Pristine Grace

Isa 28:24-29, (GILL)
24  Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?.... Or, "every day"; he ploughs in order to sow; by ploughing he prepares the ground for sowing, that is his end in ploughing; and he may plough a whole day together when he is at it, but he does not plough every day in the year; he has other work to do besides ploughing, as is later mentioned; such as breaking of clods, sowing seed, and threshing the grain after it is ripe, and reaped, and gathered. The prophet signifies that the Lord, like a ploughman, had different sorts of work; he was not always doing one and the same thing; and particularly, that he would not be always admonishing and threatening men, and making preparation for his judgments, but in a little time he would execute them, signified by after metaphors:

doth he open and break the clods of his ground? he does, with a mallet or iron bar, or with the harrow; whereby the ground is made even, and so more fit for sowing. The Targum interprets the whole in a mystical sense, of the instructions of the prophets, thus,

"at all times the prophets prophesy to teach, if perhaps the ears of sinners may be opened to receive instruction;''

and it may be applied to the work of the Spirit of God upon men's hearts, by the ministry of the word: the heart of man is like the "fallow ground", hard and obdurate, barren and unfruitful; the ministry of the word is the "plough", and ministers are the "ploughmen"; but it is the Spirit of God that makes their ministrations useful, for the conviction of the mind, the pricking of the heart, and breaking it in pieces; see Jer 4:3.

25  When he hath made plain the face thereof,.... By harrowing it, after it is ploughed:

doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin; in sowing them in the ground, prepared for them; the former of these does not seem to be the same we so call, but something else. The Septuagint version calls it the little "melanthion" [c], the same with the "nigella" [d] of the Latins, and is sometimes called "gith" [e], as in the Vulgate Latin version here. The Syriac and Arabic versions render it "anise", which is mentioned along with "cummin", as common with the Jews, and which, in Christ's time, were tithed, Mt 23:23 and both these in the text are by Kimchi said to be the food of man:

and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rye in their place? each in their proper place, or in soil suitable for them; some land being more suitable for the one than for the other, which the husbandman understands: "wheat" is the choicest and most excellent grain, and therefore called "principal"; or else because it is "first" sown, or sown in the best and "principal" ground: "barley" is said to be "appointed", or to be sowed in a place appointed for it; or "marked" [f], referring either to places marked in the field, where it should be sown; which sense the Targum and the Jewish commentators favour; or to sacks of it marked, in which the best seed for sowing was put: "and the rye in its border" [g]; appointed for that Jarchi thinks this refers to the different places of sowing; the wheat was sown in the middle of the field; barley round about the mark or sign for that purpose; and rye upon the borders. The Targum is,

"as wheat is sown in an uncultivated field, and barley by the signs, and rye by the borders;''

but the whole is intended to express the wisdom of the husbandman, in sowing different seeds, not in the same field, which was forbidden by the law, Le 19:19 but in ground suitable to each of them; and in the mystical sense designs the execution of divine judgments on men, in proportion to their sins, after they have been admonished of them, and reproved for them; and may be applied also to the sowing of the seed of the word in the hearts of men, and illustrated by the parable of the sower in Mt 13:19.

[c] So Junius & Tremellius, and Piscator. [d] As here with Pagninus, Montanus. [e] So Vatablus and Castalio. [f] Nmon hrev "hordeum signatum", Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus; "signato loco", Tigurine version. [g] wtlbg tmok "speltam in termino ejus, vel suo", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

26  For his God doth instruct him to discretion, [and] doth teach him. God gives the husbandman instruction and discretion how to sow his seed, at what time, and in a proper place; for this refers to what goes before; though some think a new act is here intended, namely, threshing or beating out of corn, rendering the words, "and he" (the husbandman) "beateth it out, according to the discretion", or "judgment, his God teaches him" [h]; which is expressed in general terms here, and is next particularly insisted on in the following verses Isa 28:27.

[h] "Excutit illud ad eam rationem, [quam] Deus, ipsius docet eum", Piscator, Gataker; "vel colligat", &c. Junius & Tremellius.

27  For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument,.... A wooden sledge, dray, or cart, drawn on wheels; the bottom of which was stuck with iron teeth, and the top filled with stones, to press it down with the weight thereof, and was drawn by horses, or oxen, to and fro, over the sheaves of corn, laid in proper order, whereby the grain was separated from the husk: See Gill on "1Co 9:9" but fitches, the grain of them being more easily separated, such an instrument was not used in threshing them:

neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; the cart wheel of the above instrument was not turned upon the cummin, that being also more easily threshed, or beaten out, and therefore another method was used with these, as follows:

but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod: in like manner as corn is with us threshed out with a flail; so the Lord proportions the chastisement, and corrections of his people to the grace and strength that he gives them; he afflicts them either more gently, or more severely, as they are able to bear it; with some he uses his staff and rod, and with others his threshing instrument and cart wheel; some being easier and others harder to be wrought upon by the afflictive dispensations of Providence; see 1Co 10:13 or this may point out the difference between the punishment of wicked men and the chastisement of the saints.

28  Bread [corn] is bruised,.... The corn which bread is made of is bruised and ground in a mill:

because he will not always be threshing it; for there is another way of bringing it to flour, that so it may be made bread, namely, by grinding it in a mill; and therefore the husbandman uses his discretion in threshing it; he will not thresh it too much, nor too long, no more than what is necessary to get out the grain, but will take care that he does not bruise and break it; as follows:

nor break [it with] the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it [with] his horsemen; though he makes use of the above threshing instrument, drawn upon wheels by horses, or oxen, for the threshing out of wheat, barley, or rye, corn of which bread is made; yet he takes care that it is not crushed and spoiled by the wheels of the cart, or the feet of the horses, or oxen, going too often over it; by all which may be signified the tender regard of God in afflicting his own people; he will not always be chiding, striving, and contending with them, or be always angry, and ever afflicting, and, when he does afflict, it is in a tender and careful manner, Ps 103:9.

29  This also cometh from the Lord of hosts,.... All this wisdom the husbandman has, in manuring his ground, in sowing it with proper seed, and in threshing it out in a manner suitable to it. Agriculture or husbandry, even among the Heathens, is always ascribed to God, as an invention of his, and it was the first work which God put man to, and instructed him in, Ge 3:23 and as this, so all other arts, and sciences, and manufactures, come from God, even all things in nature, providence, and grace, and the knowledge of them; wherefore he himself must be infinitely wise and knowing; see Ps 94:9 and be as he is next described:

[which] is wonderful in counsel: in giving counsel to man, both with respect to things temporal and spiritual; and whose counsel is always wise and good, and for the best; and, when taken, infallibly succeeds. See an instance of his wonderful counsel, Re 3:18 and also he is "wonderful" in forming wise plans and schemes of operation; the wise plan of his works of creation and providence was formed in his vast and infinite mind from eternity; the wise scheme of our redemption and salvation by Christ was concerted by him, wherein he has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; and the manner, means, time, and place, of his gathering and the effectual calling of his people, are all wisely fixed by him; and he does all things after "the counsel of his will", Eph 1:11 and therefore it follows:

[and] excellent in working; both as to the matter or things wrought by him, which are the most excellent things in nature, providence, and grace, wrought out either by the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit; and as to manner of working, all being done well and wisely; and likewise with respect to the end, his own glory, and the good of his people.

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