Woe to the rebellious children, declares the LORD, to those who carry out a plan, but not Mine, who form an alliance, but against My will, heaping up sin upon sin.
I. The POLICY CHARACTERIZED. It is that of "unruly sons," and they "carry out a purpose which is not from Jehovah." So in Hosea we read, "They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not" (Hosea 8:4). They "weave a net" or "plait alliances" without his Spirit, and add sin to sin. They go down into Egypt without having inquired of Jehovah's mouth, and flee to the fortress of Pharaoh, to take refuge in the shadow of Egypt.
1. The Divine leading and inspiration make men humble, while self-will and self-reliance are stubborn, obstinate.
2. Where the first step has been wrong, every subsequent step aggravates the error.
3. The root of a mistaken policy is a false reliance, dependence on an "arm of flesh." There is a true and a false self-reliance: that which forgets God is ignorant and impious that which recognizes him as the Source of all true intelligence is genuine. To the external observer the difference between acting from the self-center and the God-center, between "going in one's own strength" and "going in the strength of the Lord of hosts," may not be perceptible. It must be known in the feeling of the actor, and in the results of his action.
II. THE RESULTS OF THE POLICY. The fortress of Pharaoh will become a shame to them, and the refuge in Egypt's shadow confusion. "Shame and confusion of face;" great Scripture words, most expressive of the results of false principles, false policy, obstinate error.
1. It is the very bitterness of ill success to feel that it is the harvest of our own faults; while misfortune is sweetened at its bitterest by the consciousness of having followed the light to the best of one's ability. The prophet follows in imagination this mistaken embassy into the heart of Egypt. They will come to Zoan (or Tanis), and to Hanes (or Heracleopolis), but will be abashed to find that in the expected saviors and helpers no salvation is to be found.
2. That bitterness is aggravated by the sense of the great toil and suffering which has only led to failure. How different the journey from Egypt and that to Egypt! Then men were led through "that great and terrible wilderness," full of the fiery serpents and scorpions and lions, the land of drought, and there were fed with manna (Deuteronomy 8:15; Jeremiah 2:6). And now, after encountering all these dangers, they are to find, after all, that there is no help in Egypt, though they have carried thither rich presents on asses and on camels. Emphatic is the prophet, "Yea, the Egyptians; in vain, and empty is their help, therefore I proclaim concerning it, Rahab, they are utter indolence." There is a play on the name here, which cannot well be rendered in English. But Egypt may stand as a type of the "world," the absence of true principle, or the principle of policy as opposed to reliance on God. And then the lesson will be the inherent weakness of all worldly policy, as compared with simple trust in God and obedience to his dictates. - J.
Woe to the rebellious children.
(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)
1. They were making use of human means to ward off the danger which threatened them. Not that thins in itself is altogether wrong in God's eyes. On the contrary, we are so placed here on earth, in the midst of so many wants and necessities, and so helpless by ourselves, that we are compelled to be forever making use of human and earthly means. Only, we ought to make use of these means with the conviction that they are merely instruments in the hands of Him who can alone endow them with the power of being of use to us. This is what the rulers of Judah forgot and entirely lost sight of. They trusted in Pharaoh. We are all apt to take counsel of ourselves, of our own understandings, our own wishes, our own convenience, our passions, our interest, our sloth, our purses, our appetites. Or we take counsel of our friends, of our neighbours, of such men as are esteemed to be quick and far-sighted, of every person, and of every thing, except of God. His counsel is the last we seek. Therefore does the prophet's woe fall upon us also. And why is it that we are so loth to take counsel of God? Our unwillingness can only proceed from an evil heart of unbelief; from that unbelief which loses sight of the Ruler and Lawgiver of the world, and which is prone to worship whatever dazzles the senses and flatters our carnal nature.
2. But there was another feature in the conduct of the princes of Judah which deepened their sin. They were not merely putting their trust in an arm of flesh, — they who had been so strongly forbidden to trust in such vanities, and who had the living God to trust in such vanities, and who had the living God to trust in: but the arm they were trusting to was the arm of Egypt. Egypt had from the first been the deadly enemy of the Israelites, and of their God. Egypt was the source from which all manner of idolatrous abominations had flowed in upon them: out of Egypt they had been called; and they were no longer to hold any intercourse with it. Therefore the prophet goes on to cry, "Woe to those who walk to go down into Egypt, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt:" and he declares that, because they do so, "the strength of Pharaoh shall be their shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt their confusion." Nor will it be otherwise with us. If we are guilty of their sin we shall not escape their woe. And alas! how often in moments of fear, of distress, — when some danger starts up suddenly in our path, when the enemy seems to be hard at hand, and just ready to overwhelm us, — do we feel tempted to go down into Egypt, in the hope of strengthening ourselves with the strength of Pharaoh, and of sheltering ourselves with the shadow of Egypt! Satan at such moments is always close at our ear, whispering to us, that, if we will but take counsel of him, and do as he bids us, he will help us out of our difficulty. It should be borne in mind that, every time we sin we weaken our souls, we cripple our good feelings, we blunt our conscience, we drive away the Spirit of God from our hearts. Therefore, instead of our being better able to meet the next temptation, the odds against us are increased.
(J. C. Hare, M. A.)
1. The Egyptians abounded in chariots and horses, which the Jews were destitute of. For Palestine, being a country full of steep hills and narrow difficult ways, was in many places impassable by horses, and therefore their beasts of burden were camels, asses, and mules, which are not apt to start, but tread sure in dangerous ways. These served them very commodiously in times of peace. But when they were invaded by armies of the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who had troops of horse, and multitudes of chariots, they wanted the like forces to oppose them; and such the Egyptians could very well supply them with.
2. Besides, the Assyrians and Chaldeans were at that time the most formidable Powers of the East, ambitious of universal monarchy, and threatening to subdue Egypt as well as other rich kingdoms. On which account the Egyptians were jealous of them, and therefore were most easily prevailed upon, and more cheaply engaged to assist the Jews, or any other people in their wars against them.
(W. Reading, M. A.)
1. He had delivered their forefathers out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, stretched out from Heaven, and unassisted by any human means. He had manifested Himself to be far above all their gods, in that He triumphed over them in the ten plagues, and drowned their king and army in the Red Sea. Notwithstanding all which sufficient convictions, the Egyptians still persisted in their gross idolatry; which might justly provoke God to forbid His people any dealing with them.
2. Their applying to Egypt for aid against their enemies, was derogatory to the honour of God, who having anciently demonstrated His ability to save His people, and having promised still to vouchsafe them His protection in proportion to their obedience, these idolaters might be apt to conclude that His former power was now decayed, and .that their gods had gained the ascendant over Him, since they were called in to the protection of His people.
3. An Egyptian had proved fatal to Israel in their happiest state; I mean the daughter of an Egyptian king, who was one of the wives of King Solomon, and helped with other strange women to entice him to idolatry. The immediate consequence of which, by the just judgment of God, was the division of the twelve tribes into two kingdoms, who often waged unnatural wars one with another.
4. God had, in general, forbidden His people to make confederacies with any of the nations round about them, lest they should defile themselves with their idolatrous principles and abominable practices; or lest they should put their trust in man and make flesh their arm, and their heart depart from the Lord.
(W. Reading, M. A.)
(A. B. Davidson, LL. D.) R.V. marg. gives two translations between which it is difficult to choose. The latter is perhaps preferable, although the noun does not occur elsewhere in the sense of "libation." The allusion would be to drink offerings accompanying the conclusion of a treaty.
(J. Skinner, D. D.)Isaiah 28:8), and their other sins.
(W. Day, M. A.)
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