Isaiah 58:1
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
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(1) Cry aloud . . .—Literally, with the throat, i.e., with no faint whisper as from stammering lips, but with full strength of voice. The work of the preacher of repentance is not to be done slightly or by speaking smooth things (comp. Ezekiel 13:10-15). The “trumpet” of the next clause emphasises the thought yet further.

Isaiah 58:1. Cry aloud — Be faithful, plain, and earnest in thy addresses, remonstrances, reproofs, and exhortations to and among my people; and spare not — Forbear not to speak whatsoever I command thee for their conviction and reformation. Lift up thy voice like a trumpet — Be not afraid to exert thy voice and spend thy strength in this work. Give an alarm which all may hear. Show my people their transgressions — Set their sins, all their sins, before them, in a true point of view, and with all their aggravations, especially the iniquities of their holy things, and the hypocrisy of their religious services, (Isaiah 58:2,) that they may be brought to true repentance for them.58:1,2 The Holy Spirit had hypocrites of every age in view. Self-love and timid Christians may say, Spare thyself; dislike to the cross and other motives will say, Spare the rich and powerful; but God says, Spare not: and we must obey God, not men. We all need earnestly to pray for God's assistance in examining ourselves. Men may go far toward heaven, yet come short; and they may go to hell with a good reputation.Cry aloud - Margin, 'With the throat;' that is, says Gesenius, with open throat, with full voice coming from the throat and breast; while one who speaks low uses only the lips and tongue 1 Samuel 1:13. The Chaldee here introduces the word prophet, 'O prophet, cry aloud.' The Septuagint renders it, 'Cry with strength.' (ἐν ἰσχύΐ en ischui).

Spare not - That is, do not spare, or restrain the voice. Let it be full, loud, and strong.

Lift up thy voice like a trumpet - Speak loud and distinct, so that the language of reproof may be heard. The sense is, the people are insensible and stupid. They need something to rouse them to a sense of their guilt. Go and proclaim it so that all may hear. Speak not in whispers; speak not to a part, but speak so earnestly that their attention will be arrested, and so that all shall hear (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:9). "And show my people." This either refers to the Jewish people in the time of the prophet; or to the same people in their exile in Babylon; or to the people of God after the coming of the Messiah. Vitringa supposes that it refers to the nominally Christian Church when it should have sunk into the sins and formalities of the papacy, and that the direction here is to the true ministers of God to proclaim the sins of a corrupt and degenerate church. The main reason assigned by him for this is, that there is no reference here to the temple, to the sacrifices, or to the idolatry which was the prevailing sin in the time of Manasseh. Rosenmuller, for a similar reason, supposes that it refers to the Jews in Babylon. But it has already been remarked (see the analysis to the chapter), that this reason does not appear to be satisfactory.

It is true that there is no reference here to the temple or to sacrifices, and it may be true that the main sin of the nation in the time of Manasseh was idolatry; but it is also true that formality and hypocrisy were prominent sins, and that these deserved reproof. It is true that while they adhered to the public forms of religion, the heart was not in them; and that while they relied on those forms, and were surprised that the divine favor was not manifested to them on account of their observance, there was a good reason why that favor was withheld, and it was important that that reason should be stated clearly and fully. It is probable, therefore, that the reference here is to the times of the prophet himself, and that the subject of rebuke is the formality, hypocrisy, and prevalent sins of the reign of Manasseh.


Isa 58:1-14. Reproof of the Jews for Their Dependence on Mere Outward Forms of Worship.

1. aloud—Hebrew, "with the throat," that is, with full voice, not merely from the lips (1Sa 1:13). Speak loud enough to arrest attention.

my people—the Jews in Isaiah's time, and again in the time of our Lord, more zealous for externals than for inward holiness. Rosenmuller thinks the reference to be to the Jews in the captivity practising their rites to gain God's favor and a release; and that hence, sacrifices are not mentioned, but only fasting and Sabbath observance, which they could keep though far away from the temple in Jerusalem. The same also applies to their present dispersion, in which they cannot offer sacrifices, but can only show their zeal in fastings, &c. Compare as to our Lord's time, Mt 6:16, 23; Lu 18:12.The Jews’ hypocrisy in their fasts, Isaiah 58:1-5. A true fast described, Isaiah 58:6,7. Promises to godliness, Isaiah 58:8-12; to the keeping of the sabbath, Isaiah 58:13,14.

The prophet having in the foregoing chapter noted and censured divers gross miscarriages of the Jews, proceeds upon the same subject in this chapter, and in God’s name expostulates with them for other misdemeanours.

Spare not; forbear not to speak whatsoever I command thee for the conviction of this people.

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet,.... These words are directed to the prophet; and so the Targum expresses it,

"O prophet, cry with thy throat;''

and so it is in the original, "cry with the throat" (d), which is an instrument of speech; and it denotes a loud, strong, vehement cry, when a man exerts his voice, and as it were rends his throat, that he may be heard; as well as it shows the intenseness of his spirit, and the vehemence of his affections, and the importance of what he delivers; and this the prophet is encouraged to do, and "spare not", the voice, throat, or his lungs, nor the people neither he was sent unto; or, "cease not", as the Targum, refrain not from speaking, "cease not crying"; so Ben Melech: "lift up thy voice like a trumpet"; like the voice or sound of a trumpet, which is heard afar, and gives an alarm; and to which the Gospel ministry is sometimes compared, Isaiah 27:13 all which shows the manner in which the ministers of the word should deliver it, publicly, boldly, with ardour and affection; and also the deafness and stupidity of the people which require it:

and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins; by whom are meant the professing people of God, the present reformed churches, as distinguished from the antichristian ones, spoken of in the preceding chapter; who yet are guilty of many sins and transgressions, which must be showed them, and they must be sharply reproved for; and particularly their coldness and deadness, formality and hypocrisy in religious worship; their "works not being perfect" before God, or sincere and upright, as is said of the Sardian church, which designs the same persons, Revelation 3:1. In the Talmud (e) the words are thus paraphrased, "shew my people their transgression"; these are the disciples of the wise men, whose sins of error or ignorance become to them presumptuous ones; "and the house of Jacob their sins"; these are the people of the earth, or the common people, whose presumptuous sins become to them as sins of ignorance.

(d) "clama in gutture", Pagninus, Montanus; "exclama gutture", Junius & Tremellius; "exclama pleno gutture", Piscator; "clama pleno gut ture", Cocceius. (e) T. Bab. Metzia, fol. 33. 2.

Cry {a} aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

(a) The Lord thus speaks to the prophet willing him to use all diligence and severity to rebuke the hypocrites.

1. Cry aloud] lit. Cry with the throat, with the full power of the voice.

shew my people their transgression &c.] The function of the true prophet as distinguished from the false; see Micah 3:8, a verse which seems to have been in the prophet’s mind.Verses 1-12. - FORMALISM REBUKED AND INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN WITH RESPECT TO FASTING. As in the last section, so here, the prophet's eye seems to rest upon his contemporaries rather than upon the exiles; and to note the vices of the time, which have a general resemblance to those rebuked in ch. 1. The whole Law seems to be in force, and the People to make a show of keeping it, and to complain that they are not properly rewarded for their religiousness. God tears the mask from their face, and shows the difference between true religion and the pretence of it. Verse 1. - Cry aloud; literally, cry from the throat; "a plein gosier," as Calvin says. The command is addressed to the prophet by Jehovah, who will have him warn the people in such sort as to compel their attention. Lift up thy voice like a trumpet (comp. Hosea 8:1; Joel 2:1). The trumpet gives a note of alarm. Show my people their transgression; i.e. "show them how they are especially offending me at this time" (see Micah 3:8). The compassion, by virtue of which God has His abode and His work of grace in the spirit and heart of the penitent, is founded in that free anticipating love which called man and his self-conscious spirit-soul into being at the first. "For I do not contend for ever, and I am not angry for ever: for the spirit would pine away before me, and the souls of men which I have created." The early translators (lxx, Syr., Jer., possibly also the Targum) give to יעטף the meaning egredietur, which certainly cannot be established. And so also does Stier, so far as the thought is concerned, when he adopts the rendering, "A spirit from me will cover over, and breath of life will I make;" and so Hahn, "When the spirit pines away before me, I create breath in abundance." But in both cases the writer would at any rate have used the perf. consec. ועשׂיתי, and the last clause of the v. has not the syntactic form of an apodosis. The rendering given above is the only one that is unassailable both grammatically and in fact. כּי introduces the reason for the self-limitation of the divine wrath, just as in Psalm 78:38-39 (cf., Psalm 103:14): if God should put no restraint upon His wrath, the consequence would be the entire destruction of human life, which was His creative work at first. The verb עטף, from its primary meaning to bend round (Comm. on Job, at Job 23:9), has sometimes the transitive meaning to cover, and sometimes the meaning to wrap one's self round, i.e., to become faint or weak (compare עטוּף, fainted away, Lamentations 2:19; and התעטּף in Psalm 142:4, which is applied to the spirit, like the kal here). מלּפני is equivalent to "in consequence of the wrath proceeding from me." נשׁמות (a plural only met with here) signifies, according to the fixed usage of the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 42:5), the souls of men, the origin of which is described as a creation in the attributive clause (with an emphatic אני), just as in Jeremiah 38:16 (cf., Zechariah 12:1). Whether the accents are intended to take עשׂיתי אני in this attributive sense or not, cannot be decided from the tiphchah attached to ונשׁמות. The prophet, who refers to the flood in other passages also (e.g., Isaiah 54:9), had probably in his mind the promise given after the flood, according to which God would not make the existing and inherited moral depravity an occasion for utterly destroying the human race.
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