Isaiah 9:13 Commentaries: Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them, Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 9:13
For the people turns not to him that smites them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) For the people turneth not . . .—What follows was the word that was meant for all Israel. They had not “turned” to the Lord, there were no proofs of that conversion which true prophets and preachers have at all times sought after.

Isaiah 9:13-15. For the people turneth not, &c. — We have here the second crime of this refractory people, who, impenitent and stupid, regarded not the chastisement of the Lord, nor turned to him at his reproof. Therefore a total subversion of their state and polity is denounced as the severest punishment upon them. The Lord will cut off, &c., head and tail — High and low, honourable and contemptible, as the next verse explains it; branch and rush — The goodly branches of tall trees, the mighty and noble; and the bulrush, the weakest and meanest persons. In one day — All together, one as well as another, without any distinction. The ancient, &c., he is the head — That is, is signified by the word head, in the former verse; and the prophet that teacheth lies, &c. — Whose destruction he mentions, not as if it were a punishment to them to be deprived of such persons, but partly to show the extent of the calamity, that it should reach to all sorts of persons; and partly to beat down their vain presumptions of peace and prosperity, by showing that those false prophets, which had fed their vain hopes, should perish, and their false prophecies with them. He is the tail — The basest part of the whole people.9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.For the people ... - This is a reason why his anger would not cease, and it is, at the same time, the suggestion of a new crime for which the divine judgment would rest upon them. It commences the second part of the oracle.

Turneth not - It is implied here that it was the design of the chastisement to turn them to God. In this case, as in many others, such a design had not been accomplished.

Unto him that smiteth them - To God, who had punished them.

Neither do they seek - They do not seek his protection and favor; they do not worship and honor him.

The Lord of hosts - Note, Isaiah 1:9.

13-17. Second strophe.

turneth not—the design of God's chastisements; not fulfilled in their case; a new cause for punishment (Jer 2:20; 5:3).

Turneth not from their wicked courses unto God by true repentance.

Neither do they seek the Lord of hosts; they do not study and endeavour to procure his favour by sincere and fervent supplication, and by removing the causes of his just displeasure. For the people turneth not to him that smiteth them,.... Who was the Lord of hosts, as it is explained in the next clause; it was he that had smote the people with the rod of correction and chastisement, by various afflictions and distresses which he had brought upon them; in order to bring them to a sense of their sin and duty, to reclaim and recover them from their backslidings; but they had not such an effect upon them; they returned not to him by repentance and reformation, from whom they had turned themselves by their evil ways; nor to his worship, as the Targum interprets it, to his word and ordinances; for afflictions; unless sanctified, are of no use to restore backsliders. This is to be understood of the people of Israel, the ten tribes, whom the prophet calls "the people", not my people, nor the people of the Lord, because unworthy of that character. The Septuagint render the words, "the people returned not until they were smitten", and so the Syriac version intimating, as if they did return when smitten; but the following words, and the whole context, show the contrary:

neither do they seek the Lord of hosts; by prayer and supplication, for pardoning grace and mercy through Christ the Mediator; nor in his word and ordinances, for his presence and communion with him, or instruction or doctrine from him, as the Targum; to be taught true doctrine, and their duty to God and man; this is one part of the character of an unregenerate man, Romans 3:11.

For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. For the people turneth not] But the people turned not. him that smiteth them] him that smote them. do they seek] did they seek.

13–17. Second strophe. It describes a “day” of terror (which may be either a battle or a revolution) in which the leaders of the people suddenly perished. What incident is referred to cannot be determined; royal assassinations were frequent after the death of Jeroboam II. (see 2 Kings 15:10; 2 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:25), and these would naturally be accompanied by such a massacre of the King’s supporters as is here spoken of (cf. ch. Isaiah 3:1-4). See also the graphic, though obscure, description of a conspiracy in Hosea 7:3-7.Verse 13. - The people. The people of Israel, as distinct from the people of Judah. The particular judgment announced in vers. 11, 12 is clearly to fall on them. Neither do they seek the Lord of hosts. Israel had set itself to seek after Baal from the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31). The reform of Jehu (2 Kings 10:28) had gone but skin-deep. Baal was still "sought to," rather than Jehovah, when the final judgment came (2 Kings 17:16; Hosea 2:13). "To the increase of government and to peace without end, upon the throne of David, and over his Kingdom, to strengthen it, and to support it through judgment and righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The jealousy of Jehovah of hosts will fulfil this." למרבּה (written with Mêm clausum in the middle of the one word, and, according to Elias Levita, properly to be read רבּה לם, iis magnificando, in accordance with this way of writing the word)

(Note: When Bar-Kappara says (b. Sanhedrin 94a) that God designed to make Hezekiah the Messiah and Sennacherib Gog and Magog, but that Hezekiah was not found worthy of this, and therefore the Mem of l'marbeh was closed, there is so far some sense in this, that the Messianic hopes really could centre for a certain time in Hezekiah; whereas the assertion of a certain Hillel (ib. 98b), that Hezekiah was actually the Messiah of Israel, and no other was to be expected, is nothing but the perverted fancy of an empty brain. For an instance of the opposite, see Nehemiah 2:13, פרוצים הם, on which passage the Midrash observes, "The broken walls of Jerusalem will be closed in the day of salvation, and the government which has been closed up to the time of the King Messiah will be opened then."))

is not a participle here, but a substantive after the forms מראה, מעשׂה, and that not from הרבּה, but from רבה, an infinitive noun expressing, according to its formation, the practical result of an action, rather than the abstract idea.

(Note: We have already observed at p. 101, that this substantive formation had not a purely abstract meaning even at the first. Frst has given the correct explanation in his Lehrgebude der Aram. Idiome, 130.)

Ever extending dominion and endless peace will be brought in by the sublime and lofty King's Son, when He sits upon the throne of David and rules over David's kingdom. He is a semper Augustus, i.e., a perpetual increaser of the kingdom; not by war, however, but with the spiritual weapons of peace. And within He gives to the kingdom "judgment" (mishpât) and "righteousness" (zedâkâh), as the foundations and pillars of its durability: mishpât, judgment or right, which He pronounces and ordains; and righteousness, which He not only exercises Himself, but transfers to the members of His kingdom. This new epoch of Davidic sovereignty was still only a matter of faith and hope. But the zeal of Jehovah was the guarantee of its realization. The accentuation is likely to mislead here, inasmuch as it makes it appear as though the words "from henceforth even for ever" (me‛attâh v‛ad ōlâm) belonged to the closing sentence, whereas the eternal perspective which they open applies directly to the reign of the great Son of David, and only indirectly to the work of the divine jealousy. "Zeal," or jealousy, kin'âh, lit., glowing fire, from קנּא, Arab. kanaa, to be deep red (Deuteronomy 4:24), is one of the deepest of the Old Testament ideas, and one of the most fruitful in relation to the work of reconciliation. It is two-sided. The fire of love has for its obverse the fire of wrath. For jealousy contends for the object of its love against everything that touches either the object or the love itself.

(Note: Cf., Weber, On the Wrath of God (p. xxxv). It is evident that by kin'âh, ζῆλος, we are to understand the energy of love following up its violated claims upon the creature, from the comparison so common in the Scriptures between the love of God to His church and connubial affection. It is the jealousy of absolute love, which seeks to be loved in return, and indeed demands undivided love, and asserts its claim to reciprocity of love wherever this claim is refused. In a word, it is the self-vindication of scornful love. But this idea includes not only jealousy seeking the recovery of what it has lost, but also jealousy that consumes what cannot be saved (Nahum 1:2; Hebrews 10:27); and the Scriptures therefore deduce the wrath, by which the love resisted affirms itself, and the wrath which meets those who have resisted love in the form of absolute hostility-in other words, the jealousy of love as well as the jealousy of hatred-not from love and holiness as two entirely distinct sources, but from the single source of absolute holy love, which, just because it is absolute and holy, repels and excludes whatever will not suffer itself to be embraced (Joshua 24:19).)

Jehovah loves His nation. That He should leave it in the hands of such bad Davidic kings as Ahaz, and give it up to the imperial power of the world, would be altogether irreconcilable with this love, if continued long. But His love flares up, consumes all that is adverse, and gives to His people the true King, in whom that which was only foreshadowed in David and Solomon reaches its highest antitypical fulfilment. With the very same words, "the zeal of Jehovah of hosts," etc., Isaiah seals the promise in Isaiah 37:32.

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