Isaiah 57:15
For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
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(15) For thus saith the high and lofty . . .—The central truth for the comfort of God’s people is that the infinitely Great One cares even for the infinitely little. The truth of the greatness of lowliness manifested in the life of Christ was but the reflection of the permanent law of the Divine government. The “high and holy place” is, of course, the heavenly temple, the “light inaccessible.” The verse, as a whole, combines the truths of 2Chronicles 6:18, and Psalm 51:17.

Isaiah 57:15-16. For thus saith the high and lofty One — The omnipotent and supreme Ruler of the universe; that inhabiteth eternity — Who is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning of days, or end of life, or change of time; who only hath immortality, hath it of himself, and that constantly; who inhabits it, and cannot be dispossessed of it; whose name is Holy — Who is perfectly and essentially holy in his nature, his works, his words, and his ways; and therefore both can and will deliver his church and people, as he has promised to do. I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also, &c. — Although my throne is in the highest heavens, where nothing impure can have place, yet I do not disdain graciously to visit, and familiarly converse with, those sinners of mankind, whose spirits are broken by affliction, and humbled under a sense of their sins, for which they were afflicted; which doubtless was the case with many of the Jews in the Babylonish captivity: whom, therefore, he here implies, that God would pity and deliver out of their distresses, as also all others in similar circumstances. To revive the spirit of the humble — To support and comfort them amidst their afflictions and troubles, of whatever kind. For I will not contend for ever — I will not proceed to the utmost severity with sinful men. For the spirit should fail before me — For then their spirits would sink and die under my stroke, and I should do nothing else but destroy the work of my own hands: therefore I consider their infirmity, and spare them. See Psalm 78:38-39; and Psalm 103:9-14; which passages Bishop Lowth thinks contain the best and easiest explication of this clause.57:13-21 The idols and their worshippers shall come to nothing; but those who trust in God's grace, shall be brought to the joys of heaven. With the Lord there is neither beginning of days, nor end of life, nor change of time. His name is holy, and all must know him as a holy God. He will have tender regard to those who bring their mind to their condition, and dread his wrath. He will make his abode with those whose hearts he has thus humbled, in order to revive and comfort them. When troubles last long, even good men are tempted to entertain hard thoughts of God. Therefore He will not contend for ever, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands, nor defeat the purchase of his Son's blood. Covetousness is a sin that particularly lays men under the Divine displeasure. See the sinfulness of sin. See also that troubles cannot reform men unless God's grace work in them. Peace shall be published, perfect peace. It is the fruit of preaching lips, and praying lips. Christ came and preached peace to Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; to after-ages, who were afar off in time, as well as to those of that age. But the wicked would not be healed by God's grace, therefore would not be healed by his comforts. Their ungoverned lusts and passions made them like the troubled sea. Also the terrors of conscience disturbed their enjoyments. God hath said it, and all the world cannot unsay it, That there is no peace to those who allow themselves in any sin. If we are recovered from such an awful state, it is only by the grace of God. And the influences of the Holy Spirit, and that new heart, from whence comes grateful praise, the fruit of our lips, are his gift. Salvation, with all its fruits, hopes, and comforts, is his work, and to him belongs all the glory. There is no peace for the wicked man; but let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.For thus saith - The design of this verse is, to furnish the assurance that the promise made to the people of God would certainly be accomplished. It was not to be presumed that he was so high and lofty, that he did not condescend to notice the affairs of people; but though he, in fact, dwelt in eternity, yet he also had his abode in the human heart. Many of the ancient pagans supposed that God was so lofty that be did not condescend to notice human affairs. This was the view of the Epicureans (see the notes at Acts 17:18); and the belief extensively prevailed in the Oriental world, that God had committed the management of the affairs of people to inferior beings which he had created. This was the basis of the Gnostic philosophy. According to this, God reposed far in the distant heavens, and was regardless of the affairs and plans of mortals, and personally unconcerned in the government of this lower world. But the Bible reveals him as a very different being. True, he is vast and illimitable in his existence and perfections; but, at the same time, he is the most condescending of all beings. He dwells with people, and he delights in making his home with the penitent and the contrite.

The high and lofty One - One manuscript reads 'Yahweh,' before 'saith;' and Lowth has adopted the reading; but the authority is not sufficient. The sense is, that he who is here spoken of is, by way of eminence, The high and holy One; the most high and the most exalted being in the universe. He is so far above all creatures of all ranks that it is not needful to specify his name in order to designate him. No one can be compared with him; no one so nearly approaches him that there can be any danger of confounding him with other beings.

That inhabiteth eternity - (Compare the notes at Isaiah 9:6). The word 'eternity' here evidently stands in contrast with the 'contrite and humble spirit;' and it seems to be used to denote the elevated place of an eternal dwelling or heaven. He dwells not only among human beings, but he dwells in eternity - where time is unknown - in a world where succession is not marked - and long before the interminable duration was broken in upon by the revolutions of years and days.

Whose name is Holy - (See the notes at Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 30:11; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:3, Isaiah 43:8, Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 47:4). "I dwell in the high and holy place." In heaven - uniformly represented as far exalted above the earth, and as the special home or dwelling-place of God. Thus, in Isaiah 63:15, heaven is called the habitation of the holiness and glory of Yahweh.

With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit - The word 'contrite' (דכא dakkâ') means properly that which is broken, crushed, beaten small, trodden down. Here it denotes a soul that is borne down with a sense of sin and unworthiness; a heart that is, as it were, crushed under a superincumbent weight of guilt (see Psalm 34:18; Psalm 138:6).

To revive the spirit - literally, 'to make alive.' The sense is, he imparts spiritual life and comfort. He is to them what refreshing rains and genial suns and dews are to a drooping plant.

15. The pride and self-righteousness of the Jews were the stumbling block in the way of their acknowledging Christ. The contrition of Israel in the last days shall be attended with God's interposition in their behalf. So their self-humiliation, in Isa 66:2, 5, 10, &c., precedes their final prosperity (Zec 12:6, 10-14); there will, probably, be a previous period of unbelief even after their return (Zec 12:8, 9). Whose name is Holy; who is omnipotent, everlasting, and unchangeable, holy in all his words and ways, and therefore both can and will deliver his people, as he hath promised to do.

With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit; with such also whose spirits are broken and humbled by afflictions, and by a sense of their sins for which they were afflicted; which doubtless was the case of many of the Jews in the Babylonish captivity; whom therefore he here implies that God would pity and deliver out of their distresses. For thus saith the high and lofty One,.... Who is high above the earth, and the nations of it; higher than the kings in it; the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and so able to save his people, and destroy his and their enemies; who is higher than the heavens, and the angels there; who is exalted above the praises of his people; the knowledge of whose being and perfections is too wonderful for them; whose thoughts are higher than theirs; and whose love has a height in it not to be reached by them; all which may serve to command a proper awe and reverence of him, and close attention to what he says; and perhaps these characters and titles are assumed in opposition to antichrist, who exalts himself above all that is called God, as well as what follows; who boasts of antiquity, and insolently takes to himself the title of Holiness: wherefore the Lord goes on to describe himself as

he that inhabiteth eternity: is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning or end, the first and the last, who only hath immortality in and of himself; angels and the souls of men, though they die not, yet have a beginning; God only is from eternity to eternity; or rather inhabits one undivided, uninterrupted, eternity, to which time is but a mere point or moment:

whose name is Holy: his nature being so; he is originally and essentially holy, and the source of holiness to his creatures, angels and men; though none are holy in comparison of him; his holiness is displayed in all his works; he is glorious in it; and therefore with great propriety holy and reverend is his name:

I dwell in the high and holy place; he dwelt in the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple, which were figures of the true sanctuary, heaven, where Jehovah dwells, and seems to be here meant; though the word "place" is not in the text; and it may be rendered, "I dwell with the high and holy" (b); and Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret it of the holy angels; and if we apply it to the holy and divine Persons in the Trinity, the Son and Spirit, it may not be amiss, and will stand well connected with what follows

with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit; not only with the other divine Persons, and with those high ones, but with such who are broken under a sense of sin; not merely in a legal, but in an evangelical way; not only with the weight of divine wrath, but with a view of pardoning grace and mercy; and such souls are humble as well as contrite; have the worst thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; they are humble under a sense of sin and unworthiness, and submit to the righteousness of Christ for their acceptance and justification before God; and ascribe the whole of their salvation to his free grace alone; and become cheerful followers of the meek and lowly Jesus; with such the Lord dwells, not merely by his omnipresence and omnipotence, but by his spirit and grace; or in a gracious way and manner, by shedding abroad his love in their hearts, and communicating his grace to them; and which he usually does under the ministry of the word and ordinances, and which may be expected: and his end in so doing is,

to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones; who are sometimes in a very lifeless and uncomfortable condition; grace is weak; sin is prevalent; they are under a sense of divine displeasure; under the hidings of God's face, and attended with various afflictions and adverse dispensations of Providence: now the Lord dwells with them, to revive and quicken them; which he does by his gracious presence; by the discoveries of his pardoning love and grace; by the application of precious promises; and by granting large measures of his grace, so that they become comfortable in their souls, and are quickened to the fresh exercise of grace, and discharge of duty. All this seems to be spoken for the consolation of the Lord's people in their low estate, during the reign of antichrist, and towards the close of it, when greatly oppressed by him. Vitringa interprets this of the Waldenses and Bohemian brethren; but it seems to respect later times.

(b) "excelso et sancto habitabo", Pagninus, Montanus.

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
15. high and lofty] An Isaianic phrase, ch. Isaiah 2:12 ff., Isaiah 6:1 (cf. Isaiah 52:13).

that inhabiteth eternity] Rather, “that sitteth (enthroned) for ever.”

I dwell in the high and holy place] The strict rendering perhaps is “on high and Holy (as a holy One) I dwell.” Cf. Isaiah 66:1.

of a contrite and humble spirit] crushed and of a lowly spirit. The expressions do not necessarily imply what we mean by contrition—the crushing effect of remorse for sin—but only the subdued, self-distrusting spirit which is produced by affliction. Comp. ch. Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 51:17.

The word “holy” (here used as a proper name, see on ch. Isaiah 40:25) and the expressions “high and lofty” seem to shew the influence of Isaiah’s vision (ch. 6). The thought of the verse is very striking. It is the paradox of religion that Jehovah’s holiness, which places Him at an infinite distance from human pride and greatness, brings Him near to the humble in spirit (comp. Psalm 113:5-6; Psalm 138:6). No contrast is indicated: Jehovah dwells on high and (not but yet) with the lowly. It would be a mistake, however, to infer that holiness means or even includes gracious condescension. The two attributes are not mutually exclusive, but still less are they identical. The holiness of God is expressed by saying that He dwells on high; His dwelling with the contrite is another fact which manifests a different aspect of His character. Through the discipline of the Exile Israel had come to know God in both characters—as infinitely exalted and infinitely condescending; it had learned that peace with God, the high and lofty One, is reached through humility, which is the recognition of His holiness and majesty.Verses 15-21. - A PROMISE OF SALVATION TO THE HUMBLE AND PENITENT, WITH A FURTHER THREAT AGAINST THE WICKED. The prophet, in this portion of his discourse, whereof "comfort" is the key-note (Isaiah 40:1), can never continue threatening long without relapsing into a tone of tenderness and pity. He now sets against his long denunciation (in vers. 3-12) an ample promise (vers. 15-19), and against his brief encouragement (in vers. 13, 14) a short menace (vers. 20, 21). Verse 15. - For. The ground of the promise of salvation in ver. 15 is God's combined might and mercy, which are now set forth. The high and lofty One (comp. Isaiah 6:1, where the same words are translated "high and lifted up"). In God's loftiness are included at once his exalted majesty and his almighty power. He is "high" in himself, transcending thought, and "lofty" or "lifted up" in that he is absolute Lord of his creatures, and therefore high above them. That inhabiteth eternity. So the LXX., κατοικῶν τὸν αἰῶνα But the Hebrew is less abstract, and would perhaps be best translated "that liveth eternally." I dwell in the high and holy place. Solomon's "heaven of heavens" (1 Kings 8:27), which, however, "cannot contain him;" St. Paul's "light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16); Zechariah's "holy habitation" (Zechariah 2:13). With him also that is of a contrite - literally, crushed - and humble spirit. "Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly "(Psalm 138:6); "He humbleth himself to consider the things that are in heaven and earth" (Psalm 113:6). He is not an Epicurean Deity, too far exalted above man to have any regard for him, or concern himself with man's welfare (see Job 22:12, 13). On the contrary, he condescends to "dwell with" man, only let man have a "humble" and "crushed," or "bruised," spirit. To revive the spirit of the humble. When God condescends to visit the contrite and humble spirit, the immediate effect is to comfort, console, revive. His presence is a well of life. springing up within the soul to everlasting life (John 4:14). In the closest reciprocal connection with this God-forgetting, adulterous craving for the favour of heathen gods, stood their coquetting with the heathen power of the world. "And thou wentest to the king with oil, and didst measure copiously thy spices, and didst send thy messengers to a great distance, and didst deeply abase thyself, even to Hades. Thou didst become weary of the greatness of thy way; yet thou saidst not, It is unattainable: thou obtainedst the revival of thy strength: therefore thou wast not pained." The first thing to be noticed here, is one that has been overlooked by nearly all the modern commentators, viz., that we have here a historical retrospect before us. And secondly, a single glance at Isaiah 57:11 is sufficient to show that the words refer to a servile coquetry from the fear of man, and therefore to a wicked craving for the favour of man; so that "the king," is not Baal, or any heathen god whatever (according to Isaiah 8:21 and Zephaniah 1:5), but the Asiatic ruler of the world. Ahaz sent messengers, as we read in 2 Kings 16:7., to Tiglath-pileser, the king of Assyria, to say to Him, "I am thy servant and thy son." And Ahaz took the silver and gold that were in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the palace, and sent a bribe to the king of Assyria. And again, at 2 Kings 16:10., Ahaz went to Damascus to meet the king of Assyria, and there he saw an altar, and sent a model of it to Jerusalem, and had one like it put in the place of the altar of burnt-offering. Such acts as these are here described in the figure of Israel travelling with oil to the king, and taking a quantity of choice spices with it to gain his favour, and also sending messengers, and not only bowing itself to the earth, but even stooping to Hades, that is to say, standing as it were on its head in its excessive servility, for the purpose of obtaining allies. It seems most natural to take בּשׁמן as equivalent to בשמן משׁוּחה: thou wentest in oil (dripping with pomade), and didst apply to thyself many spices; but Beth after verbs of going signifies to go with anything, to take it with one and bring it, so that the oil and spices are thought of here as presents, which she took with her as sensual stimulants, with a view to the amorous pleasures she was seeking (Ezekiel 23:41, cf., Hosea 12:2). השׁפּיל signifies to go deep down in Jeremiah 13:18; the meaning here is, to bow very low, or to degrade one's self. By "the greatness or breadth of the way" (a similar expression to that in Joshua 9:13), all the great sacrifices are intended which it cost her to purchase the favour of the heathen ruler. Although they were a great trouble to her, yet she did not say נואש, "it is hopeless;" the niphal of יאשׁ signifies in 1 Samuel 27:1, to betake one's self to a thing with despair of its success. The participle in Job 6:26 means a despairing person; it also occurs in a neuter sense in Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 18:12, viz., given up, i.e., absolutely in vain. She did not give up hope, although the offerings nearly exhausted her strength; on the contrary, she gained יד חיּת, "life of her arm," i.e., (according to the use of חיה in the sense of reviving, and החיה, to bring to life again) new life in her arm, in other words, "the renewing of her strength" (recentem vigorem virium suarum). Thus, without noticing the sighs and groans forced from her by the excessive toil and fatigue, but stirring herself up again and again, she pursued the plan of strengthening her alliances with the heathen. Ezekiel's picture of Aholah and Aholibah is like a commentary on Isaiah 57:3-10 (see Ezekiel 23).
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