Isaiah 59:19 Commentaries: So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the LORD drives.
Isaiah 59:19
So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
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(19) When the enemy shall come in . . .—The noun admits of the senses “adversary,” “adversity,” “hemmed in,” “rushing,”and the verse has accordingly been very differently rendered. (1) He (Jehovah) shall come like a rushing stream which the breath of Jehovah (i.e., a strong and mighty wind) driveth. (2) Adversity shall come like a stream. The verse is difficult, but the Authorised Version is, at least, as tenable as any other rendering, and finds parallelisms in Jeremiah 46:7-8 for the image of a flood, and in Psalm 60:4 for that of the banner. (Comp.also Isaiah 11:10.)

Isaiah 59:19. So shall they fear the name of the Lord — Worship the Lord; from the west — The western parts of the world. And his glory — The glorious God; from the rising of the sun — The eastern parts. The sum is, the whole world shall fear and worship God, and make his name renowned, laying aside their idolatries: and it may be referred, 1st, To the deliverance of God’s people out of Babylon: men shall reverence and adore him when they shall hear how he hath delivered his people, and executed vengeance on their enemies. Or, 2d, To the redemption by Christ, and the calling of the Gentiles. See Malachi 1:11. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, &c. — When nothing seems able to withstand the enemies of God’s church, but they carry all before them as a flood overruns a country, then God himself shall give them a remarkable check, and visibly interpose in behalf of his oppressed people. The prophet, however, may be understood as speaking of Satan, the grand enemy of God’s church, and as signifying that at what time soever he or his instruments should make violent attacks on God’s people, and should endeavour to bear down all before them, by an inundation of infidelity, impiety, and wickedness; the Spirit of God would lift up his standard, and call together his armies, to oppose these enemies’ progress, and subvert their cause. “There can be no doubt,” says Mr. Scott, “but the grand accomplishment of this prophecy is future: and as they, among whom iniquity so abounded, antecedent to this happy change, are spoken of as the professed people of God, and are not accused of idolatry, and as the Lord is represented as wondering that there was no intercessor among them, it is more natural to interpret it of corrupt and degenerate Protestants, than either of the Jews, who are avowed enemies to Christianity, or of Papists, who retain the worship of images, saints, and angels.”59:16-21 This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight. He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view. The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, Joh 14:16. The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety. But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.So shall they fear - That is, the result of the divine interposition to punish his enemies, shall be to secure the acknowledgment of the existence and perfections of Yahweh in every part of the world. See especially the notes at Isaiah 45:6.

When the enemy shall come in - There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage, and it is remarkable that our translators have departed from all the ancient versions, and that the present translation differs from nearly all the modern expositions of the place. Lowth renders it:

When he shall come like a river straitened in his course,

Which a strong wind driveth along.

Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, 'When he shall come as a violent river which the Spirit of the Lord (spiritus Domini, or the wind of the Lord, that is, a strong wind) drives along. The Septuagint, 'For the wrath of the Lord will come like an impetuous stream; it will come with fury.' The Chaldee, 'When they shall come who oppress, like an overflowing of the river Euphrates.' The Syriac, 'Because when the oppressor shall come as a river, the Spirit of the Lord shall humble him.' The reason of this variety of interpretation is the ambiguity of the Hebrew words which occur in the verse. The word which in our common version is rendered 'the enemy' (צר tsâr, from צרר tsârar, to press, compress, bind up together; intrans. to be straitened, or compressed), may mean either:

1. "An adversary, enemy, persecutor," synonymous with אויב 'ôyēb, as in Numbers 10:9; Deuteronomy 32:27; Job 16:9; or,

2. "Straits, affliction" Psalm 4:2; Psalm 18:7; Psalm 44:11; or,

3. "Strait, narrow" Numbers 22:26; Job 41:7.

It may be, therefore, here either a noun meaning an enemy; or it maybe an adjective qualifying the word river, and then will denote a river that is closely confined within its banks, and that is urged forward by a mass of accumulating waters, or by a mighty wind. According to this, it will mean that Yahweh will come to take vengeance with the impetuosity of a river that swells and foams and is borne forward with violence in its course. The comparison of a warrior or hero with such a mighty and impetuous torrent, is exceedingly forcible and beautiful, and is not uncommon (see the notes at Isaiah 8:7). The phrase rendered 'the Spirit of the Lord' (יהוה רוח rûach yehovâh), may denote 'the wind of Yahweh,' or a strong, violent, mighty wind. The appropriate signification of the word רוח rûach, is wind, or breath; and it is well known that the name of God is often in the Scriptures used to denote that which is mighty or vast, as in the phrase, mountains of God, cedars of God, etc.

There is no reason why it should be here regarded as denoting 'the Spirit of God,' - the great agent of enlightening and reforming the world. It may be understood, as Lowth and others have applied it, to denote a strong and violent wind - a wind urging on a mass of waters through a compressed and straitened place, and thus increasing their impetuosity and violence. The phrase 'Spirit of God' (אלהים רוח rûach 'ĕlohı̂ym), is used to denote a strong wind, in 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Isaiah 40:7; Ezekiel 12:14; Ezekiel 13:13. The word rendered in our version, 'shall lift up a standard' (נססה nosesâh), rendered in the margin, 'put him' to flight,' if derived from נסס nāsas, and if written with the points נססה nāsesâh, would denote to lift up, to elevate, as a standard or banner, or anything to oppose and retard a foe. But the word is probably derived from נוּס nûs, to flee, in the Piel נוסס nôsēs, "to impel, to cause to flee."

Here it means, then, that the mighty wind impels or drives on the compressed waters of the stream, and the whole passage means that Yahweh would come to deliver his people, and to prostrate his foes with the impetuosity of a violent river compressed between narrow banks, and driven on by a mighty wind. True, therefore, as it is, that when a violent enemy assails the church; when he comes in with error, with violence, and with allies, like a flood, Yahweh will rear a standard against him, and the influences of the Spirit of God may be expected to interpose to arrest the evil; yet this passage does not teach that doctrine, nor should it be so applied. It does teach that Yahweh will go forth with energy and power to defend his people and to prostrate his foes.

19. (Isa 45:6; Mal 1:11). The result of God's judgments (Isa 26:9; 66:18-20).

like a flood—(Jer 46:7, 8; Re 12:15).

lift up a standard—rather, from a different Hebrew root, "shall put him to flight," "drive him away" [Maurer]. Lowth, giving a different sense to the Hebrew for "enemy" from that in Isa 59:18, and a forced meaning to the Hebrew for "Spirit of the Lord," translates, "When He shall come as a river straitened in its course, which a mighty wind drives along."

Fear the name of the Lord, i.e. either worship the Lord; for the name of God is put for God himself, as hath been often showed, and fear is put for his worship; or make his name renowned.

From the west, viz. the western part of the world.

His glory, or the glorious God.

From the rising of the sun, viz. the eastern parts of the world. The sum is, the whole world, either a synecdoche of the part for the whole, or if you divide the world through the poles, the one half will be east, and the other west, and so compriseth the whole world. It shall fear and worship God, and make his name renowned, laying aside their idolatries; whether you refer it to the deliverance of his people out of Babylon, when they shall hear how God hath executed vengeance on his enemies; or to the redemption by Christ, and his calling of the Gentiles, Malachi 1:11.

When the enemy shall come in like a flood; either against the Babylonians, as some understand it, and so it is probably meant of Cyrus, who shall come like a violent flood, against whom there is no head to be made; him God would stir up against the Babylonians for the deliverance of the Jews. Or against his own people; and so it may have either,

1. A more particular respect to Jerusalem, when Sennacherib came up against it; which suits well with what God saith of him, Isaiah 8:7,8. Or,

2. More general, at what time soever the devil or his instruments shall make violent irruptions upon the church, Revelation 12:15; for powerful enemies invading a country are oft compared to a river. See Poole "Isaiah 18:2". It is an allusion to the overflowing of Euphrates, which by its violent inundations was wont to do much hurt and damage to the Babylonians. The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him: and here again, if it be taken in the first sense, viz. against the Babylonians, then the meaning is, God himself shall as it were carry the standard in the midst of Cyrus’s army, the Medes and Persians, and that with a great deal of fury, intimated here by the

Spirit of the Lord; for spirit is often used among the Hebrews for the passions of the soul, as anger, wrath, fury, &c. Or, as a violent blast or gale of wind, shall help forward the violence of the torrent; and if so, then

him, by an enallage of the number, which is frequent, is put for them. But if in either of the other two senses, viz. with particular respect to Sennacherib, then the Spirit of the Lord, as with a blast, only shall puff him away, which was made good, Isaiah 37:7,36,37. Or with more general reference to the violence of enemies against the church; then the meaning is, God shall make known himself to take their part and defend them, Psalm 48:3-5, and cause the enemies to give back, or put them to flight, as in the margin, Isaiah 17:12-14, and that without power, but by his Spirit alone, as easy as by a puff of wind, Zechariah 4:6. Again, if you take this (as some learned men do) in a spiritual sense, then it notes the suddenness of the gospel’s spreading itself by the Spirit in the ministry of the apostles and evangelists, bearing down like a flood all that opposes it, the Lord Jesus Christ being lifted up in it as a banner or ensign: but this sense, though true, seems to be more forced, and as it relates to temporal deliverances, more genuine and natural: however, the prophet being about to speak of the spiritual deliverances and state of the church by Christ, he seems to slide, as it were, into it by such plain allusions and types, being to speak of it more directly in the following chapters. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun,.... The eastern and western antichrist being destroyed, way shall be made for the spread of the Gospel east and west; which shall be everywhere embraced, and the true worship of God set up; and the glorious name of the Lord, or the Lord who is glorious in his name, nature, perfections, and works, shall be feared and served from the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, or by all nations under the heavens; see Malachi 1:11 and even those that are left in the antichristian states, and escape the general ruin, shall be frightened at his judgments, fear his great and awful name, and give glory to the God of heaven, Revelation 11:13.

when the enemy shall come in like a flood; when Satan, the common "enemy" of mankind, the avowed and implacable enemy of Christ and his people, "shall come" into the world, and into the church, as he will in the latter day; and has already entered "like" an impetuous flood, threatening to carry all before him, introducing a flood of immorality and profaneness, as in the days of Noah and Lot, to which the times of the Son of Man's coming are likened, Luke 17:26 or else a flood of error and heresy of all sorts; see Revelation 12:15 and likewise a flood of persecution, as will be at the slaying of the witnesses, that hour of temptation that will come upon all the earth, to try the inhabitants of it, Revelation 3:10. Aben Ezra compares this passage with, and illustrates it by, that time of trouble which will be, such as never was since there was a nation, Daniel 12:1 when this will be the case, which seems to be near at hand:

the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him; Christ and his Gospel, or Christ the standard lifted up in the ministry of the Gospel, Isaiah 11:10 a set of ministers shall be raised up, having the everlasting Gospel, which they shall publish to all nations, and which shall have an universal spread; and by means of which the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea; and which will be a sufficient check to the enemy's flood of immorality, error, and persecution; and which, after this, shall be no more; see Revelation 14:6. Some render the words, "when he", the glorious name of the Lord, or he who is the glory of the Lord, the brightness of his glory;

shall come like a narrow flood, that flows with great swiftness and force, and carries all before it;

the Spirit of the Lord lifting him up for a standard (l), that is, in the ministry of the word; "so shall they fear", &c.; then multitudes shall serve the Lord, and worship him. The Targum is,

"they that afflict shall be as the overflowing of the river Euphrates; by the word of the Lord shall they be broken;''

and Vitringa thinks there is an allusion to the river Euphrates; interpreting the enemy of the Ottoman Turks, Tartars, and Scythians, stirred up by Satan to distress the church: all this may be applied to the case of particular believers under the assaults of Satan their grand enemy; who seeks all occasions to disturb their peace and destroy their comfort, though he cannot ruin their souls; he comes in, not only into their houses where they dwell, and gives them disturbance there; and into the house of God where they worship, and does all he can to hinder them in attending on the word and ordinances, and to prevent all usefulness, edification, and comfort thereby; but he enters into their hearts, and stirs up the corruptions of their nature, and causes these to rise like a flood, which threaten with bringing them into captivity to the law of sin and death; and attacks them with violent temptations, suggesting that they are not the people of God, the redeemed of the Lamb, or regenerated by the Spirit, but are hypocrites, and never had the work of grace on their hearts; aggravating their sins, and telling them they have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, and there is no pardon for them; and at other times filling their minds with blasphemous and atheistical thoughts; all which come upon them sometimes with so much force, that it is like an overflowing flood that threatens with utter destruction; when the Spirit of the Lord within them, who is greater than he that is in the world, lifts up Christ as an ensign or standard to them; and directs them to his blood for peace and pardon, for the cleansing of their souls and the atonement of their sins; where they may see and read, in legible characters, the free and full remission of their sins, and an entire satisfaction to the justice of God for them; and he holds up and holds out the righteousness of Christ unto them, with which God is well pleased, his justice satisfied, and his law made honourable; and by which they are justified from all things, and secured from all charges and condemnation; and who also leads them to the person, power, and grace of Christ, to preserve them in grace to glory, to keep them from falling, and present them faultless before the throne of God; the consequence of which is a check to Satan's temptations; an antidote to the doubts and fears he injects; and an abundance of spiritual peace and comfort; as well as it engages to fear the Lord and his goodness.

(l) "etenim veniet (sub. Dominus vel nomen Domini) instar fluminis angusti, spiritu Domini levante ipsum pro vexillo", Bootius, Animadv. I. 1. c. 1. p. 68.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall {s} come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

(s) He shows that there will be great affliction in the Church, but God will always deliver his.

19. The effect of the judgement, as a manifestation of Jehovah’s glory, will be coextensive with humanity. The verse gives no hint that the judgement itself will be universal; the nations are affected by it only in so far as it reveals the character and deity of the God of Israel. Comp. ch. Isaiah 18:3.

fear the name of the Lord] Cf. Psalm 102:15.

When the enemy shall come in, &c.] R.V. reads: for he shall come as a rushing stream (marg. a stream pent in), which the breath of the lord driveth. The rendering of A.V. is based on the Targ., Pesh., and Jewish commentators, and is followed by a few in recent times; that of R.V. has the authority of the LXX. (in part) and Vulg., and is adopted by nearly all the best modern authorities. The chief points of difference are (1) the construction of the word which A.V. translates by enemy (Heb. c̨âr). According to the Massoretic pointing and accentuation it is the subject of the sentence, and may be rendered indifferently “adversary” or “adversity.” On the other view it is an adjective qualifying “stream,” and may mean either as an act. part, “rushing,” or (less probably) “straitened,” “pent up.” (2) The verb for lift up a standard (R.V. “driveth,” Heb. nôṣçṣ). The A.V. understands it as a denominative from the common word for “standard” (see on ch. Isaiah 10:18), while the R.V. derives it from the verb for “flee” (Pil‘el = “drive forward”). The other differences need no elucidation. The second interpretation is alone suitable to the connexion, which “requires a continuous description of the theophany” (Cheyne). For the image in the last clause cf. ch. Isaiah 30:28 (“His breath is as an overflowing stream”).Verse 19. - So shall they fear; rather, and they shall fear. The result of the triumphant exhibition of God's might will be a conversion of the Gentiles, who will flock in both from the west - the quarter of "the islands" - and from the east, to do reverence to the name and to the glory of the Lord. When the enemy shall come in (rather, come on) like a flood; literally, like the river; i.e. the Euphrates (comp. Isaiah 8:7, "The Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the King of Assyria and all his glory," etc.). When this shall be the case, then the Spirit of the Lord - hypostasized or nearly so - shall lift up a standard against him (comp. Isaiah 10:18; Zechariah 9:16), and easily vanquish him. The metaphor of "lifting a standard" for making an armed resistance is common in Isaiah (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 13:2; Isaiah 18:3; Isaiah 31:9, etc.). The people have already indicated by על־כּן in Isaiah 59:9 that this benighted, hopeless state is the consequence of their prevailing sins; they now come back to this, and strike the note of penitence (viddui), which is easily recognised by the recurring rhymes ānu and ênu. The prophet makes the confession (as in Jeremiah 14:19-20, cf., Isaiah 3:21.), standing at the head of the people as the leader of their prayer (ba‛al tephillâh): "For our transgressions are many before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are known to us, and our evil deeds well known: apostasy and denial of Jehovah, and turning back from following our God, oppressive and false speaking, receiving and giving out from the heart words of falsehood." The people acknowledge the multitude and magnitude of their apostate deeds, which are the object of the omniscience of God, and their sins which bear witness against them (ענתה the predicate of a neuter plural; Ges. 146, 3). The second כּי resumes the first: "our apostate deeds are with us (את as in Job 12:3; cf., עם, Job 15:9), i.e., we are conscious of them; and our misdeeds, we know them" (ידענוּם for ידענון, as in Genesis 41:21, cf., Isaiah 59:8, and with ע, as is always the case with verbs ל ע before נ, and with a suffix; Ewald, 60). The sins are now enumerated in Isaiah 59:13 in abstract infinitive forms. At the head stands apostasy in thought and deed, which is expressed as a threefold sin. בּה (of Jehovah) belongs to both the "apostasy" (treachery; e.g., Isaiah 1:2) and the "denial" (Jeremiah 5:12). נסוג is an inf. abs. (different from Psalm 80:19). Then follow sins against the neighbour: viz., such speaking as leads to oppression, and consists of sârâh, that which deviates from or is opposed to the law and truth (Deuteronomy 19:16); also the conception (concipere) of lying words, and the utterance of them from the heart in which they are conceived (Matthew 15:18; Matthew 12:35). הרו and הגו are the only poel infinitives which occur in the Old Testament, just as שׁושׂתי (Isaiah 10:13) is the only example of a poel perfect of a verb ל ה. The pol is suitable throughout this passage, because the action expressed affects others, and is intended to do them harm. According to Ewald, the poel indicates the object or tendency: it is the conjugation employed to denote seeking, attacking, or laying hold of; e.g., לושׁן, lingua petere, i.e., to calumniate; עוין, oculo petere, i.e., to envy.
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