Isaiah 48

Listen to Isaiah 48

Israel Refined for God's Glory

1 Hear this, O house of Jacob, 1who are called by the name of Israel, and 2who came from the waters of Judah, 3who swear by the name of the LORD and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right.
2 For they call themselves after the holy city, 4and stay themselves on the God of Israel; the LORD of hosts is his name.
3 "The former things 5I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4 Because I know that 6you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass,
5 7I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, 8'My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.'
6 "You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forth 9I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.
7 They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, 'Behold, I knew them.'
8 You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that 10from before birth you were called a rebel.
9 11"For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off.
10 Behold, I have refined you, 12but not as silver; 13I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction.
11 14For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name[b] be profaned? 15My glory I will not give to another.

The Lord's Call to Israel

12 "Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; 16I am the first, and I am the last.
13 My hand 17laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand 18spread out the heavens; 19when I call to them, they stand forth together.
14 "Assemble, all of you, and listen! 20Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; 21he shall perform his purpose on Babylon, and his arm shall be against 22the Chaldeans.
15 23I, even I, have spoken and called him; I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.
16 24Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there." And now 25the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.
17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
18 26Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! 27Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;
19 28your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me."
20 29Go out from Babylon, flee from 30Chaldea, declare this 31with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, 32"The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!"
21 33They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; 34he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.
22 35"There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."

Isaiah 48 Commentary

Chapter 48

The Jews reproved for their idolatry. (1-8) Yet deliverance is promised them. (9-15) Solemn warnings of judgment upon those who persisted in evil. (16-22)

Verses 1-8 The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men's boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.

Verses 9-15 We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God's people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.

Verses 16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.

Cross References 35

  • 1. Isaiah 43:1
  • 2. Psalms 68:26
  • 3. Jeremiah 7:9
  • 4. [Micah 3:11]
  • 5. Isaiah 41:26
  • 6. [Exodus 32:9]
  • 7. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 8. See Jeremiah 44:15-17
  • 9. See Isaiah 43:19
  • 10. Isaiah 46:8
  • 11. [Malachi 3:6]
  • 12. [1 Peter 1:7]
  • 13. [Deuteronomy 4:20; Ezek. 22:18, 20, 22]
  • 14. Isaiah 43:25; Ezekiel 20:9
  • 15. Isaiah 42:8
  • 16. See Isaiah 41:4
  • 17. Isaiah 51:13; [Psalms 102:25; Hebrews 1:10]
  • 18. Isaiah 51:13; [Psalms 102:25; Hebrews 1:10]
  • 19. [Isaiah 40:26]
  • 20. [Isaiah 41:26]
  • 21. Isaiah 46:10, 11
  • 22. Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 47:1
  • 23. See Isaiah 45:1-3
  • 24. Isaiah 45:19
  • 25. Isaiah 61:1
  • 26. Psalms 81:13; Luke 19:42; [Deuteronomy 32:29]
  • 27. Isaiah 66:12
  • 28. Isaiah 10:22; Genesis 22:17; Hosea 1:10
  • 29. Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6, 45; Zechariah 2:6, 7
  • 30. Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 47:1
  • 31. [Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 52:9]
  • 32. Isaiah 44:23; [Exodus 19:4-6]
  • 33. [Isaiah 35:6; Isaiah 44:3; Deuteronomy 8:15]
  • 34. Isaiah 43:19; Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11
  • 35. Isaiah 57:21

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary


The prophecy of this chapter is concerning the deliverance and salvation of the Jews, and is addressed unto them; who are described by their natural descent and lineage, and by their hypocrisy in religious things, Isa 48:1,2. By their obstinacy and impudence, and by their proneness to idolatry, and to ascribe that to idols which belonged to God; which were the reasons why the Lord foretold all former things to them, before they came to pass, Isa 48:3-5. And for the same reasons also he declared unto them what should be hereafter, particularly the destruction of Babylon, and their deliverance by Cyrus, Isa 48:6-8. From which account of them it would clearly appear, that it was not for any merits of theirs, but for his own name's sake, for his own glory, that he chose them, purified, and saved them as gold tried in the fire, Isa 48:9-11. He observes his own perfections, his eternity and immutability, and power displayed in creation, to engage their faith in the promise of deliverance, Isa 48:12,13 and points out the deliverer Cyrus, a type of Christ, whom he loved, called, sent, and made him prosperous, Isa 48:14-16. Then he directs them to walk in his ways, with promises of peace and prosperity, Isa 48:17-19. And the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to go out of Babylon with joy, publishing wherever they came their redemption, and who would be supplied with all necessaries in their return to their own land; only it should be observed, that there was no peace or happiness for the wicked, Isa 48:20-22.

Isaiah 48 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.