Isaiah 44:20

20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”

Isaiah 44:20 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 44:20

He feedeth of ashes
That is, the idolater delights in his idol, pleases himself with seeks comfort and satisfaction from it, fills and feeds himself with hopes and expectations of being helped and delivered by it; but this is all vain hope, a mere delusion; it is as if a man fed on ashes instead of food; it is feeding on that which has no savour nor substance, can yield no nourishment, but, on the contrary, is pernicious and hurtful; and it is like Ephraim's feeding on wind, ( Hosea 12:1 ) or on chaff instead of wheat, ( Jeremiah 23:28 ) and so such who feed upon and delight themselves in sinful lusts, or false doctrines, may be said to feed on the same sort of food: and here it may be true of the idol in a literal sense; part of the wood of which it was made being reduced to ashes, to which some respect may be had, ( Isaiah 44:15 Isaiah 44:16 ) , and that itself was capable of the same fate. The Targum is,

``behold his god, part of it is ashes;''
so the Vulgate Latin version: "a deceived heart hath turned him aside" from the true God, and the right worship of him, unto idolatry; the heart of man is deceitful, and desperately wicked; a man needs no other to entice him, and draw him away into any sin, and from the living God, than his own evil heart; which, being deceived itself, deceives him, and leads him to the commission of such things as are contrary to reason and common sense: and he is so infatuated with them, and possessed with a strong belief of them, that he cannot deliver his soul:
divest himself of his erroneous and wicked principles, and leave his idolatrous practices, or be persuaded that he is in the wrong: nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand?
that the idol, which his right hand has made, is a lie, a mere vanity, not to be depended upon and trusted in: or which is in, or "at his right hand" F13; and worshipped by him, and is highly esteemed and loved as his right hand; this he cannot be persuaded to believe, and say that it is a falsehood and a work of errors; such is the force and fascination of idolatry, when once persons are ensnared and entangled with it.

F13 (ynymyb) "[quod est] in dextera mea", Piscator; "ad dexteram meam", Junius & Tremellius.

Isaiah 44:20 In-Context

18 Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”
21 “Pay attention, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I, the LORD, made you, and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.