Isaiah 8:17
And I will wait on the LORD, that hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
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(17) And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face . . .—The words come in somewhat abruptly, but not to the extent that justifies the assumption of some critics that a verse has been lost. The prophet enforces precept by example. He has learnt to conquer the feverish desire to know the future, which led men to trust in soothsayers and diviners, and from which even his own disciples were not altogether exempt. He is content to “wait,” even though Jehovah “hide His face,” though predictions seem to fail (see Note on Isaiah 8:1), and all seems dark and hopeless. There is, perhaps, a contrast between the fact that Jehovah hides His face from the house of Jacob, that all is dark for the nation’s life as such, while yet the prophet, in his own individuality, can “look for Him” with the eye of faith.

Isaiah 8:17-18. And — Or yet, as the same particle is translated, Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 2:35, and elsewhere; I will wait on the Lord — Notwithstanding this dreadful prophecy, concerning the unbelief and rejection of Israel, I will cast my care upon him, and expect the accomplishment of his promise, in sending the Messiah, and in conferring upon me, and all believing Israelites, all his mercies and blessings, to be procured for mankind by his merits; that hideth his face from the house of Jacob — That now doth, and threatens that he will hereafter, withdraw his favour and blessing from the family or people of Israel. And I will look for him — With an eye of faith and expectation, till his time come. Behold, I, &c. — These words were literally spoken by Isaiah concerning himself, but mystically concerning Christ, of whom the prophet was a type, and therefore they are fitly applied to Christ, Hebrews 2:13; and the children whom the Lord hath given me — His spiritual children, whom he had either begotten or instructed by his ministry; are for signs, &c., in Israel — Are a gazing-stock; are derided and ridiculed, for our folly in believing God’s promises, and this even among the Israelites, who have been taught and who profess better things. From the Lord of hosts — Which comes to pass by the wise counsel and providence of God; which dwelleth in Zion — Where the temple was now, and where the Messiah was to set up his kingdom.8:17-22 The prophet foresaw that the Lord would hide his face; but he would look for his return in favour to them again. Though not miraculous signs, the children's names were memorials from God, suited to excite attention. The unbelieving Jews were prone to seek counsel in difficulties, from diviners of different descriptions, whose foolish and sinful ceremonies are alluded to. Would we know how we may seek to our God, and come to the knowledge of his mind? To the law and to the testimony; for there you will see what is good, and what the Lord requires. We must speak of the things of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, and be ruled by them. To those that seek to familiar spirits, and regard not God's law and testimony, there shall be horror and misery. Those that go away from God, go out of the way of all good; for fretfulness is a sin that is its own punishment. They shall despair, and see no way of relief, when they curse God. And their fears will represent every thing as frightful. Those that shut their eyes against the light of God's word, will justly be left to darkness. All the miseries that ever were felt or witnessed on earth, are as nothing, compared with what will overwhelm those who leave the words of Christ, to follow delusions.And I will wait upon the Lord - This is the commencement of a new subject. The prophet had closed his former message; but had seen that in regard to the great mass of the nation, his exhortation had been in vain. He now says, that having delivered his message, he would patiently look to God alone. His hope was in him, though the nation looked elsewhere; and though calamities were coming, yet he would still trust in God only.

That hideth his face - This is a figurative expression, denoting the withdrawing of his favor and protection. He would leave them, and give them to deserved punishment; compare Job 23:9; Job 13:24; Psalm 44:24; Psalm 10:1; Psalm 104:29.

And I will look for him - I will expect aid from him, and will believe that his promises of final protection will yet be fulfilled; compare Habakkuk 2:3 :

For the vision is yet for an appointed time,

But at the end it shall speak, and not lie:

Though it tarry, wait for it;

Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

17. I—Whatever the rest of the nation may do, I will look to Jehovah alone.

that hideth … face—though He seems now to withdraw His countenance from Judah (the then representative of "the house of Jacob"). Let us wait and trust in, though we cannot see, Him (Isa 50:10; 54:8; Hab 2:3; Lu 2:25, 38).

And, or, as this particle is rendered Jeremiah 2:32,35, and elsewhere, yet, notwithstanding this dreadful prophecy concerning the unbelief and rejection of Israel,

I will wait upon the Lord; I will refer myself and this matter unto God, casting my care upon him, and expecting the accomplishment of his promise in sending the Messiah, and in conferring upon me and all believing Israelites, all his mercies and blessings, to be procured by and through his blood and merits.

That hideth his face; that now doth, and threateneth that he will hereafter, withdraw his favour and blessing as this phrase signifies, Psalm 10:1 27:9, and oft elsewhere.

From the house of Jacob; from the family or people of Israel.

I will look for him with an eye of faith and expectation, till his time cometh. And I will wait upon the Lord,.... Or "for the Lord" (x); for the coming of Christ, the Immanuel, who would be a sanctuary to some, and a stone of stumbling to others, and whose doctrine in the meanwhile would be bound up and sealed; faith in, and expectation of the Messiah's coming, are often signified by waiting for him, Isaiah 25:9,

that hideth his face from the house of Jacob; to whom the promise of him was made, from whom he should descend, to whom he should be sent, and whom he would redeem. This is not to be understood of his deserting of his people, and withdrawing his gracious presence from them, to show his displeasure at them, and resentment of their conduct, which is sometimes the sense of this phrase; but as descriptive of Christ before his assumption of human nature, when he was "Deus absconditus", the hidden God, as some render the words in Isaiah 45:15 until he was manifest in the flesh; and which is therefore called his "appearing", 2 Timothy 1:10,

and I will look for him; the prophet here speaks in his own person, and in the person of the church who in that, and in succeeding ages, as well as before, were looking by faith for the coming of Christ, and redemption by him, Luke 2:38 though some understand this of Christ, expressing his satisfaction in the few disciples he had among the Jews, and determining to wait for the accomplishment of divine promises hereafter, when he should have a larger number; the Lord for the present hiding his face from the Jewish nation, and giving them to a spirit of judicial blindness; which sense well agrees with what goes before, and follows after.

(x) "praestolabor Dominum", Montanus; "expectabo Dominum", V. L.

And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
17. that hideth his face …] A very common expression for Jehovah’s anger: Deuteronomy 31:17 f.; Micah 3:4; Jeremiah 33:5; Psalm 13:1; Psalm 44:24; Job 13:24, &c. The special mark of displeasure which Isaiah has in view is the cessation of those admonitions and warnings which Jehovah had sent through him to the people.

will look for him] Better: will hope in Him. The counsel which the nation and the king rejected becomes the rule of the prophet’s own life.Verses 17, 18. - ISAIAH DEFINES HIS OWN ATTITUDE AND THAT OF HIS CHILDREN. It is questioned whether something has not fallen out between vers. 16 and 17. The transition is exceedingly abrupt, undoubtedly; but perhaps not more abrupt than elsewhere in Isaiah and the prophets contemporary with him. The Divine "instruction" comes to an end in ver. 16; and Isaiah might have been expected to comment on it, or enforce its teaching; but he does neither. He simply states what his own attitude will be under the coming calamity (ver. 8). He will "wait for the Lord and look to him" (ver. 17), and consider himself and his children as doing a work for God in being "signs" (ver. 18) - signs to which the rest of Israel may look, and from which they may derive sufficient hope and confidence to carry them through the dark time which is approaching. Verse 17. - I will wait upon the Lord; rather, I will wait for the Lord; i.e. "await the time of his relenting" (see Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 64:4, etc.). That hideth his face from the house of Jacob (compare the threats in Deuteronomy 31:17; Deuteronomy 32:20). The light of God's countenance is to the spiritual what that of the sun is to the material world. All life, health, joy, happiness, proceed from it. This light was now to be withdrawn for a time on account of the people's sins. But Isaiah would "wait" for its reappearance. There then follows in Isaiah 8:11 an explanatory clause, which seems at first sight to pass on to a totally different theme, but it really stands in the closest connection with the triumphant words of Isaiah 8:9, Isaiah 8:10. It is Immanuel whom believers receive, constitute, and hold fast as their refuge in the approaching times of the Assyrian judgment. He is their refuge and God in Him, and not any human support whatever. This is the link of connection with Isaiah 8:11, Isaiah 8:12 : "For Jehovah hath spoken thus to me, overpowering me with God's hand, and instructing me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, Call ye not conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy; and what is feared by it, fear ye not, neither think ye dreadful." היד, "the hand," is the absolute hand, which is no sooner laid upon a man than it overpowers all perception, sensation, and though: Chezkath hayyâd (viz., âlai, upon me, Ezekiel 3:14) therefore describes a condition in which the hand of God was put forth upon the prophet with peculiar force, as distinguished from the more usual prophetic state, the effect of a peculiarly impressive and energetic act of God. Luther is wrong in following the Syriac, and adopting the rendering, "taking me by the hand;" as Chezkath points back to the kal (invalescere), and not to the hiphil (apprehendere). It is this circumstantial statement, which is continued in v'yissereni ("and instructing me"), and not the leading verb âmar ("he said"); for the former is not the third pers. pret. piel, which would be v'yisserani, but the third pers. fut. kal, from the future form yissōr (Hosea 10:10, whereas the fut. piel is v'yassēr); and it is closely connected with Chezkath hayyâd, according to the analogy of the change from the participial and infinitive construction to the finite verb (Ges. 132, Anm. 2). With this overpowering influence, and an instructive warning against going in the way of "this people," Jehovah spake to the prophet as follows. With regard to the substance of the following warning, the explanation that has been commonly adopted since the time of Jerome, viz., noli duorum regum timere conjurationem (fear not the conspiracy of the two kings), is contrary to the reading of the words. The warning runs thus: The prophet, and such as were on his side, were not to call that kesher which the great mass of the people called kesher (cf., 2 Chronicles 23:13, "She said, Treason, Treason!" kesher, kesher); yet the alliance of Rezin and Pekah was really a conspiracy - a league against the house and people of David. Nor can the warning mean that believers, when they saw how the unbelieving Ahaz brought the nation into distress, were not to join in a conspiracy against the person of the king (Hofmann, Drechsler); they are not warned at all against making a conspiracy, but against joining in the popular cry when the people called out kesher. The true explanation has been given by Roorda, viz., that the reference is to the conspiracy, as it was called, of the prophet and his disciples ("sermo hic est de conjuratione, quae dicebatur prophetae et discipulorum ejus"). The same thing happened to Isaiah as to Amos (Amos 7:10) and to Jeremiah. Whenever the prophets were at all zealous in their opposition to the appeal for foreign aid, they were accused and branded as standing in the service of the enemy, and conspiring for the overthrow of the kingdom. In such perversion of language as this, the honourable among them were not to join. The way of God was now a very different one from the way of that people. If the prophet and his followers opposed the alliance with Asshur, this was not a common human conspiracy against the will of the king and nation, but the inspiration of God, the true policy of Jehovah. Whoever trusted in Him had no need to be afraid of such attempts as those of Rezin and Pekah, or to look upon them as dreadful.
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