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Isaiah 1:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Relieve the oppressed "Amend that which is corrupted" - חמוץ אשרו asheru chamots . In rendering this obscure phrase I follow Bochart, (Hieroz. Part i., lib. ii., cap. 7), though I am not perfectly satisfied with this explication of it.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Learn to do well - , To learn here is to become accustomed to, to practice it. To do well stands opposed to all kinds of evil. “Seek judgment.” The word “judgment” - משׁפט mishpâṭ - here means justice. The direction refers particularly to magistrates, and it is evident that the prophet had them particularly in his view in all this discourse. Execute justice between man and man with impartiality. The word “seek” - דרשׁוּ dı̂reshû - means to pursue, to search for, as an object to be gained; to regard, or care for it, as the main thing. Instead of seeking gain, and bribes, and public favor, they were to make it an object of intense interest to do justice.

Relieve - - אשׁרוּ 'asherû - literally, make straight, Or right (margin, righten). The root - אשׁר 'âshar - means to proceed, to walk forward in a direct line; and bears a relation to ישׁר yâshar to be straight. Hence, it often means to be successful or prosperous - to go straight forward to success. In Piel, which is the form used here, it means to cause to go straight; and hence, applied to leaders, judges, and guides, to conduct those under their care in a straight path, anal not in the devices and crooked Ways of sin; Proverbs 23:19:

Hear thou, my son, and he wise,

And guide אשׁר 'asher “make straight”) thine heart in the way.

The oppressed - Him to whom injustice has been done in regard to his character, person, or property; compare the notes at Isaiah 58:6.

Judge the fatherless - Do justice to him - vindicate his cause. Take not advantage of his weak and helpless, condition - his ignorance and want of experience. This charge was particularly necessary on account of the facilities which the guardians of orphans have to defraud or oppress, without danger of detection or punishment. Orphans have no experience. Parents are their natural protectors; and therefore God especially charged on their guardians to befriend and do justice to them; Deuteronomy 24:17: ‹Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor the fatherless, nor take the widow‘s raiment to pledge.‘

Plead for - Contend for her rights. Aid her by vindicating her cause. She is unable to defend herself; she is liable to oppression; and her rights may be taken away by the crafty and designing. It is remarkable that God so often insists on this in the Scriptures, and makes it no small part of religion; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 24:17; Exodus 22:22: ‹Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.‘ The ancient views of piety on this subject are expressed in the language, and in the conduct of Job. Thus, impiety was said to consist in oppressing the fatherless and widow.

They drive away the donkey of the fatherless,

They take the widow‘s ox for a pledge.

Job 24:3.

He evil-entreateth the barren that beareth not,

And doeth not good to the widow.

Job 24:21.

Job‘s own conduct was an illustration of the elevated and pure views of ancient piety:

When the ear heard me, then it blessed me;

And when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me;

Because I delivered the poor that cried,

And the fatherless,

And him that had none to help him.

The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me;

And I caused the widow‘s heart to leap for joy.

Job 29:11-13.

See also Jeremiah 7:6; Malachi 3:5; James 1:27. Hence, God is himself represented as the vindicator of the rights of the widow and orphan:

A father of the fatherless,

And a judge of the widows,

Is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5.

Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive;

And let thy widows trust in me.

Jeremiah 49:11.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression; though we have often dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will take out the stain, Ps 51:7. They should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live to thy glory.
Ellen G. White
Messages to Young People, 348

It is not enough for you to avoid the appearance of evil; you must go farther than this; you must “learn to do well.” You must represent Christ to the world. It must be your daily study how you can learn to work the works of God. His followers are to be living epistles, “known and read of all men.” MYP 348.1

You can never secure a good character by merely wishing for it. It can be gained only by labor. Your desires in this direction must be expressed in earnest, honest endeavor and patient toil. By taking advance steps each day up the ladder of progress, you will find yourself at last at the top—a conqueror, yes, more than a conqueror, through Him who has loved you.—The Youth's Instructor, November 5, 1896. MYP 348.2

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Ellen G. White
Education, 141

“Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.” “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.” Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 41:1, 2; Proverbs 19:17. Ed 141.1

He who makes this investment lays up double treasure. Besides that which, however wisely improved, he must leave at last, he is amassing wealth for eternity,—that treasure of character which is the most valuable possession of earth or heaven. Ed 141.2

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 255.5

God is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistake in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life. The moral worth of every soul is weighed in the balance of the heavenly sanctuary. Shall not these solemn thoughts have an influence upon us, that we may cease to do evil and learn to do well? There is nothing gained by a life of sin but hopeless despair.... TMK 255.5

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 125.3

“Cease to do evil; learn to do well.” This is the lesson everyone should learn day by day. The training due to one's self comes first. The influence exerted by a life of strict integrity will be a continual education to others. Those who are restrained and guided by the moral and religious principles plainly laid down in God's Word walk in accordance with the mind and will of God, who is too wise to err and too good to do us harm. UL 125.3

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