As my messenger that I sent "As he to whom I have sent my messengers" - אשלח כמלכי kemalachey eshlach, ut ad quem nuncios meos misi. The Vulgate and Chaldee are almost the only interpreters who render it rightly, in consistence with the rest of the sentence, and in perfect agreement with the Hebrew idiom; according to which the ellipsis is to be thus supplied: אשלח מלאכי כלאשר kelaasher malachey eshlach ; "As he to whom I have sent my messengers."
As he that is perfect "As he who is perfectly instructed" - See note on Isaiah 44:2; (note).
And blind as the Lord's servant "And deaf, as the servant of Jehovah" - For ועור veivver, and blind, we must read וחרש vecheresh, and deaf: κωφος, Symmachus, and so a MS. The mistake is palpable, and the correction self-evident, and admissible though there had been no authority for it.
Who is blind, but my servant? - Some of the Jewish expositors suppose that by ‹servant‘ here, the prophet himself is intended, who, they suppose is here called blind and deaf by the impious Jews who rejected his message. But it is evident, that by ‹servant‘ here, the Jewish people themselves are intended, the singular being used for the plural, in a sense similar to that where they are so often called ‹Jacob‘ and ‹Israel.‘ The phrase ‹servants of God‘ is often given to his people, and is used to denote true worshippers. The word is used here to denote those who professed to be the true worshippers of Yahweh. The prophet had, in the previous verses, spoken of the blindness and stupidity of the Gentile world. He here turns to his own countrymen, and addresses them as more blind, and deaf, and stupid than they. ‹Who,‘ he asks, ‹is as blind as they are?‘ Where are any of the pagan nations so insensible to the appeals of God, and so hard-hearted? The idea of the prophet is, that the Jews had had far greater advantages, and yet they were so sunk in sin that it might be said that comparatively none were blind but they. Even the degradation of the pagan nations, under the circumstances of the case, could not be compared with theirs.
As my messenger that I sent - Lowth renders this, ‹And deaf, as he to whom I have sent my messengers.‘ The Septuagint renders it, ‹And deaf but those that rule over them;‘ by a slight change in the Hebrew text. The Vulgate reads it as Lowth has rendered it. The Chaldee renders it,‘ If the wicked are converted, shall they not be called my servants? And the sinners to whom I sent my prophets?‘ But the sense seems to be this: The Jewish people were regarded as a people selected and preserved by God for the purpose of preserving and extending the true religion. They might be spoken of as sent for the great purpose of enlightening the world, as God‘s messengers in the midst of the deep darkness of benighted nations, and as appointed to be the agents by which the true religion was to be perpetuated and propagated on earth. Or perhaps, the word ‹messenger‘ here may denote collectively the Jewish leaders, teachers, and priests, who had been sent as the messengers of God to that people, and who were, with the people, sunk in deep debasement and sin.
As he that is perfect - (כמשׁלם kı̂meshullâm ). A great variety of interpretations has been offered on this word - arising from the difficulty of giving the appellation ‹perfect‘ to a people so corrupt as were the Jews in the time of Isaiah. Jerome renders it, Qui venundatus est - ‹He that is sold.‘ The Syriac renders it, ‹Who is blind as the prince?‘ Symmachus renders it, Ὡς ὁ τέλειος hōs ho teleios and Kimchi in a similar manner by תמים tâmı̂ym - ‹perfect.‘ The verb שׁלם shālam means properly “to be whole, sound, safe”; to be completed, finished, ended: and then, to be at peace or friendship with anyone. And it may he applied to the Jews, to whom it undoubtedly refers here, in one of the following senses; either
(1) ironically, as claiming to be perfect; or
(2) as those who professed to be perfect; or
(3) as being favored with rites and laws, and a civil and sacred constitution that were complete (Vitringa); or
(4) as being in friendship with God, as Grotius and Gesenius suppose.
It most probably refers to the fact that they were richly endowed by Yahweh with complete and happy institutions adapted to their entire welfare, and such as, in comparison with other nations, were suited to make them perfect.
As the Lord‘s servant - The Jewish people, professing to serve and obey God.
March 7, 1868
*****Read in context »
“I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but My servant? or deaf, as My messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:16-21. 9T 138.1
The work outlined in these scriptures is the work before us. The terms “My servant,” “Israel,” “the Lord's servant,” mean anyone that the Lord may select and appoint to do a certain work. He makes them ministers of His will, though some who are selected may be as ignorant of His will as was Nebuchadnezzar. 9T 138.2
God will work for those of His people who will submit themselves to the working of the Holy Spirit. He pledges His glory for the success of the Messiah and His kingdom. “Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” 9T 138.3Read in context »