Pristine Grace

Isa 28:14-20, (GILL)
14  Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men,.... Men of scorn and mockery, that scoffed and mocked at the word of God, as in the preceding verse Isa 28:13; or at the threatenings of punishment; and even made a jest of death and hell, as in the following words: "the word of the Lord" they are called upon to hear, hearken, and attend to, is either the word of promise of the Messiah, Isa 28:16 or rather the word threatening them with ruin, Isa 28:18 or it may be both:

that rule this people which [is] in Jerusalem; which must not be understood of the chief ruler Hezekiah, but rather of some subordinate rulers, such as Shebna and others; these set a very bad example to the common people: no wonder that irreligion and profaneness prevail, when civil magistrates are scoffers at religion. It agrees best with the rulers of the Jewish people in the times of Christ, who mocked at him and his ministry, and that of his apostles.

15  Because ye have said,.... Within themselves; they thought so, if they did not say it in express words; and their conduct and behaviour showed that these were the sentiments and presumptions of their minds:

We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement: as safe from death, and secure from hell, or the grave, as if a covenant and compact had been formally entered into between them. The phrases are expressive of their being fearless of them, and of their confidence and assurance that they should not be hurt by them. Some interpret this of their deadly enemies, as Sennacherib king of Assyria particularly, with whom they had made peace, and had entered into a covenant of friendship and alliance, and so had nothing to fear from the threatenings of the Lord by the prophet; but Vitringa, better, of the covenant and agreement with the Romans, which the Jewish rulers were careful to observe, and thought themselves safe on account of it; see Re 6:8:

when the overflowing scourge shall pass through; when the judgments of God shall come upon the earth, and pass through the whole world, as a chastisement and correction of men for their sins, and as a punishment for them, like a mighty torrent spreading itself, and carrying all before it; or particularly when the Assyrian monarch with his army shall pass through the land of Judea, signified, in Isa 28:2, by a tempest of hail, a destroying storm, a flood of mighty waters overflowing; or rather the Roman army invading Judea:

it shall not come unto us; who were in the city of Jerusalem:

for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves; not what they themselves reckoned so, but what the prophet Isaiah, or the Lord by him, called so, whose words they used, and in whose language they spoke; meaning either their lying prophets, as Kimchi, and the false doctrines they delivered to them, promising them peace when destruction was at hand; or their idols, as Jarchi, which are falsehood, lying vanities, and work of errors; or their carnal policy, arts of dissimulation, sinful compliances, and crafty methods of acting with their enemies, by which they hoped to deceive them, and secure themselves from destruction, as others; or else their wealth and riches, got by lying and fraud, which is the sense of some interpreters; and perhaps all may be intended in which they might put their trust and confidence, and on account of them expect security from threatened evils, though no other than lies and falsehood; and the same may be observed of all outward acts of religion, rites and ceremonies, and works of righteousness done by men, in which they place their trust, and hope to be saved by them from wrath to come.

16  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD,.... In order to show what is the true foundation of hope and trust for security from death and hell, and to convince men of their vain and false confidence, as well as to comfort the people of God, such as truly feared him in Jerusalem; who, bearing the judgment denounced, might conclude that they were going to be cut off from being a nation, and that the family and kingdom of David would be at an end, and then where was the promise of the Messiah? wherefore, to relieve the minds of such, a promise of him is delivered out in the midst of a denunciation of judgment upon the wicked:

Behold, (a note of attention and admiration, as well as asseveration,)

I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone; which the Targum interprets of a king; and Jarchi of the King Messiah, who undoubtedly is meant, as is clear from Ro 9:33 and not Hezekiah, as Kimchi, and others, who was now king, when this prophecy was made, and therefore cannot respect him; but Christ, who is frequently spoken of, under the simile of a stone, Ge 49:24 and may be compared to one for his usefulness in the spiritual building, being both foundation and cornerstone, and for his great strength and durableness; and this is a stone of the Lord's laying, which he had been laying in his eternal purposes and decrees, as the Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer of his people; and whom he was about to lay, by sending him forth, in the fulness of time, to be incarnate, suffer, and die for them: and whom he lays as the foundation in the effectual calling of his people, to build their faith and hope upon; and this is done in Zion, in the church, which is built upon him, and where he is revealed and made known to be what he is, and as here described:

a tried stone; by the Old Testament saints, and by saints in all ages, who have ventured their souls on him, and laid the whole stress of their salvation upon him, and have been saved by him; and by Satan, and his principalities and powers, by his temptations of him in the wilderness, and by his attacks upon him in the garden, and on the cross, and found him to be an immovable stone, and were broken by him; and by his divine Father, who tried his faithfulness by trusting him with all his elect, and the salvation of them; and his great strength, by laying upon him all their sins, and the punishment due unto them. Some render it, "a stone of trial", or "a trying stone" [t]; by which men are tried, and discovered to be what they are, whether believers or unbelievers, sincere Christians or hypocrites; which may be known by their conduct and behaviour to Christ; if they come to him as a living stone, and he is precious to them, they are true believers; but if he is to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, they are unbelievers, and reprobate persons, 1Pe 2:4:

a precious corner [stone]; which, as it is both for the beauty and strength of the building, so it knits, cements, and keeps the parts together; and of this use is Christ in the spiritual building; angels and men are knit together in him, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, saints above and saints below, saints in all ages, times, and places: and a "precious" stone he is, a pearl of great price; precious to his Father, who loves him, and delights in him, and has chosen and laid him as the foundation of his church, and of every true believer; to whom also he is precious, his person, names, offices, and relations, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, his word, ordinances, and people, and everything belonging to him:

a sure foundation; a well founded one [u]; which will never give way; a rock on which the church is built, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; a sure foundation of faith and hope, of peace, joy, and comfort, and of eternal happiness, to all that build upon it; a foundation firm and strong, immovable and everlasting; and so is every thing that is laid or depends upon it, the covenant of grace, and the promises of it, the persons of the Lord's people, and their salvation:

he that believeth; either those things, as the Targum adds, this promise and prophecy, and the things contained therein; or in Christ, the foundation laid, the tried and precious cornerstone, so it is explained in 1Pe 2:6:

shall not make haste; or be impatient for the fulfilment of this prophecy, but patiently wait for it, knowing that it is for an appointed time, and will not tarry; and that God will hasten it in his own time; or will not make haste to lay any other foundation, being satisfied with this that is laid; nor make haste to a strange god, to another Saviour, knowing there is salvation in him, and in no other. The Targum is,

"shall not be moved when trouble comes;''

being founded upon this Rock of ages, which is proof against all storms and tempests; see Mt 7:24. The Apostles Paul and Peter, agreeably to the Septuagint version, render it, "shall not be ashamed", or "confounded"; See Gill on "Ro 9:33" see Gill on "1Pe 2:6".

[t] Nxb Nba "lapidem probationis", Junius & Tremellius, Calvin, Vitringa. [u] dowm dowm "fundamentum fundatum"; so some in Vatablus; "fundationem fundatissimam", Junius & Tremellius; "fundamentum solidum", Calvin; "solidissimum" Tigurine version; So Ben Melech interprets it a strong foundation.

17  Judgment also will I lay to the line,.... A metaphor taken from builders, who in building use the line and plummet to carry on their work even and regular, retaining such stones as agree thereunto, and rejecting such as do not; signifying, that in the spiritual building, where Christ is the foundation and cornerstone, such as are built thereon shall continue and grow up regularly into a holy temple; but those that set at nought this precious stone, and build upon the sandy foundation of their own righteousness, betake themselves to a refuge of lies, and cover themselves in their own hiding places, as well as all such who go on in their sins, shall be rejected by the righteous judgment of God:

and righteousness to the plummet; meaning the same as before; or, "I will lay judgment by the line, and righteousness by the plummet" [w]; the rule of the divine law, by which it will appear whether their actions are agreeable to it, or the righteousness they trust in answerable to it; or the sense is, that at the same time that God would preserve and secure his own people upon the sure foundation Christ, he would punish others, according to the strict rules of justice, as his righteous law required, and according to the just demerit of sin. Kimchi interprets it, but very wrongly, of the justice and equity that should take place in the reign of Hezekiah, which were wanting at the time of this prophecy; but the preceding prophecy regards Christ, and not Hezekiah; and therefore is rather to be understood of the right and equal distribution of justice and judgment in the administration of government by him:

and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies; the lies they made their refuge, Isa 28:15 their lying prophets, their idols, their riches, their righteousness, and everything in which they placed their confidence; for all refuges, be they what they will, are lying ones, and will deceive, excepting Christ and his righteousness; all which are easily and at once swept away, with the besom of avenging justice, when God takes it in hand. The phrase denotes the facility and suddenness of the destruction, and the entirety of it, which should be brought about by means of a "hail" storm, the same with that in Isa 28:2 which designs the Assyrian, or rather the Roman army, since the prophecy preceding relates to the times of Christ; and it may be, by the refuge of lies may be meant the temple, in which the Jews greatly placed their confidence, as Cocceius thinks:

and the waters shall overflow the hiding place; the city of Jerusalem, where they hid, and thought themselves safe: a mighty army rushing into a city, and putting the inhabitants to the sword, or to flight, or obliging them to surrender, may be fitly signified by an inundation of water; see Isa 8:7 very probably the army of the Romans under Vespasian.

[w] So Gataker.

18  And your covenant with death shall be disannulled,.... Or, "be besmeared" [x], or daubed over, as the ark was with pitch, Ge 6:14 where the same word is used as here; so that it shall not be legible, as any writing that is blotted out by ink, or any other liquor, so that it cannot be read; in like manner this their covenant with death should be so obliterated, that the articles of it could not be made out, and so of no force; thus the Targum renders it,

"shall be made void;''

See Gill on "Isa 28:15":

and your agreement with hell shall not stand; or "vision", or "provision" [y]; which they had made by compact, with the greatest care, caution, and foresight, to secure themselves from destruction, would be found insufficient. The Targum is,

"and our peace, which was with the destroyer, shall not stand;''

See Gill on "Isa 28:15":

when the overflowing scourge shall pass through: the land of Judea and the city of Jerusalem; See Gill on "Isa 28:15":

then shall ye be trodden down by it: though they flattered themselves it should not come near them, yet it would; and they would not be able to stand before it, but would be thrown down, and trampled upon by it as the mire of the streets; see Lu 21:24.

[x] rpkw "Heb. oblinetur", Piscator; "quasi pica illita tabulae literaeque foederis incrustentur, inducantur ac dispereant", Gusset. Comment. Ebr. p. 397. [y] Mktwzxw "et visio vestra", Vatablus; "cautio vestra", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Heb. "visio", i.e. "provisio", Piscator.

19  From the time that it goeth forth, it shall take you,.... Or, "as soon as it passeth through" [z], "it shall take you away"; as soon as it begins to overflow, and as it goes along, it shall make clear work, and carry you away with it; you will not be able to resist it, to withstand its motion, and stop its progress; but will be borne down by it, and carried away with it, either destroyed by it at once, or carried into captivity; so the Targum,

"in the time of its passing over, it shall carry you captive:''

for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night; signifying that it should come very early, before they were aware of it and prepared for it, and should be constant and incessant, day after day, day and night, continually, until it had done its work thoroughly, in the utter destruction of them; which was true of the Assyrian, but especially of the Roman army:

and it shall be a vexation only [to] understand the report; the fame, the rumour of the enemy's coming, of his invasion of the land, of the devastation he makes everywhere, and of his progress and near approach to Jerusalem; the bare report of this only being made and confirmed, so that there was reason to believe it, would produce anguish and distress of mind, cause a commotion, a fear and trembling, and shaking of the joints, as the word [a] signifies; and therefore, how dreadful must the calamity itself be! or else this may be meant of the report of the prophecy of the Lord, which before they would not believe; but now the judgments threatened coming upon them, they would be made to understand it; so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "and only vexation alone shall give understanding to the report"; and to this sense the Targum,

"and it shall be, before the time of the curse comes, that ye shall understand the words of the prophets;''

and, when it was come, should know to their sorrow, and by sad experience, the truth of what they had said.

[z] wrbe ydm "mox ut pertransierit", Tigurine version. [a] hewz "commotio", Montanus, Piscator; "terror", Calvin; "pavor", Pagninus.

20  For the bed is shorter than that [a man] can stretch himself [on it],.... When a bed is short, a man cannot lie at his full length, and at ease:

and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself [in it]; when the bedclothes are narrow a man cannot cover himself with them, so as to be warm and comfortable. These proverbial expressions are interpreted by Kimchi of Jerusalem, when besieged by the Assyrian army, when the inhabitants of it were much straitened, distressed, and made uncomfortable; perhaps it may be better understood of the same city when besieged by the Romans, to which the Jews flocked from all parts, in such numbers, for shelter, that there was not room enough for them, at least not provision, and which was the cause of that great distress and miserable condition they were reduced to: in general, the design of the words may be to show that all refuges and shelters, all means made use of for safety and protection, by which they endeavoured to cover and secure themselves, would be insufficient; and particularly such that laid themselves at ease on the bed of their own righteousness, not submitting to Christ and his righteousness, and covered themselves with the rags of their own doings, and not with the garments of his salvation, would find themselves in a very uncomfortable and unsafe state.

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