Isaiah 48:17
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
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(17) The Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit.—The words applied to the natural human, perhaps we may add, to the specially national, desire, to make a good investment. The question what was profitable? was one to which men returned very different answers. It was the work of the true Redeemer to lead men to the one true imperishable gain (comp. Matthew 16:26), to lead them in the one right way (John 14:4-6).

Isaiah 48:17-19. I am the Lord, which teacheth thee to profit — Who from time to time has made known to thee all necessary and useful doctrines, which, if observed by thee, would have been infinitely profitable to thee, both for this life and that to come; so that it is not my fault, but thine own, if thou dost not profit: which leadeth thee, &c. — Who acquainteth thee with thy duty in all the concerns of thy life, so that thou canst not pretend ignorance. O that thou hadst hearkened, &c. — This failure hath not been on my part, but on thine: I gave thee my counsels and commands, but thou hast neglected and disobeyed them, and that to thy own great disadvantage. Concerning such wishes as these, when ascribed to God, see note on Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 32:29, and especially on Psalm 81:13. Then had thy peace been as a river — Which runs pleasantly, strongly, plentifully, and constantly. Thou shouldst have enjoyed a series of mercies, one continually following another, as the waters of a river, which always last, and not like the waters of a land-flood, which are soon gone; and thy righteousness — The fruit of thy righteousness, thy peace and prosperity; as the waves of the sea — Numberless and abundant. Or the meaning may be, Thou wouldest have been as remarkable for virtue and holiness as for peace and happiness. Thy seed also had been as the sand — Namely, for multitude, according to my promise made to Abraham; whereas now, for thy sins, I have greatly diminished thy numbers by invasions, captivities, and other judgments. His name — The name of thy seed, or offspring, mentioned in the former clauses; should not have been cut off — As now it hath been in a great measure, namely, from the land of Israel, which is either desolate, or inhabited by strangers; nor destroyed from before me — Or, out of my sight, from the place of my special presence and residence.

48:16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.Thy Redeemer - (see the notes at Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:1).

Which teacheth thee to profit - Teaching you what things will most conduce to your welfare. The reference hero is chiefly to the afflictions which they suffered in Babylon.

Which leadeth thee - I am thy conductor and guide. God taught them, as he does his people now, by his Providence, his revealed word, and his Spirit, the way in which they ought to go. It is one of his characteristics that he is the guide and director of his people.

17. teacheth … to profit—by affliction, such as the Babylonish captivity, and the present long-continued dispersion of Israel (Heb 12:10). Which teacheth thee to profit; which from time to time have made known unto thee, not vain and frivolous things, but all necessary and useful doctrines; which, if believed and observed by thee, would have been infinitely profitable to thee, both for this life and that to come. So that it is not my fault, but thine own, if thou dost not profit.

Which leadeth; which acquainteth thee with thy duty and interest in all the parts and concerns of thy life; so that thou canst not pretend ignorance.

Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer,.... A character peculiar to Christ, who engaged in covenant to be the Redeemer of his people; was promised and prophesied of as such; and who came into this world for this purpose, and has obtained eternal redemption:

the Holy One of Israel; who came of Israel as man, and as such was holy, and without any spot or stain of sin and who, as God, is the most holy, in his nature and works; and, as Mediator, the Sanctifier of Israel, and is in the midst of them as such:

I am the Lord thy God; and so fit to be the Redeemer and Sanctifier of them; and happy are those who can say with Thomas, "my Lord and my God"; and who further describes himself, and declares his work and office:

which teacheth thee to profit; or "teacheth thee profitable things" (p); as the whole of the Gospel ministry is, whether it respects doctrines relating to the knowledge of the Persons in the Godhead; the knowledge of God in Christ; the person and offices of Christ; and the person and operations of the Spirit: or to the knowledge of man; his lost and depraved state; having sinned in Adam, the guilt of his sin is imputed to him, and a corrupt nature propagated; the bias of the mind being to evil, and man impotent to all that is good: or to the way of salvation by the grace of God, as the fruit and effect of the love of God; the doctrines of his eternal love, and of redemption by Christ; of justification by his righteousness; pardon by his blood; atonement by his sacrifice; regeneration by his Spirit and grace; and of the perseverance of the saints in faith and holiness. These are profitable doctrines, which serve to display the riches of divine grace, make for the glory of the Redeemer, and the good of souls, their peace, joy, comfort, and salvation. These are the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus. Or whether these teachings respect ordinances which Christ has appointed, and in his word and by his Spirit teaches men to observe; and which are profitable to lead to him, are breasts of consolation from him, and the means of spiritual strength: or whether they regard the duties of religion, the performance of good works; which, though not profitable to God, and not meritorious of anything from him, yet are profitable to men; to others by way of example, and otherwise, and to the doers of them, who find pleasure, peace, and advantage, by them. Christ was a teacher of these things when on earth, and he still teaches them by his ministers, whom he commissions and qualifies, and by his Spirit accompanying their ministrations:

which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go; Christ leads his people out of the wrong way, in which they naturally are, into the right way; to himself, as the way to the Father, and as the way of salvation, and unto eternal life; he takes them by the hand, and teaches them to go in the path of faith, and to walk in him by it; he leads them in the ways of truth and righteousness, in the highway of holiness, in the path of duty; and, though in a rough way of afflictions, yet in a right way to heaven and happiness.

(p) "utilia", V. L. "quae prosunt sunt", Tigurine version; "ea quae prosunt", Piscator; so the Targum; "condueibilia", Vitringa.

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God who teacheth thee {u} to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

(u) What things will do you good.

17. The introduction is in the prophet’s usual manner; cf. ch. Isaiah 41:14, Isaiah 43:14, Isaiah 49:7.

which teacheth thee to profit] i.e. profitably or “for thy profit”; cf. Isaiah 44:10 (“to no profit”), Isaiah 47:12.

17–19. If Israel had but known Jehovah as its faithful Guide, and obeyed His commandments, how different would its present condition have been! The short passage has a striking resemblance to Psalm 81:13-16, and is of singular beauty and depth of feeling. But the disappointment expressed, that Israel has not attained to righteousness by the keeping of the Divine law, is not altogether natural in this connexion, or in the circumstances in which the prophecy was written. It breathes rather the spirit of a time of depression, when Israel seemed in danger of being “cut off,” and when the faith of the Church was not sustained by the immediate prospect of deliverance. Moreover, the song of triumph in Isaiah 48:20 f. is the proper sequel (as in every similar instance) of the announcement of deliverance in 12–16 a.; and it will be felt that the obvious and natural connexion is disturbed by a sigh of regret for what might have been. It is with reluctance that one is driven to assign a thought so finely expressed to an interpolator, but a fair interpretation of the spirit of the passage points strongly to that conclusion (so again Duhm and Cheyne).

Verse 17. - The Lord... which teacheth thee to profit. God's teachings are all directed to the "profit" of those to whom they are addressed; and, if received in a proper spirit, actually "profit" them more than anything else can do. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" (2 Timothy 3:16). Very profitable also are the teachings of God's providence, which chasten men, warn men, and tend to keep men in the right path. Isaiah 48:17The exhortation is now continued. Israel is to learn the incomparable nature of Jehovah from the work of redemption thus prepared in word and deed. The whole future depends upon the attitude which it henceforth assumes to His commandments. "Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I, Jehovah thy God, am He that teacheth thee to do that which profiteth, and leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go. O that thou hearkenedst to my commandments! then thy peace becomes like the river, and thy righteousness like waves of the sea; and thy seed becomes like the sand, and the children of thy body like the grains thereof: its name will not be cut off nor destroyed away from my countenance." Jehovah is Israel's rightful and right teacher and leader. להועיל is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 30:5 and Isaiah 44:10, to furnish what is useful, to produce what is beneficial or profitable. The optative לוּא is followed, as in Isaiah 63:19, by the preterite utinam attenderis, the idea of reality being mixed up with the wish. Instead of ויהי in the apodosis, we should expect ויהי (so would), as in Deuteronomy 32:29. The former points out the consequence of the wish regarded as already realized. Shâlōm, prosperity or health, will thereby come upon Israel in such abundance, that it will, as it were, bathe therein; and tsedâqâh, rectitude acceptable to God, so abundantly, that it, the sinful one, will be covered by it over and over again. Both of these, shâlōm and tsedâqâh, are introduced here as a divine gift, not merited by Israel, but only conditional upon that faith which gives heed to the word of God, especially to the word which promises redemption, and appropriates it to itself. Another consequence of the obedience of faith is, that Israel thereby becomes a numerous and eternally enduring nation. The play upon the words in כמעותיו מעיך is very conspicuous. Many expositors (e.g., Rashi, Gesenius, Hitzig, and Knobel) regard מעות as synonymous with מעים, and therefore as signifying the viscera, i.e., the beings that fill the heart of the sea; but it is much more natural to suppose that the suffix points back to chōl. Moreover, no such metaphorical use of viscera can be pointed out; and since in other instances the feminine plural (such as kenâphōth, qerânōth) denotes that which is artificial as distinguished from what is natural, it is impossible to see why the interior of the sea, which is elsewhere called lēbh (lebhabh, the heart), and indirectly also beten, should be called מעות instead of מעים. To all appearance מעותיו signifies the grains of sand (lxx, Jerome, Targ.); and this is confirmed by the fact that מעא (Neo-Heb. מעה numulus) is the Targum word for גּרה, and the Semitic root מע, related to מג; מק, melted, dissolved, signifies to be soft or tender. The conditional character of the concluding promise has its truth in the word מלּפני. Israel remains a nation even in its apostasy, but fallen under the punishment of kareth (of cutting off), under which individuals perish when they wickedly transgress the commandment of circumcision, and others of a similar kind. It is still a people, but rooted out and swept away from the gracious countenance of God, who no more acknowledges it as His own people.
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