Isaiah 59:1-20

Sin, Confession and Redemption

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.
9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.
11 We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.
12 For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities:
13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
18 According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.
19 From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.[a]
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD.

Isaiah 59:1-20 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 59

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 59:1-20 In-Context

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.
9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.
11 We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.
12 For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities:
13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
18 According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.
19 From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD.
21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

Cross References 57

  • 1. S Isaiah 41:20
  • 2. Numbers 11:23; S Isaiah 50:2
  • 3. Isaiah 30:19; Isaiah 58:9; Isaiah 65:24
  • 4. Jeremiah 5:25; Ezekiel 39:23
  • 5. S Psalms 18:41; S Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 58:4; S Jeremiah 11:11; S John 9:31
  • 6. S 2 Kings 21:16; S Isaiah 1:15; S Ezekiel 22:9
  • 7. Psalms 7:3
  • 8. S Isaiah 3:8
  • 9. S Isaiah 5:23
  • 10. S Job 15:31
  • 11. S Isaiah 44:20
  • 12. S Job 4:8; S Isaiah 29:20; James 1:15; Job 15:35; Psalms 7:14
  • 13. S Isaiah 11:8; Matthew 3:7
  • 14. S Job 8:14
  • 15. Isaiah 28:20
  • 16. S Psalms 55:9; S Proverbs 4:17; S Isaiah 58:4
  • 17. S 2 Kings 21:16; S Proverbs 6:17; S Micah 3:10
  • 18. S Proverbs 24:2; S Isaiah 26:10; Mark 7:21-22
  • 19. Romans 3:15-17*
  • 20. Romans 3:15-17*
  • 21. S Judges 5:6
  • 22. S Isaiah 57:21; Luke 1:79
  • 23. S Job 19:8; S Psalms 107:14; S Isaiah 5:30; S Isaiah 8:20; S Luke 1:79
  • 24. Deuteronomy 28:29; S Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 56:10; Lamentations 4:14; Zephaniah 1:17
  • 25. S Job 3:23; S Isaiah 8:15; John 11:9-10
  • 26. Lamentations 3:6
  • 27. S Genesis 8:8; Psalms 74:19; Isaiah 38:14; Jeremiah 48:28; Ezekiel 7:16; Nahum 2:7
  • 28. S Ezra 9:6; S Isaiah 57:12
  • 29. S Genesis 4:7; S Isaiah 3:9; S Jeremiah 2:19
  • 30. Psalms 51:3
  • 31. Isaiah 46:8; Isaiah 48:8
  • 32. S Numbers 11:20; S Proverbs 30:9; Matthew 10:33; Titus 1:16
  • 33. S Psalms 12:5; S Isaiah 5:7
  • 34. S Isaiah 3:8; S Isaiah 44:20; Mark 7:21-22
  • 35. S Isaiah 29:21
  • 36. S Isaiah 1:21
  • 37. S Isaiah 48:1; S Jeremiah 33:16
  • 38. Jeremiah 7:28; Jeremiah 9:5; Daniel 8:12
  • 39. S Isaiah 5:7
  • 40. S Isaiah 41:28
  • 41. S Isaiah 53:12
  • 42. S Isaiah 51:5; Psalms 98:1; Isaiah 63:5
  • 43. Isaiah 45:8,13; Isaiah 46:13
  • 44. Ephesians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
  • 45. Ephesians 6:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
  • 46. S Job 27:6; Isaiah 63:3
  • 47. S Isaiah 1:24
  • 48. S Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 5:13
  • 49. S Leviticus 26:28; S Numbers 10:35; S Isaiah 34:8; S Matthew 16:27
  • 50. Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 41:5
  • 51. S Isaiah 49:12; S Matthew 8:11
  • 52. S Psalms 113:3
  • 53. Psalms 97:6; S Isaiah 24:15; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 66:18
  • 54. S Isaiah 11:4
  • 55. S Job 19:25; Isaiah 60:16; Isaiah 63:16
  • 56. S Isaiah 52:8; S Joel 3:21
  • 57. S Job 22:23; S Isaiah 1:27; S Jeremiah 35:15; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 11:26-27*

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "When enemies come in like a flood," / "the Spirit of the " Lord"will put them to flight"