Isaiah 59

Listen to Isaiah 59

Evil and Oppression

1 Behold, 1the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2 2but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
3 3For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 4No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, 5they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch adders' eggs; they weave the spider's web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 6Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 7Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; 8no one who treads on them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; 9we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 10We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, 11among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
11 We all growl like bears; 12we moan and moan like doves; 13we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying the LORD, and turning back from following our God, 14speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
14 15Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.The LORD saw it, and it displeased him[a] that there was no justice.
16 16He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.
17 17He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in 18zeal as a cloak.
18 19According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; 20to the coastlands he will render repayment.
19 21So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; 22for he will come like a rushing stream,[b] which the wind of the LORD drives.
20 23"And 24a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the LORD.
21 "And as for me, 25this is my covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit that is upon you, 26and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring," says the LORD, "from this time forth and forevermore."

Isaiah 59 Commentary

Chapter 59

Reproofs of sin and wickedness. (1-8) Confession of sin, and lamentation for the consequences. (9-15) Promises of deliverance. (16-21)

Verses 1-8 If our prayers are not answered, and the salvation we wait for is not wrought for us, it is not because God is weary of hearing prayer, but because we are weary of praying. See here sin in true colours, exceedingly sinful; and see sin in its consequences, exceedingly hurtful, separating from God, and so separating us, not only from all good, but to all evil. Yet numbers feed, to their own destruction, on infidel and wicked systems. Nor can their skill or craft, in devising schemes, as the spider weaves its web, deliver or save them. No schemes of self-wrought salvation shall avail those who despise the Redeemer's robe of righteousness. Every man who is destitute of the Spirit of Christ, runs swiftly to evil of some sort; but those regardless of Divine truth and justice, are strangers to peace.

Verses 9-15 If we shut our eyes against the light of Divine truth, it is just with God to hide from our eyes the things that belong to our peace. The sins of those who profess themselves God's people, are worse than the sins of others. And the sins of a nation bring public judgments, when not restrained by public justice. Men may murmur under calamities, but nothing will truly profit while they reject Christ and his gospel.

Verses 16-21 This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight. He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view. The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, ( John 14:16 ) . The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety. But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.

Cross References 26

  • 1. Isaiah 50:2; Numbers 11:23
  • 2. Jeremiah 5:25
  • 3. Isaiah 1:15
  • 4. [ver. 14]
  • 5. Job 15:35; Psalms 7:14
  • 6. Job 8:14
  • 7. Proverbs 1:16; Cited Romans 3:15-17
  • 8. Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21
  • 9. [ver. 11; Isaiah 60:2]
  • 10. Deuteronomy 28:29; Job 5:14; Job 12:25; See Isaiah 42:18-20
  • 11. [1 Corinthians 4:9, 10]
  • 12. Isaiah 38:14
  • 13. [ver. 9; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 56:1]
  • 14. [ver. 3, 4]
  • 15. [Isaiah 51:4, 5]
  • 16. [Isaiah 51:18; Isaiah 63:5]
  • 17. 1 Thessalonians 5:8; See Ephesians 6:13-17
  • 18. [Isaiah 9:7]
  • 19. Isaiah 63:4, 6
  • 20. [Isaiah 41:1, 5]
  • 21. [Psalms 113:3]
  • 22. [Isaiah 30:27, 28]
  • 23. Cited Romans 11:26, 27; [Isaiah 40:9; Joel 2:32]
  • 24. Isaiah 43:14
  • 25. Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16
  • 26. Isaiah 51:16; [Deuteronomy 4:10]

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew and it was evil in his eyes
  • [b]. Hebrew a narrow river

Chapter Summary


As the former chapter declares the hypocrisy and formality of professors of religion; this expresses the errors and heresies, immorality and profaneness, which shall prevail before the spiritual reign of Christ, or the latter day glory begins; which is so fully described in the next chapter. Reasons are given of God's withdrawing his presence from a professing people, which were not want of power and readiness in him, but their own sins and transgressions, Isa 59:1,2 which are enumerated, such as murder, rapine, lies Isa 59:3-8 for which the judgments of God were upon them, darkness, distress, and misery, of which they were sensible, Isa 59:9-11 and confess their sins and transgressions, Isa 59:12,13 and lament their wretched state and condition, which was displeasing to God, Isa 59:14,15 who is represented as appearing for their salvation; moved to it by their want of help, and the oppression of their enemies, in which he shows his power, justice, zeal, grace, and goodness, Isa 59:16-18 the consequence of which shall be the conversion and salvation of many, owing to the efficacy of the divine Spirit, and to the spiritual coming of the Redeemer, Isa 59:19,20, and the chapter is closed with a promise of the continuance of the Spirit of God, and the Gospel of Christ in his church, unto the end of the world, Isa 59:21.

Isaiah 59 Commentaries

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