Isaiah 40:13
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counselor has taught him?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord?—The term, which had been used in a lower sense in Isaiah 40:7, is here clothed as with a Divine personality, answering, as it were, to the wisdom of Proverbs 8:22-30, with which the whole passage has a striking resemblance. Eastern cosmogonies might represent Bel or Ormuzd, as calling inferior deities into counsel (Cheyne). The prophet finds no other counsellor than One who is essentially one with the Eternal.

40:12-17 All created beings shrink to nothing in comparison with the Creator. When the Lord, by his Spirit, made the world, none directed his Spirit, or gave advice what to do, or how to do it. The nations, in comparison of him, are as a drop which remains in the bucket, compared with the vast ocean; or as the small dust in the balance, which does not turn it, compared with all the earth. This magnifies God's love to the world, that, though it is of such small account and value with him, yet, for the redemption of it, he gave his only-begotten Son, Joh 3:16. The services of the church can make no addition to him. Our souls must have perished for ever, if the only Son of the Father had not given himself for us.Who hath directed - This passage is quoted by Paul in Romans 11:34, and referred to by him in 1 Corinthians 2:16. The word rendered 'directed' here (תכן tikēn) is the same which is used in the previous verse, 'and meted out heaven.' The idea here is, 'Who has fitted, or disposed the mind or spirit of Yahweh? What superior being has ordered, instructed, or disposed his understanding? Who has qualified him for the exercise of his wisdom, or for the formation and execution of his plans?' The sense is, God is supreme. No one has instructed or guided him, but his plans are his own, and have all been formed by himself alone. And as those plans are infinitely wise, and as he is not dependent on anyone for their formation or execution, his people may have confidence in him, and believe that he will be able to execute his purposes.

The Spirit - The word 'spirit' is used in the Bible in a greater variety of senses than almost any other word (see the note at Isaiah 40:7). It seems here to be used in the sense of mind, and to refer to God himself. There is no evidence that it refers to the Holy Spirit particularly. 'The word spirit, he uses,' says Calvin, 'for reason, judgment. He borrows the similitude from the nature of mankind, in order that he may more accommodate himself to them; nor, as it seems to me, does he here speak of the essential Spirit of God' (Commentary in loc). The design of the prophet is not to refer to the distinction in the divine nature, or to illustrate the special characteristics of the different persons of the Godhead; but it is to set forth the wisdom of Yahweh himself, the one infinite God, as contradistinguished from idols, and as qualified to guide, govern, and deliver his people. The passage should not be used, therefore, as a proof-text in regard to the existence and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, but is suited to demonstrate only that God is untaught; and that he is independent and infinite in his wisdom.

Or being his counselor - Margin, as in Hebrew, 'Man of his counsel.' He is not dependent for counsel on men or angels. He is supreme, independent, and infinite. None is qualified to instruct him; and all, therefore, should confide in his wisdom and knowledge.

13. Quoted in Ro 11:34; 1Co 2:16. The Hebrew here for "directed" is the same as in Isa 40:12 for "meted out"; thus the sense is, "Jehovah measures out heaven with His span"; but who can measure Him? that is, Who can search out His Spirit (mind) wherewith He searches out and accurately adjusts all things? Maurer rightly takes the Hebrew in the same sense as in Isa 40:12 (so Pr 16:2; 21:2), "weigh," "ponder." "Direct," as in English Version, answers, however, better to "taught" in the parallel clause. Who did God either need or take to advise him in any of his works, either of creation or the government of the world? were they not all the effects of his own sole wisdom? Therefore though all the nations of the world contrive and conspire against him, and against this work of his, as indeed they will do, yet his own counsel shall confound all their devices, and carry on his work in spite of them. Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord,.... In the creation of all things, in garnishing the heavens, and moving upon the face of the waters? not anyone, angel or man; there were none with him, nor did he need any to guide and direct him what to do (s):

or being his counsellor, hath taught him? or, "the man of his counsel (t)"; there was no other than the Wonderful Counsellor, the Angel of the great council, the essential Word of God, whose spirit is here spoken of.

(s) The Targum is, "who hath directed the Holy Spirit in the mouth of all the prophets? is it not the Lord?" which agrees with the accents; for so according to them the words should be rendered "who hath directed the Spirit? the Lord"; so Reinbeck, de Accent. Heb. p. 418. and who renders the next clause, and he hath made the man of his counsel (Moses) to know that.

(t) "vir a consiliis", Junius & Tremellius Piscator.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being {s} his counsellor hath taught him?

(s) He shows God's infinite wisdom for the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. From the power of Jehovah, the writer passes to expatiate on His perfect and self-sufficing wisdom.

Who hath directed] The verb is the same as “meted out” in the previous verse, and the transition from the literal to the metaphorical use is somewhat uncertain. From the idea of “weighing out” according to a fixed scale we get the notion of “regulating” or “determining”; cf. Ezekiel 18:25 (and pars.) “the way of Jehovah is not weighed out,” regulated, i.e. is arbitrary. Or, on the other hand, the meaning might be “rightly estimated,” “searched out” (as Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 21:2). The first sense suits the context best; whether we render “direct” or “regulate” or “determine.” LXX. probably read a different word; its τίς ἔγνω νοῦν Κυρίου is verbally cited in 1 Corinthians 2:16.

the spirit of the Lord] denotes here the organ of the Divine intelligence (see 1 Corinthians 2:11). This is more likely than that the spirit is personified and then endowed with intelligence. The idea, however, does not appear to be found elsewhere in the O.T. The Spirit of God is ordinarily mentioned as the life-giving principle emanating from Jehovah, which pervades and sustains the world, and endows select men with extraordinary powers and virtues.

or being … him] Better, perhaps: and was the man of His counsel who taught Him. “His” and “Him” refer of course to Jehovah, not the Spirit.Verse 13. - Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord? Mr. Cheyne remarks, that "in Isaiah there is a marked tendency to hypostatize the Spirit;" and the remark is undoubtedly a just one (see Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 34:16; Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 61:1, etc.). In the present place, perhaps, the introduction of "the Spirit of the Lord" arises out of the remembrance of the part in creation which is assigned to the Spirit in Genesis 1:2. He "moved," or "brooded," upon the face of the waters, and thence began the change, or series of changes, by which order was produced out of confusion. The Spirit of the Lord "directed," or regulated, these changes; but who, Isaiah asks, "directed," or regulated, the Spirit itself? Can it be supposed that he too had a director over him? Isaiah does not seriously doubt on this point, or "leave it an open question." He makes his inquiry by way of a reductio ad absurdum. Is it not absurd to suppose that he had a director or a counsellor? He does not - here, at any rate - so far "hypostatize the Spirit" as to view him as a Person distinct from the Person of God the Father, working under him, and carrying out his will. Or being his counsellor hath taught him? "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth" (Proverbs 3:19); but he was his own counsellor. He had no adviser external to himself. The wisdom which wrought with him was his own wisdom, an essential part of the Divine essence. The evangelical prophet approaches those mysteries of God's nature which the gospel brought to light, but cannot penetrate them. The prophet now hears a second voice, and then a third, entering into conversation with it. "Hark, one speaking, Cry! And he answers, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. Grass is withered, flower faded: for the breath of Jehovah has blown upon it. Surely grass is the people; grass withereth, flower fadeth: yet the word of our God will stand for ever." A second voice celebrates the divine word of promise in the face of the approaching fulfilment, and appoints a preacher of its eternal duration. The verb is not ואמר (et dixi, lxx, Vulg.), but ואמר; so that the person asking the question is not the prophet himself, but an ideal person, whom he has before him in visionary objectiveness. The appointed theme of his proclamation is the perishable nature of all flesh (Isaiah 40:5 πᾶσα σάρξ, here πᾶσα ἡ σάρξ), and, on the other hand, the imperishable nature of the word of God. Men living in the flesh are universally impotent, perishing, limited; God, on the contrary (Isaiah 31:3), is the omnipotent, eternal, all-determining; and like Himself, so is His word, which, regarded as the vehicle and utterance of His willing and thinking, is not something separate from Himself, and therefore is the same as He. Chasdō is the charm or gracefulness of the outward appearance (lxx; 1 Peter 1:24, δόξα: see Schott on the passage, James 1:11, εὐπρέπεια). The comparison instituted with grass and flower recals Isaiah 37:27 and Job 8:12, and still more Psalm 90:5-6, and Job 14:2. Isaiah 40:7 describes what happens to the grass and flower. The preterites, like the Greek aoristus gnomicus (cf., Isaiah 26:10), express a fact of experience sustained by innumerable examples: exaruit gramen, emarcuit flos;

(Note: נבל has munach here and in Isaiah 40:8 attached to the penultimate in all correct texts (hence milel, on account of the monosyllable which follows), and mehteg on the tzere to sustain the lengthening.)

consequently the כּי which follows is not hypothetical (granting that), but explanatory of the reason, viz., "because rūăch Jehovah hath blown upon it," i.e., the "breath" of God the Creator, which pervades the creation, generating life, sustaining life, and destroying life, and whose most characteristic elementary manifestation is the wind. Every breath of wind is a drawing of the breath of the whole life of nature, the active indwelling principle of whose existence is the rūăch of God. A fresh v. ought to commence now with אכן. The clause העם חציר אכן is genuine, and thoroughly in Isaiah's style, notwithstanding the lxx, which Gesenius and Hitzig follow. עכן is not equivalent to a comparative כן (Ewald, 105, a), but is assuring, as in Isaiah 45:15; Isaiah 49:4; Isaiah 53:4; and hâ‛âm (the people) refers to men generally, as in Isaiah 42:5. The order of thought is in the form of a triolet. The explanation of the striking simile commences with 'âkhēn (surely); and then in the repetition of the words, "grass withereth, flower fadeth," the men are intended, resemble the grass and the flower. Surely grass is the human race; such grass withereth and such flower fadeth, but the word of our God (Jehovah, the God of His people and of sacred history) yâqūm le‛ōlâm, i.e., it rises up without withering or fading, and endures for ever, fulfilling and verifying itself through all times. This general truth refers, in the preset instance, to the word of promise uttered by the voice in the desert. If the word of God generally has an eternal duration, more especially is this the case with the word of the parousia of God the Redeemer, the word in which all the words of God are yea and amen. The imperishable nature of this word, however, has for its dark foil the perishable nature of all flesh, and all the beauty thereof. The oppressors of Israel are mortal, and their chesed with which they impose and bribe is perishable; but the word of God, with which Israel can console itself, preserves the fields, and ensures it a glorious end to its history. Thus the seal, which the first crier set upon the promise of Jehovah's speedy coming, is inviolable; and the comfort which the prophets of God are to bring to His people, who have now been suffering so long, is infallibly sure.

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