 30:15-17. In returning — From your present purpose of sending to Egypt; or, as the LXX., the Syriac, and Arabic understand it, in returning to God; shall ye be saved — Preserved from the power of your enemies. In quietness and confidence — In a calm and quiet submission to the divine will, and a confidence placed on his mercy, power, and faithfulness; shall be your strength — Your support under your troubles, and your ability to withstand your invaders. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; on the swift — We will have swift horses from Egypt, that, in case of danger, we may escape from our enemies. It is probable many of the richer sort intended to flee, and perhaps did actually flee into Egypt, having sent their treasures thither before them. Therefore shall ye flee — Your sin shall be your punishment: you will flee, and you shall flee. One thousand at the rebuke of one — You shall be so dispirited and enervated by your fears, that, instead of one of you chasing a thousand, as God promised you should do, if you were obedient, a thousand of you shall be chased by one of your enemies. At the rebuke, or assault, of five — Of a comparatively small number; shall ye flee — All of you, however numerous; till ye be left, &c. — Till ye be generally destroyed, and but a few of you left. “The meaning of the whole period is, that if the Jews, in the uncertain state of their affairs, would abstain from all endeavours to defend themselves by foreign aid, and would commit themselves to the care and providence of God, with settled minds, in faith and hope, they should then be safe, and avoid the calamities which threatened them.” But this they would not do; they were determined to seek for preservation or deliverance from the yoke of the Assyrians in the help of the Egyptians, and therefore it is foretold they should meet with the calamities here mentioned; and “should be seized with such a panic fear that, when they came to the point, they should turn their backs on their enemies, and flee with that swiftness wherewith they had thought to make their enemies flee, insomuch that very few of them should escape the common destruction.”

30:8-18 The Jews were the only professing people God then had in the world, yet many among them were rebellious. They had the light, but they loved darkness rather. The prophets checked them in their sinful pursuits, so that they could not proceed without fear; this they took amiss. But faithful ministers will not be driven from seeking to awaken sinners. God is the Holy One of Israel, and so they shall find him. They did not like to hear of his holy commandments and his hatred of sin; they desired that they might no more be reminded of these things. But as they despised the word of God, their sins undermined their safety. Their state would be dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel. Let us return from our evil ways, and settle in the way of duty; that is the way to be saved. Would we be strengthened, it must be in quietness and in confidence, keeping peace in our own minds, and relying upon God. They think themselves wiser than God; but the project by which they thought to save themselves was their ruin. Only here and there one shall escape, as a warning to others. If men will not repent, turn to God, and seek happiness in his favour and service, their desires will but hasten their ruin. Those who make God alone their confidence, will have comfort. God ever waits to be gracious to all that come to him by faith in Christ, and happy are those who wait for him.For thus saith the Lord God - The design of this verse is to give a reason for the destruction that should come upon them. That reason was, that God had indicated to them the path of truth and safety, but they chose not to follow it, and refused to put confidence in him.

In returning - In returning to God; that is, if you are converted to him.

And rest - That is, by calmly reposing on God for assistance, and not seeking the alliance of Egypt (see Exodus 14:13).

In quietness - In a collected, quiet state of mind.

In confidence - By putting simple trust in God.

Shall be your strength - You shall be safe; your enemies shall not be able to overcome and subdue you.

But ye would not - When Jerusalem was threatened by Sennacherib, Hezekiah did put this confidence in God, and reposed calmly and securely on his promises Isaiah 36:15, Isaiah 36:18, Isaiah 36:21; but it is not improbable that when the city was first threatened, and Hezekiah heard of the preparations made by the Assyrians, he had joined with the party in Jerusalem who proposed an alliance with Egypt, and that this was known to Sennacherib Isaiah 36:6. Probably, however, before the invasion had actually commenced he had seen the impropriety of this, either because the aid of Egypt could not be secured, or because Isaiah had warned him of this, and had been brought to put his trust entirely in Yahweh. Yet the offence had been "committed" of refusing to put implicit confidence in Yahweh, and of seeking the aid of Egypt, and for that the punishment is threatened in this chapter Isaiah 30:16-17.

15. returning and rest—turning back from your embassy to Egypt, and ceasing from warlike preparations.

quietness—answering to "wait for Him (God)" (Isa 30:18).

In returning, either from your present purpose of sending to Egypt, or unto God, as the LXX., and Syriac, and Arabic translators render it. Or,

in quietness; for the verb from which this word come is elsewhere used in that sense, as Psalm 23:2 Jer 30 10 46:27.

In quietness; in sitting still, and quieting your own minds. In confidence, to with, rightly placed upon me and my promises for your deliverance.

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,.... This is still repeated, though displeasing to the carnal Jews, who, notwithstanding their ill behaviour to the Lord, condescends to give them the best advice, as follows:

in returning and rest shall ye be saved; or "may be saved" (o); this is the right and the only way, namely, by "returning" from their evil ways, particularly their purpose of going to Egypt for help, and by returning to God by repentance and reformation, and to his worship and ordinances; and so the Targum,

"if ye return to my law;''

and by "resting" quietly at home, and reposing their trust in the Lord:

in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; in a quiet submission to the will of God, and in quietly waiting upon him for the issue and event of things, abiding in their own houses, and not in a hurrying tumultuous manner, running here and there for help; and in a holy and humble confidence in the Lord, and in the power of his might, where they should find such strength and security, as Pharaoh king of Egypt could not give them:

and ye would not; would not be persuaded to keep at home, and from going down to Egypt; would not take the advice given, but pursue their own measures and methods of salvation. This is the literal sense of the words; and if they can be accommodated to spiritual and eternal salvation, it may be done in this way: repentance may be meant by "returning", and faith by "rest"; or by "returning and rest" may be designed returning to rest, that is, to Christ, who is the only rest to weary souls: "quietness" may intend peace of conscience, arising from the blood and righteousness of Christ; and "confidence" faith, and an assurance of it, which make men strong Christians; though their strength does not barely lie in these graces, but in the object of them: now faith and repentance are blessings of the covenant of grace, gifts of God, and graces of the Spirit, which go together in the doctrine of salvation, and have a concern in it; though they are not meritorious procuring causes, nor conditions of it; yet in this way God brings his people to salvation, and they enter into, and are descriptive of, the character of such that are saved; there is so close a connection between these and salvation, that none are saved without them; and it may be observed, that this way of saving men through faith and repentance, and by going to Christ alone for rest, and by placing confidence in, and deriving all peace and comfort from him, is disagreeable to unregenerate men; which is a proof of the wretched depravity, and corruption, and perverseness of the will of man.

(o) "servaremini", Piscator, Gataker.

For thus saith the {n} Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

(n) Often by his prophets he put you in remembrance of this, that you should only depend on him.

15–17. The true policy contrasted with the false.

15 re-echoes the great ruling principle of Isaiah’s statesmanship: comp. ch. Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 7:9, Isaiah 28:16. For saith read with R.V. said.

returning and rest … quietness and in confidence] The first expression describes the external policy, the second the attitude of mind, demanded by the occasion. On the one hand, averseness to war (Micah 2:8), renunciation of earthly help and a wise passivity in international affairs; on the other, calm reliance on Jehovah: in this last, the prophet says, they would have manifested the truest “strength” or courage.

Verse 15. - For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel. As the irreligious party wished to hear no more of "the Holy One of Israel" (ver. 11), Isaiah takes care to keep him constantly before their minds (comp. Isaiah 31:1). In returning and rest shall ye be saved; rather, should ye be saved, or might ye be saved. The conditions are put forward, not as now capable of being realized, but as those which might have been realized at an earlier date. The "returning" spoken of is an abandonment of the course hitherto pursued, which was reckless provocation of Assyria and trust in Egypt. The "rest" is staying upon God - renunciation of trust on any arm of flesh, and simple reliance on the Divine aid, as sure to be sufficient when the need came. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength; rather, should be. The clause is a mere iteration in other words of the preceding one. Ye would not. They had practically rejected the policy of quiescence and patient waiting upon God, when they sent the embassy into Egypt. Isaiah 30:15Into such small sherds, a heap thus scattered hither and thither, would the kingdom of Judah be broken up, in consequence of its ungodly thirst for self-liberation. "For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, Through turning and rest ye would be helped; your strength would show itself in quietness and confidence; but ye would not. And ye said, No, but we will fly upon horses; therefore ye shall flee: and, We will ride upon racehorses; therefore your pursuers will race. A thousand, ye will flee from the threatening of one, from the threatening of five, until ye are reduced to a remnant, like a pine upon the top of the mountain, and like a banner upon the hill." The conditions upon which their salvation depended, and by complying with which they would attain to it, were shūbhâh, turning from their self-chosen way, and nachath, rest from self-confident work of their own (from nūăch, like rachath, ventilabrum, from rūăch, and shachath, fovea, from shūăch). Their strength (i.e., what they would be able to do in opposition to the imperial power) would show itself (hâyâh, arise, come to the light, as in Isaiah 29:2), in hashqēt, laying aside their busy care and stormy eagerness, and bitchâh, trust, which cleaves to Jehovah and, renouncing all self-help, leaves Him to act alone. This was the leading and fundamental principle of the prophet's politics even in the time of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:4). But from the very first they would not act upon it; nor would they now that the alliance with Egypt had become an irreversible fact. To fly upon horses, and ride away upon racehorses (kal, like κέλης, celer)

(Note: We regard the Sanscrit kal, to drive or hunt, the Greek κέλλ(ὀκέλλ)ειν, and the Semitic qal, as all having the same root: cf., Vurtius, Grundzge der griech. Etymol. i.116.))

had been and still was their proud and carnal ambition, which Jehovah would answer by fulfilling upon them the curses of the thorah (Leviticus 26:8, Leviticus 26:36; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would be able with their snorting to put to flight a whole thousand of the men of Judah. The verb nūs (Isaiah 30:16), which rhymes with sūs, is used first of all in its primary sense of "flying" (related to nūts, cf., Exodus 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of "fleeing." (Luzzatto, after Abulwald: vogliamo far sui cavalli gloriosa comparsa, from nūs, or rather nâsas, hence nânōs, from which comes nēs, excellere.) יקּלּוּ, the fut. niphal, signifies to be light, i.e., swift; whereas יקל, the fut. kal, had become a common expression for light in the sense of despised or lightly esteemed. The horses and chariots are Judah's own (Isaiah 2:7; Micah 5:9), though possibly with the additional allusion to the Egyptian cavalry, of world-wide renown, which they had called to their help. In Isaiah 30:17 the subject of the first clause is also that of the second, and consequently we have not וּמפּני (compare the asyndeta in Isaiah 17:6). The insertion of rebhâbhâh (ten thousand) after chămisshâh (five), which Lowth, Gesenius, and others propose, is quite unnecessary. The play upon the words symbolizes the divine law of retribution (talio), which would be carried out with regard to them. The nation, which had hitherto resembled a thick forest, would become like a lofty pine (tōrne, according to the talmudic tūrnı̄thâ, Pinus pinea), standing solitary upon the top of a mountain, and like a flagstaff planted upon a hill - a miserable remnant in the broad land so fearfully devastated by war. For אם עד followed by a preterite (equivalent to the fut. exactum), compare Isaiah 6:11 and Genesis 24:19.

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