Isaiah 33:23 MEANING

Isaiah 33:23
(23) Thy tacklings are loosed . . .--The words have been taken as applicable either to Assyria, as one of the "ships of Tarshish" that had been wrecked, or to Zion, as a vessel that had been driven by the wind and tossed, but had escaped shipwreck. On the whole, the first view seems most in harmony with the context. The terms have been taken by some critics for the cords, poles, and canvas of a tent, but the rendering of the Authorised version seems preferable.

The lame take the prey.--The wrecked Assyrian ship is represented as being plundered by those whom it came to plunder. "The lame" were commonly excluded, as incapable of active service, from sharing in the spoils. Here they also were to have their portion.

Verse 23. - Thy tacklings are loosed. The comparing of God to a river has led to the representation of Judah's enemies as warships (ver. 21). This causes Judah herself to be viewed as a ship - a badly appointed ship, which has to contend with one whose equipment is perfect. The prophet's thoughts have traveled back to the existing state of things. They could not well strengthen their mast; rather, they cannot hold firm the lower part of their mast. The mast had its lower extremity inserted into a hole in a cross-beam, and required to be kept in place by the ropes. If they were loose, it might slip out of the hole and fall overboard. They could not spread the sail; rather, they cannot spread the ensign. The ensign would seem to have been attached to the top of the mast. If the mast fell, it would no longer be spread out, so as to be seen. Then is the prey of a great spoil divided. The word "then" is emphatic. Now the disabled ship seems incapable of coping with its enemy. Then (after Assyria's overthrow) Judah will obtain an immense spoil (see ver. 4). Even the lame shall have their portion.

33:15-24 The true believer watches against all occasions of sin. The Divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. He shall want nothing needful for him. Every blessing of salvation is freely bestowed on all that ask with humble, believing prayer; and the believer is safe in time and for ever. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given, and their water sure, but they shall, by faith, see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness. The remembrance of the terror they were in, shall add to the pleasure of their deliverance. It is desirable to be quiet in our own houses, but much more so to be quiet in God's house; and in every age Christ will have a seed to serve him. Jerusalem had no large river running by it, but the presence and power of God make up all wants. We have all in God, all we need, or can desire. By faith we take Christ for our Prince and Saviour; he reigns over his redeemed people. All that refuse to have Him to reign over them, make shipwreck of their souls. Sickness is taken away in mercy, when the fruit of it is the taking away of sin. If iniquity be taken away, we have little reason to complain of outward affliction. This last verse leads our thoughts, not only to the most glorious state of the gospel church on earth, but to heaven, where no sickness or trouble can enter. He that blotteth out our transgressions, will heal our souls.Thy tacklings are loosed,.... Or "are left" (h); forsaken by the mariners, as being of no use and service:

they could not well strengthen their mast; with ropes to make it stand upright:

they could not spread the sail; upon the mast, without which they could not proceed. This is spoken to and of the enemies of the church; most interpreters understand it of the Assyrians, who are compared to a ship in great distress at sea, when its tacklings are shattered, the mast is split, and the sails cannot be spread. The metaphor is taken and carried on from Isaiah 33:21, where mention is made of a galley with oars, and a gallant ship. Tyrannical governments are thought by some to be compared to ships; a king to the mast; princes to ropes, cords, and tackling; and their army in battle array to sails spread; but here all is in confusion, distress, and unavoidable ruin: this may very well be applied to the antichristian states, when the vials of God's wrath shall be poured out upon them; especially when the second vial shall be poured out upon the sea, and all shipping will suffer, as under the second trumpet the third part of ships were destroyed, there being a correspondence between the trumpets and the seals, Revelation 8:8,

then is the prey of a great spoil divided: as the spoil of the Assyrian camp was by the Israelites, so will the spoil of the Papists by the Protestants; particularly when the kings of the earth shall be filled with an aversion to the whore of Rome, and shall destroy her, and make her bare and desolate of all her riches, and shall "eat her flesh", or seize upon her substance, which will become the prey of a great spoil unto them:

the lame take the prey; which denotes both how easily it shall be taken, and what a plenty there shall be, that even such, and who come late, shall have a share in it. The Targum of the whole is,

"at that time (when vengeance shall be taken on Gog) the people shall be broken with their own strength, and they shall be like to a ship whose ropes are broken; and there is no strength in their mast, which is cut down, that it is not possible to spread a sail on it; then shall the house of Israel divide the substance of the people, the multitude of a prey and spoil; and although the blind and the lame are left among them, they also shall divide the multitude of the prey and spoil.''

(h) So the word is interpreted by Kimchi and Ben Melech.

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