Isaiah 58:11
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). Isaiah 58:11The prophet now proceeds to point out the reward of divine grace, which would follow such a fast as this, consisting of self-renouncing, self-sacrificing love; and in the midst of the promise he once more reminds of the fact, that this love is the condition of the promise. This divides the promises into two. The middle promise is linked on to the first; the morning dawn giving promise of the "perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). The first series of promises we have in Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 58:9. "Then will thy light break forth as the morning dawn, and thy healing will sprout up speedily, and thy righteousness will go before thee, the glory of Jehovah will follow thee. Then wilt thou call and Jehovah will answer; thou wilt beseech, and He will say, Here am I!" The love of God is called "light" in contrast with His wrath; and a quiet cheerful life in God's love is so called, in contrast with a wild troubled life spent in God's wrath. This life in God's love has its dawn and its noon-day. When it is night both within and around a man, and he suffers himself to be awakened by the love of God to a reciprocity of love; then does the love of God, like the rising sun, open for itself a way through the man's dark night and overcome the darkness of wrath, but so gradually that the sky within is at first only streaked as it were with the red of the morning dawn, the herald of the sun. A second figure of a promising character follows. The man is sick unto death; but when the love of God stimulates him to reciprocal love, he is filled with new vigour, and his recovery springs up suddenly; he feels within him a new life working through with energetic force like a miraculous springing up of verdure from the earth, or of growing and flowering plants. The only other passages in which ארוּכה occurs are in the books of Jeremiah, Chronicles, and Nehemiah. It signifies recovery (lxx here, τὰ ἰάματά σου ταχὺ ἀνατελεῖ, an old mistake for ἱμάτια, vestimenta), and hence general prosperity (2 Chronicles 24:13). It always occurs with the predicate עלתה (causative העלה, cf., Targ. Psalm 147:3, ארכא אסּק, another reading ארוּכין), oritur (for which we have here poetically germinat) alicui sanitas; hence Gesenius and others have inferred, that the word originally meant the binding up of a wound, bandage (impontiru alicui fascia). But the primary word is ארך equals ארך, to set to rights, to restore or put into the right condition (e.g., b. Sabbath 33b, "he cured his wounded flesh"), connected with אריך, Arab. ârak, accommodatus; so that ארוּכה, after the form מלוּכה, Arab. (though rarely) arika, signifies properly, setting to rights, i.e., restoration.

The third promise is: "thy righteousness will go before thee, the glory of Jehovah will gather thee, or keep thee together," i.e., be thy rear-guard (lxx περιστελεῖ σε, enclose thee with its protection; אסף as in מאסּף, Isaiah 52:12). The figure is a significant one: the first of the mercies of God is δικαιοῦν, and the last δοξάζειν. When Israel is diligent in the performance of works of compassionate love, it is like an army on the march or a travelling caravan, for which righteousness clear and shows the way as being the most appropriate gift of God, and whose rear is closed by the glory of God, which so conducts it to its goal that not one is left behind. The fourth promise assures them of the immediate hearing of prayer, of every appeal to God, every cry for help.

But before the prophet brings his promises up to their culminating point, he once more lays down the condition upon which they rest. "If thou put away from the midst of thee the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking of evil, and offerest up thy gluttony to the hungry, and satisfiest the soul that is bowed down: thy light will stream out in the darkness, and thy darkness become like the brightness of noon-day. And Jehovah will guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in droughts, and refresh thy bones; and thou wilt become like a well-watered garden, and like a fountain, whose waters never deceive. And thy people will build ruins of the olden time, foundations of earlier generations wilt thou erect; and men will call thee repairers of breaches, restorers of habitable streets." מוטה, a yoke, is here equivalent to yoking or oppression, as in Isaiah 58:6, where it stands by the side of רשׁע. שׁלח־אצבּא (only met with here, for שׁלח, Ges. 65, 1, a), the stretching out of the finger, signifies a scornful pointing with the fingers (Proverbs 6:13, δακτυλοδεικτεῖν) at humbler men, and especially at such as are godly (Isaiah 57:4). דּבּר־און, the utterance of things which are wicked in themselves and injurious to one's neighbour, hence sinful conversation in general. The early commentators looked for more under נפשׁך, than is really meant (and so does even Stier: "they soul, thy heart, all thy sympathetic feelings," etc.). The name of the soul, which is regarded here as greedily longing (Isaiah 56:11), is used in Deuteronomy 24:6 for that which nourishes it, and here for that which it longs for; the longing itself (appetitus) for the object of the longing (Psychol. p. 204). We may see this very clearly from the choice of the verb תּפק (a voluntative in a conditional clause, Ges. 128, 2), which, starting from the primary meaning educere (related to נפק, Arabic anfaqa, to give out, distribute, nafaqa, distribution, especially of alms), signifies both to work out, acquire, carry off (Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 8:35, etc.), and also to take out, deliver, offer, expromere (as in this instance and Psalm 140:9; Psalm 144:13). The soul "bowed down" is bowed down in this instance through abstinence. The apodoses commence with the perf. cons. וזרח. אפלה is the darkness caused by the utter absence of light (Arab. afalat esh-shemsu, "the sun has become invisible"); see at Job 10:22. This, as the substantive clause affirms, is like the noon-day, which is called צהרים, because at that point the daylight of both the forenoon and afternoon, the rising and setting light, is divided as it were into two by the climax which it has attained. A new promise points to the fat, that such a man may enjoy without intermission the mild and safe guidance of divine grace, for which נחה (הנחה, syn. נהל) is the word commonly employed; and another to the communication of the most copious supply of strength. The ἅπαξ γεγρ בצחצחות does not state with what God will satisfy the soul, as Hahn supposes (after Jerome, "splendoribus"), but according to צסהיחה (Psalm 68:7) and such promises as Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 48:21; Isaiah 49:10, the kind of satisfaction and the circumstances under which it occurs, viz., in extreme droughts (Targ. "years of drought"). In the place of the perf. cons. we have then the future, which facilitates the elevation of the object: "and thy bones will He make strong," יחליח, for which Hupfeld would read יחליף, "will He rejuvenate." חחליץ is a denom. of חלוּץ, expeditus; it may, however, be directly derived from a verb חלץ, presupposed by חלצים, not, however, in the meaning "to be fat" (lxx πιανθήσεται, and so also Kimchi), but "to be strong," lit., to be loose or ready for action; and b. Jebamoth 102b has the very suitable gloss גרמי זרוזי (making the bones strong). This idea of invigorating is then unfolded in two different figures, of which that of a well-watered garden sets forth the abundance received, that of a spring the abundance possessed. Natural objects are promised, but as a gift of grace; for this is the difference between the two testaments, that in the Old Testament the natural is ever striving to reach the spiritual, whereas in the New Testament the spiritual lifts up the natural to its own level. The Old Testament is ever striving to give inwardness to what was outward; in the New Testament this object is attained, and the further object now is to make the outward conformed to the inward, the natural life to the spiritual.

The last promise (whether the seventh or eighth, depends upon whether we include the growing of the morning light into the light of noon, or not) takes its form from the pining of the exiles for their home: "and thy people (ממּך) build" (Ewald, 295, c); and Bttcher would read ממך וּבנּוּ; but מן with a passive, although more admissible in Hebrew than in Arabic, is very rarely met with, and then more frequently in the sense of ἀπό than in that of ὑπό, and בּנּוּ followed by a plural of the thing would be more exact than customary. Moreover, there is no force in the objection that ממּך with the active can only signify "some of thee," since it is equivalent to ממך אשׁר, those who sprang from thee and belong to thee by kindred descent. The members born to the congregation in exile will begin, as soon as they return to their home, to build up again the ruins of olden time, the foundations of earlier generations, i.e., houses and cities of which only the foundations are left (Isaiah 61:4); therefore Israel restored to its fatherland receives the honourable title of "builder of breaches," "restorer of streets (i.e., of places much frequented once) לשׁבת" (for inhabiting), i.e., so that, although so desolate now (Isaiah 33:8), they become habitable and populous once more.

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