Isaiah 59:9
Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
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(9) Therefore is judgment.—The pleading of the prophet is followed by the confession which he makes on their behalf. They admit that the delay in the manifestation of God’s judgment against their enemies, and of His righteousness (i.e., bounty) towards themselves, has been caused by their own sins.

We wait for light.—The cry of the expectant Israelites is, mutatis mutandis, like that of the “How long?” of Zechariah 1:12; Revelation 6:10. On the assumption that the words come ideally from the Babylonian exiles, the first of these passages presents an interesting coincidence.

Isaiah 59:9-11. Therefore is judgment far from us — Because we have no regard for justice or honesty, God will not plead our cause against our oppressors; neither doth justice overtake us — He does not defend our rights, nor avenge our wrongs; as if he had said, If we had executed judgment and equity among one another, they would not now have been far from us. We wait for light — In what sense the Hebrews use the terms light and darkness, see before, on Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 58:10. But behold obscurity — We are in a state of such thick darkness, that, which way soever we look, we see no hope of deliverance. We grope for the wall like the blind — As a blind man, that hath no other means of perceiving and distinguishing objects than his hands, feels for the wall, from whence he expects either direction or a resting-place to lean on; so we expect salvation, as it were, blindfold, not taking direction from the prophets, but hoping to obtain it by our cries and fasts, though we continue in our sins; and therefore may be well said to grope after it. And, or rather, yea, we grope as if we had no eyes — As if we were stark blind; we stumble at noon-day — This denotes their exceeding blindness, as a man must needs be exceedingly blind who can discern no more at noon-day than if it were midnight. We are in desolate places as dead men — He compares their calamitous state to that of men dead, without hope of restoration. We roar like bears, &c. — Thus he expresses the greatness of their anguish, which forced from them loud outcries and sorrowful lamentations. We look for judgment, &c. — See note on Isaiah 59:9.59:9-15 If we shut our eyes against the light of Divine truth, it is just with God to hide from our eyes the things that belong to our peace. The sins of those who profess themselves God's people, are worse than the sins of others. And the sins of a nation bring public judgments, when not restrained by public justice. Men may murmur under calamities, but nothing will truly profit while they reject Christ and his gospel.Therefore is judgment far from us - This is the confession of the people that they were suffering not unjustly on account of their crimes. The word 'judgment' here is evidently to be taken in the sense of vengeance or vindication. The idea is this, 'we are subjected to calamities and to oppressions by our enemies. In our distresses we cry unto God, but on account of our sins he does not hear us, nor does he come to vindicate our cause.'

Neither doth justice overtake us - That is, God does not interpose to save us from our calamities, and to deliver us from the hand of our enemies. The word justice here is not to be regarded as used in the sense that they had a claim on God, or that they were now suffering unjustly, but it is used to denote the attribute of justice in God; and the idea is, that the just God, the avenger of wrongs, did not come forth to vindicate their cause, and to save them from the power of their foes.

We wait for light - The idea here is, that they anxiously waited for returning prosperity.

But behold obscurity - Darkness. Our calamities continue, and relief is not afforded us.

For brightness - That is, for brightness or splendor like the shining of the sun an emblem of happiness and prosperity.

9. judgment far—retribution in kind because they had shown "no judgment in their goings" (Isa 59:8). "The vindication of our just rights by God is withheld by Him from us."

us—In Isa 59:8 and previous verses, it was "they," the third person; here, "us … we," the first person. The nation here speaks: God thus making them out of their own mouth condemn themselves; just as He by His prophet had condemned them before. Isaiah includes himself with his people and speaks in their name.

justice—God's justice bringing salvation (Isa 46:13).

light—the dawn of returning prosperity.

obscurity—adversity (Jer 8:15).

Therefore is judgment far from us: this seems to be spoken in the person of those Jews that did partake of these sins, giving the reason by way of complaint of those evils that they groaned under. Justice: judgment, and so justice, is herb taken for deliverance, Isaiah 1:27: q.d. God doth not defend our right, nor revenge our wrong, nor deliver us, because of these outrages and acts of violence, injustice, and oppression that are committed among us; so that deliverance is called here judgment and justice by a metonymy of the efficient: q.d. If he had executed judgment and equity among one another, they would not now have been far from us. As works are sometimes put for the reward of works, Job 7:2 Psalm 109:20, so judgment and justice is put for the reward of judgment and justice. Or wicked men are in power and seats of judicature, that execute no judgment or justice in the behalf of the oppressed.

We wait for light: how the Hebrews use light and darkness, see before on Isaiah 58:8,10.

But we walk in darkness; or, mist; we are in such a thick mist, that which way soever we look, we see no way out, no hope of deliverance; we are still in captivity, and like so to be, till we see judgment and justice executed, and then we may expect good days. Therefore is judgment far from us,.... These are the words of the few godly persons in those times, taking notice of prevailing sins, confessing and lamenting them, and observing that these were the source of their calamities under which they groaned; "therefore", because of the above mentioned sins, and in just retaliation, no justice or judgment being among men; therefore, in great righteousness "judgment is far from us"; or God does not appear to right our wrongs, and avenge us of our enemies, but suffers them to afflict and distress us:

neither doth justice overtake us; the righteousness of God inflicting vengeance on our enemies, and saving and protecting us; this does not come up with us, nor do we enjoy the benefit of it, but walk on without it unprotected, and exposed to the insults of men:

we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness; or "for brightnesses" (y); for much clear light; but

we walk in mists (z); in thick fogs, and have scarce any light at all. The meaning is, they waited for deliverance and salvation; but instead of that had the darkness of affliction and distress; or they were expecting latter day light and glory, the clear and bright shining of Gospel truths; but, instead of that, were surrounded with the darkness of ignorance and infidelity, superstition and will worship, and walked in the mists and fogs of error and heresy of all sorts: this seems to respect the same time as in Zechariah 14:6.

(y) "in splendores", Pagninus, Montanus; "magnum splendorem", Vitringa. (z) "in ealiginibus", Montanus, Cocceius; "in summa caligine", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "in densa caligine", Vitringa.

Therefore is {f} judgment far from us, neither doth {g} justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

(f) That is, God's vengeance to punish our enemies.

(g) God's protection to defend us.

9. Therefore] on account of these sins and disorders, and not on account of Jehovah’s remissness (Isaiah 59:1-2).

judgment … justice (R.V. righteousness) are here again synonyms for salvation, right manifested by a judicial interposition of Jehovah, as in Isaiah 59:11 and the latter part of ch. Isaiah 56:1.

overtake us] The nation has struggled on its dreary and difficult way in the confident expectation that salvation would not tarry long behind, but hitherto this hope has been disappointed.

9–11. The sorrow and dejection of the people is depicted in striking and pathetic images. It is the better mind of the community which is here expressed,—its intense desire for the fulfilment of the divine promises, its weariness through hope deferred making the heart sick. The contrast to the buoyant enthusiasm of the second Isaiah is very great, and it is hardly credible that the state of feeling here described should have arisen in the short interval which elapsed between the announcement of deliverance and the actual release from captivity.Verses 9-15. - ISRAEL HUMBLY CONFESSES ITS SIN'S TO GOD. Isaiah, anxious to bring the people to confession and amendment, makes humble confession in their name, joining himself with them, as if he had been a participator in their iniquities. Verse 9. - Therefore - i.e. on account of these sins - is judgment far from us; i.e. "does God refrain from judging our enemies." Neither doth justice - i.e. the righting of the wrongs which we suffer at the hands of the heathen - overtake us. We are left by God unavenged, and our enemies are left unpunished on account of our many transgressions. We wait for light. We look for a bright dawn to succeed the night of our trouble; but we wait in vain - the obscurity continues. The sins of Israel are sins in words and deeds. "For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips speak lies, your tongue murmurs wickedness." The verb גּאל, to spot (see Isaiah 63:3), is a later softening down of גּעל (e.g., 2 Samuel 1:21); and in the place of the niphal נגאל (Zephaniah 3:1), we have here, as in Lamentations 4:14, the double passive form נגאל, compounded of niphal and pual. The post-biblical nithpal, compounded of the niphal and the hithpael, is a mixed form of the same kind, though we also meet with it in a few biblical passages (Deuteronomy 21:8; Proverbs 27:15; Ezekiel 23:48). The verb hâgâh (lxx μελετᾶ) combines the two meanings of "thought" (meditation or reflection), and of a light low "expression," half inward half outward.
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