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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 45:19

 

 

"I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, `Seek Me in a waste place'; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright.

Adam Clarke Commentary

I have not spoken tn secret, in a dark place of the earth - In opposition to the manner in which the heathen oracles gave their answers, which were generally delivered from some deep and obscure cavern. Such was the seat of the Cumean Sybil: -

Excisum Euboicae latus ingens rupis in antrum.

Virg. Aen. 6:42.

"A cave cut in the side of a huge rock."

Such was that of the famous oracle at Delphi; of which, says Strabo, lib. ix., φασι δ ' ειναι το μαντειον αντρον κοιλον μετα βαθους, ου μαλα ευρυστομον . "The oracle is said to be a hollow cavern of considerable depth, with an opening not very wide." And Diodorus, giving an account of the origin of this oracle, says "that there was in that place a great chasm or cleft in the earth; in which very place is now situated what is called the Adytum of the temple." Αδυτον· σπηλαιον, η το αποκρυφον μερος του ἱερου . Mesych. "Adytum means a cavern, or the hidden part of the temple."

I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right "I am Jehovah, who speak truth, who give direct answers" - This also is said in opposition to the false and ambiguous answers given by the heathen oracles, of which there are many noted examples; none more so than that of the answer given to Croesus when he marehed against Cyrus, which piece of history has some connection with this part of Isaiah's prophecies. Let us hear Cicero's account of the Delphic answers in general, and of this in particular: Sed jam ad te venio,

O sancte Apollo, qui umbilicum certum terrarum obsides,

Unde superstitiosa primum saeva evasit vox fera.

Tuis enim oraculis Chrysippus totum volumen implevit, partim falsis, ut ego opinor; partim casu veris, ut fit in omni oratione saepissime; partim flexiloquis et obscuris, ut interpres egeat interprete, et sors ipsa ad sortes referenda sit; partim ambiguis, et quae ad dialecticum deferenda sint. Nam cum sors illa edita est opulentissimo regi Asiea, Croesus Halym penetrans magnam pervertet opum vim: hostium vim sese perversurum putavit; pervertit autem suam. Utrum igitur eorum accidisset, verum oraculum fuisset. De Divinat. 2:56. Mountainous countries, and those which abounded in chasms, caves, and grottos, were the places in which oracles were most frequent. The horror and gloom inspired by such places were useful to the lying priests in their system of deception. The terms in which those oracles were conceived, (they were always ambiguous, or equivocal, or false, or illusory), sometimes the turn of a phrase, or a peculiarity in idiom or construction which might be turned pro or con, contained the essence of the oracular declaration. Sometimes, in the multitude of guesses, one turned out to be true; at other times, so equivocal was the oracle, that, however the thing fell out, the declaration could be interpreted in that way, as in the above to Croesus, from the oracle at Delphi, which was: If Croeses march against Cyrus, he shall overthrow a great empire: he, supposing that this promised him success, fought, and lost his own, while he expected to destroy that of his enemy. Here the quack demon took refuge in his designed ambiguity. He predicted the destruction of a great empire, but did not say which it was; and therefore he was safe, howsoever the case fell out. Not one of the predictions of God's prophets is conceived in this way.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-45.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I have not spoken in secret - The word rendered ‹secret‘ (סתר sı̂ther ) denotes a hiding, or covering; and the phrase here means secretly, privately. He did not imitate the pagan oracles by uttering his predictions from dark and deep caverns, and encompassed with the circumstances of awful mystery, and with designed obscurity.

In a dark place of the earth - From a cave, or dark recess, in the manner of the pagan oracles. The pagan responses were usually given from some dark cavern or recess, doubtless the bettcr to impress with awe the minds of those who consulted the oracles, and to make them more ready to credit the revelations of the fancied god. Such was the seat of the Sybil, mentioned by Virgil, AEn. vi. 4:

Excisum Euhoicae latus ingens rupis in antrum

Such also was the famous oracle at Delphi. Strobe (ix.) says, ‹The oracle is said to be a hollow cavern of considerable depth, with an opening not very wide.‘ Diodorus, giving an account of this oracle, says, ‹that there was in that place a great chasm, or cleft in the earth; in which very place is now situated what is called the Adytum of the temple.‘ In contradistinction from all this, God says that he had spoken openly, and without these circumstances of designed obscurity and darkness. In the language here, there is a remarkable resemblance to what the Saviour said of himself, and it is not improbable that he had this passage in his mind: ‹I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing‘ John 18:20. A similar declaration occurs in Deuteronomy 30:11: ‹This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.‘

I said not to the seed of Jacob - The seed, or the race of Jacob, here means his people: and the idea is, that he had not commanded them to call upon him without his being ready to answer them.

Seek ye me in vain - The phrase, ‹seek ye,‘ may refer to worship in general; or more properly to their calling upon him in times of calamity and trial. The sense is, that it had not been a vain or useless thing for them to serve him; that he had been their protector, and their friend; and that they had not gone to him, and spread out their needs for nothing. It is still true, that God does not command his people to seek him in vain (compare Deuteronomy 32:47). His service is always attended with a rich blessing to them; and they are his witnesses that he confers on them inexpressibly great and valuable rewards. It follows from this - first, that his people have abundant encouragement to go to him in all times of trial, persecution, and affliction; secondly, that they have encouragement to go to him in a low state of religion, to confess their sins, to supplicate his mercy, and to pray for the influences of his Holy Spirit, and the revival of his work; and, thirdly, that the service of God is always attended with rich reward. Idols do not benefit those wire serve them. The pursuit of pleasure, gain, and ambition, is often attended with no reward, and is never attended with any benefits that satisfy the needs of the undying mind; but the service of God meets all the needs of the soul; fills all its desires, and confers permanent and eternal rewards.

I the Lord speak righteousness - This stands in opposition to the pagan oracles, which often gave false, delusive, and unjust responses. But not so with God. He had not spoken, as they did, from deep and dark plates - fit emblems of the obscurity of their answers; he had not, as they had, commanded a service that was unprofitable and vain; and he had not, as they had, uttered oracles which were untrue and fitted to delude.

I declare things that are right - Lowth renders this, ‹Who give direct answers;‘ and supposes it refers to the fact, that the pagan oracles often give ambiguous and deceitful responses. God never deceived. His responses were always true and unambiguous.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-45.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 45:19

I have not spoken in secret

“In a dark place of the earth,”

“In a dark place of the earth,” is an expression used for the purpose of pointing out the contrast between the prophecies of Jehovah and the heathen cave, oracles and spirit-voices of the necromancers, which seemed to rise up from the interior of the earth.
(
C. Short, M. A.)

God’s speech to men

Two thoughts branch off--

1. Prophecy, proceeding from Him is a thing of the light, no black art, essentially different from heathen divination.

2. The same love of Jehovah which is revealed already in creation, is also shown in His relation to Israel; He did not point Israel to Himself as chaos (“I said not to the seed of Jacob; seek Me as chaos!”), even as He did not create the earth a chaos (“He has not created it a chaos,” Isaiah 45:18). (F. Delitzsch, D. D.)

I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain.

“Seek ye Me in vain,”

“Seek ye Me in vain,” literally, in waste, i.e where there are no ways or indications how He is to be found. (A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

Comfort to seekers from what the Lord has not said

We might gain much solace by considering what God has not said. We have an assurance that God will answer prayer, because He hath not said unto the seed of Israel, Seek ye My face in vain. The proposition is this: that those who seek God, in God’s own appointed way, cannot, by any possibility seek Him in vain; that earnest, penitent, prayerful hearts, though they may be delayed for a time, can never be sent away with a final denial (Ro Matthew 7:8).

I. I SHALL PROVE THIS BY THE NEGATIVE, as our text has it.

1. Suppose that sincere prayer could be fruitless, then the question arises, Why are men exhorted to pray at all? Would it not be a piece of heartless tyranny if the Queen should wait upon a man in his condemned cell, and encourage him to petition her favour, nay, command him to do it, saying to him, be importunate, and you will prevail; and yet, all the while, should intend never to pardon the man, but had determined in her heart that his death-warrant should be signed and sealed, and that on the execution morning he should be launched into eternity? Would this be consistent with royal bounty--fit conduct for a gracious monarch? Can you for a moment suppose that God would bid you come to Him through Jesus Christ, and yet intend never to be gracious at the voice of your cry?

2. If prayer could be offered continuously, and God could be sought earnestly, but no mercy found, then he who prays would be worse off than he who does not pray, and supplications would be an ingenious invention for increasing the ills of mankind. For a man who does not pray has less woes than a man who does pray, if God be not the answerer of prayer. He who has been taught to pray has great desires and wants; his heart is an aching void which the world can never fill; but he that never prays has no longings and pinnings after God. If, then, a man may have these vehement longings, and yet God will never grant them, then assuredly the man who prays is in a worse position than he who prays not. How can this be?

3. If God do not hear prayer, since it is clear that in that case the praying man would be more wretched than the careless sinner, then it would follow that God would be the author of unnecessary misery. This is inconsistent with the character of God.

4. Should there still be some desponding ones, who think that God would invite them to pray and yet reject them, I would put it on another ground. Would men do so? Would you? Can God be less generous than men?

5. This is God’s memorial by which He is distinguished from the false gods Psalms 115:6; Psalms 65:2). One of the standing proofs of the Deity of Jehovah is, that He does answer the supplications of His people.

6. If God do not hear prayer what is the meaning of His promises?

7. What is the meaning of all the provisions which He has already made for hearing prayer? Why a mediator, an intercessor? &c.

8. If God hear not prayer, what Gospel have I to preach?

9. Where, then, were the believer’s hope?

10. What would they say in hell, if a soul could really seek the Lord and be refused? There are some who, when under conviction of sin, still cleave to this dark delusion, that God will not hear them. Therefore, I have tried, by blow after blow, to smite this fear dead.

II. THAT THE LORD DOES HEAR PRAYER MAY BE POSITIVELY SUBSTANTIATED.

1. For the Lord to hear prayer is consistent with His nature.

2. It is harmonious with all His past actions (Psalms 107:3). Conclusion--Try for yourself. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

God’s praying people

1. The seed of Jacob are a praying people; it is the generation of them that seek Him (Psalms 24:6).

2. As He has invited them to seek Him, so He never denied their believing prayers, nor disappointed their believing expectations.

3. If He did not think fit to give them the particular thing they prayed for, yet He gave them that grace sufficient and that comfort and satisfaction of soul which was equivalent. (M. Henry.)

God’s straightforwardness

“I, the Lord, speak righteousness.” The word is used in its ethical sense of “trustworthiness,” or straightforwardness,--perfect correspondence between deeds and words. (Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 45:19". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-45.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth,.... In a private whisper, in a muttering manner, and out of the belly, as the Heathen priests did; and from out of cells, dens, and caverns of the earth, from whence the oracles of Heathen deities were delivered; but in a free, open, clear, and public manner, before multitudes, in the face of all men, or where there was a great concourse of people: so Christ delivered the law on Mount Sinai, in an audible manner, attended with a multitude of angels, and before all the people; and when here on earth he said nothing in secret, but openly to the world, in the synagogues and temple of the Jews, where they resorted in great numbers, John 18:20 and ordered his disciples also to publish on the housetops what they heard with their ears, Matthew 10:27,

I said not unto the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain; that is, he never suffered the seed of Jacob, Israelites indeed, praying Jacobs and prevailing Israels, the true worshippers of him, to seek him in vain; to pray unto and worship him to no purpose, or without fruit to themselves; for all such who seek him early and earnestly, heartily and diligently, and where he may be found, always find him; he receives them, and not rejects them; and they receive that from him which is worth seeking after, and amply rewards all their trouble. The Targum is,

"nor have I said to the seed of the house of Jacob in vain, seek my fear:'

I the Lord speak righteousness; the word of righteousness, the doctrine of justification by his own righteousness; that which he wrought out by his obedience, sufferings, and death, he declared and brought near in the ministry of the word; see Isaiah 46:13. The Targum renders it, "truth"; grace and truth came by Christ, John 1:17,

I declare things that are right; according to right reason, agreeably to the word of God, both law and Gospel, fit for men to receive, and what made for his own and his Father's glory; see Proverbs 8:6.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-45.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

I have not spoken in secret, x in a dark place of the earth: I have not said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

(x) As do the false gods, who give uncertain answers.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-45.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

secret — not like the heathen oracles which gave their responses from dark caverns, with studied obscurity (Isaiah 48:16). Christ plainly quotes these words, thereby identifying Himself with Jehovah (John 18:20).

I said not … Seek … in vain — When I commanded you to seek Me (Jehovah did so, Isaiah 45:11, “Ask Me,” etc.), it was not in order that ye might be sent empty away (Deuteronomy 32:47). Especially in Israel‘s time of trial, God‘s interposition, in behalf of Zion hereafter, is expressly stated as about to be the answer to prayer (Isaiah 62:6, Isaiah 62:7-10; Psalm 102:13-17, Psalm 102:19-21). So in the case of all believers, the spiritual Israel.

righteousness — that which is veracious: not in the equivocal terms of heathen responses, fitly symbolized by the “dark places” from which they were uttered.

right — true (see on Isaiah 41:26).


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-45.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

In secret — The Heathen idols deliver oracles in obscure cells and caverns: but I have delivered my oracles to Israel publickly and plainly.

In vain — Serve and worship me for nought. As I appointed them work, so from time to time I have given them abundant recompence.

Right — I require nothing of my people which is not highly just and good.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-45.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.Not in secret have I spoken. He now recalls the people to the doctrine of the Law, because God cannot be comprehended by human faculties; but as he is concealed from carnal reason, so he abundantly reveals himself, and affords the remedy, by his word, which supplies what was wanting, that we may not desire anything more. If this had not been granted, we should have had no hope, and should have lost all courage. Now, he solemnly declares that he does not invite us in vain, though he delay his assistance; for what he has promised is most certain, and, as he plainly shewed to whom we ought to betake ourselves, and on whom we ought to rely, so he will give practical demonstration that the hope of those who relied on his word was not vain, or without foundation.

This enables us to see clearly how wicked are the speeches of those who say that no certainty can be obtained from the word, and who pretend that it is a nose of wax, in order to deter others from reading it; for thus do wicked men blaspheme, because the mere doctrine of the word exposes and refutes their errors. But we reply with David,

“Thy word, O Lord, is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our paths.”
(
Psalms 119:105.)

We reply with Isaiah and the rest of the prophets, that the Lord has taught nothing that is obscure, or ambiguous, or false. We reply also with Peter, that

“the prophetic word is more sure, and you do well if you take heed to it, as to a lamp buming in a dark place, till the day dawn, and the morning-star arise in our hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19.)

If these things were said concerning the Law and the prophets, what shall we say of the Gospel, by which the clearest light has been revealed to us? Shall we not say with Paul,

“If the Gospel is dark, it is dark to those who are lost, whom Satan, the prince of this world, hath blinded?”
(
2 Corinthians 4:3.)

Let blind and weak-sighted men therefore accuse themselves, when they cannot endure this brightness of the word; but, whatever may be the darkness by which they shall endeavor to clothe it, let us adhere firmly and steadfastly to this heavenly light.

Besides, the Prophet appears to allude to the predictions which were uttered out of the groves and tripods of the idols. (210) They are uncertain and deceitful, but nothing of this kind can be found in God’s answers; for he speaks openly, and utters nothing that is deceitful or ambiguous. But experience tells us that Scripture is somewhat dark and hard to be understood. This is indeed true, but ought to be ascribed to the dulness and slowness of our apprehension, and not to the Scripture; for blind or weak-sighted men have no right to accuse the sun, because they cannot look at him.

I have not said in vain to the seed of Jacob, Seek me. This continues to be a fixed principle, that they who shew themselves to be submissive and obedient, do not spend their labor in vain; because God faithfully performs the office of a teacher towards poor and little ones. Now, though all do not rise in the highest degree, yet the labor of those who shall sincerely seek God will never be unprofitable. By this expression, Seek me, Isaiah points out the principal end and use of the Law, to invite men to God; and, indeed, their true happiness lies in being united to God, (211) and the sacred bond of union is faith and sincere piety.

In this second clause he not only asserts that he has spoken clearly and without ambiguity, but declares the certainty and steadfastness of his word; as if he had said, that he does not promise largely with an intention to deceive, or amuse hungry men by words, but actually performs what he has promised. This demonstrates the ingratitude of those who, when they are called, do not answer; since God has no other design than to make us partakers of all blessings, of which we are otherwise empty and destitute.

I Jehovah speaking righteousness. This is added for the sake of explanation; as if he had said that the word by which he draws his elect to himself, is not soiled by any stain of fraud, but contains the most perfect holiness. “The words of the Lord,” as David says, “are clean, like silver purified in an earthen fumace, seven times refined.” (Psalms 12:6.) Thus, in the word of God we have bright righteousness, which instantly shines into our hearts, when the darkness has been removed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-45.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Ver. 19. I have not spoken in secret.] As the sibyls did out of their dens; as the idol priests did out of their holes and underground vaults; as heretics and seducers, who creep into corners and there vend their false wares, as Vincentins Lirinensis long since observed. (Epiphanius fitly compareth them to moles, who do all their mischief by working underground.) But God, as he delivered his law openly on Mount Sinai, so his gospel he commanded to be preached "on the house top," and in Mount Zion. Christ "spoke openly" to the world. [John 18:20] Truth seeketh no corners: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." [Romans 1:16] But what was this word that was delivered so plainly and perspicuously?

Seek ye me.] And for your encouragement ye shall not do it "in vain"; for I am "a rewarder of all those that diligently seek me." [Hebrews 11:6] Let heathen deities disappoint and delude those that seek to them; Jacob’s God scorneth the motion. He is better to his people than their prayers, better than their hopes; and when, with Gehazi, they ask but one talent, he, like Naaman, forceth them to take two.

I the Lord speak righteousness; I declare the things that are right.] Or, Even. So doth not the devil, but things sinful and obscene; as human sacrifices, promiscuous uncleannesses, ut in nefariis Priapi et Veneris sacris. Contrariwise, "all the words of God’s mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them." [Proverbs 8:8]


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-45.html. 1865-1868.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Isaiah

HIDDEN AND REVEALED

Isaiah 45:15, Isaiah 45:19.

The former of these verses expresses the thoughts of the prophet in contemplating the close of a great work of God’s power which issues in the heathen’s coming to Israel and acknowledging God. He adores the depth of the divine counsels which, by devious ways and after long ages, have led to this bright result. And as he thinks of all the long-stretching preparations, all the apparently hostile forces which have been truly subsidiary, all the generations during which these Egyptian and Ethiopian tribes have been the enemies and oppressors of that Israel whom they at last acknowledge for the dwelling-place of God, and enemies of that Jehovah before whom they finally bow down, he feels that he has no measuring-line to fathom the divine purposes, and bows his face to the ground in reverent contemplation with that word upon his lips: ‘Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.’ It is a parallel to the apostolic words, ‘O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.’

But such thoughts are but a half truth, and may very easily become in men’s minds a whole error, and therefore they are followed by a marvellous section in which the Lord Himself speaks, and of which the whole burden is-the clearness and fulness with which God makes Himself known to men. True it is that there are depths inaccessible in the divine nature. True it is that there are mysteries unrevealed in the method of the divine procedure, and especially in that of the relation of heathen tribes to His gospel and His love. True it is that there are mysteries opened in the very word of His grace. But notwithstanding all this-it is also true that He makes Himself known to us all, that He declares righteousness, that He calls us to seek Him, and that He wills to be found and known by us.

The collocation of these two passages may be taken, then, as representing the two phases of the Divine Manifestation, the obscurity which must ever be associated with all our finite knowledge of God, and the clear sunlight in which blazes all that we need to know of Him.

I. After all revelation, God is hidden.

There is revelation of His Name in all His works. His action must be all self-manifestation. But after all it is obscure and hidden.

1. Nature hides while it reveals.

Nature’s revelation is unobtrusive.

God is concealed behind second causes.

God is concealed behind regular modes of working {laws}.

Nature’s revelation is partial, disclosing only a fragment of the name.

Nature’s revelation is ambiguous. Dark shadows of death and pain in the sensitive world, of ruin and convulsions, of shivered stars, seem to contradict the faith that all is very good; so that it has been possible for men to drop their plummet in the deep and say, ‘I find no God,’ and for others to fall into Manichaeism or some form or other of dualism.

2. Providence hides while it reveals.

That is the sphere in which men are most familiar with the idea of mystery.

There is much of which we do not see the issue. The process is not completed, and so the end is not visible.

Even when we believe that ‘to Him’ and ‘for good’ are ‘all things,’ we cannot tell how all will come circling round. We are like men looking only at one small segment of an ellipse which is very eccentric.

There is much of which we do not see the consistency with the divine character.

We are confronted with stumbling-blocks in the allotment of earthly conditions; in the long ages and many tribes which are without knowledge of God; in the sore sorrows, national and individual.

We can array a formidable host. But it is to be remembered that revelation actually increases these. It is just because we know so much of God that we feel them so keenly. I suppose the mysteries of the divine government trouble others outside the sphere of revelation but little. The darkness is made visible by the light.

3. Even in ‘grace’ God is hidden while revealed.

The Infinite and Eternal cannot be grasped by man.

The conception of infinity and eternity is given us by revelation, but it is not comprehended so that its contents are fully known. The words are known, but their full meaning is not, and no revelation can make them, known to finite intelligences.

God dwells in light inaccessible, which is darkness.

Revelation opens abysses down which we cannot look. It raises and leaves unsettled as many questions as it solves.

The telescope resolves many nebulae, but only to bring more unresolvable ones into the field of vision.

Now all this is but one side of the truth. There is a tendency in some minds to underrate what is plain because all is not plain. For some minds the obscure has a fascination, apart altogether from its nature, just because it is obscure. It is a noble emulation to press forward and ‘still to be closing up what we know not with what we know.’ But neither in science nor in religion shall we make progress if we do not take heed of the opposing errors of thinking that all is seen, and of thinking that what we have is valueless because there are gaps in it. The constellations are none the less bright nor immortal fires, though there be waste places in heaven where nothing but opaque blackness is seen. In these days it is especially needful to insist both on the incompleteness of all our religious knowledge, and to say that-

II. Notwithstanding all obscurity, God has amply revealed Himself.

Though God hides Himself, still there comes from heaven the voice-’I have not spoken in secret,’ Now these words contain these thoughts-

1. That whatever darkness there may be, there is none due to the manner of the revelation.

God has not spoken in secret, in a corner. There are no arbitrary difficulties made or unnecessary darkness left in His revelation. We have no right to say that He has left difficulties to test our faith. He Himself has never said so. He deals with us in good faith, doing all that can be done to enlighten, regard being had to still loftier considerations, to the freedom of the human will, to the laws which He has Himself imposed on our nature, and the purposes for which we are here. It is very important to grasp this. We have been told as much as can be told. Contrast with such a revelation the cave-muttered oracles of heathenism and their paltering double sense. Be sure that when God speaks, He speaks clearly and to all, and that in Christianity there is no esoteric teaching for a few initiated only, while the multitude are put off with shows.

2. That whatever obscurity there may be, there is none which hides the divine invitation or Him from those who obey it.

‘I have never said . . . seek ye Me in vain.’ Much is obscure if speculative completeness is looked for, but the moral relations of God and man are not obscure.

All which the heart needs is made known. His revelation is clearly His seeking us, and His revelation is His gracious call to us to seek Him. He is ever found by those who seek. They have not to press through obscurities to find Him, but the desire to possess must precede possession in spiritual matters. He is no hidden God, lurking in obscurity and only to be found by painful search. They who ‘seek’ Him know where to find Him, and seek because they know.

3. That whatever may be obscure, the Revelation of righteousness is clear.

We have to face speculative difficulties in plenty, but the great fact remains that in Revelation steady light is focussed on the moral qualities of the divine Nature and especially on His righteousness.

And the revelation of the divine righteousness reaches its greatest brightness, as that of all the divine Nature does, in the Person and work of Jesus. Very significantly the idea of God’s righteousness is fully developed in the immediately subsequent context. There we find that attribute linked in close and harmonious conjunction with what shallower thought is apt to regard as being in antagonism to it. He declares Himself to be ‘a just {righteous} God and a Saviour.’ So then, if we would rightly conceive of His righteousness, we must give it a wider extension than that of retributive justice or cold, inflexible aloofness from sinners. It impels God to be man’s saviour. And with similar enlarging of popular conceptions there follows: ‘In the Lord is righteousness and strength,’ and therefore, ‘In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified {declared and made righteous} and shall glory’-then, the divine Righteousness is communicative.

All these thoughts, germinal in the prophet’s words, are set in fullest light, and certified by the most heart-moving facts, in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He ‘declares at this time His righteousness, that He might Himself be righteous and the maker righteous of them that have faith in Jesus.’ Whatever is dark, this is clear, that ‘Jehovah our Righteousness’ has come to us in His Son, in whom seeking Him we shall never seek in vain, but ‘be found in Him, not having a righteousness of our own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’

If the great purpose of revelation is to make us know that God loves us, and has given us His Son that in Him we may know Him and possess His Righteousness, difficulties and obscurities in its form or in its substance take a very different aspect. What need we more than that knowledge and possession? Be not robbed of them.

Many things are not written in the book of the divine Revelation, whether it be that of Nature, of human history, or of our own spirits, or even of the Gospel, but these are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and believing, may have life in His name.


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Bibliography
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/isaiah-45.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: the heathen idols deliver their oracles darkly and doubtfully, in obscure cells and caverns of the earth, or out of the bellies of their priests; but I have delivered my oracles to Israel publicly and plainly, as one that was neither afraid nor ashamed to utter my mind, lest I should be convinced of folly and falsehood; which was the case of idols.

Seek ye me in vain; serve and worship me for nought. As I appointed them work, so I promised, and from time to time have given, and shall give, them abundant recompence for their service; whereas the Gentiles seek to their idols in vain, for they can do them no good, as is observed in the next verse.

I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right; I require nothing of my people which is not highly just and good; whereas the idols commanded their worshippers to do many sinful and shameful things, even in their worship, as is notoriously known.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-45.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Since God made the world for human habitation, it is reasonable that He would communicate His plans and purposes to humans. This is what He has done. God made Himself known to the Israelites. What He has revealed is in harmony with how He created the world. He has done what is right and has not distorted the truth. He has not hidden Himself (cf. Isaiah 45:15; John 18:20).

". . . the point appears to be to contrast God"s method of revelation with the dark practices of the heathen soothsayers." [Note: Young, 3:212. Cf. Delitzsch, 2:227-28.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-45.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 45:19. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place, &c. — This is declared in opposition to the manner in which the heathen oracles gave their answers; which were generally delivered not only darkly and doubtfully, but from obscure cells and caverns of the earth: such was the seat of the Cumean Sibyl:

“Excisum Euboicæ latus ingens rupis in antrum.”

“A spacious cave within its farmost part Was hew’d, and fashion’d by laborious art:

Through the hill’s hollow sides —” VIRG. ÆN., 6:42.

Such was that of the famous oracle at Delphi: of which, says Strabo, lib. 9., “The oracle is said to be, αντρον κοιλον μετα βαθους, ου μαλα ευρυστομον, a hollow cavern of considerable depth, with an opening not very wide.” And Diodorus, giving an account of the same oracle, says, “There was in that place a great chasm, or cleft, in the earth; in which very place is situated what is called Adytum;” that is, the cavern, or hidden part of the temple. Jehovah, on the contrary, delivered his oracles to Israel publicly and plainly. I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain — Serve and worship me for naught. As I appointed them work, so from time to time I have given them abundant recompense. I Jehovah speak righteousness, &c. — That which I promise is true, and that which I command is just and good. I require nothing of my people but what is righteous in itself, and for their real advantage: whereas the idols, or their priests rather, command their worshippers to do many sinful and shameful things, even in their worship, as is most notorious. Bishop Lowth renders this clause, I am Jehovah, who speak truth, who give direct answers; observing, “This also is said in opposition to the false and ambiguous answers given by the heathen oracles; of which there are many noted examples.”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/isaiah-45.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Earth. The pagan oracles were given chiefly in mountains, where the impostures of the priests might escape detection. They were also generally ambiguous, or mere guesses. The declarations of the true prophets were quite the reverse. --- In vain; without reward. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-45.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

in vain. Hebrew. tohu. Repeated from Isaiah 45:18. Jehovah did not command His People to seek Him in a pathless and trackless waste, where there are no indications of how He is to be found; but in His Word, where He has revealed Himself clearly and distinctly: not "in secret" or "in darkness" (same words as in Isaiah 45:18). Reference to Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 30:11). App-92. See note on Isaiah 24:10.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-45.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth - not like the pagan oracles which gave their responses from dark caverns, with studied obscurity (Isaiah 48:16). Christ plainly quotes these words, thereby identifying Himself with Yahweh, John 18:20, "In secret have I said nothing."

I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain - When I commanded you to seek me (Yahweh did so, Isaiah 45:11, "Ask me," etc.), it was not in order that ye might be sent empty away (Deuteronomy 32:47). Especially in Israel's time of trial, God's interposition, in behalf of Zion hereafter, is expressly stated as about to be the answer to prayer (Isaiah 62:6-10; Psalms 102:13-17; Psalms 102:19-21 ). So in the case of all believers, the spiritual Israel.

I the Lord speak righteousness - what is veracious: not in the equivocal terms of pagan responses, fitly symbolized by the 'dark places' from which they were uttered.

I declare things that are right - true (note, Isaiah 41:26).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-45.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) I have not spoken in secret.—The words are in marked contrast to the thought expressed in Isaiah 45:15. God had been all along revealing Himself, not like the oracles of the heathen, in the gloom of caves and darkened shrines (Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 65:4; Isaiah 29:4), but in the broad daylight of history and in the law written on men’s hearts. He had bidden men seek Him not in chaos, but in a world of order, and to recognise His utterances by their righteousness.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-45.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
spoken
43:9,10; 48:16; Deuteronomy 29:29; 30:11-14; Proverbs 1:21; 8:1-4; John 7:26,28; John 7:37-39; 18:20; Acts 2:4-8
Seek
1:15; 8:19; 55:6,7; 58:1-3; 1 Chronicles 28:8; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Ezra 8:22; Psalms 24:6; Psalms 69:13,32; Proverbs 15:8; Jeremiah 29:13; Amos 5:4; Malachi 3:13,14; Matthew 15:8,9; James 4:3
speak righteousness
63:1; Numbers 23:19,20; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 9:10; 12:6; 19:7-10; 111:7,8; Psalms 119:137,138; Proverbs 8:6; 30:5

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-45.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

COMFORT TO SEEKERS FROM WHAT THE LORD HAS NOT SAID

Isa . I have not spoken in secret, &c.

We might gain much solace by considering what God has not said. In our text we have an assurance that God will answer prayer, because He hath not said unto the seed of Israel, "Seek ye my face in vain." The proposition I come to deal with is this: that those who seek God, in God's own appointed way, cannot, by any possibility, seek Him in vain; that earnest, penitent, prayerful hearts, though they may be delayed for a time, can never be sent away with a final denial (Rom ; Mat 7:8).

I. I shall prove this, first, by the negative, as our text has it. It is not possible that a man should sincerely, in God's own appointed way, seek for mercy and eternal life, and yet a gracious answer be finally refused. For several reasons.

1. Suppose that sincere prayer could be fruitless, then the question arises, Why, then, are men exhorted to pray at all? Would it not be a piece of heartless tyranny if the Queen should wait upon a man in his condemned cell, and encourage him to petition her favour, nay, command him to do it, saying to him, "If I do not send you at once an answer, send another petition, and another; send to me seven times, yea, continue to do it, and never cease so long as you live; be importunate, and you will prevail." And what if the Queen should tell the man the story of the importunate widow—should describe to him the case of the man who, by perseverance, obtained the three loaves for his weary friend, and say to him, "Even so, if you ask you shall receive," and yet all the while should intend never to pardon the man, but had determined in her heart that his death-warrant should be signed and sealed, and that on the execution morning he should be launched into eternity? Would this be consistent with royal bounty—fit conduct for a gracious monarch? Can you for a moment suppose that God would bid you come to Him through Jesus Christ, and yet intend never to be gracious at the voice of your cry?

2. If prayer could be offered continuously, and God could be sought earnestly, but no mercy found, then he who prays would be worse off than he who does not pray, and supplication would be an ingenious invention for increasing the ills of mankind. For a man who does not pray has less woes than a man who does pray, if God be not the answerer of prayer. The man who prays is made to hunger; shall he hunger and not eat? Were it not, then, better never to hunger? How, then, can it be said, "Blessed are they that hunger"! &c. The man who prays thirsts; as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so he pants after his God; but if God will never give him the living water to drink, is not a thirsty soul much more wretched than one who never learned to thirst at all? He who has been taught to pray has great desires and wants; his heart is an aching void which the world can never fill; but he that never prays has no longings and pinings after God, he feels no ungratified desires after eternal things. If, then, a man may have these vehement longings, and yet God will never grant them, then assuredly the man who prays is in a worse position than he who prays not. How can this be?

3. If God do not hear prayer, since it is clear that in that case the praying man would be more wretched than the careless sinner, then it would follow that God would be the author of unnecessary misery. Now, we know that this is inconsistent with the character of our God. We look around the world and we see punishment for sin, but no punishment for good desires, &c.

4. Should there still be some desponding ones, who think that God would invite them to pray and yet reject them, I would put it on another ground. Would men do so? Would you do so? Can God be less generous than men?

5. Have you forgotten that this is God's memorial, by which He is distinguished from the false gods? (Comp. Psa ; Psa 65:2.) One of the standing proofs of the Deity of Jehovah is, that He does to this day answer the supplications of His people. Could you seek His face, and yet He should refuse you, where would be His memorial? The answer may tarry, but only that it may be the more sweet when it comes (H. E. I. 3895-3898).

6. If God do not hear prayer, what is the meaning of His promises? (e.g., Psa ; Psa 91:15; Jer 33:3; Isa 65:24, &c.) How shall He make His veracity to be proved if He do not answer His people? But His word must stand, though heaven and earth should pass away.

7. If God hath virtually said to us, "Pray, but I will never hear you; seek ye my face in vain," then, I ask, what is the meaning of all the provisions which He has already made for hearing prayer? I see a way to God; 'tis paved with stones inlaid in the fair crimson of the Saviour's blood. I see a door; it is the wounded side of Jesus. Why a Mediator, an Intercessor, &c., &c., if prayer be unavailing?

8. I use the argument which the apostle uses upon the resurrection. If God hear not prayer, what gospel have I to preach? As the apostle said concerning the resurrection, "then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; ye are yet in your sins."

9. Where, then, were the believer's hope? Hang the heavens in sackcloth, let the sun be turned into darkness, let the moon become a clot of blood, if the mercy-seat can be proved to be a mockery.

10. What would they say in hell, if a soul could really seek the Lord and be refused? Oh, the unholy merriment of devils then!

I have been arguing against a thing which you know theoretically is not possible; but yet there are some who, when they are under conviction of sin, still cleave to this dark delusion, that God will not hear them. Therefore I have tried, by blow after blow, if possible, to smite this fear dead.

II. That the Lord does hear prayer may be positively substantiated by the following considerations:—

1. For the Lord to hear prayer is consistent with His nature. Whatever is consistent with God's nature, in the view of a sound judgment, we believe is true. Now we cannot perceive any attribute of God which would stand in the way of His hearing prayer.

2. It is harmonious with all His past actions. If you want a history of God's dealings with men, turn to Psa . What does He mean by His promises? As I said negatively, if He did not hear, where were His promises? so I say positively, Because of His promises He must hear. God is free, but His promises bind Him: God may do as He wills, but He always wills to do what He has said He will do. We have no claim upon God, but God makes a claim for us; when He gives a promise, we may confidently plead it. Promises made in Scripture are God's engagements, and as no honourable man ever runs back from his engagements, so a God of honour and a God of truth cannot, from the necessity of His nature, suffer one of His words to fall to the ground.

CONCLUSION.—Try for yourself. If you would know that God hears prayer, you must test the fact, for you will never learn it through my saying, "He heard me;" you will only know it through His having heard you; and I therefore exhort you, since it is not a peradventure but a living certainty, that "he that asketh receiveth," &c., pray to Him even now to save your souls. Pray as if you meant it, and continue as Elijah did, till you get the blessing.—C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 508.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:19". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-45.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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