New American Standard Bible
"If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
King James Bible
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
Darby Bible Translation
Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then would thy peace have been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea;
World English Bible
Oh that you had listened to my commandments! then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea:
Young's Literal Translation
O that thou hadst attended to My commands, Then as a river is thy peace, And thy righteousness as billows of the sea,
Isaiah 48:18 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
O that thou hadst heardened to my commandments! - This expresses the earnest wish and desire of God. He would greatly have preferred that they should have kept his law. He had no wish that they should sin, and that these judgments should come upon them. The doctrine taught here is, that God greatly prefers that people should keep his laws. He does not desire that they should be sinners, or that they should be punished. It was so with regard to the Jews; and it is so with regard to all. In all cases, at all times, and with reference to all his creatures, he prefers holiness to sin; he sincerely desires that there should be perfect obedience to his commandments. It is to be remarked also that this is not merely prospective, or a declaration in the abstract. It relates to sin which had been actually committed, and proves that even in regard to that, God would have preferred that it had not been committed. A declaration remarkably similar to this, occurs in Psalm 81:13-16 :
O that my people had hearkened unto me,
And Israel had walked in my ways;
I should soon have subdued their' enemies,
And turned their hand against their adversaries
The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him:
But their time should have endured forever.
He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat;
And with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
Then had thy peace been as a river - The word 'peace' here (שׁלום shâlôm) means properly wholeness, soundness, and then health, welfare, prosperity, good of every kind. It then denotes peace, as opposed to war, and also concord and friendship. Here it evidently denotes prosperity in general, as opposed to the calamities which actually came upon them.
As a river - That is, abundant - like a full, flowing river that fills the banks, and that conveys fertility and blessedness through a land. 'The pagan, in order to represent the Universal power and beneficence of Jupiter, used the symbol of a river flowing from his throne; and to this the Sycophant in Plautus alludes (Trium. Act iv. Sc. 2, v. 98), in his saying that he had been at the head of that river:
Ad caput amuis, quod de coelo exoritur, sub solio Jovis.
See also Wemyss' Key to the Symbolical Language of Scripture, Art. River. Rivers are often used by the sacred writers, and particularly by Isaiah, as symbolic of plenty and prosperity Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 33:21; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 43:19.
LibraryMercy's Master Motive
We shall now use the text as an illustration of divine love in other cases, for from one deed of grace we may learn all. As God dealt with his people Israel after the flesh, in the same manner he dealeth with his people Israel after the spirit; and his mercies towards his saints are to be seen as in a mirror in his wondrous lovingkindness towards the seed of Abraham. I shall take the text to illustrate--first, the conversion of the sinner; and secondly, the reclaiming of the backslider; and I pray, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 18: 1872
After the Scripture.
'Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!
"Would that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would discern their future!
"Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!
Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness And righteousness will abide in the fertile field.
But there the majestic One, the LORD, will be for us A place of rivers and wide canals On which no boat with oars will go, And on which no mighty ship will pass--
Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, And in whose ways they were not willing to walk, And whose law they did not obey?
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