Isaiah 51:13
And forget the LORD your maker, that has stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
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(13) As if he were ready.—Better, as he makes him ready to destroy. The Authorised version unduly minimises the amount of danger. In the case contemplated by the prophet, the oppressor was the Babylonian monarchy, which he sees as already belonging to the past; but the words have, of course, a far wider application.

51:9-16 The people whom Christ has redeemed with his blood, as well as by his power, will obtain joyful deliverance from every enemy. He that designs such joy for us at last, will he not work such deliverance in the mean time, as our cases require? In this world of changes, it is a short step from joy to sorrow, but in that world, sorrow shall never come in view. They prayed for the display of God's power; he answers them with consolations of his grace. Did we dread to sin against God, we should not fear the frowns of men. Happy is the man that fears God always. And Christ's church shall enjoy security by the power and providence of the Almighty.And forgettest the Lord thy Maker - These verses are designed to rebuke that state of the mind - alas! too common, even among the people of God - where they are intimidated by the number and strength of their foes, and forget their dependence on God, and his promises of aid. In such circumstances God reproves them for their want of confidence in him, and calls on them to remember that he has made the heavens, and has all power to save them.

That hath stretched forth the heavens - (See the notes at Isaiah 40:12, Isaiah 40:26).

And hast feared continually every day - They had continually feared and trembled before their oppressors.

Because of the fury of the oppressor - Those who had oppressed them in Babylon.

As if he were ready to destroy - Margin, 'Made himself ready,' The idea is, that he was preparing to destroy the people - perhaps as a marksman is making ready his bow and arrows. The oppressor had been preparing to crush them in the dust, and they trembled, and did not remember that God was abundantly able to protect them.

And where is the fury of the oppressor? - What is there to dread? The idea is, that the enemies of the Jews would be cut off, and that they should therefore put their confidence in God, and rely on his promised aid.

13. (Isa 40:12, 26, 28), the same argument of comfort drawn from the omnipotence of the Creator.

as if … ready, &c.—literally, "when he directs," namely, his arrow, to destroy (Ps 21:12; 7:13; 11:2) [Maurer].

And forgettest the Lord thy Maker; and dost not consider the infinite power of that God who made thee, and who will plead thy cause.

As if he were ready to destroy; as if it were in his power to destroy thee in a moment.

Where is the fury of the oppressor? what is become of the power and rage of the Babylonians? Is it not all gone? Are not they broken, and thou delivered? He speaks of the thing as if it were already done, because it should certainly and suddenly be done. Where is it? It is no where, it is quite lost and gone, as this phrase is frequently used, as Psalm 42:3 Zechariah 1:5 1 Corinthians 15:55. And forgettest the Lord thy Maker,.... That he is thy Maker, and therefore is able to protect and preserve thee; when the fear of man prevails God is forgotten, his power, his providence, his promises, and past instances of divine favour and goodness; were these more frequently recollected, considered, and thought of, they would prove an antidote against the fear of men; and especially when it is observed, that he that is our Maker is he

that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; these are amazing works of his hands; and what is it that he cannot do that has made these? these he upholds and maintains in being, and does all things in them as he pleases, and overrules all for his own glory and his people's good, and therefore they have nothing to fear from men; and yet they are afraid of them, such is their distrust and unbelief:

and hast feared continually every day; not only at some certain times, when the enemy has appeared very formidable, and threatened with destruction, or some terrible rumour has been spread, but every day, every hour, and every moment; and to be always in a panic must be very uncomfortable living, as well as very dishonourable:

because of the fury of the oppressor; either the king of Babylon, or antichrist:

as if he were ready to destroy: had drawn his sword, and just going to give the fatal blow:

and where, or "but where",

is the fury of the oppressor? where's the fury of Pharaoh, that great oppressor of God's Israel formerly? it is gone and vanished like smoke: where's the fury of Sennacherib king of Assyria, and his army, that threatened Jerusalem with ruin? it was over in a short time, in one night the whole host, or the greater part of it, were destroyed by an angel: and where is, or will be, the fury of the king of Babylon? it will not last always; nor the fury of the antichristian oppressor.

And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
13. And forgettest the Lord] Not in the sense of apostatising from Him (as ch. Isaiah 17:10 and often), but of failing to realise His omnipotence as the Creator of all things (see ch. Isaiah 49:14).

that hath stretched forth the heavens &c.] Cf. Isaiah 40:22, Isaiah 42:5, Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 45:12.

and hast feared … day] Better as R.V. and fearest continually all the day. The oppressor is of course the Chaldæan Empire (see ch. Isaiah 47:6), a proof that this part of the book was not written after the fall of Babylon.

as if he were ready to destroy] R.V. when he maketh ready to destroy; lit. “aims (his arrow) to destroy,” the verb being used technically of an archer directing his arrow; so Psalm 21:13, cf. Psalm 7:13; Psalm 11:2.

and where is the fury of the oppressor?] Cf. ch. Isaiah 33:18. The question gives a weak ending to the verse, and indeed both in this clause and the preceding the soundness of the text is doubtful.Verse 13. - And forgettest the Lord thy Maker. It is not so much apostasy as want of a lively and practical faith with which captive Israel is here reproached. They did not deny God - they only left him out of sight, neglected him, forgot him. That hath stretched forth the heavens (comp. Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12, etc.). And laid the foundations of the earth (see Isaiah 48:13; Psalm 102:25; Hebrews 1:10). And hast feared continually... because of the fury of the oppressor. (On the sufferings of the Israelites under their Babylonian oppressors, see the comment on Isaiah 42:22, and again on Isaiah 47:6.) By the present passage it would appear that life itself was not safe from their cruel fury, when their victims had exasperated them. Where is the fury of the oppressor? All their violence and rage will come to nought, when they in their turn become subject to the conquering Persians. Upon this magnificent promise of the final triumph of the counsel of God, an exhortation is founded to the persecuted church, not to be afraid of men. "Hearken unto me, ye that know about righteousness, thou people with my law in the heart; fear ye not the reproach of mortals, and be ye not alarmed at their revilings. For the moth will devour them like a garment, and the worm devour them like woollen cloth; and my righteousness will stand for ever, and my salvation to distant generations." The idea of the "servant of Jehovah," in its middle sense, viz., as denoting the true Israel, is most clearly set forth in the address here. They that pursue after righteousness, and seek Jehovah (Isaiah 51:1), that is to say, the servants of Jehovah (Isaiah 65:8-9), are embraced in the unity of a "people," as in Isaiah 65:10 (cf., Isaiah 10:24), i.e., of the true people of God in the people of His choice, and therefore of the kernel in the heart of the whole mass - an integral intermediate link in the organism of the general idea, which Hvernick and, to a certain extent, Hofmann eliminate from it,

(Note: Hvernick, in his Lectures on the Theology of the Old Testament, published by H. A. Hahn, 1848, and in a second edition by H. Schultz, 1863; Drechsler, in his article on the Servant of Jehovah, in the Luth. Zeitschrift, 1852; V. Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 147. The first two understand by the servant of Jehovah as an individual, the true Israel personified: the idea has simply Israel as a whole at its base, i.e., Israel which did not answer to its ideal, and the Messiah as the summit, in whom the ideal of Israel was fully realized. Drechsler goes so far as to call the central link, viz., an Israel true to its vocation, a modern abstraction that has no support in the Scriptures. Hofmann, however, says that he has no wish to exclude this central idea, and merely wishes to guard against the notion that a number of individuals, whether Israelites generally or pious Israelites, are ever intended by the epithet "servant of Jehovah." "The nation," he says himself at p. 145, "was called as a nation to be the servant of God, but it fulfilled its calling as a church of believers." And so say we; but we also add that this church is a kernel always existing within the outer ecclesia mixta, and therefore always a number of individuals, though they are only known to God.)

but not without thereby destroying the typical mirror in which the prophet beholds the passion of the One. The words are addressed to those who know from their own experience what righteousness is as a gift of grace, and as conduct in harmony with the plan of salvation, i.e., to the nation, which bears in its heart the law of God as the standard and impulse of its life, the church which not only has it as a letter outside itself, but as a vital power within (cf., Psalm 40:9). None of these need to be afraid of men. Their despisers and blasphemers are men ('ĕnōsh; cf., Isaiah 51:12, Psalm 9:20; Psalm 10:18), whose pretended omnipotence, exaltation, and indestructibility, are an unnatural self-convicted lie. The double figure in Isaiah 51:8, which forms a play upon words that cannot well be reproduced, affirms that the smallest exertion of strength is quite sufficient to annihilate their sham greatness and sham power; and that long before they are actually destroyed, they carry the constantly increasing germ of it within themselves. The sâs, says a Jewish proverb, is brother to the ‛âsh. The latter (from ‛âshēsh, collabi, Arab. ‛aththa, trans. corrodere) signifies a moth; the former (like the Arabic sūs, sūse, Gr. σής) a moth, and also a weevil, curculio. The relative terms in Greek are σής (Armen. tzetz) and κίς. But whilst the persecutors of the church succumb to these powers of destruction, the righteousness and salvation of God, which are even now the confidence and hope of His church, and the full and manifest realization of which it will hereafter enjoy, stand for ever, and from "generation to generation," ledōr dōrı̄m, i.e., to an age which embraces endless ages within itself.

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