Isaiah 50

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

50:1.  “Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?  Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.”


An offended God is reminding Israel that He had not put them away, or delivered them without just cause into bondage to other nations: like an adulterous wife they had departed from Him, and bowed themselves down to the heathen gods of those nations, thus cutting themselves off from blessing, and making themselves the objects of His chastisement; and we are failing to read the lesson if we forget that we have followed in their foolish footsteps.  We have made idols of money, pleasure, education, and a host of other things, thus robbing ourselves of spiritual riches and eternal blessing.


“Your mother” here is Israel as a national entity.


50:2.  “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.”


The questions are addressed to Israel.  When God, through the prophets had come to them and called them, few had responded, nor did they receive the Lord Jesus Christ himself when He lived among them for over thirty years,  see Acts 7:51-52, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers ....” 


Nothing has changed in the intervening years.  Today’s sophisticated society is as indifferent to the claims of God as were the Jews; and its antagonism to the things of God is just as vehemently bitter, as is evidenced in its rejection of the Gospel, and its disdain for those who preach it.


As for God’s power to redeem men from the thraldom of sin and Satan, it is attested by His control of nature.


50:3.  “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.”


It is He Who shuts out the light of the sun simply by creating intervening clouds.


50:4.  “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”


50:5.  “The Lord hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.”                                                         


50:6.  “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”


Isaiah is the speaker here, and he freely acknowledges God as the One Who had chosen and equipped him to be His spokesman, as must every servant whom God calls; and relative to that call we do well to note an imperative condition imposed on the exercise of spiritual gift as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing.”


While the speaker is Isaiah, the ultimate application is to the Lord Jesus Christ, see e.g., John 7:46 “.... Never man spake like this man,” and Mark 15:15-24 which records what He suffered at the hands of the soldiers in the Praetorium just prior to His crucifixion.


The latter half of verse 4 reminds us of the need to begin each day by reading, meditating on, and obeying God’s Word.


50:7.  “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”


The final application continues to be to the Lord Jesus Christ, the prophet’s experience being but the foreshadowing of His, it being written of Him that “... who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Hebrews 12:2.


50:8.  “He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together: who is mine adversary: let him come near to me.”


The prophet’s confident expectation of deliverance adumbrates that of Christ, Isaiah’s antagonists being types of those who hated the Lord.


50:9.  “Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.”


Knowing himself justified by God Isaiah declared the impossibility of his being condemned by anyone else.  On the contrary the destruction of his enemies was as certain as is the fact that every garment eventually becomes old and is eaten by moths; and every believer enjoys the same confidence, see Romans 8:1,33. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit .... Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”


50:10.  “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”


The AAT translation of this verse reads, “Whoever among you fears the Lord, and listens to the voice of his servant - though he walk in darkness without a gleam of light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God.”


The obedient believer can pass through this world without fear, having the assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” Romans 8:28, knowing that God will bring him safe to the end of life’s journey, and into eternal bliss in heaven.  It is to be noted however, that this promise is to the obedient believer, for the disobedient saint robs himself of this peace, and must endure the chastisement of God; but even then the correction is that of a loving father rather than of a tyrannical master.


50:11.  “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled.  This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”


“... fire” here is also translated “strife, so that the warning is against stirring up strife, those who ignore the admonition being assured that they will have nothing but trouble, and that God will visit them with torment, the torment seeming to be that of eternal perdition.  The clear implication therefore is that no true believer would ever be guilty of such a sin.


Paul’s exhortation to believers is, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,” Romans 12:18.

[Isaiah 51]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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