Isaiah 8

1 The LORD said to me, “Take a large tablet, and write on it with a man’s pen, ‘For Maher Shalal Hash Baz’; 2 and I will take for myself faithful witnesses to testify: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.” 3 I went to the prophetess, and she conceived, and bore a son. Then the LORD said to me, “Call his name ‘Maher Shalal Hash Baz.’ 4 For before the child knows how to say, ‘My father,’ and, ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria.” 5 The LORD spoke to me yet again, saying, 6 “Because this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord brings upon them the mighty flood waters of the River: the king of Assyria and all his glory. It will come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks. 8 It will sweep onward into Judah. It will overflow and pass through; it will reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings will fill the width of your land, Immanuel. 9 Make an uproar, you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Listen, all you from far countries: dress for battle, and be shattered! Dress for battle, and be shattered! 10 Take counsel together, and it will be brought to nothing; speak the word, and it will not stand: for God is with us.” 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 “Don’t say, ‘A conspiracy!’ concerning all about which this people say, ‘A conspiracy!’ neither fear their threats, nor be terrorized. 13 The LORD of Armies is who you must respect as holy. He is the one you must fear. He is the one you must dread. 14 He will be a sanctuary, but for both houses of Israel, he will be a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 Many will stumble over it, fall, be broken, be snared, and be captured.” 16 Wrap up the testimony. Seal the law amongst my disciples. 17 I will wait for the LORD, who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of Armies, who dwells in Mount Zion. 19 When they tell you, “Consult with those who have familiar spirits and with the wizards, who chirp and who mutter:” shouldn’t a people consult with their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Turn to the law and to the testimony! If they don’t speak according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21 They will pass through it, very distressed and hungry; and it will happen that when they are hungry, they will worry, and curse by their king and by their God. They will turn their faces upward, 22 and look to the earth, and see distress, darkness, and the gloom of anguish. They will be driven into thick darkness.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-8

The prophet is to write on a large roll, or on a metal tablet, words which meant, “Make speed to spoil, hasten to the prey:” pointing out that the Assyrian army should come with speed, and make great spoil. Very soon the riches of Damascus and of Samaria, cities then secure and formidable, shall be taken away by the king of Assyria. The prophet pleads with the promised Messiah, who should appear in that land in the fulness of time, and, therefore, as God, would preserve it in the mean time. As a gentle brook is an apt emblem of a mild government, so an overflowing torrent represents a conqueror and tyrant. The invader’s success was also described by a bird of prey, stretching its wings over the whole land. Those who reject Christ, will find that what they call liberty is the basest slavery. But no enemy shall pluck the believer out of Emmanuel’s hand, or deprive him of his heavenly inheritance.

Verses 9-16

The prophet challenges the enemies of the Jews. Their efforts would be vain, and themselves broken to pieces. It concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon crooked courses for our own security. The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained. The Lord, who will be a Sanctuary to those who trust in him, will be a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, to those who make the creature their fear and their hope. If the things of God be an offence to us, they will undo us. The apostle quotes this as to all who persisted in unbelief of the gospel of Christ, I Pet. 2:8. The crucified Emmanuel, who was and is a Stumbling-stone and Rock of offence to unbelieving Jews, is no less so to thousands who are called Christians. The preaching of the cross is foolishness in their esteem; his doctrines and precepts offend them.

Verses 17-22

The prophet foresaw that the Lord would hide his face; but he would look for his return in favour to them again. Though not miraculous signs, the children’s names were memorials from God, suited to excite attention. The unbelieving Jews were prone to seek counsel in difficulties, from diviners of different descriptions, whose foolish and sinful ceremonies are alluded to. Would we know how we may seek to our God, and come to the knowledge of his mind? To the law and to the testimony; for there you will see what is good, and what the Lord requires. We must speak of the things of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, and be ruled by them. To those that seek to familiar spirits, and regard not God’s law and testimony, there shall be horror and misery. Those that go away from God, go out of the way of all good; for fretfulness is a sin that is its own punishment. They shall despair, and see no way of relief, when they curse God. And their fears will represent every thing as frightful. Those that shut their eyes against the light of God’s word, will justly be left to darkness. All the miseries that ever were felt or witnessed on earth, are as nothing, compared with what will overwhelm those who leave the words of Christ, to follow delusions.

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