Isaiah 5:21
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
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(21) Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes.—Here again the prophet would seem to have definite individual counsellors in his mind. For such men the ideal of statesmanship was a series of shifts and expedients, based upon no principle of righteousness. (Comp. Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 30:1.)

Isaiah 5:21. Wo unto them that are wise in their own eyes — Who, being puffed up with a high opinion of their own wisdom, despise the counsels and instructions of Jehovah by his prophets, and prefer their own vain imaginations before the decisions of infinite wisdom.

5:8-23 Here is a woe to those who set their hearts on the wealth of the world. Not that it is sinful for those who have a house and a field to purchase another; but the fault is, that they never know when they have enough. Covetousness is idolatry; and while many envy the prosperous, wretched man, the Lord denounces awful woes upon him. How applicable to many among us! God has many ways to empty the most populous cities. Those who set their hearts upon the world, will justly be disappointed. Here is woe to those who dote upon the pleasures and the delights of sense. The use of music is lawful; but when it draws away the heart from God, then it becomes a sin to us. God's judgments have seized them, but they will not disturb themselves in their pleasures. The judgments are declared. Let a man be ever so high, death will bring him low; ever so mean, death will bring him lower. The fruit of these judgments shall be, that God will be glorified as a God of power. Also, as a God that is holy; he shall be owned and declared to be so, in the righteous punishment of proud men. Those are in a woful condition who set up sin, and who exert themselves to gratify their base lusts. They are daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts; it is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel. They confound and overthrow distinctions between good and evil. They prefer their own reasonings to Divine revelations; their own devices to the counsels and commands of God. They deem it prudent and politic to continue profitable sins, and to neglect self-denying duties. Also, how light soever men make of drunkenness, it is a sin which lays open to the wrath and curse of God. Their judges perverted justice. Every sin needs some other to conceal it.Wo unto them that are wise ... - This is the fifth crime specified. It refers to those who are inflated with a false opinion of their own knowledge, and who are, therefore, self-confident and vain. This is expressly forbidden; Proverbs 3:7 : 'Be not wise in thine own eyes;' compare Proverbs 26:12.

In their own eyes - In their own opinion, or estimation.

And prudent - Knowing; self-conceited. This was, doubtless, one characteristic of the times of Isaiah. It is known to have been strikingly the characteristic of the Jews - particularly the Pharisees - in the time of our Saviour. The evil of this was,

(1) That it evinced and fostered "pride."

(2) That it rendered them unwilling to be instructed, and especially by the prophets.

As they supposed that they were already wise enough, they refused to listen to others. This is always the effect of such self-confidence: and hence, the Saviour required his disciples to be meek, and humble, and teachable as children.

21. Fifth Woe—against those who were so "wise in their own eyes" as to think they knew better than the prophet, and therefore rejected his warnings (Isa 29:14, 15). That being puffed up with an opinion of their own wisdom, despise the counsels and instructions of God by his prophets, and prefer their own vain fancies before the judgment of the all-wise God, as appears by the error before mentioned, Isaiah 5:20, that they affirmed that to be evil which God had declared to be good.

Woe unto therm that are wise in their own eyes,.... And yet betray such stupidity and sottishness, as to call things by their wrong names; and make such a perverse judgment of them, as before described. This is a true description of the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time; who said, "dost thou teach us? are we blind also?" John 9:34.

and prudent in their own sight; being wise above what was written; leaving the word of God, and following the traditions of the elders.

Woe to them that are {b} wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

(b) Who contemn all doctrine and admonition.

21. The fifth woe, against the self-satisfied astuteness of the politicians. That the prophet has the statesmen in his eye is probable from such passages as Isaiah 28:9 f., Isaiah 29:14 f., Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 30:10 f., Isaiah 31:1 f.

Verse 21. - Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes. The fifth woe. Self-conceit is the antithesis of humility; and as humility is, in a certain sense, the crowning virtue, so self-conceit is a sort of finishing touch put to vice. While a man thinks humbly of himself, there is a chance that he may repent and amend. When he is "wise in his own eyes," he does not see why he should change. Isaiah 5:21The fifth woe: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." The third woe had reference to the unbelieving naturalists, the opponents of prophecy (nebuâh); the fourth to the moralists, who threw all into confusion; and to this there is appended, by a very natural association of ideas, the woe denounced upon those whom want of humility rendered inaccessible to that wisdom which went hand in hand with prophecy, and the true foundation of which was the fear of Jehovah (Proverbs 1:7; Job 28:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13). "Be not wise in thine own eyes," is a fundamental rule of this wisdom (Proverbs 3:7). It was upon this wisdom that that prophetic policy rested, whose warnings, as we read in Isaiah 28:9-10, they so scornfully rejected. The next woe, which has reference to the administration of justice in the state, shows very clearly that in this woe the prophet had more especially the want of theocratic wisdom in relation to the affairs of state in his mind.
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