Isaiah 43:22
But you have not called on me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel.
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(22) But thou hast not called upon me.—The startling abruptness of the complaint has led many critics to question the genuineness of these verses (22-24). Their insertion, however, by a later writer would be at least as hard to understand as their having come from the hand of the same writer as the glowing picture that precedes them. May we not find the solution of the problem in the fact that Isaiah’s experience taught him that there would be in the future, as in the past, a dark as well as a bright side to the picture? that the mercies shown to the exiles would not be according to their merits, but to God’s great goodness? The worship of the restored exiles would be as that of the people had been in his own time, meagre and unthankful. Visions of failure alternate with the glowing hope that the ideal will be realised, and this alternation constitutes the great problem of the book, as it does of all like apocalyptic intimations.

But thou hast been weary.—Better, so that thou shouldest be weary. Others render it, Much less hast thou toiled for me. Sacrifices elsewhere than in the Temple were forbidden by the Law, and the prophet does not so much blame the people for not offering these as for not compensating for their absence by the true worship of which they were the symbols.

Isaiah 43:22-24. But thou hast not called upon me — Thou hast grossly neglected, or very negligently and hypocritically performed the duties of my worship. Thou hast been weary of me — Thou hast not esteemed my service to be a privilege, as in truth it is, but as a burden and a bondage. “The connection is: But thou, Israel, whom I have chosen, whom I have formed for myself, to be my witness against the false gods of the nations; even thou hast revolted from me, hast neglected my worship, and hast been perpetually running after strange gods. The Jews were diligent in performing the external services of religion; in offering prayers, incense, sacrifices, oblations; but their prayers were not offered with faith, and their oblations were made more frequently to their idols than to the God of their fathers.” Neither hast thou honoured me — If thou didst not neglect sacrificing to me, thou didst perform that duty merely out of custom; or didst dishonour me, and pollute thy sacrifices by thy wicked life. I have not wearied thee — Or, Although I have not wearied thee, &c. Although God had not laid such heavy burdens upon them, nor required such costly offerings, as might give them cause to be weary, nor such as idolaters did freely perform in the service of their idols. Thou hast brought me no sweet cane — This was used in the making of that precious ointment, (Exodus 30:34,) and for the incense, Exodus 30:7. See Jeremiah 6:20. Thou hast been niggardly in my service, when thou hast spared for no cost in the service of thine idols. Nor filled me, &c. — Thou hast not multiplied thy thank-offerings and free-will-offerings, though I have given thee sufficient occasion to do so. But thou hast made me serve, &c. — Thou hast made me to bear the load and burden of thy sins.43:22-28 Those who neglect to call upon God, are weary of him. The Master tired not the servants with his commands, but they tired him with disobedience. What were the riches of God's mercy toward them? I, even I, am he who yet blotteth out thy transgressions. This encourages us to repent, because there is forgiveness with God, and shows the freeness of Divine mercy. When God forgives, he forgets. It is not for any thing in us, but for his mercies' sake, his promise' sake; especially for his Son's sake. He is pleased to reckon it his honour. Would man justify himself before God? The attempt is desperate: our first father broke the covenant, and we all have copied his example. We have no reason to expect pardon, except we seek it by faith in Christ; and that is always attended by true repentance, and followed by newness of life, by hatred of sin, and love to God. Let us then put him in remembrance of the promises he has made to the penitent, and the satisfaction his Son has made for them. Plead these with him in wrestling for pardon; and declare these things, that thou mayest be justified freely by his grace. This is the only way, and it is a sure way to peace.But thou hast not called upon me - The design of this and the following verses, is to show them that they were indebted to the divine mercy alone for their deliverance from bondage. It was not because they had been either meritorious or faithful; it was not because they had deserved these favors at his hand, for they had been a people that had been distinguished for neglecting their God. On that account, these calamities had come upon them, and their deliverance, therefore, was to be an act of mere unmerited favor.

Thou hast been weary - As a people, you have been weary of my service. They had accounted his laws grievous and oppressive; and they had groaned under what they regarded as burdensome rites and ceremonies (see Amos 8:5-6; Malachi 1:13). God here refers, doubtless, to the times before the captivity, and is stating what was the general characteristic of the people.

22. But—Israel, however, is not to think that these divine favors are due to their own piety towards God. So the believer (Tit 3:5).

but—rather, "for."

weary of me—(Am 8:5, 6; Mal 1:13), though "I have not wearied thee" (Isa 43:23), yet "thou hast been weary of Me."

But; or, for, as this conjunction is oft used. So this may be added as a reason why God called the Gentiles to be his people, because the Jews forsook him.

Thou hast not called upon me; thou hast grossly neglected or very slightly performed the duties of my worship.

Thou hast been weary of me; thou hast not esteemed my service to be a privilege, as in truth it is, but as a burden and bondage. Compare Malachi 1:13. But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob,.... The Jews, though they were the posterity of Jacob, a praying person, yet did not tread in his steps, but were more like the Heathens that called not on the name of the Lord; though there is no necessity of restraining this to prayer, it may regard the whole worship of God, which is sometimes included in the invocation of his name; and so the Targum,

"and ye come not to my worship, O ye of the house of Jacob.''

The Jews, in Christ's time, did not call upon his name, nor believe in him, nor receive his Gospel, nor submit to him and his ordinances; they rejected him and his service, therefore the Lord rejected them, and called the Gentiles, as before prophesied of:

but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel: of the word, worship, and ordinances of God; see Malachi 1:13.

But thou hast not {x} called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been {y} weary of me, O Israel.

(x) You have not worshipped me as you ought to have done.

(y) Because you have not willingly received that which I commanded you, you grieved me. By which he shows that his mercies were the only reason for their deliverance, as they had deserved the contrary.

22. But thou hast not called upon me] To call upon Jehovah “in the day of trouble” was the first and most obvious duty of Israel (Psalm 50:15), but this duty Israel has neglected. The statement is of course general; it does not exclude the existence of a believing minority which poured out its heart in prayer to God. The position of the word “me” is emphatic in the original; but the emphasis on the object throws a corresponding emphasis on the subject: “But not upon me hast thou called, Jacob”; it is I who have called thee (ch. Isaiah 41:9, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 43:1 &c.). It is foreign to the context to suppose an antithesis between Jehovah and other gods.

but thou hast been weary of me] Or, perhaps: much less hast thou wearied thyself about me (Cheyne). The translation of E.V. is possible, although the expression is not elsewhere used of being weary of a person. The other sense, however, is much to be preferred because of Isaiah 43:23 b, and is justified by the analogy of ch. Isaiah 47:12; Isaiah 47:15, Isaiah 62:8; Joshua 24:13. The use of the conjunction is peculiar; the simple seems to have the same force as the fuller ’aph kî (as in 1 Kings 8:27, “much less this house” &c.). The easiest solution might be to suppose that the ’aph has been omitted, but this is not really necessary. How Israel might have “wearied itself about” Jehovah is explained in Isaiah 43:23 f.

22–28. Jehovah effects this deliverance for His own sake, not in return for any service He has received at the hands of Israel. The argument of the section is difficult to follow, especially in the part which speaks of sacrifice. Two questions present themselves: (a) does Jehovah upbraid His people with their neglect of ritual, or does He assert His own indifference to it? and (b), is the reference to the whole course of Israel’s history or merely to the period of the Exile? The answer to (b) seems determined by the consideration that if understood of the history as a whole the statement is inconsistent with fact. Although the prophet undoubtedly takes a dark view of Israel’s past religious condition (Isaiah 43:27), we cannot suppose that he charges it with disregard of the externals of religion. Whatever faults Israel had been guilty of, it had not been slack in the performance of ritual (see ch. Isaiah 1:10 ff.). Now if we limit the reference to the Exile, the idea of an implied reproach (a) must be abandoned, because the suspension of the sacrificial system was in the circumstances inevitable. In other words, the main thought here is expressed in the second half of Isaiah 43:23 more clearly than in the first halves of Isaiah 43:23-24. At the same time this hardly amounts to a repudiation of sacrifice in principle on the part of Jehovah. The truth appears to be that the prophet directs attention to the simple fact that during the Exile sacrifice had not been offered; whether Israel was to blame for this or not is immaterial to his argument. He has in his view the prevailing ideas of the time as to the normal attitude of a people to its God; and he shews how inadequate these are to explain Jehovah’s relation to Israel. The natural and proper thing was for a nation to invoke the name of its God, and to honour Him with costly and laborious rites. Israel has done none of these things, it has only burdened Jehovah with its sins; yet Jehovah proves Himself to be its God by forgiving its iniquities and undertaking its cause against its enemies.Verses 22-28. - A REPROACH ADDRESSED TO CAPTIVE ISRAEL FOR ITS PAST OMISSIONS AND SINS. The thought of Israel in the future, redeemed, restored, and "telling out God's praise" (ver. 21), raises naturally the con-trusted thought of Israel in the present and the past, disobedient, full of shortcomings (vers. 22-24), too often guilty of overt acts of sin (vers. 24-28). While reproaching his people, and reminding them that the exile is the wellmented punishment of their past offences (vers. 27, 28), God still promises them pardon if they will appeal to his covenant of mercy (vers. 25, 26). Verse 22. - But thou hast not called upon me. The Jews had never been greatly given to prayer. They were a "practical" people, active, energetic, hard-working, busily employed in handicrafts, commerce, or agriculture. David and Daniel, who prayed three times a day (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10), were probably exceptions to the general rule. At any rate, it appears here that in the exile the nation had neglected prayer. No doubt there was a nucleus of "faithful men," who did as Daniel did. But with the mass it was otherwise. Hard toil occupied their time. Despair made dull their hearts. They looked for no alleviation of their lot, and lived on in a sort of apathy. But thou hast been weary of me; rather, for thou hast wearied of me. Thou hast left off praying, because thou wast weary of my service. There now follows a second field of the picture of redemption; and the expression "for your sake" is expounded in Isaiah 43:16-21 : "Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth a road through the sea, and a path through tumultuous waters; who bringeth out chariot and horse, army and hero; they lie down together, they never rise: they have flickered away, extinguished like a wick. Remember not things of olden time, nor meditate upon those of earlier times! Behold, I work out a new thing: will ye not live to see it? Yea, I make a road through the desert, and streams through solitudes. The beast of the field will praise me, wild dogs and ostriches: for I give water in the desert, streams in solitude, to give drink to my people, my chosen. The people that I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise." What Jehovah really says commences in Isaiah 43:18. Then in between He is described as Redeemer out of Egypt; for the redemption out of Egypt was a type and pledge of the deliverance to be looked for out of Babylon. The participles must not be rendered qui dedit, eduxit; but from the mighty act of Jehovah in olden time general attributes are deduced: He who makes a road in the sea, as He once showed. The sea with the tumultuous waters is the Red Sea (Nehemiah 9:11); ‛izzūz, which rhymes with vâsūs, is a concrete, as in Psalm 24:8, the army with the heroes at its head. The expression "bringeth out," etc., is not followed by "and suddenly destroys them," but we are transported at once into the very midst of the scenes of destruction. ישׁכּבוּ shows them to us entering upon the sleep of death, in which they lie without hope (Isaiah 26:14). The close (kappishtâh khâbhū) is iambic, as in Judges 5:27. The admonition in Isaiah 43:18 does not commend utter forgetfulness and disregard (see Isaiah 66:9); but that henceforth they are to look forwards rather than backward. The new thing which Jehovah is in the process of working out eclipses the old, and deserves a more undivided and prolonged attention. Of this new thing it is affirmed, "even now it sprouts up;" whereas in Isaiah 42:9, even in the domain of the future, a distinction was drawn between "the former things" and "new things," and it could be affirmed of the latter that they were not yet sprouting up. In the passage before us the entire work of God in the new time is called chădâshâh (new), and is placed in contrast with the ri'shōnōth, or occurrences of the olden time; so that as the first part of this new thing had already taken place (Isaiah 42:9), and there was only the last part still to come, it might very well be affirmed of the latter, that it was even now sprouting up (not already, which עתה may indeed also mean, but as in Isaiah 48:7). In connection with this, תדעוּה הלוא (a verbal form with the suffix, as in Jeremiah 13:17, with kametz in the syllable before the tone, as in Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 47:11, in pause) does not mean, "Will ye then not regard it," as Ewald, Umbreit, and others render it; but, "shall ye not, i.e., assuredly ye will, experience it." The substance of the chădâshâh (the new thing) is unfolded in Isaiah 43:19. It enfolds a rich fulness of wonders: אף affirming that, among other things, Jehovah will do this one very especially. He transforms the pathless, waterless desert, that His chosen one, the people of God, may be able to go through in safety, and without fainting. And the benefits of this miracle of divine grace reach the animal world as well, so that their joyful cries are an unconscious praise of Jehovah. (On the names of the animals, see Khler on Malachi 1:3.) In this we can recognise the prophet, who, as we have several times observed since chapter 11 (compare especially Isaiah 30:23-24; Isaiah 35:7), has not only a sympathizing heart for the woes of the human race, but also an open ear for the sighs of all creation. He knows that when the sufferings of the people of God shall be brought to an end, the sufferings of creation will also terminate; for humanity is the heart of the universe, and the people of God (understanding by this the people of God according to the Spirit) are the heart of humanity. In v. 21 the promise is brought to a general close: the people that (zū personal and relative, as in Isaiah 42:24)

(Note: The pointing connects עם־זוּ with makkeph, so that the rendering would be, "The people there I have formed for myself;" but according to our view, עם should be accented with yethib, and zū with munach. In just the same way, zū is connected with the previous noun as a demonstrative, by means of makkeph, in Exodus 15:13, Exodus 15:16; Psalm 9:16; Psalm 62:12; Psalm 142:4; Psalm 143:8, and by means of a subsidiary accent in Psalm 10:2; Psalm 12:8. The idea which underlies Isaiah 42:24 appears to be, "This is the retribution that we have met with from him."' But in none of these can we be bound by the punctuation.)

I have formed for myself will have richly to relate how I glorified myself in them.

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