Isaiah 48:9
For my name's sake will I defer my anger, and for my praise will I refrain for you, that I cut you not off.
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(9) For my name’s sake . . .—The thought is two-fold, in answer to the implied question why Jehovah had not punished so guilty a people: (1) after the manner of men, that had He destroyed His chosen people, the nations of the world would have thought Him changeable and capricious; (2) taking “name” as the symbol of character, that He might assert His own everlasting righteousness and love, as willing to save rather than destroy.

Isaiah 48:9-11. For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger — Although thou dost justly deserve my hottest anger and most dreadful judgments, which also, if thou repentest not, I will in due time inflict, yet at present I will spare thee, and deliver thee out of captivity, not for thy sake, but merely for my own sake, and for the vindication of my name, that I may be praised for my power, faithfulness, and goodness. Behold, I have refined thee — Although I will not cut thee off, yet I will put thee into the furnace, not to consume, but to purify thee, and purge away thy dross. Not with silver — Not with such a furious heat, nor for so long a time, as is required to melt down silver; I will not deal so rigorously with thee, for then I should wholly consume thee. In judgment I will remember mercy. It must be observed, that silver is the most difficult to be refined, and requires a hotter and clearer fire than gold and other metals. I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction — I have taken this method to purge thee from thy dross, and render thee a chosen people to myself. For mine own sake will I do it — Namely, this great work of delivering my people out of Babylon. For how should my name be polluted — If I should not deliver my people, my name would be profaned and blasphemed, as if I were either impotent, or implacable to them. I will not give my glory unto another — I will not give any colour to idolaters, to ascribe the divine nature and properties to idols, as they would do if I did not rescue my people out of their hands, in spite of their idols.48:9-15 We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God's people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.For my name's sake - (See the notes at Isaiah 43:25; compare Isaiah 66:5). It is possible that the design of this verse may be, to answer an objection. 'If the character of the nation is such, it might be said, 'why should God desire to restore them again to their own land? If their sins have been so great as to make these heavy judgments proper, why not suffer them to remain under the infliction of the deserved judgment? Why should God interpose? why raise up Cyrus? why overthrow Babylon? why conduct them across a pathless wilderness, and provide for them in a sandy desert?' To this the answer is, that it was not on their account. It was not because they were deserving of his favor, nor was it primarily and mainly in order that they might be happy. It was on his own account - in order to show his covenant faithfulness; his fidelity to the promises made to their fathers, his mercy, his compassion, his readiness to pardon, and his unchanging love. And this is the reason why he 'defers his anger,' in relation to any of the children of people. His own glory, and not their happiness, is the main object in view. And this is right. The glory, the honor, and the happiness of God, are of more importance than the welfare of any of his creatures; because, first, they are in themselves of more importance, just in proportion as God is more elevated than any of his creatures; and, secondly, the welfare of any or all of his creatures depends on the maintaining of the honor of God, and of his government, and on the manifestation of his perfections to the universe (see the treatise of President Edwards on The end for which God created the world, in Works, vol. iii. New York Ed. 1830).

Will I defer mine anger - That is, I will spare you, and restore you again to your own land (see the note at Isaiah 48:11).

And for my praise will I refrain for thee - Will I refrain my anger in reference to you as a nation. The word used here (חטם châṭam) denotes properly to muzzle, and is commonly employed with reference to an animal in order to tame or subdue it. Here it means that God would restrain himself; He would not put forth His anger in order to destroy them. Learn hence:

1. That God acts with reference to his own glory, in order to manifest his own perfections, and to secure his praise.

2. That the reason why the wicked are not cut off sooner in their transgressions is, that He may show his forbearance, and secure praise by long-suffering.

3. That the reason why the righteous are kept amidst their frequent failures in duty, their unfaithfulness, and their many imperfections, is, that God may get glory by showing his covenant fidelity.

4. That it is one evidence of piety - and one that is indispensable - that there should be a willingness thai God should secure his own glory in his own way, and that there should be a constant desire that his praise should be promoted, whatever may befall his creatures.

9. refrain—literally, "muzzle"; His wrath, after the return, was to be restrained a while, and then, because of their sins, let loose again (Ps 78:38).

for thee—that is, mine anger towards thee.

For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger: and although thou dost justly deserve my hottest anger and most dreadful judgments, which also, if thou repentest not, I will in due time inflict; yet at present I will spare thee, and deliver thee out of captivity, not for thy sake, be it known to thee, but merely for my own sake, and for the vindication of my name and glory, as it follows, Isaiah 48:11.

For my praise; that I may be praised and magnified for my power, faithfulness, and goodness, and other perfections. Will I refrain, to wit, mine anger; which is easily understood out of the foregoing clause. For my name's sake will I defer mine anger,.... From age to age, for those sins which had been committed, and continued in ever since they were a people. The above account of them shows that it was not for any merits of theirs, or any works of righteousness done by them, that he showed favour to them, as afterwards expressed; but for his own name's sake, and because of his glory; because these people were called by his name, and said to be his people, lest therefore his name should be reproached among the Heathen, or he should suffer any diminution of his glory, therefore he did not at once stir up all his wrath, as their sins deserved, but prolonged it from time to time:

and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off: that is, refrain mine anger from thee; or "seal" or "stop my nostrils" (c), that the smoke of his wrath and anger might not go out from thence to destroy them. The Targum is,

"I will confirm (or establish) thee, that I may not consume thee;''

and this he would do, because of his praise, of the praise of his mercy, grace, and goodness; and that he might have a people to praise him, which he would not, should they be cut off.

(c) "obstruam sive". "obturabo nares tibi", Malvenda, Gataker; so Jarchi.

For my name's sake will I defer my anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, {k} that I cut thee not off.

(k) As it was my free mercy that I chose you: so it is my free mercy that must save you.

9. The verbs should be rendered in the present tense. That for refrain (found only here) means literally “muzzle:” the object (“my anger”) is to be supplied from the previous clause.

that I cut thee not off] The idea that Israel is in danger of being cut off is no doubt a surprising one in the mouth of this prophet (Duhm).

9–11. A nation so sunk in unbelief must have perished, but for Jehovah’s regard for His name. The thought is characteristic of Ezekiel (see esp. ch. 20). The expression “for my name’s sake” (Isaiah 48:9) is not found elsewhere in this prophecy; “for my own sake” (Isaiah 48:11) occurs in ch. Isaiah 43:25.Verse 9. - For my Name's sake will I defer mine anger. Israel's insincerity (ver. 1), obstinacy (ver. 4), addiction to idols (ver. 5), blindness (ver. 8), and general resistance to God's will (ver. 8), could not but have provoked God's "anger." He will, however, "defer" it, "refrain" himself, not "cut Israel off, for his Name's sake." God, having selected one nation out of all the nations of the earth to be his "peculiar people" (Deuteronomy 14:2), and having declared this, and supported his people by miracles in their struggles with the other nations and peoples, was, so to speak, committed to protect and defend Israel "for his Name's sake," lest his Name should be blasphemed among the Gentiles (see Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13; Deuteronomy 9:28; Psalm 129:10; 106:8, etc.). He was also bound by the promises which he had made; and. still more, by the position which Israel occupied in his scheme of salvation, to allow the nation still to exist, and therefore to condone its iniquities and restrain his anger. But the dregs of the cup of vengeance were poured out at last. After this summons, and description of those who are summoned, the address of Jehovah begins. "The first I have long ago proclaimed, and it has gone forth out of my mouth, and I caused it to be heard. I carried it out suddenly, and it came to pass. Because I knew that thou art hard, and thy neck an iron clasp, and thy brow of brass; I proclaimed it to thee long ago; before it came to pass, I caused thee to hear it, that thou mightest not say, My idol has done it, and my graven image and molten image commanded it." The word הראשׁנות in itself signifies simply priora; and then, according to the context, it signifies prius facta (Isaiah 46:9), or prius praedicta (Isaiah 43:9), or prius eventura (Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 42:9). In the present passage it refers to earlier occurrences, which Jehovah had foretold, and, when the time fixed for their accomplishment arrived, which He had immediately brought to pass. With a retrospective glance at this, we find plural masc. suffixes (cf., Isaiah 41:27) used interchangeably with plural fem. (cf., Isaiah 48:7 and Isaiah 38:16); the prophet more frequently uses the sing. fem. in this neuter sense (Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 42:23, etc.), and also, though very rarely, the sing. masc. (Isaiah 45:8). On gı̄d, a band, a sinew, but here a clasp (cf., Arab. kaid, a fetter), see Psychology, p. 233. Nechūshâh is a poetical equivalent for nechōsheth, as in Isaiah 45:2. The heathen cravings of Israel, which reached into the captivity, are here presupposed. Hengstenberg is mistaken in his supposition, that the prophet's standpoint is always anterior to the captivity when he speaks in condemnation of idolatry. We cannot draw any conclusion from the character of the community that returned, with regard to that of the people of the captivity generally. The great mass even of Judah, and still more of Israel, remained behind, and became absorbed into the heathen, to whom they became more and more assimilated. And does not Ezekiel expressly state in Ezekiel 20:30., that the golah by the Chaboras defiled themselves with the same abominations of idolatry as their fathers, and that the prevailing disposition was to combine the worship of Jehovah with heathenism, or else to exchange the former altogether for the latter? And we know that it was just the same with the exiles in Egypt, among whom the life and labours of Jeremiah terminated. Wherever the prophet speaks of פשׁעים and רשׁעים, these names invariably include a tendency or falling away to Babylonian idolatry, to which he describes the exiles as having been addicted, both in Isaiah 66:17 and elsewhere.
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