Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 59

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-21

Chapter 59

Now in fifty-nine:

Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear ( Isaiah 59:1 ):

"Lord, why aren't You hearing us when we fast? Why aren't You acknowledging it? Why aren't You recognizing it?" Now the Lord's saying, "Hey, look, there's nothing. I don't have any hearing problem. The Lord's hand is not short that He cannot save; neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear." If you're not getting answers to prayer, it isn't really God's fault. The fault lies within us. And the Lord declares, "My hand is not short, that I cannot save."

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear ( Isaiah 59:2 ).

David said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me when I pray" ( Psalms 66:18 ). God says, "Look, My hand is not short, My ear isn't heavy that I cannot save, I cannot hear." But your sins have broken the connection between you and God. Sin can hinder your prayers. For sin breaks your relationship with God. And at that point, prayer is totally meaningless. In fact, it's perhaps a little worse. Prayer is deceitful, because though you know that you are wrong and you are doing wrong, so many times a person passes it off by saying, "Well, I know that I am not living as I should but I still pray. I know that this is wrong. I know that this is sin and all but I still pray." But wait a minute. Your prayers are totally meaningless. You're being deceived by them because God says that He will not hear. Your sin has separated between you and God. So the fact that you still pray is totally meaningless, because you've allowed this sin in your life. And thus you are deceived by your prayer life itself thinking, "Well, I'm not too bad, I still pray."

God declares,

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness ( Isaiah 59:3 ).

So one of the manners of praying was often to lift up their hands to the Lord. But God says, "You're lifting up your hands to Me but they're full of blood, full of iniquity." In that sense, prayer is an insult to God. If I hold up hands before God that are full of blood, full of iniquity, that's insulting God. Surely God will not honor nor hear.

Now God said,

None is calling for justice, no one is pleading for truth: they are trusting in vanity, they are speaking lies; they conceive mischief, and they bring forth iniquity. They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and they weave the spider's web: and he that eats the eggs will die, and those eggs which are crushed will break out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold there is obscurity; we wait for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment ( Isaiah 59:4-15 ).

The tragic condition of man and it is expressed, of course, in an extremely poetic way. And this portion of Isaiah is actually Hebrew poetry. And we see the thoughts are expressed in very picturesque ways: crooked paths, groping like a blind man, like a person with no eyes, stumbling at noontime as though it were midnight, desolate as the grave, men who dwell in the grave or in places as dead men. And God looking on the whole thing, seeing the whole perversity of man, seeing the greed of man. Ruling his heart as no one is really seeking to be fair or honest or just. No one calling for justice. Everybody getting by with whatever they can.

And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor ( Isaiah 59:16 ):

No one to cry out against it. People just allowing it to go on.

therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head ( Isaiah 59:16-17 );

It reminds you of Ephesians chapter 6 where we are told to put on the whole armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation.

and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; and to the coasts he will pay to recompense ( Isaiah 59:17-18 ).

In Hebrews it says that "it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a living God" ( Hebrews 10:31 ). For we know Him who has declared, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" ( Romans 12:19 ). And God here speaks of this day of judgment.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood ( Isaiah 59:19 ),

And He has spoken of that which has taken place here. The enemy is just come in like a flood. There doesn't seem to be any intercessor, anyone who is really seeking for righteousness, anyone who is really seeking for the right thing. No intercessor, and God wonders at it. And the enemy is just come in like a flood. If a person seeks to live righteous, he is sort of isolated. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, then the Spirit," because there is no intercessor, there is no man to do it.

the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him ( Isaiah 59:19 ).

God intervenes and begins to work.

And the Redeemer [Jesus Christ] shall come to Zion [to Jerusalem], and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever ( Isaiah 59:20-21 ).

For God in spite of all things is yet going to show forth His mercy and His grace upon these people. Paul the apostle said, "that blindness is happened to Israel in part until the fullness of the Gentiles come in. But then all of Israel shall be saved, as saith the scripture, for the Lord shall come to Zion" ( Romans 11:25-26 ). And so Paul is making a reference really to this particular prophecy of Isaiah of that glorious day when Jesus comes and establishes His kingdom. And from the covenant of God with the people that shall be a perpetual covenant forever. And so the deliverance of Zion, the glorious day of the Lord. Paul said the cutting off brought salvation to the Gentiles. What do you think the grafting of them back in is going to be? If the cutting off of Israel brought such glory to the world, how much more when God restores them and restores His work with these people will the glory of the Lord fill the earth. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 59". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.