Isaiah 50:7
For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
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(7) The Lord God will help me.—That one stay gives to the suffering Servant an indomitable strength. (Comp for the phrase Jeremiah 1:18; Ezekiel 3:9.)



Isaiah 50:7

What a striking contrast between the tone of these words and of the preceding! There all is gentleness, docility, still communion, submission, patient endurance. Here all is energy and determination, resistance and martial vigour. It is like the contrast between a priest and a warrior. And that gentleness is the parent of this boldness. The same Will which is all submission to God is all resistance in the face of hostile men. The utmost lowliness and the most resolved resistance to opposing forces are found in that prophetic image of the Servant of the Lord-even as they are found in the highest degree and most perfectly in Jesus Christ.

The sequence in this context is worth noting. We had first Christ’s communion with God and communications from the Father; then the perfect submission of His Will; then that submission expressed in His voluntary sufferings; and now we have His immovable steadfastness of resistance to the temptation, which lay in these sufferings, to depart from His attitude of submission, and to abandon His work.

The former verse led us up to the verge of the great mystery of His sacrificial death. This gives us a glimpse into the depths of His human life, and shows Him to us as our example in all holy heroism.

I. The need which Christ felt to exercise firm resistance.

The words of the text are found almost reproduced in Jeremiah 1:1 - Jeremiah 1:19 and Ezekiel 3:1 - Ezekiel 3:27 All prophets and servants of God have had thus to resist, and it would be superfluous to show how resistance to opposing influences is the condition of all noble life and of all true service.

But was it so with Him? The more accurate translation of the second clause of our text is to be noticed: ‘Therefore I will not suffer Myself to be overcome by the shame.’

Then the shame had in it some tendency to divert Him from His course. Christ’s humanity felt natural human shrinking from pain and suffering. It shrank from the contempt and mockery of those around Him, and did so with especial sensitiveness because of His pure and sinless nature, His yearning sympathy, the atmosphere of love in which He dwelt, His clear sight of the sin, and His prevision of the consequent sorrow. If so, His sufferings did appeal to His human nature and constituted a temptation.

At the beginning the Tempter addressed himself to natural desires to procure physical gratification {bread}, and to the equally natural desire to avoid suffering and pain, and to secure His kingdom by an easier method {‘All these will I give Thee, if-’}.

And the latter temptation attended Him all through His life, and was most insistent at its close. The shadow of the cross stretched along His path from its beginning. But it is to be remembered that he had not the same need of self-control which we have, in that His Will was not reluctant, and that no rebellious desires had escaped from its control and needed to be reduced to submission. ‘I was not rebellious.’ ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ was true in the fullest extent only of Him. So the context gives us His perfect submission of will, and yet the need to harden His face toward externals from which, instinctively and without breach of filial obedience, His sensitive nature recoiled. The reality of the temptation, the limits of its reach, His consciousness of it, and His immovable obedience and resistance, are all expressed in the deep and wonderful words, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’

II. The perfect inflexible resolve.

‘Face like a flint’ seems to be quoted in Luke 9:51; ‘Steadily set His face.’ The whole story of the Gospels gives the one impression of a life steadfast in its great resolve. There are no traces of His ever faltering in His purpose, none of His ever suffering Himself to be diverted from it, no parentheses and no digressions. There are no blunders either. But what a contrast in this respect to all other lives! Mark’s Gospel, which is eminently the gospel of the Servant, is full of energy and of this inflexible resolve, which speak in such sayings as ‘I must be about My Father’s business’; ‘I must work the works of My Father while it is day.’ That last journey, during which He ‘steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,’ is but a type of the whole. Christ’s life was a continuous or rather a continually repeated effort.

This inflexible resolve is associated in Him with characteristics not usually allied with it. The gentleness of Christ is so obvious in His character that little needs to be said to point it out. To the influence of His character more than to any other cause may be traced the change in the perspective, so to speak, of Virtue, which characterises modern notions of perfection as contrasted with antique ones. Contrast the Greek and Roman type with the mediaeval ascetic, or with the philanthropic type of modern times. Carlyle’s ideal is retrograde and an anachronism. Women and patient sufferers find example in Him. But we have in Jesus Christ, too, the highest example of all the stronger and robuster virtues, the more distinctly heroic, masculine; and that not merely passive firmness of endurance such as an American Indian will show in torments, but active firmness which presses on to its goal, and, immovably resolute, will not be diverted by anything. In Him we see a resolved Will and a gentle loving Heart in perfect accord. That is a wonderful combination. We often find that such firmness is developed at the expense of indifference to other people. It is like a war chariot, or artillery train, that goes crashing across the field, though it be over shrieking men and broken bones, and the wheels splash in blood. Resolved firmness is often accompanied with self-absorption which makes it gloomy, and with narrow limitations. Such men gather all their powers together to secure a certain end, and do it by shutting the eyes of their mind to everything but the one object, like the painter, who blocks up his studio window to get a top light, or as a mad bull lowers his head and blindly rushes on.

There is none of all this in Christ’s firmness. He was able at every moment to give His whole sympathy to all who needed it, to take in all that lay around Him, and His resolute concentration of Himself on His work made Him none the less perfect in all which goes to make up complete manhood. Not only was Christ’s firmness that of a fixed Will and a most loving Heart, like one of these ‘rocking stones,’ whose solid mass can be set vibrating by a poising bird, but the fixed Will came from the loving Heart. The very compassion and pity of His nature led to that resolved continuance in His path of redeeming love, though suffering and mockery waited for Him at each turn.

And so He is the Joshua, the Warrior-King, as well as the Priest. That Face, ever ready to kindle into pity, to melt into tenderness, to express every shade of tender feeling, was ‘set as a flint.’ That Eye, ever brimming with tears, was ever fixed on one goal. That Character is the type of all strength and of all gentleness.

III. The basis of Christ’s fixed resolve in filial confidence.

‘The Lord God will help Me.’ So Christ lived by faith.

That faith led to this heroic resistance and immovable resolution.

That confidence of divine help was based upon consciousness of obedience.

It is most blessed for us to have Him as our example of faith and of brave opposition to all the antagonistic forces around us. But we need more than an example. He will but rebuke our wavering purposes of obedience, if He is no more than our pattern. Thank God, He is more, even our Fountain of Power, from Whom we can draw life akin to, because derived from, His own. In Him we can feel strength stealing into flaccid limbs, and gain ‘the wrestling thews that throw the world.’ If we are ‘in Christ’ and on the path of duty, we too may be able to set our faces as a flint, and to say truthfully: ‘None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, that I may finish my course with joy.’ And yet we may withal be gentle, and keep hearts ‘open as day to melting charity,’ and have leisure and sympathy to spare for every sorrow of others, and a hand to help and ‘sustain him that is weary.’Isaiah 50:7-9. For, or rather, but, the Lord God will help me — Though as man I am weak, yet God will strengthen me to go through my great and hard work. Therefore shall I not be confounded — Therefore I assure myself of success in my undertaking, and of victory over all my enemies. I have set my face like a flint — I have hardened myself with resolution and courage against all opposition. See the like phrase, Ezekiel 3:8-9. which Bishop Lowth translates as follows: “Behold I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads: as an adamant, harder than a rock, have I made thy forehead.” The expression, however, sometimes signifies obstinacy and impudence, as Jeremiah 5:3; Zechariah 7:12; but here a settled and immoveable purpose to persevere in well-doing. He is near that justifieth me

Though God seems to be at a distance, and to hide his face from me; yet he is, in truth, at my right hand, ready to help me, and will publicly acquit me from all the calumnies of mine adversaries; will clear up my righteousness, and show, by many and mighty signs and wonders, that I lived and died his faithful servant. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me — I challenge all my accusers to stand and appear before the Judge, and to produce all their charges against me: for I am conscious of mine own innocence, and I know that God will give sentence for me. Who is he that shall condemn me? — That dare attempt, or can justly do it? Lo, they all — Mine accusers and enemies; shall wax old as a garment — Shall pine away in their iniquity: the moth shall eat them up — They shall be cut off and consumed, by a secret curse and judgment of God, compared to a moth, Hosea 5:12.50:4-9 As Jesus was God and man in one person, we find him sometimes speaking, or spoken of, as the Lord God; at other times, as man and the servant of Jehovah. He was to declare the truths which comfort the broken, contrite heart, those weary of sin, harassed with afflictions. And as the Holy Spirit was upon him, that he might speak as never man spake; so the same Divine influence daily wakened him to pray, to preach the gospel, and to receive and deliver the whole will of the Father. The Father justified the Son when he accepted the satisfaction he made for the sin of man. Christ speaks in the name of all believers. Who dares to be an enemy to those unto whom he is a Friend? or who will contend with those whom he is an Advocate? Thus St. Paul applies it, Ro 8:33.For the Lord God will help me - That is, he will sustain me amidst all these expressions of contempt and scorn.

Shall I not be confounded - Hebrew, 'I shall not be ashamed;' that is, I will bear all this with the assurance of his favor and protection, and I will not blush to be thus treated in a cause so glorious, and which must finally triumph and prevail.

Therefore have I set my face like a flint - To harden the face, the brow, the forehead, might be used either in a bad or a good sense - in the former as denoting shamelessness or haughtiness (see the note at Isaiah 48:4); in the latter denoting courage, firmness, resolution. It is used in this sense here; and it means that the Messiah would be firm and resolute amidst all the contempt and scorn which he would meet, and would not shrink from any kind or degree of suffering which should be necessary to accomplish the great work in which he was engaged. A similar expression occurs in Ezekiel 3:8-9 : 'Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant, harder than a flint, have I made thy forehead; fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks.'

7. Sample of His not being "discouraged" (Isa 42:4; 49:5).

set … face like … flint—set Myself resolutely, not to be daunted from My work of love by shame or suffering (Eze 3:8, 9).

For; or rather, But, as this particle is oft rendered. For God’s favour is here opposed to the injuries of men.

The Lord God will help me; though as a man I am weak and inconsiderable, yet God will strengthen me to go through my great and hard work.

Therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore I assure myself of success in my employment, and of victory over all mine enemies.

Therefore have I set my face like a flint; I have hardened myself with resolution and courage against all opposition. So this or the like phrase is used Ezekiel 3:8,9, which elsewhere signifies obstinacy and impudence, as Jeremiah 5:3 Zechariah 7:12; so that it notes any settled and unmovable purpose, whether good or evil. For the Lord God will help me,.... As he promised he would, and did, Psalm 89:21, which is no contradiction to the deity of Christ, nor any suggestion of weakness in him; for he is the true God, and has all divine perfections in him; is equal to his Father in power, as well as in glory, and therefore equal to the work of redemption, as his other works show him to be; but this is to be understood of him as man, and expresses his strong faith and confidence in God, and in his promises as such; and in his human nature he was weak, and was crucified through weakness, and in it he was made strong by the Lord, and was held and upheld by him: and this shows the greatness of the work of man's redemption, that it was such that no mere creature could effect; even Christ as man needed help and assistance in it; and also the concern that all the divine Persons had in it:

therefore shall I not be confounded; or "made ashamed" (z); though shamefully used, yet not confounded; so as to have nothing to say for himself, or so as to be ashamed of his work; which is perfect in itself, and well pleasing to God:

therefore have I set my face like a flint: or like "steel" (a); or as an adamant stone, as some (b) render it; hardened against all opposition; resolute and undaunted; constant and unmoved by the words and blows of men; not to be browbeaten, or put out of countenance, by anything they can say or do. He was not dismayed at his enemies who came to apprehend him, though they came to him as a thief, with swords and staves; nor in the high priest's palace, nor in Pilate's hall, in both which places he was roughly used; nor at Satan, and his principalities and powers; nor at death itself, with all its terrors.

And I know that I shall not be ashamed, neither of his ministry, which was with power and authority; nor of his miracles, which were proofs of his deity and Messiahship; nor of his obedience, which was pure, and perfect, and pleasing to God; nor of his sufferings, which were for the sake of his people; nor of the work of redemption and salvation, in which he was not frustrated nor disappointed of his end.

(z) "non erubui", Pagniuus, Montanus; "non afficior ignominia", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "non pudefactus", Syr. (a) "at chalybem". Forerius. (b) "Tanquam saxum adamantinum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
7. The verse is better rendered thus: But the Lord Jehovah helps me, therefore I was not ashamed (i.e. felt no shame); therefore I made my face like flint (figure for determination, cf. Ezekiel 3:9), and knew that I should not be put to shame. For the thought cf. ch. Isaiah 42:4.Verse 7. - For the Lord God will help me; rather, but the Lord God will help me. I shall not be left always in the hands of my enemies. In this confidence the Servant rests, and is not confounded, even when the worst happens to him. He sets his face like a flint; i.e. makes it hard, impassive, expressionless, and at the same time determined, fixed not to give way (comp. Ezekiel 3:8, 9). The words are no longer addressed to Zion, but to her children. "Thus saith Jehovah, Where is your mother's bill of divorce, with which I put her away? Or where is one of my creditors, to whom I sold you? Behold, for your iniquities are ye sold, and for your transgressions is your mother put away." It was not He who had broken off the relation in which He stood to Zion; for the mother of Israel, whom Jehovah had betrothed to Himself, had no bill of divorce to show, with which Jehovah had put her away and thus renounced for ever the possibility of receiving her again (according to Deuteronomy 24:1-4), provided she should in the meantime have married another. Moreover, He had not yielded to outward constraint, and therefore given her up to a foreign power; for where was there on of His creditors (there is not any one) to whom He would have been obliged to relinquish His sons, because unable to pay His debts, and in this way to discharge them? - a harsh demand, which was frequently made by unfelling creditors of insolvent debtors (Exodus 21:7; 2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 18:25). On nōsheh, a creditor, see at Isaiah 24:2. Their present condition was indeed that of being sold and put away; but this was not the effect of despotic caprice, or the result of compulsion on the part of Jehovah. It was Israel itself that had broken off the relation in which it stood to Jehovah; they had been sold through their own faults, and "for your transgressions is your mother put away." Instead of וּבפשׁעיה we have וּבפשׁעיכם. This may be because the church, although on the one hand standing higher and being older than her children (i.e., her members at any particular time), is yet, on the other hand, orally affected by those to whom she has given birth, who have been trained by her, and recognised by her as her own.
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