Isaiah 58:11
And the LORD shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
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(11) In drought.—Literally, droughts, either with the force of intensity or as meaning “dry places.”

And make fat.—Better, shall strengthen, or make supple.

Like a watered garden.—Comp. Psalm 1:3, Isaiah 44:3-4, Jeremiah 31:12, in the last of which we have the self-same phrase.

Isaiah 58:11-12. And the Lord shall guide thee — Namely, as a shepherd leads his sheep. He adds continually, to show that his conduct and blessing should not be momentary, or of a short continuance, but all along as it was to Israel in the wilderness. And satisfy thy soul in drought — Thou shalt have plenty, when others are in scarcity. And make fat thy bones — This may be spoken in opposition to the sad effects of famine, whereby the flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen, and the bones that were not seen, stick out. Thou shalt be like a garden — If thou relieve the poor, thou shalt never be poor, but as a well-watered garden, always flourishing. Like a spring, whose waters fail not — Hebrew, deceive not, a metaphor which further signifies also the continuance of this flourishing state, that it should not be like a land-flood, or brooks, that are soon dried up with drought. Thou shalt be fed with a spring of blessings, that will never fail. And they of thee — A remnant of thee, or rather, thy posterity, shall build the old waste places — The places which have long lain waste. Bishop Lowth renders it, The ancient ruins. If understood of the Jews returned from Babylon, the meaning is, that they should rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, with the other cities and towns of Judea. The foundations of many generations — Either the foundations that were laid many generations ago, or that should continue for many generations yet to come. And thou shalt be called — That is, deservedly, and to thine honour, the repairer of the breach — Or, breaches; for the word is put here collectively for those breaches which God’s judgments had made among them, by suffering their enemies to demolish their cities and towns, and to destroy their state. The restorer of paths — Those paths that led from city to city, which, being now laid desolate and uninhabited, were grown over with grass and weeds; to dwell in — These accommodations being recovered, their ancient cities might be fit to be re-inhabited. According to Vitringa, who considers the whole of this and the preceding verse as being metaphorical, the meaning is, “That from the city of God, (the spiritual Jerusalem,) flourishing in the manner above described, should go forth, those who should renew and restore the churches long laid waste, as immersed in thick darkness and superstition, and governed by faithless pastors, and so unworthy the name of the churches of God; and who should collect together, erect, and build anew the foundations of those churches; that is, the heads of Christian doctrine delivered by the prophets and apostles, which, though they had retained them in the confession of their faith, they had mixed with heterogeneous doctrines; so that they might be esteemed as wholly subverted and overthrown.”58:3-12 A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express true sorrow for sin, and does not promote the putting away of sin, it is not a fast. These professors had shown sorrow on stated or occasioned fasts. But they indulged pride, covetousness, and malignant passions. To be liberal and merciful is more acceptable to God than mere fasting, which, without them, is vain and hypocritical. Many who seem humble in God's house, are hard at home, and harass their families. But no man's faith justifies, which does not work by love. Yet persons, families, neighbourhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.And the Lord shall guide thee continually - Yahweh will go before you and will lead you always.

And satisfy thy soul in drought - (See the notes at Isaiah 41:17-18). The word rendered 'drought' (Margin, 'droughts;' Hebrew, צחצחות tsachetsâchôth) means "dry places" - places exposed to the intense heat of a burning sun and parched up for the want of moisture. The idea is, that God would provide for them as if in such places copious rains were to fall, or refreshing fountains to burst forth.

And make fat thy bones - Lowth, 'Shall renew thy strength.' Noyes, 'Strengthen thy bones.' Jerome renders it, 'Shall liberate thy bones.' The Septuagint 'Thy bones shall be made fat.' The idea is undoubtedly that of vigorous prosperity, and of strength. Job JObadiah 21:24 expresses a similar idea of a strong man dying:

'His watering places for flocks abound with milk,

And his bones are moist with marrow.'

For the propriety of this translation, which differs from the common version, see my notes on Job, in loc. The word used here (חלץ châlats), however, does not often, if ever, denote to make fat. It rather means to be manful, active, brave, ready for war; and the idea here is, probably, derived from the preparation which is made for the active services of war, rather than that of being made fat.

And thou shalt be like a watered garden - Syriac, 'Like paradise.' This is a most beautiful image to denote continued prosperity and blessedness - an image that would be particularly striking in the East. The ideas of happiness in the Oriental world consisted much in pleasant gardens, running streams, and ever-flowing fountains, and nothing can more beautifully express the blessedness of the continued favor of the Almighty. The following extract from Campbell (African Light), may illustrate this passage: 'In a hot climate, where showers seldom fall, except in what is called the rainy season, the difference between a well and ill watered garden is most striking. I remember some gardens in Africa, where they could lead no water upon them, the plants were all stinted, sickly, or others completely gone, only the hole left where the faded plant had been. The sight was unpleasant, and caused gloom to appear in every countenance; they were pictures of desolation. But in other gardens, to which the owners could bring daily supplies of water from an overflowing fountain, causing it to traverse the garden, every plant had a green, healthy appearance, loaded with fruit, in different stages toward maturity, with fragrant scent proceeding from beds of lovely flowers; and all this produced by the virtue God hath put into the single article of water.'

Whose waters fail not - Margin, 'Lie,' or 'Deceive.' Hebrew, כזב kâzab - 'Lie.' Waters or springs lie or deceive when they become dried up, or fail in the dry seasons of the year. They deceive the shepherd who expected to obtain water there for himself or his flock; they deceive the caravan which had traveled to the well-known fountain where it had been often refreshed, and where, it is now found, its waters are dried up, or lost in the sand. Hence, such a brook or fountain becomes an emblem of a false and deceitful friend Job 6:15 :

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,

As the stream of brooks they pass away.

But in the supplies which God makes for his people there is no such deception. The fountains of pardon, peace, and joy are ever open and ever full. The streams of salvation are always flowing. The weary pilgrim may go there at any season of the year, and from any part of a desolate world, and find them always full, refreshing, and free. However far may be the pilgrimage to them from amidst the waste and burning climes of sin, however many come to slake their thirst, and however frequently they come, they find them always the same. They never fail; and they will continue to flow on to the end of time.

11. satisfy … in drought—(Isa 41:17, 18). Literally, "drought," that is, parched places [Maurer].

make fat—rather, "strengthen" [Noyes]. "Give thee the free use of thy bones" [Jerome], or, "of thy strength" [Horsley].

watered garden—an Oriental picture of happiness.

fail not—Hebrew, "deceive not"; as streams that disappoint the caravan which had expected to find water, as formerly, but find it dried up (Job 6:15-17).

Shall guide thee, viz. like a shepherd, Psalm 23:1-3; or, as the Vulgate; shall give thee rest; and so it may relate to the rest that God would give them in Judea, upon their return from captivity, as answering to their complaints in Babylon, Lamentations 5:5. And he adds continually, to show that his conduct and blessing shall not be momentary, or of a short continuance, but all along, as he did to Israel in the wilderness, not leaving them till he brought them into Canaan.

Drought, Heb. droughts; or, drought of droughts; which being in the plural number, notes extremity of drought; Psalm 78:72, skilfulnesses, that is, great skill; and Proverbs 1:20, wisdoms, i. e. excellent wisdom; and consequently great scarcity and famine. The meaning is, that when thy lot shall fall in the extremity of such a condition, either as to time or place, he will abundantly satisfy thy soul, i.e. thee, by a synecdoche; thou shalt have plenty, when others are in scarcity.

Make fat thy bones; or, make nimble; and so the expression relates to bones full of marrow, which causeth agility and nimbleness, a state of health and strength: see Proverbs 15:30. Or it notes cheerfulness, which is often the cause of bones well covered with fat; therefore a broken or a sorrowful spirit is said to dry up the bones, Proverbs 17:22. This may be spoken in opposition to the sad effects of famine, whereby the flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen, and the bones that were not seen stick out, Job 33:21; they cleave to the skin, Psalm 102:5. And thus it may have respect to their afflicted estate in Babylon, where they complain that their bones were broken, Lamentations 3:4; but now in their return their bones should not only be made whole, but strong, and in good condition: see Psalm 51 8. Our English Annotations, after divers senses given, choose to close with the vulgar translation, he will deliver, or set free thy bones, and so the word doth signify, Proverbs 11:8,9. Some make each expression of these promises to answer as suitable and conditional rewards of their several duties: e.g. If thou conduct the cast-outs and harbourless to thy house, Isaiah 58:7, God will guide and conduct thee continually. If thou draw forth thy soul to the hungry, so as to satisfy them, Isaiah 58:10, God will satisfy thee in a time of drought, and in famine thou shalt have sufficient, Psalm 33:19. If thou let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, Isaiah 58:6,9, then God will make thy bones to rejoice, by delivering them from their burdens; i.e. if thou wilt free them, he will free thee. And if thou continue thus to draw forth thy soul, that it be ever running to the refreshing of the needy, thou gault be as a spring of waters that shall never fail thee, but like the widow’s oil, ever flowing. If thou relieve the poor, thou shalt never be poor, but as a well-watered garden, always flourishing: see Proverbs 3:910.

Like a watered garden; like a garden for the pleasure and beauty of it, a paradise; like a garden watered for the continual flourishing of thy estate; there shall be no withering or decay upon thy prosperous condition, Psalm 1:3, contrary to what is said of the wicked, Psalm 37:2,10,20,35,36. And thus Jeremiah speaks of the return of this same people, Jeremiah 31:12.

Like a spring of water, whose water’s fail not, Heb. deceive not; a metaphor which further notes also the continuance of this flourishing state, which will not be like a land flood, or brooks, that will soon be dried up with drought; see Job 6:15; but will be fed with a spring of blessing that will never fail: a very significant metaphor; it being the nature of springs, spontaneously and freely, as it were, to pour out their bowels to all that upon their wants come to receive it; neither is ever scanty, but flows still like fresh milk to the breast the more it is drawn; hence God is called a Fountain of goodness. And the Lord shall guide thee continually,.... With his counsel, by his word, and by his Spirit, and that night and day; as he guided the Israelites through the wilderness with the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night: or, "cause thee to rest" (k); from adversity, from persecution; to have spiritual rest in Christ now, and eternal rest hereafter:

and satisfy thy soul in drought; or, "in drynesses" (l); in an exceeding dry time; when in a dry and thirsty land; when thirsting after Christ and his grace, Christ and his righteousness; after more knowledge of him, communion with him, and conformity unto him; after the word and ordinances; after the presence of God in them; and after more spiritual light, knowledge, and experience:

and make fat thy bones; with the good report of the Gospel, Proverbs 15:30 that is, quicken, comfort, refresh, and strengthen the soul, and make it fat and flourishing in spiritual things, by means of Gospel ordinances. The Targum is,

"and shall quicken thy body with life everlasting;''

or give rest to thy bones, as others (m):

and thou shalt be like a watered garden; like a "garden", the church of Christ is separated from others, by electing, redeeming, and efficacious grace; and like a "watered" one, watered by the Lord himself, and the dews of his grace, and by the ministry of the word; whereby the plants that are planted in it thrive and flourish, lift up their heads, shoot up and grow, and bring forth fruit:

and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not; as there is in every believer a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life, not of themselves, but from Christ, and which is very abundant, and never fails; so there is in the church a spring of the living waters of Gospel doctrines, and of Gospel ordinances; here runs the river of divine love, which makes glad the city of God; here Christ is the fountain of gardens; and here the Spirit and his graces are communicated; all which remain, and never fail; see Psalm 87:7.

(k) "requiem tibi dabit", V. L. (l) "in siccitatibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Vitringa; "in summa ariditate", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. Abendana observes, that some interpret the word in the sense of purity, and understand it of the delight of the soul, in the world of souls, where the Lord leads them continually, and satisfies them with pure light, which is the brightness of the Shechinah, or divine Majesty. (m) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 55. 2.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
11. the Lord shall guide thee] Cf. ch. Isaiah 57:18 “I will lead him,”—the same verb in Hebr.

satisfy thy soul (cf. Isaiah 58:10) in drought] R.V. “dry places”.

make fat thy bones] So the LXX. The verb (which does not elsewhere occur in this form) may mean “make strong” (thy bones). But it is best to accept an old emendation of Secker and Lowth, and read renew thy strength (see ch. Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 40:31).

like a watered (well-watered, cf. Isaiah 16:9) garden] Jeremiah 31:12.

whose waters fail not] Lit. deceive not. From this root comes the technical word ’akzâb, the “deceitful brook” (Jeremiah 15:18; Micah 1:14, R.V.). Comp. John 4:14.Verse 11. - The Lord shall guide thee continually; i.e. "direct thee in all thy paths - teach thee the way that thou shouldst walk in." In drought. In time of spiritual depression and weariness. Make fat thy bones; i.e. sustain thy strength. Thou shall; be like a watered garden (comp. Jeremiah 31:12). Whilst the people on the fast-day are carrying on their worldly, selfish, everyday business, the fasting is perverted from a means of divine worship and absorption in the spiritual character of the day to the most thoroughly selfish purposes: it is supposed to be of some worth and to merit some reward. This work-holy delusion, behind which self-righteousness and unrighteousness were concealed, is met thus by Jehovah through His prophet: "Can such things as these pass for a fast that I have pleasure in, as a day for a man to afflict his soul? To bow down his head like a bulrush, and spread sackcloth and ashes under him - dost thou call this a fast and an acceptable day for Jehovah? Is not this a fast that I have pleasure in: To loose coils of wickedness, to untie the bands of the yoke, and for sending away the oppressed as free, and that ye break every kind of yoke? Is it not this, to break thy bread to the hungry, and to take the poor and houseless to thy home; when thou seest a naked man that thou clothest him, and dost not deny thyself before thine own flesh?" The true worship, which consists in works of merciful love to one's brethren, and its great promises are here placed in contrast with the false worship just described. הכזה points backwards: is such a fast as this a fast after Jehovah's mind, a day on which it can be said in truth that a man afflicts his soul (Leviticus 16:29)? The ה of הלכף is resumed in הלזה; the second ל is the object to תּקרא expressed as a dative. The first ל answers to our preposition "to" with the infinitive, which stands here at the beginning like a casus absol. (to hang down; for which the inf. abs. הכפוף might also be used), and as in most other cases passes over into the finite (et quod saccum et cinerem substernit, viz., sibi: Ges. 132, Anm. 2). To hang down the head and sit in sackcloth and ashes - this does not in itself deserve the name of fasting and of a day of gracious reception (Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 61:2) on the part of Jehovah (ליהוה for a subjective genitive).

Isaiah 58:6 and Isaiah 58:7 affirm that the fasting which is pleasant to Jehovah consists in something very different from this, namely, in releasing the oppressed, and in kindness to the helpless; not in abstinence form eating as such, but in sympathetic acts of that self-denying love, which gives up bread or any other possession for the sake of doing good to the needy.

(Note: The ancient church connected fasting with almsgiving by law. Dressel, Patr. Ap. p. 493.)

There is a bitter irony in these words, just as when the ancients said, "not eating is a natural fast, but abstaining form sin is a spiritual fast." During the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans a general emancipation of the slaves of Israelitish descent (who were to be set free, according to the law, every three years) was resolved upon and carried out; but as soon as the Chaldeans were gone, the masters fetched their liberated slaves back into servitude again (Jeremiah 34:8-22). And as Isaiah 58:6 shows, they carried the same selfish and despotic disposition with them into captivity. The זה which points forwards is expanded into infin. absolutes, which are carried on quite regularly in the finite tense. Mōtâh, which is repeated palindromically, signifies in both cases a yoke, lit., vectis, the cross wood which formed the most important part of the yoke, and which was fastened to the animal's head, and so connected with the plough by means of a cord or strap (Sir. 30:13; 33:27).

(Note: I have already observed at Isaiah 47:6, in vindication of what was stated at Isaiah 10:27, that the yoke was not in the form of a collar. I brought the subject under the notice of Prof. Schegg, who wrote to me immediately after his return from his journey to Palestine to the following effect: "I saw many oxen ploughing in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and the neighbourhood of Ephesus; and in every case the yoke was a cross piece of wood laid upon the neck of the animal, and fastened to the pole of the plough by a cord which passed under the neck of the animal.")

It is to this that אגדּות, knots, refers. We cannot connect it with mutteh, a state of perverted right (Ezekiel 9:9), as Hitzig does. רצוּצים are persons unjustly and forcibly oppressed even with cruelty; רצץ is a stronger synonym to עשׂק (e.g., Amos 4:1). In Isaiah 58:7 we have the same spirit of general humanity as in Job 31:13-23; Ezekiel 18:7-8 (compare what James describes in James 1:27 as "pure religion and undefiled"). לחם (פרשׂ) פרץ is the usual phrase for κλᾶν (κλάζειν) ἄρτον. מרוּדים is the adjective to עניּים, and apparently therefore must be derived from מרד: miserable men who have shown themselves refractory towards despotic rulers. But the participle mârūd cannot be found elsewhere; and the recommendation to receive political fugitives has a modern look. The parallels in Lamentations 1:7 and Lamentations 3:19 are conclusive evidence, that the word is intended as a derivative of רוּד, to wander about, and it is so rendered in the lxx, Targ., and Jerome (vagos). But מרוד, pl. מרוּדים, is no adjective; and there is nothing to recommend the opinion, that by "wanderers" we are to understand Israelitish men. Ewald supposes that מרוּדים may be taken as a part. hoph. for מוּרדים, hunted away, like הממותים in 2 Kings 11:2 (Keri המּמתים); but it cannot be shown that the language allowed of this shifting of a vowel-sound. We prefer to assume that מרוּדים (persecuted) is regarded as part. pass., even if only per metaplasmum, from מרד, a secondary form of רוּד (cf., מכס, מלץ, מצח, makuna). Isaiah 58:7 is still the virtual subject to אבחרהוּ צום. The apodosis to the hypothetical כּי commences with a perf. consec., which then passes into the pausal future תתעלּם. In hsilgnE:egaugnaL\&מבשׂרך (from thine own flesh) it is presupposed that all men form one united whole as being of the same flesh and blood, and that they form one family, owing to one another mutual love.

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