Isaiah 64:8 MEANING

Isaiah 64:8
(8) We are the clay, and thou our potter . . .--Commonly, partly, perhaps, from St. Paul's application of the image in Romans 9:20-21, and Isaiah's own use of it in Isaiah 29:16, we associate the idea of the potter with that of simple arbitrary sovereignty. Here, however (as in Jeremiah 18:6), another aspect is presented to us, and the power of the Great Potter is made the ground of prayer. The "clay" entreats Him to fashion it according to His will, and has faith in His readiness, as well as His power, to comply with that prayer. The thought of the "potter" becomes, in this aspect of it, one with that of the Fatherhood of God.

Verse 8. - But now, O Lord, thou art our Father (see the comment on Isaiah 63:16). We are the clay, and thou our Potter (comp. Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9). Thy hands have made us and fashioned us, both as individuals and as a nation. Thou hast lavished thy labour and thy skill upon us. Surely thou wilt not "forsake the work of thine own hands" (Psalm 138:8).

64:6-12 The people of God, in affliction, confess and bewail their sins, owning themselves unworthy of his mercy. Sin is that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Our deeds, whatever they may seem to be, if we think to merit by them at God's hand, are as rags, and will not cover us; filthy rags, and will but defile us. Even our few good works in which there is real excellence, as fruits of the Spirit, are so defective and defiled as done by us, that they need to be washed in the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. It bodes ill when prayer is kept back. To pray, is by faith to take hold of the promises the Lord has made of his good-will to us, and to plead them; to take hold of him, earnestly begging him not to leave us; or soliciting his return. They brought their troubles upon themselves by their own folly. Sinners are blasted, and then carried away, by the wind of their own iniquity; it withers and then ruins them. When they made themselves as an unclean thing, no wonder that God loathed them. Foolish and careless as we are, poor and despised, yet still Thou art our Father. It is the wrath of a Father we are under, who will be reconciled; and the relief our case requires is expected only from him. They refer themselves to God. They do not say, Lord, rebuke us not, for that may be necessary; but, Not in thy displeasure. They state their lamentable condition. See what ruin sin brings upon a people; and an outward profession of holiness will be no defence against it. God's people presume not to tell him what he shall say, but their prayer is, Speak for the comfort and relief of thy people. How few call upon the Lord with their whole hearts, or stir themselves to lay hold upon him! God may delay for a time to answer our prayers, but he will, in the end, answer those who call on his name and hope in his mercy.But now, O Lord, thou art our father,.... Notwithstanding all that we have done against thee, and thou hast done to us, the relation of a father continues; thou art our Father by creation and adoption; as he was in a particular manner to the Jews, to whom belonged the adoption; and therefore this relation is pleaded, that mercy might be shown them; and so the Targum,

"and thou, Lord, thy mercies towards us "are" many (or let them be many) as a father towards "his" children.''

We are the clay, and thou our potter: respecting their original formation out of the dust of the earth; and so expressing humility in themselves, and yet ascribing greatness to God, who had curiously formed them, as the potter out of the clay forms vessels for various uses: it may respect their formation as a body politic and ecclesiastic, which arose from small beginnings, under the power and providence of God; see Deuteronomy 32:6,

and we all are the work of thy hand; and therefore regard us, and destroy us not; as men do not usually destroy their own works: these relations to God, and circumstances in which they were as creatures, and as a body civil and ecclesiastic, are used as arguments for mercy and favour.

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