Isaiah 58:8
Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
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(8) Then shall thy light . . .—The dawning of a new day, as in 2Samuel 23:4; the growth as of new and healthy flesh after long illness; “righteousness,” i.e., the sentence of acquittal in the eyes of all the world, as leading the van of a triumphant march, the “glory of Jehovah” following in the rear as a protection; all these images are heaped together to paint the fulness of blessing that follows on that true renunciation of the old evil selfishness of which fasting is but a symbol and a part.

Isaiah 58:8. Then shall thy light — Matter or cause of rejoicing, break forth as the morning — Arise as certainly and speedily as in the morning the light arises out of darkness. It shall not only appear, but break, or dart itself forth, notwithstanding all obstructions, as the sun breaks and pierces through a cloud. So ready is God to help his people when they are truly humbled! Thus quickly and clearly does salvation break forth upon them! And thy health shall spring forth speedily — The recovery of thy former prosperous condition. Another metaphor to express the same thing. And thy righteousness shall go before thee — To prepare thy way to safety and happiness; ensuring to thee, O my church, the peculiar direction and care of thy God, and the favour and approbation of wise and good men; see Romans 14:17-18. Or manifold blessings shall be bestowed upon thee, upon all occasions, as the reward of thy righteousness. The glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward — The glorious presence, power, and providence of God shall protect and secure thee. Thus the angel of his presence secured the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Or, the meaning may be, A glorious state shall succeed this thy present calamitous condition.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.Then shall thy light - (See the notes at Isaiah 44:7). The idea here is, that if they were faithful in the discharge of their duty to God, he would bless them with abundant prosperity (compare Job 11:17). The image is, that such prosperity would come on the people like the spreading light of the morning.

And thine health - Lowth and Noyes render this, 'And thy wounds shall be speedily healed over.' The authority on which Lowth relies, is the version of Aquila as reported by Jerome, and the Chaldee. The Hebrew word used here, (ארוּכה 'ărûkâh), means properly "a long bandage" (from ארך 'ârak, "to make long"), such as is applied by surgeons to heal a wound (compare the notes at Isaiah 1:6). It is then used to denote the healing which is secured by the application of the bandage; and figuratively here means their restoration from all the calamities which had been inflicted on the nation. The word rendered 'spring forth' (from צמח tsâmach) properly relates to the manner in which plants germinate (compare the notes at Isaiah 42:9). Here the sense is, that if they would return to God, they would be delivered from the calamities which their crimes had brought on them, and that peace and prosperity would again visit the nation.

And thy righteousness shall go before thee - Shall be thy leader - as an army is conducted. The idea is that their conformity to the divine laws would serve the purpose of a leader to conduct them in the ways of peace, happiness, and prosperity.

The glory of the Lord - The allusion here is doubtless to the mode in which the children of Israel came out of Egypt (see the notes at Isaiah 6:5).

Shall be thy rere-ward - Margin, 'Shall gather thee up.' That is, shall bring up the rear (see the notes at Isaiah 52:12).

8. light—emblem of prosperity (Isa 58:10; Job 11:17).

health—literally, a long bandage, applied by surgeons to heal a wound (compare Isa 1:6). Hence restoration from all past calamities.

go before thee—Thy conformity to the divine covenant acts as a leader, conducting thee to peace and prosperity.

glory … reward—like the pillar of cloud and fire, the symbol of God's "glory," which went behind Israel, separating them from their Egyptian pursuers (Isa 52:12; Ex 14:19, 20).

Thy light: it is put in general for all happiness and prosperity; as all kind of adversity and calamity is set forth and resembled by darkness: but here more particularly for a comfortable and free estate after their dark and calamitous condition in the Babylonish captivity; for the like reason Josephus tells us, lib. 12. cap. 11., that the Jews instituted a feast to be observed by their posterity, upon the account of the service of the temple being re-established, which they called the feast of lights, because, saith he, so great a happiness broke forth upon them beyond their hope. Break forth as the morning: here is a metaphorical allusion in a metonymical expression, viz. of the efficient, describing the comfortable effect of humbling themselves in a right manner, which like the daylight shall

break forth from the blackness of their night of affliction, and bring with it the joy and comfort of all good things; and he doth not only say this light shall appear, but break forth, dart itself forth, notwithstanding all difficulties, as the sun breaks and pierceth through a cloud, noting how ready God is to help is people when they are rightly humbled, how quickly and how clearly salvation shall break forth upon them.

Thine health shall spring forth speedily: another metaphor to express the same thing, unless there may be this difference, the light with reference to their outward state, and health with reference to the inward delight of their minds, in both to describe the complete satisfaction they should have. Deliverances out of great pressures are often in Scripture represented by the recovery of health, as Isaiah 57:18 Jeremiah 8:22; and this prophet especially delights in this metaphor, because all affliction is as it were a sickness to the soul, altering the heart and countenance; see Nehemiah 2:2,3; and a recovery out of this estate maketh the heart glad, and the countenance cheerful, Esther 8:16,17 Jer 33:6: compare Isaiah 58:10,11. Hence the LXX. render it; medicines. Thy righteousness; either,

1. Thy uprightness and sincerity, Genesis 30:33. Or,

2. The reward of thy righteousness, by a metonymy, Isaiah 48:18 Psalm 24:5; and here perhaps it may particularly relate to their works of mercy and charity, it being the thing in hand, and often so called, Psalm 112:9, and applied by the apostle to this purpose, 2 Corinthians 9:9. It brings temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings, and all this not of desert, but free grace, as a reward that naturally springs forth from the faithfulness of his promises, as the harvest from the earth, when the seed is sown; see Hosea 10:12; so the fruit and reward of our righteousness springs not from our deserts, but from God’s righteousness, Hebrews 6 10. Or,

3. The witness of thy righteousness; by what thou doest thou wilt appear to be righteous, Psalm 37:6. For such a notion as this was vulgarly sucked in, that adversity did never befall a person or people but for their sins, and was strongly urged by way of argument against Job’s integrity by his friends; therefore they being delivered shall be as a testimony of thy righteousness. Or,

4. The fruit and effect of thy righteousness, viz. the due, just, and right order of thy government, which, as Calvin saith, is a sign of God’s fatherly kindness; things that are now in a confusion he will bring into right order again, i.e. justice shall be duly administered, and men shall carry themselves justly all the land over: see Isaiah 32:16-18. Or,

5. Christ’s righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6, compared with Isaiah 33:16. Then the meaning is, He shall go in and out before thee.

Shall go before thee; as it were making way for thy better state, as the break of day or the morning star goes before the sun.

The glory of the Lord, i.e. the glory of his power and providence, or his glorious power, shall be seen in bringing thee up from captivity, and defending thee free from their pursuit; or, as some, a glorious stale shall succeed this thy calamitous condition, and called the glory of the Lord to express the greatness of this glory, as very great mountains are called the mountains of God, and tall cedars the cedars of God. The glorious Lord, by a metonymy of the adjunct.

Shall be thy rereward, Heb. shall gather thee: thus the word is used concerning Dan, who was appointed to bring up the rear, or to. close up the march of the Israelites, when they marched through the wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 10:25. This office God takes upon himself; for it argues great skill and courage, and makes much for the honour and glory of a commander, both to gather up all the stragglers, that none be picked up by the enemy, which relates to the Hebrew word of gathering, and to secure and cover the rear of his army; thus the angel of his presence secured the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt, Exodus 14:19. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,.... Through thick clouds, or the darkness of the night, suddenly, swiftly, irresistibly, and increase more and more, till it is perfect day. This is to be understood best of temporal and spiritual prosperity, especially the latter, which will attend the churches of the Reformation, when a spirit of persecution is laid aside, and a spirit of love commences, which will be in the Philadelphian church state; and it particularly respects the glorious light of the Gospel, which will break forth very clearly, and shine out in all the world; and the light of joy, peace, and comfort, which will attend it, in the hearts of the Lord's people; see Isaiah 60:1,

and thine health shall spring forth speedily; as the herbs and grass out of the earth, by clear shining after rain; by which is meant the healthful and sound state of the church in the latter day, when all divisions shall be healed; contentions and animosities cease; sound doctrine preached; the ordinances administered according to their original institution; true discipline restored; and all the parts of worship performed, according to the rule of the divine word; and so the souls of men, under all these means, be in thriving and flourishing circumstances:

and thy righteousness shall go before thee; not the external righteousness of the saints, or works of righteousness done by them; these do not go before them, at least to prepare the way for them into a future state of happiness, but follow after, Revelation 14:13, rather the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and so theirs; or Christ their righteousness, the sun of righteousness, that arises upon them with healing in his wings, and from whom they have the health before mentioned; he goes before his people by way of example, as a guide to direct them, and as the forerunner of them, and whose righteousness will introduce them into the heavenly glory. Though perhaps the meaning here is, that their righteousness, in the latter day glory, shall be very manifest, both their righteousness before God, and before men; which will, as it were, visibly walk before them, make way for them, and protect them; see Isaiah 60:21,

and the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward, the glorious power and providence of God, preserving his people; or the glorious Lord himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, the brightness of his Father's glory, he, as the word may be rendered, "shall gather thee" (i); he gathers his people to himself; he protects and defends them; he takes care of the weak and feeble, and that are straggling behind; and he brings them up, being the reward, and saves them. The phrase denotes a glorious state of the church in the latter day, when the glory of the Lord will be risen on his church, and abide upon it, and upon all that glory there shall be a defence; see Isaiah 60:1.

(i) "colliget te", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version.

Then shall thy (h) light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily: and thy {i} righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rear guard.

(h) That is, the prosperous estate with which God will bless you.

(i) The testimony of your goodness will appear before God and man.

Verse 8. - Then. When thou hast taken this advice to heart, and adopted it, and made it the rule of thy conduct. Upon such a change in thee, all good things shall follow. Thou shalt have no more to complain of unanswered prayers or covenant promises left in abeyance (see the comment on vers. 2 and 3). Shall thy lightbreak forth; i.e. thy glorious, time shall begin (comp Isaiah 50:1). Thine health - rather, thine healing; the "healing of thy bruise," or thy recovery from the low estate to which thy sins have brought thee down - shall spring forth speedily; i.e. shall soon manifest itself; and the result will be twofold:

(1) thy own righteousness will go before thee - will be, as it were, thy vanguard; and

(2) The glory of the Lord; i.e. the glory which he will confer upon thee, will follow thee up, and be, as it were, thy rearguard (comp. Isaiah 52:12). As the last prophecy of the second book contained all the three elements of prophetic addresses - reproach, threat, and promise - so this, the first prophecy of the third book, cannot open in any other way than with a rehearsal of one of these. The prophet receives the commission to appear as the preacher of condemnation; and whilst Jehovah is giving the reason for this commission, the preaching itself commences. "Cry with full throat, hold not back; lift up thy voice like a bugle, and proclaim to my people their apostasy, and to the house of Jacob their sins. And they seek me day by day, and desire to learn my ways, like a nation which has done righteousness, and has not forsaken the right of their God: they ask of me judgments of righteousness; they desire the drawing near of Elohim." As the second prophecy of the first part takes as its basis a text from Micah (Micah 2:1-4), so have we here in Isaiah 58:1 the echo of Micah 3:8. Not only with lisping lips (1 Samuel 1:13), but with the throat (Psalm 115:7; Psalm 149:6); that is to say, with all the strength of the voice, lifting up the voice like the shōphâr (not a trumpet, which is called חצצרה, nor in fact any metallic instrument, but a bugle or signal horn, like that blown on new year's day: see at Psalm 81:4), i.e., in a shrill shouting tone. With a loud voice that must be heard, with the most unsparing publicity, the prophet is to point out to the people their deep moral wounds, which they may indeed hide from themselves with hypocritical opus operatum, but cannot conceal from the all-seeing God. The ו of ואותי does not stand for an explanatory particle, but for an adversative one: "their apostasy ... their sins; and yet (although they are to be punished for these) they approach Jehovah every day" (יום יום with mahpach under the first יום, and pasek after it, as is the general rule between two like-sounding words), "that He would now speedily interpose." They also desire to know the ways which He intends to take for their deliverance, and by which He desires to lead them. This reminds us of the occurrence between Ezekiel and the elders of Gola (Ezekiel 20:1.; compare also Ezekiel 33:30.). As if they had been a people whose rectitude of action and fidelity to the commands of God warranted them in expecting nothing but what was good in the future, they ask God (viz., in prayer and by inquiring of the prophet) for mishpetē tsedeq, "righteous manifestations of judgment" i.e., such as will save them and destroy their foes, and desire qirbath 'Elōhı̄m, the coming of God, i.e., His saving parousia. The energetic futures, with the tone upon the last syllable, answer to their self-righteous presumption; and יחפצוּן is repeated, according to Isaiah's most favourite oratorical figure, at the close of the verse.
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