Isaiah 7:17
The LORD will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since the day Ephraim separated from Judah--He will bring the king of Assyria."
Faith Triumphing Over DoubtE. Johnson Isaiah 7:10-17
A Sentence of DoomR. A. Bertram.Isaiah 7:17-25
Assyria and the JewsF. Delitzsch.Isaiah 7:17-25
Bees and FliesF. Delitzsch.Isaiah 7:17-25
Divine RetributionW. Clarkson Isaiah 7:17-25
Hissing for the Fly and the BeeJ. Kitto, D. D.Isaiah 7:17-25
History and ProphecyBishop Perowne.Isaiah 7:17-25
Judah's Loss of National IndependenceJ. A. Alexander.Isaiah 7:17-25
The Perspective of ProphecyE. Konig.Isaiah 7:17-25
The Prophecy FulfilledF. Delitzsch.Isaiah 7:17-25

The reference of these verses is clearly national; nevertheless they may be pointed so as to bear upon individual men; for we may be sure that it is on the same principles on which God governs communities that he rules the heart and life of each one of his subjects. We gather concerning Divine retribution -


1. Sometimes by unconscious instruments.

(1) It may be, as here, by men acting blindly. Egypt and Assyria would be wholly unaware that they were employed by God to do his punitive work. It often happens that men suppose themselves to be simply seeking their own ends when they are really fulfilling the purpose of the Most High.

(2) Or it more frequently is by the regular action of physical or social laws.

2. Sometimes by conscious agents. As when the parent utters his strong displeasure in the Name of the heavenly Father, or the Church passes its sentence of reproach or exclusion in the Name of the Divine Master.

II. THAT IT MAY TAKE ONE OR MORE OF VARIOUS FORMS. Retribution may assume the form of:

1. Diminution. (Vers. 21-23.) All diminution is not directly caused by sin, but sin always tends to despoil and to diminish. The result of doing wrong is to come down from the higher estate to the lower, from power to feebleness, from eminence to obscurity, from influence to nothingness.

2. Dishonor. "It shall also consume the beard" (ver. 20). When men have long persisted in folly and in transgression they become the mark of general dishonor. From qualified respect down, through all stages of ill opinion, to absolute aversion and contempt, does sin conduct its victims. Sin may start in lofty defiance, but it ends in lowest shame.

3. Degradation. (Vers. 24, 25.) The country that was once cultivated by the hand of skilful diligence is left to yield the wretched and useless crop of "briers and thorns." The mind that once produced noble thoughts now yields guilty imaginations; the heart that was once full of holy love is now crowded with unworthy passions; the spirit that once soared heavenward with lofty hopes now circles round ignoble aims and ambitions that are of earth and sense; the life which once brought forth all honorable and admirable activities has nothing to offer now but selfish schemes or even deeds of darkness. - C.

The Lord shall bring upon thee...even the king of Assyria.
The calling in of Assur laid the foundation for the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah not less than for that of the kingdom of Israel Ahaz thereby became a tributary vassal of the Assyrian king, and although Hezekiah again became free from Assyria through the miraculous help of Jehovah, nevertheless what Nebuchadnezzar did was only the accomplishment of the frustrated undertaking of Sennacherib.

(F. Delitzsch.)

If Isaiah here, in chaps, 7-12, looks upon Assyria absolutely as the universal empire (2 Kings 23:29; Ezra 6:22), this is so far true, seeing that the four empires from the Babylonian to the Roman are really only the unfolding of the beginning which had its beginning in Assyria. And if, here in chap. 7, he thinks of the son of the virgin as growing up under the Assyrian oppressions, this is also so far true, since Jesus was actually born in a time in which the Holy Land, deprived of its earliest fulness of blessing, found itself under the supremacy of the universal empire, and in a condition which went back to the unbelief of Ahaz as its ultimate cause. Besides He, who in the fulness of time became flesh, does truly lead an ideal life in the Old Testament history. The fact that the house and people of David did not perish in the Assyrian calamities is really, as chap. 8 presupposes, to be ascribed to His presence, which, although not yet in bodily form, was nevertheless active. Thus is solved the contradiction between the prophecy and the history of its fulfilment.

(F. Delitzsch.)

From this application of Ahaz to Tiglath-Pileser was to date the transition of Judah "to a servile state from which it was never permanently freed, the domination of Assyria being soon succeeded by that of Egypt, and this by that of Babylon, Persia, Syria, and Rome, the last ending only in the downfall of the State, and that general dispersion which continues to this day. The revolt of Hezekiah, and even longer intervals of liberty in later times, are mere interruptions of the customary and prevailing bondage."

(J. A. Alexander.)

God makes what was announced by prophecy separate itself in reality into different stages.

(E. Konig.)

Prophecy never seems to forsake the ground of history. However extended the vista which stretches before him, that vista begins at the prophet's feet.

(Bishop Perowne.)

Bees and swarms of flies are used as a Homeric image for swarms of peoples (Il. 2:87). Here the images are likewise emblematic. The Egyptian people, being unusually numerous, is compared to the swarming fly; and the Assyrian people, being warlike and eager for conquest, is compared to the stinging bee, which is so difficult to turn sway (Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalm 118:12). The emblems also correspond to the nature of the two countries; the fly to slimy Egypt, which, from being such, abounds in insects (chap. 18:1), and the bee to the more mountainous and woody Assyria, where bee-culture still constitutes one of the principal branches of trade in the present day.

(F. Delitzsch.)

To hiss for them, is to call or summon them, derived from the practice of the bee keepers, who, with a whistle, summoned them from the hives to the open fields, and, by the same means, conducted them home again We are assured by St. Cyril that [the practice] subsisted in Asia down to the fourth and fifth centuries.

(J. Kitto, D. D.)

I. GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN THE WHOLE EARTH. All governments are but instruments which He uses when and as He pleases (vers. 17-21). A thought full of comfort for the righteous, of horror for the unrighteous.



IV. Seeing that all these things were threatened against and inflicted upon God's chosen people, learn that NO MERCY THAT GOD HAS SHOWN US WILL FURNISH ANY IMMUNITY FOR US, IF NOTWITHSTANDING THAT MERCY, WE SIN AGAINST HIM. There is a tendency in our evil hearts to think that because God has been specially good to us, we may sin with less risk than others; but the teaching of the Bible is, that those who "turn the grace of God into lasciviousness" shall be visited with a sorer doom than others.

(R. A. Bertram.)

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