Isaiah 47:3
This is a scoffing song at the overthrow of Babylon. It is divided into four nearly equal stanzas. Luxury, ambition, and the practice of magic - the one sin worse than the others - were prevalent at Babylon. Each of these is lashed in the first three stanzas. There is a climax, the scorn of the prophet reaching its highest point in the last stanza (Ewald). Spiritually considered, the picture may represent the course of "this present world" in its godless pride.

I. BABYLON AS TYPICAL OF LUXURY. The city in ancient fancy is ever thought of as a woman - in all her beauty and glory, or in all her shame. The great city here appears as the haughty and luxurious courtesan. The just judgment has fallen upon her impurity. She is violently torn away from her life of softness and refinement, and reduced to the status of a common slave - has to ply the hard labour of grinding meal (Exodus 11:5, 12; Job 31:10). Or, like a captive stripped of all her finery, she has to wade barefoot through streams. Every hidden shame will be exposed to the light of day. Only in Israel - as Isaiah 42-46, have repeatedly proclaimed - is salvation to be found. These calamities of the proud city are in retribution for her sins - the just vengeance of an offended God.

II. BABYLON AS TYPICAL OF PRIDE AND AMBITION. This "daughter of the Chaldeans" is no longer to be termed "lady, or mistress, of kingdoms." When Jehovah was wroth with his people, and desecrated his heritage, giving them into her hands, she showed no pity, but laid a heavy yoke upon the aged, thinking in her heart, "1 shall be mistress for ever." She did not consider the end, which has now come upon her. While Israel enjoys freedom, she must pass into the darkness of the prison-house (Isaiah 42:7, 22).

III. AS TYPICAL OF SUPERSTITION. In her carelessness and pride she has exalted herself above Jehovah (Zephaniah 2:15). She thinks she will never lose her protector, the Chaldean king; and her children, the stout burghers of the city. But sudden conquest will deprive her of both, and she will be as a widow, forlorn. Her third and inexcusable sin is superstition. Her wisdom and science have led her astray to a point of blinding self-conceit. But now an evil has come upon her which no incantations and spells can charm away - a mischief for which none of her rites can atone. Her false confidence has blinded her to the true faith in the eternal God (with vers. 10, 11, cf. Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 19:11, etc.). And tile result must be sudden and crushing ruin.

IV. BABYLON'S FALL AS TYPICAL OF THE WISDOM THAT IS BROUGHT TO NOUGHT. What can all her learned astrologers and magicians do for her now - they whose guidance has so long been followed (cf. Isaiah 46:6, 7; Isaiah 44:12; Isaiah 43:23)? Let them stand by her in her need, those star-gazers and moon-gazers. But all are dumb, and, so far from helping, flee for their own safety from the fire - no gently warming hearth-fire (Isaiah 44:16), but one most horrible and devouring, from which there is no escape (Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 33:11-14; Isaiah 5:24).

V. LESSONS. All the great sins are connected together as links in a chain. They are drawn as with a cart-rope. Sensuality and luxury bring pride and contempt in their train; and these, again, blindness and bewilderment of mind. And where no affliction nor humiliation have been known, there will be no sympathy nor pity towards others. Yet religion is ever a necessity to man; and, if the true religion be rejected, some counterfeit must take its place. The most foolish and the darkest superstitions flourish in such times. So it was again when Christianity was making its way in the decaying Roman world. True religion, rooted in humanity and the fear of God, and in light-loving intelligence, alone can deliver the nation and the individual. - J.







Thy nakedness shall be uncovered.
: — Every person hath somewhat which may properly be called his nakedness or shame, in a figurative sense — such as a weak judgment, imprudence, inconsideration, injustice, cruelty, avarice, poverty, or contempt of religion. Over that he studiously endeavours to throw a veil, that it may be preserved from public observation. Now, when the covering is taken away by which any of these things were concealed, then people's nakedness or shame is laid open to the inspection of those who possess penetration and discernment.

(R. Macculloch.)

Homiletic Review.
: —

I. "THY NAKEDNESS SHALL BE UNCOVERED." Man practises deceit. He imposes upon himself, and, as far as possible, upon his fellows. He cloaks his sins, his motives, his evil ways. He is not sincere in his professions, not open in his conduct, not honest in his judgments. Sin itself is a monstrous deceit and lie. The author of sin is a "liar." And so with the children of the devil. There is nothing in them — in their hearts, lives, characters — that will stand the light of the throne. The truth will flash the sunlight into the chamber of the soul, and into every transaction of life, and lay bare to the eye of God and the quest of the universe the true real state and status of the moral man. Then "thy nakedness shall be uncovered." The awful sight of a rational and immortal soul, steeped in guilt, lost to virtue and to God, and deceived to its eternal undoing, will shock the very heavens.

II. "YEA, THY SHAME SHALL BE SEEN." The shame of wanton rebellion against the great God, our Heavenly Father; the shame of sinning unto death against the Cross of the loving and dying Christ; the shame of consummating a character of incorrigible wickedness, and a doom more awful than that of sinning angels, under all the light and influences of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. To look upon such shame in the judgment day will shock and confound the sinner himself, and fill all heaven with loathing and indignation.

III. "I WILL TAKE VENGEANCE, AND I WILL NOT MEET THEE AS A MAN." The vengeance of God! Who can stand before it? The partial displays of it in this life, where wrath is restrained and clemency bears rule, are fearful tokens of what is in store for those who refuse offered mercy and exhaust God's long-suffering goodness in the world of retribution. It is awful to face an angry man whom we have grievously wronged. It is more fearful still to confront a stern judge, who, as minister of the law we have broken, makes inquisition upon us. But oh, to stand face to face before the offended Majesty of heaven, now risen up to take "vengeance" upon the despisers of His grace, is a thought that may well fill us with the profoundest concern.

(Homiletic Review.)

I will not meet thee as a man.
: — The sense is very obscure.

(Skinner.)I will run against no man, namely, that I should need to give way to him.

(Stier.)I will not intervene as a man.

(Ruetschi.)I shall not meet a man, so depopulated will Babylon be.

(Hahn.)I shall encounter no one who can resist Me.

(Cheyne.)It means to encounter, meet, hit upon one, not only in a hostile, but also, as here and Isaiah 64:5, in a friendly sense; so I will befriend no one, pardon no one.

(Delitzsch.)Vengeance I take, and strike treaty with none.

(G. A. Smith.)Possibly, "I will take vengeance, and will not spare, saith our Redeemer."

(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)Independently of these minuter questions, it is clear that the whole clause is a laconic explanation of the figures which precede, and which are summed up in the simple, but terrific notion of resistless and inexorable vengeance.

(J. A. Alexander.)

whose compassion may induce him to show ill-judged forbearance and clemency, but thou shalt have judgment without mercy, who hast showed no mercy: I will not meet thee with the justice of a man, that may be perverted, but with that impartial equity which can neither be corrupted nor evaded. I will not meet thee with the anger of a man, which for certain reasons may be concealed or deferred, but with my fierce wrath that shall inevitably consume thee. I will not meet thee with the strength of a man, that may be opposed or vanquished, but clothed with omnipotence that cannot be resisted, so that it shall appear that it is not the vengeance of man, but of God.

(R. Macculloch.)

His threat is a threat of departure from His usual course. Thus, the expression is resolvable into a statement, that there is a human character about God's dealings with men, and that it is an evidence of His not having given them up to vengeance, that He continues to meet them "as a man." Let us consider the evidences which we have, that as a God of love, God meet us "as a man."

I. Let us begin with those OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY GHOST, through which God may emphatically be said to "meet" us, to come in contact with us. There is much of mystery around these operations; we recognise them by their effects. Not only are these operations hidden from others, but the very party himself, within whose breast they are making themselves felt, can give little or no account whence they come, or how they work. He resolves whatever he experiences into the strugglings of his own mind, and the wrestlings of his own conscience. Would it be for our advantage, that, in meeting us, God should meet us as a God, and not "as a man"? We could not have borne that God should have spoken with us by unearthly voices, and warned us by unearthly spectacles, and approached us through unearthly avenues. Hence, the evidence that God has dealt lovingly with us, when we observe the appointed method in which the Spirit operates — it is, that Divinity may be said to identify itself with humanity.

II. The mind turns naturally to THE GREAT SCHEME OF REDEMPTION, and finds at once in that scheme full material of demonstration. Does it not commend itself to us as an arrangement beautifully indicative of the tenderness of God. that the "great High Priest of our profession," who was essentially Divine,-was, at the same time, "a man"? I the Divine nature had entered union with the angelic so that God had met us, not "as a man," but as a cherub or seraph, we should have had no power, comparatively, of estimating what had been done on our behalf. We have little or no knowledge of higher orders of being, and there could consequently have been nothing which came home to the heart in the tidings of a Mediator, who, though essentially God, had assumed, for our sake, the likeness of one of those ranks. But when, in order to the meeting us in love in place of vengeance, God has become man, we can judge, we can feel the stupendousness of this humiliation.

III. WHEN CHRISTIANS COME TO DIE, how are they accompanied through the dark valley and across the dark waters? God still meets them "as a man." "Thy rod and Thy staff" — a sheperd's implements, a man's implements — "they comfort me."

IV. What shall we say to THE JUDGMENT SEAT, occupied by One so terrible in His splendour that the very earth and heavens flee away at His presence? This is the last great display of the mercy of that appointment through which a man has been given as a Mediator. How could an angel, with all his purity and his equity, make due allowance for human infirmity, or place himself in our circumstances, so as to decide with reference to our powers and opportunities, and thus throw into his verdict that consideration for our trials and temptations, without which, if there may be the strictness of justice, there can scarcely be the admixture of mercy? But the Man who hath "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" this is the Being who is to gather all nations before Him, and determine the eternal condition of each individual.

V. We may draw one more striking illustration of the text from THE APPOINTED MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE GOSPEL IS PROPAGATED. In the great work of gathering in the nations, and shrining the religion of Christ in the households and hearts of the human population, the Almighty makes not use of lofty angels, who have "kept their first estate," but of persons who are themselves in peril, themselves but wrestlers for immortality. God, in the person of His ambassadors, might have met us as an angel, and not "as a man." You could not, as you listened to the angel, or reflected on his preaching, put from you the feeling that he knew nothing experimentally of your trials, nothing of your difficulties — that he had no evil heart to struggle with, no mighty foes to withstand him in a course of obedience; and very easy you would think it, for one pure as this exalted creature to urge upon men the practice of righteousness, and to declaim with lofty vehemence on the vanity and worthlessness of the best earthly pleasures; very easy to recommend that to which he is prompted by his nature, and to denounce that for which he has neither inclination nor capacity. And this feeling would tell quickly and fatally on the moral hold which he might gain on an audience; making them suspicious that he spake on a matter of which he was no fair judge, and giving to the whole discourse the aspect of an airy speculation. Therefore is it in love to you that God meets you "as a man."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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