Isaiah 58:3-10

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:3 in Other Translations

KJV
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
ESV
3 'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
NLT
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
MSG
3 But they also complain, 'Why do we fast and you don't look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?' "Well, here's why: "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard.
CSB
3 "Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but You haven't noticed!" "Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers.

Isaiah 58:3-10 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 58

From the wicked and antichristian party the prophet is bid to turn to the professors of the true religion, and openly, boldly, and sharply, reprove them for their sins, particularly their hypocrisy and formality in worship, Isa 58:1,2, who yet were angry, and complained that the Lord took no notice of their religious services, particularly their fasting, which is put for the whole; the reason of which was, because they did not fast aright; it was attended with much cruelty, strife, and wickedness, and only lay in external appearances, Isa 58:3-5, when they are directed how to keep a fast, and are shown what a true fast is, and what works and services are acceptable to God, Isa 58:6,7 on doing of which, light, health, prosperity, and hearing of their prayers, are promised, provided the yoke of oppression is taken away, and compassion shown to the poor, Isa 58:8-10, yea, a very fruitful and flourishing estate of the soul is promised, and a rebuilding of waste places, delight in the Lord, and great honour and dignity; so be it that the sabbath of the Lord, or public worship, is attended to in a proper manner, Isa 58:11-14.

Isaiah 58:3-10 In-Context

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Cross References 29

  • 1. S Leviticus 16:29
  • 2. S Exodus 10:3; S 2 Chronicles 6:37; Jeremiah 44:10
  • 3. Malachi 3:14
  • 4. Isaiah 22:13; Zechariah 7:5-6
  • 5. 1 Kings 21:9-13; Isaiah 59:6; Jeremiah 6:7; Ezekiel 7:11; Malachi 2:16
  • 6. S 1 Samuel 8:18; Isaiah 59:2; Lamentations 3:44; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4
  • 7. Zechariah 7:5
  • 8. 1 Kings 21:27; Matthew 6:16
  • 9. S Isaiah 36:6
  • 10. S Job 2:8
  • 11. Joel 2:12-14
  • 12. Nehemiah 5:10-11
  • 13. S Deuteronomy 14:29; Isaiah 61:1; Jeremiah 34:9; Amos 4:1; S Luke 4:19
  • 14. S Isaiah 9:4
  • 15. S Job 22:7; Ezekiel 18:16; Luke 3:11
  • 16. Isaiah 16:4; Hebrews 13:2
  • 17. Job 31:19-20; S Matthew 25:36
  • 18. S Genesis 29:14; Luke 10:31-32
  • 19. S Job 11:17; S Isaiah 9:2
  • 20. S Isaiah 1:5; S Isaiah 30:26
  • 21. S Isaiah 26:2
  • 22. S Exodus 14:19
  • 23. S Psalms 50:15
  • 24. S Job 8:6; S Isaiah 30:19; Daniel 9:20; S Zechariah 10:6
  • 25. S Proverbs 6:13
  • 26. Psalms 12:2; Isaiah 59:13
  • 27. Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • 28. S Isaiah 42:16
  • 29. S Job 11:17

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "your righteous One"
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