Isaiah 54:8
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) In a little wrath.—The Hebrew has the rhetorical emphasis of rhyme, bĕshetsheph, guetseph, literally, in a gush or burst, of wrath, which, however terrible at the time, endured but for a moment.

54:6-10 As God is slow to anger, so he is swift to show mercy. And how sweet the returns of mercy would be, when God should come and comfort them! He will have mercy on them. God's gathering his people takes rise from his mercy, not any merit of theirs; and it is with great mercies, with everlasting kindness. The wrath is little, the mercies great; the wrath for a moment, the kindness everlasting. We are neither to despond under afflictions, nor to despair of relief. Mountains have been shaken and removed, but the promises of God never were broken by any event. Mountains and hills also signify great men. Creature-confidences shall fail; but when our friends fail us, our God does not. All this is alike applicable to the church at large, and to each believer. God will rebuke and correct his people for sins; but he will not cast them off. Let this encourage us to give the more diligence to make our calling and election sure.In a little wrath - The Syriac renders this, 'In great wrath.' The Vulgate, 'In a moment of indignation.' The Septuagint, 'In a little wrath.' (Noyes renders it in accordance with the view of Rosenmuller, 'In overflowing wrath.' This variety of interpretation has arisen from the various meanings affixed to the unusual word שׁצף shetsep. This word occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Gesenius supposes that it is used for the sake of paronomasia with קצף qetsep, 'wrath,' instead of שׁטף sheṭep. This word frequently occurs, and means a gushing out, an overflowing, an inundation, a flood Nehemiah 1:8; Job 38:25; Psalm 32:6; Proverbs 27:4. According to this it would mean, 'in my overflowing anger,' in accordance with the expression in Proverbs 27:4, 'anger is outrageous,' more correctly in the margin, 'An overflowing.' The parallelism, however, seems to demand the sense of short or momentary, as it stands opposed to 'everlasting.' But it is not possible to demonstrate that the Hebrew word has this signification. Rosenmuller agrees with Gesenius in the opinion that it should be rendered 'In overflowing wrath;' and perhaps as the parallelism of the word 'everlasting' will be sufficiently secured by the phrase 'for a moment,' the probability is in favor of this interpretation. Then it will mean that the wrath, though it was but for a moment, was overflowing. It was like a deluge; and all their institutions, their city, their temple, their valued possessions, were swept away.

I hid my face from thee - This is expressive of displeasure (see the note at Isaiah 53:3; compare Job 13:24; Job 34:29; Psalm 30:7; Psalm 44:24; Isaiah 8:17). Here it refers to the displeasure which he had manifested in the punishment which he brought on them in Babylon.

For a moment - (See the note at Isaiah 54:7). This stands opposed to the 'everlasting kindness' which he would show to them.

But with everlasting kindness - This is true:

1. Of the church at large under the Messiah. It is the object of the unchanging affection and favor of God.

2. Of each individual Christian. He will make him blessed in an eternal heaven.

8. In a little wrath—rather, "In the overflowing of wrath"; as Pr 27:4, Margin, [Gesenius]. The wrath, though but "for a moment," was overflowing while it lasted.

hid … face—(Isa 8:17; Ps 30:7).

everlasting—in contrast to "for a moment."

I hid my face; I removed the means and pledges of my presence and kindness.

With everlasting kindness; with kindness to thee and thy seed through all succeeding generations, here and unto all eternity.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment,.... This signifies much the same as before, when God hides his face from his people, withdraws his gracious presence, and does not grant the discoveries of his love; or they are under the frowns of his providence, and have not the smiles of his face and the light of his countenance as formerly, then they think they are forsaken by him; though all this is but for a moment, a small period of time; and though it seems to be in "wrath", it is but "little wrath"; and this wrath is no other than the displeasure of a loving and tender hearted father. The Syriac version renders it, "great wrath"; and so Schultens (o) thinks the word signifies "overflowing wrath" (p), and the vehemency of it; to which agrees R. Menachem (q), who interprets it, "the heat of wrath"; so the Lord's suffering such a scene of bloody persecutions to attend his church in the first ages of Christianity might seem to be:

but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer; all the dealings of God with his people, however dark and dismal they be, whatever appearances there are in them of wrath and displeasure, they are all agreeable to, and do not contradict, his everlasting love; and sooner or later he will make it manifest, he has mercy in store for his people, which he does and will exercise towards them; this mercy flows from his love and kindness to them, which kindness is everlasting, and continues in and through all states and conditions into which they come; the consideration of which is very comfortable and encouraging, and of which they may be assured from the relation the Lord stands in to them as their Redeemer; for, having redeemed them at the expense of his blood, he will effectually gather them by grace in calling, and will never lose them, or suffer them to perish here or hereafter.

(o) Animadv. in Job, p. 145, 146. (p) "pauxillo irae exundantis, vel exiguo irae ebullientis", Vitringa. (q) Apud Jarchi, Kimchi, & Ben Melech, in loc.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. In a little wrath] In an outbreak of wrath (Heb. shéçeph qéçeph). The word shéçeph is probably another form (chosen for the sake of assonance) of shéṭeph which occurs in Proverbs 27:4.

Isaiah 54:8Thus does Jehovah's displeasure towards Jerusalem pass quickly away; and all the more intense is the manifestation of love which follows His merely momentary anger. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, and with great mercy will I gather thee. In an effusion of anger I hid my face from thee for a moment, and with everlasting grace I have compassion upon thee, saith Jehovah thy Redeemer." "For a small moment" carries us to the time of the captivity, which was a small moment in comparison with the duration of the tender and merciful love, with which Jehovah once more received the church into His fellowship in the person of its members. רגע in Isaiah 54:8 is not an adverb, meaning momentarily, as in Isaiah 47:9, but an accusative of duration, signifying a single moment long. Ketseph signifies wrath regarded as an outburst (fragor), like the violence of a storm or a clap of thunder; shetseph, which rhymes with it, is explained by A. Schultens, after the Arabic, as signifying durum et asperum esse: and hence the rendering adopted by Hitzig, "in hard harshness." But this yields no antithesis to "everlasting kindness," which requires that shetseph should be rendered in some way that expresses the idea of something transitory or of short duration. The earlier translators felt this, when like the lxx for example, they adopted the rendering ἐν θυμῷ μικρῷ, and others of a similar kind; and Ibn Labrt, in his writing against Menahem b. Zerk, who gives chŏrı̄, burning heat, as a gloss to shetseph, explains it by מעט (as Kimchi and others did afterwards). But, as Jakob Tam correctly observes, "this makes the sense purely tautological." In all probability, shâtsaph is a form allied to shâtaph, as nâshabh (Isaiah 40:7) is to nâshaph (Isaiah 40:24), and qâmat (Job 16:8) to qâmats, which stand in the same relation to one another, so far as the sense is concerned, as bubbling over to flowing over: so that the proper rendering would not be "in the overflowing of glowing heat," as Umbreit thinks, which would require קצף בּשׁטף (Proverbs 27:4), but in the gushing up of displeasure, the overflowing of indignation (Meier). The ketseph is only a shetseph, a vanishing moment (Jer. in momento indignationis), when compared with the true feeling of Jehovah towards Jerusalem, which is chesed ‛ōlâm, everlasting kindness.
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