Isaiah 18:4 MEANING

Isaiah 18:4
(4, 5) I will take my rest . . .--The words that follow paint with marvellous vividness the calmness and deliberation of the workings of Divine judgments. God is at once unhasting and unresting. He dwells in His resting-place (i.e., palace or throne), and watches the ripening of the fruit which He is about to gather. While there is a clear heat in sunshine, while there is a dew-cloud in harvest-heat, through all phenomenal changes, He waits still. Then, before the harvest, when the blossom is over, and the fruit becomes the full-ripe grape, He comes as the Lord of the vineyard, and cuts off the branches with His pruning-hooks. (Comp. the striking parallels of 'sch. Suppl. 90-98, and Shakespeare, Henry VIII., 3:2.)

Verse 4. - For so; rather, for thus. The word koh is prospective. I will take my rest, and I will consider; or, I will be still and look on. The rest of God is contrasted with the bustle and hurry of the Ethiopians and Assyrians. God "sits in his holy seat," calm and tranquil, knowing what the result is about to be, and when it will be; he waits while the influences of heat and moisture, sunshine and dew - his own agencies - ripen Assyria's schemes, impassive, taking no part. Then, suddenly, he takes the part described in the latter portion of ver. 5, "cuts off the shoots and hews down the branches." Like a clear heat upon herbs, etc.; rather, while there is clear heat in the sunshine, while there is a cloud of dew in the harvest-warmth; i.e. while surrounding influences are such as must favor the growth of Assyria's power and pride.

18:1-7 God's care for his people; and the increase of the church. - This chapter is one of the most obscure in Scripture, though more of it probably was understood by those for whose use it was first intended, than by us now. Swift messengers are sent by water to a nation marked by Providence, and measured out, trodden under foot. God's people are trampled on; but whoever thinks to swallow them up, finds they are cast down, yet not deserted, not destroyed. All the dwellers on earth must watch the motions of the Divine Providence, and wait upon the directions of the Divine will. God gives assurance to his prophet, and by him to be given to his people. Zion is his rest for ever, and he will look after it. He will suit to their case the comforts and refreshments he provides for them; they will be acceptable, because seasonable. He will reckon with his and their enemies; and as God's people are protected at all seasons of the year, so their enemies are exposed at all seasons. A tribute of praise should be brought to God from all this. What is offered to God, must be offered in the way he has appointed; and we may expect him to meet us where he records his name. Thus shall the nations of the earth be convinced that Jehovah is the God, and Israel is his people, and shall unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to his glory. Happy are those who take warning by his judgment on others, and hasten to join him and his people. Whatever land or people may be intended, we are here taught not to think that God takes no care of his church, and has no respect to the affairs of men, because he permits the wicked to triumph for a season. He has wise reasons for so doing, which we cannot now understand, but which will appear at the great day of his coming, when he will bring every work into judgment, and reward every man according to his works.For so the Lord said unto me,.... The prophet Isaiah, both what goes before, and follows after:

I will take my rest; these are not the words of the prophet, as some think, like those of Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:1 but of the Lord himself, signifying that he would, as he always did, enjoy himself, amidst all the commotions that were in the world; or that he would take up his rest among his people in Zion, of which he had said, this is my rest for ever, Psalm 132:14 or rather that he would be still and quiet, and as one asleep and at rest, that took no notice of what was doing, nor interpose between parties preparing for war, and laying schemes for the ruin of each other; not help the one nor hinder the other, but let them go on a while with their designs:

and I will consider in my dwelling place: in heaven, what is to be done; for though the Lord may seem sometimes to take no notice of what is done on earth, yet he sees and knows all things, and considers in his own mind what is fit and proper that he should do, who works all things after the counsel of his own will: or, "I will look upon my dwelling place" (o); Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the temple, the sanctuary, where his Shechinah dwelt; here he promises to look in a way of grace and favour, with delight and pleasure, to comfort and refresh his own people; so the Targum paraphrases this and the preceding clause,

"I will make my people to rest, I will make them to rest, and I will delight in my holy habitation to do them good:''

like a clear heat upon herbs; or "after rain", as Aben Ezra and Kimchi, see 2 Samuel 23:4 when then the sun shines forth brightly after a shower of rain, which revives the plants and herbs, and makes them grow:

and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest; which is very desirable and welcome, which cools the air, refreshes the earth, plumps the corn, and is very grateful to the harvestman; and both metaphors may signify how grateful is the appearance of God to and for his people, his presence with them, the light of his countenance on them, and his protection of them; see Isaiah 4:5 and so the Targum,

"blessings and consolations will I bring to them quickly, as heat burning by means of the sun, and as a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest:''

though the whole may be understood in a very different sense, as it is by some, thus; that though the Lord for a while may seem to take no notice of what is doing below, yet he in heaven beholds what is done, and looks in a way of wrath and anger upon his enemies, as the sun looks with its scorching heat upon the herbs, and dries them up; and as a cloud which brings a large dew or rain with it, which is very hurtful in harvest time; and this sense seems most agreeable to the context.

(o) "sed intusor in locum meum", Janius & Tremellius.

Courtesy of Open Bible