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Verses of Isaiah 64

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Isaiah 64:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

1. O that thou wouldest rend &c. ] Lit. “hadst rent.” So “hadst come down,” “had quaked.” This use of the perf. in the expression of a real wish, whose realisation is contemplated, is unusual, and is only to be explained by the urgency of the speaker’s feeling. Driver, Tenses, § 140. see on ch. Isa 48:18.

rend the heavens ] Cf. ch. Isa 51:6; Psa 18:9; Psa 144:5.

might flow down ] Rather, might quake; cf. Jdg 5:5. For the general conception of the Theophany cf. Psa 50:1-6; Hab 3:3 ff.

Isa 64:1-3. The language of complaint again gives place (as in Isa 63:15) to impatient prayer for a Theophany, an imposing manifestation of Jehovah in His might. It is the great “day of the Lord” towards which the desire of the people reaches forward. In the Hebr., ch. 64 begins with Isa 64:2 of our version, Isa 64:1 forming the conclusion of Isa 63:19.

Ch. Isa 63:7 to Isa 64:12. A Prayer of the People for the Renewal of Jehovah’s former Lovingkindness

(1) Isa 63:7-9. The prayer begins with thankful commemoration of Jehovah’s goodness to the nation in the days of old ( Isa 63:7). The reference is to the time of Moses and Joshua, when Jehovah’s loving confidence in His children had not yet been betrayed ( Isa 63:8), and when He continuously manifested Himself as their Saviour, bearing them safely through all dangers ( Isa 63:9).

(2) Isa 63:10-14. This ideal relation between Israel and its God has indeed long since been broken, through the rebellion and ingratitude of the people ( Isa 63:10). But in seasons of distress the better mind of the nation dwells wistfully on those ancient wonders of grace, and longs that Jehovah may again put forth His strength and vindicate His glorious name ( Isa 63:11-14).

(3) Isa 63:15-16. From the past the writer turns to the gloomy present, be seeching Jehovah to take notice of and have compassion on the affliction of His people. For He alone, and not Abraham or Israel, is the Father of the nation, and its Redeemer from of old.

(4) Isa 63:17-19. From this point the increasing impetuosity of the language reveals for the first time the extremity of the Church’s anguish. The prophet remonstrates with God for so withdrawing Himself from the people as to harden them in sin ( Isa 63:17) and cause them to be as if He had never ruled over them ( Isa 63:19).

(5) Isa 64:1-3. A passionate wish that Jehovah might now rend asunder the solid firmament, and melt the mountains, and make Himself known to the nation by terrible acts, surpassing the expectations of His people.

(6) Isa 63:4-7. In a more reflective strain the writer appears to seek for a reconciliation of Jehovah’s attitude to Israel with His eternally righteous character. He, the only God known who meets the righteousman, is yet wroth with His people so that they fall into sin ( Isa 63:4-5). The lamentable consequences of this hiding of God’s face on the religious condition of the people are described in Isa 63:6-7.

(7) Isa 63:8-12. Final appeal to the Fatherhood of God, and His consideration for the work of His hands ( Isa 63:8). Let Him moderate His wrath and remember that we are His people ( Isa 63:9). For surely the punishment of sin has been sufficient, the holy cities ruined, Jerusalem a desolation, the Temple burned with fire ( Isa 63:10-11). Can Jehovah look on these things and yet restrain His compassion ( Isa 63:12)?

The passage is one of the most instructive of O.T. prayers, and deserves careful study as an expression of the chastened and tremulous type of piety begotten in the sorrows of the Exile. Along with much that is of the permanent essence of prayer, thanksgiving, confession of sin, and supplication, it contains utterances which may cause surprise to a Christian reader, although they are paralleled in some of the Psalms, and in other portions of the literature. Very singular is the plea that the sinfulness of the people is due to the excessive and protracted anger of Jehovah, who “causes them to err from His ways” (Isa 63:17; cf. Isa 64:5; Isa 64:7). This feeling appears to proceed from two sources; on the one hand the ancient idea that national calamity is the proof of Jehovah’s anger, and on the other the lesson taught by all the prophets, that the sole cause of Jehovah’s anger is the people’s sins. The writer seems unable perfectly to harmonize these principles. He accepts the verdict of Providence on the sins of the nation, but he feels also a disproportion between the offence and the punishment, which neutralises all efforts after righteousness, unless Jehovah will relent from the fierceness of His wrath. The higher truth that the Divine chastisement aims at the purification of the people, and is therefore a mark of love, is not yet grasped, and for this reason the O.T. believers fall short of the liberty of the sons of God. Yet amid all these perplexities the faith of the Church holds fast to the truth of the Fatherhood of God, and appeals to the love which must be in His heart, although it be not manifest in His providential dealings.

So far as the ideas of the passage are concerned, it might have been composed at any time from the Exile downwards. Nor are the historical allusions so clear as could be desired. From Isa 63:18, Isa 64:11 f. we learn that the Temple has been burned, and the land laid waste. It is natural to understand this of the destruction of the city and Temple by the Chaldæans in 586, and to conclude that the prayer was written during the Exile or at least before the rebuilding of the Temple in 520. In Isa 63:18 it is said that the Holy Land has been possessed “but a little while.” If the prayer was written in exile this must refer to the whole period from Joshua to the Captivity, which is not an interpretation that commends itself at first sight. It would no doubt be more intelligible if written not long after the restoration under Zerubbabel (cf. Ezr 9:8). But then we are confronted with the difficulty of the destruction of the Temple, for Duhm’s explanation that the writer ignores the second Temple because of its inferiority to the first can hardly be regarded as satisfactory; and to assume (with Kuenen and others) a destruction of the Temple by the Samaritans (see Ryle’s note on Neh 1:3) is hazardous in face of the silence of history. Partly for these reasons, and partly because of affinities to ch. 24 27, and some Psalms which he assigns to the same period, Cheyne brings down the date of composition to the time of Artaxerxes Ochus (cf. Vol. i. of this commentary, p. 204). Apart from Isa 63:18, the hypothesis of exilic authorship presents no serious difficulty, for although the surrounding discourses are probably post-exilic, it is quite conceivable that an earlier writing might have been incorporated with them as sufficiently expressive of the mind of the nation at the later period.

Verses of Isaiah 64

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Consult other comments:

Isaiah 64:1 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 64:1 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Isaiah 64:1 - B.H. Carroll's An Interpretation of the English Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Through the Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Isaiah 64:1 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

Isaiah 64:1 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Isaiah 64:1 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

Isaiah 64:1 - Expositors Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Isaiah 64:1 - Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Isaiah 64:1 - Expositor's Dictionary of Text by Robertson

Isaiah 64:1 - F.B. Meyer's Through the Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Geneva Bible Notes

Isaiah 64:1 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Isaiah 64:1 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Isaiah 64:1 - Commentaries on the New Testament and Prophets

Isaiah 64:1 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Isaiah 64:1 - William Kelly Major Works (New Testament)

Isaiah 64:1 - The Popular Commentary on the Bible by Kretzmann

Isaiah 64:1 - A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical by Lange

Isaiah 64:1 - An Exposition on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Isaiah 64:1 - Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Isaiah 64:1 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Isaiah 64:1 - The Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Isaiah 64:1 - The Complete Pulpit Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - Old and New Testaments Restoration Commentary

Isaiah 64:1 - The Sermon Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Isaiah 64:1 - Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 64:1 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Isaiah 64:1 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Isaiah 64:1 - You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series by Bob Utley

Isaiah 64:1 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges