Isaiah 43:22
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast 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 stubborn 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. Isaiah 43:22It would be the praise of God, however, and not the merits of their own works, that they would have to relate; for there was nothing at all that could give them any claim to reward. There were not even acts of ceremonial worship, but only the guilt of grievous sins. "And thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob, that thou shouldst have wearied thyself for me, O Israel! Thou hast not brought me sheep of thy burnt-offerings, and thou hast not honoured me with thy slain-offerings. I have not burdened thee with meat-offerings, and have not troubled thee about incense. Thou hast bought me no spice-cane for silver, nor hast thou refreshed me with fat of thy slain-offerings. No; thou hast wearied me with thy sins, troubled me with thine iniquities." We cannot agree with Stier, that these words refer to the whole of the previous worship of Israel, which is treated here as having no existence, because of its heartlessness and false-holiness. And we must also not forget, that all these prophecies rested on either the historical or the ideal soil of the captivity. The charge commences with the worship of prayer (with calling upon Jehovah, as in Psalm 14:4; Psalm 18:7), to which the people were restricted when in exile, since the law did not allow them to offer sacrifice outside the holy land. The personal pronoun אתי, in the place of the suffix, is written first of all for the sake of emphasis, as if the meaning were, "Israel could exert itself to call upon other gods, but not upon Jehovah." The following kı̄ is equivalent to ut (Hosea 1:6), or ‛ad-kı̄ in 2 Samuel 23:10, adeo ut laborasses me colendo (so as to have wearied thyself in worshipping me). They are also charged with having offered no sacrifices, inasmuch as in a foreign land this duty necessarily lapsed of itself, together with the self-denial that it involved. The spelling הביאת (as in Numbers 14:31) appears to have been intended for the pronunciation הביאת (compare the pronunciation in 2 Kings 19:25, which comes between the two). The ‛ōlōth (burnt-offerings) stand first, as the expression of adoration, and are connected with sēh, which points to the daily morning and evening sacrifice (the tâmı̄d). Then follow the zebâchı̄m (slain-offerings), the expression of the establishment of fellowship with Jehovah (וּזבחיך is equivalent to וּבזביחך, like חמה equals בּחמה, Isaiah 43:25). The "fat" (chēlebh) in Isaiah 43:24 refers to the portions of fat that were placed upon the altar in connection with this kind of sacrifice. After the zebâchı̄m comes the michâh, the expression of desire for the blessing of Jehovah, a portion of which, the so-called remembrance portion ('azkârâh), was placed upon the altar along with the whole of the incense. And lastly, the qâneh (spice-cane), i.e., some one of the Amoma,

(Note: The qâneh is generally supposed to be the Calamus; but the calamus forms no stalk, to say nothing of a cane or hollow stalk. It must be some kind of aromatic plant, with a stalk like a cane, either the Cardamum, Ingber, or Curcuma; at any rate, it belonged to the species Amomum. The aroma of this was communicated to the anointing oil, the latter being infused, and the resinous parts of the former being thereby dissolved.)

points to the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:23), or if it refer to spices generally, to the sacred incense, though qâneh is not mentioned as one of the ingredients in Exodus 30:34. The nation, which Jehovah was now redeeming out of pure unmingled grace, had not been burdened with costly tasks of this description (see Jeremiah 6:20); on the contrary, it was Jehovah only who was burdened and troubled. He denies that there was any "causing to serve" (העביד, lit., to make a person a servant, to impose servile labour upon him) endured by Israel, but affirms this rather of Himself. The sins of Israel pressed upon Him, as a burden does upon a servant. His love took upon itself the burden of Israel's guilt, which derived its gravitating force from His won holy righteous wrath; but it was a severe task to bear this heavy burden, and expunge it - a thoroughly divine task, the significance of which was first brought out in its own true light by the cross on Golgotha. When God creates, He expresses His fiat, and what He wills comes to pass. But He does not blot out sin without balancing His love with His justice; and this equalization is not effected without conflict and victory.

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