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Isaiah 48:10

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I have chosen thee "I have tried thee" - For בחרתיך becharticha, "I have chosen thee," a MS. has בחנתיך bechanticha, "I have tried thee." And so perhaps read the Syriac and Chaldee interpreters; they retain the same word בחרתך bechartach ; but in those languages it signifies, I have tried thee. ככסף kecheseph, quasi argentum, "as silver." Vulgate.

I cannot think בכסף becheseph, With silver, is the true reading. ככסף kecheseph, Like silver, as the Vulgate evidently read it, I suppose to have been the original reading, though no MS. yet found supports this word; the similarity of the two letters, ב beth and כ caph, might have easily led to the mistake in the first instance; and it has been but too faithfully copied ever since. כור cur, which we translate furnace, should be rendered crucible, the vessel in which the silver is melted. The meaning of the verse seems to be this: I have purified you, but not as silver is purified; for when it is purified, no dross of any kind is left behind. Had I done this with you, I should have consumed you altogether; but I have put you in the crucible of affliction, in captivity, that you may acknowledge your sins, and turn unto me.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, I have refined thee - This refers to the Jews in their afflictions and captivity in Babylon. It states one design which he had in view in these afflictions - to purify them. The word used here, and rendered ‹refined‘ (צרף tsâraph ), means properly to melt; to smelt metals; to subject them to the action of fire, in order to remove the scoria or dross from them (see the notes at Isaiah 1:25). Then it means to purify in any manner. Here it means that God had used these afflictions for the same purpose for which fire is used in regard to metals, in order that every impurity in their moral and religious character might be removed.

But not with silver - Margin, ‹For.‘ Hebrew, בכסף bekâseph Many different interpretations of this have been proposed. Jerome renders it, Non quasi argentum - ‹Not as silver.‘ The Septuagint, Οὐχ ἕνεκεν ἀργυρίου ouch heneken arguriou - ‹Not on account of silver.‘ Grotius explains it, ‹I have a long time tried thee by afflictions, but nothing good appears in thee;‘ that is, I have not found you to be silver, or to be pure, as when a worker in metals applies the usual heat to a mass of ore for the purpose of separating the dross, and obtains no silver. Gesenius explains it to mean, ‹I sought to make you better by afflictions, but the end was not reached; you were not as silver which is obtained by melting, but as dross.‘ Rosenmuller supposes it means, that he had not tried them with that intensity of heat which was necessary to melt and refine silver; and remarks, that those skilled in metals observe that gold is easily liquified, but that silver requires a more intense heat to purify it. Jarchi renders it, ‹Not by the fire of Gehenna as silver is melted by the fire.‘ Kimchi explains it, ‹Not as one who is smelting silver, and who removes all the scoria from it, and so consumes it that nothing but pure silver remains. If that had been done, but few of you would have been left.‘ Vitringa supposes that it means, that God had sent them to Babylon to be purified, yet it was not to be done with silver. It was by the agency of a people who were wicked, sinful, and unbelieving. Amidst this variety of interpretation, it is difficult to determine the sense. Probably it may be, I have melted thee, and found no silver; or the result has not been that you have been shown to be pure by all your trials; and thus it will agree with what is said above, that they were perverse, false, and rebellious as a people.

I have chosen thee - Lowth renders this, ‹I have tried thee.‘ The Vulgate and the Septuagint, however, render it, ‹I have chosen thee.‘ The word used here (from בחר bâchar ) means, according to Gesenius:

1. To prove, to try, to examine; and the primary idea, according to him, is that of rubbing with the lapis Lydius, or touchstone, or else of cutting in pieces for the purpose of examining.

2. To approve, choose, or select. This is the most common signification in the Hebrew Bible Genesis 13:11; Exodus 17:9; Joshua 24:15; Job 9:14; Job 15:5; Job 29:25.

3. To delight in Genesis 6:2; Isaiah 1:29. Probably the meaning here is, ‹I have proved or tried thee in the furnace of affliction.‘ It was true, however, that God had chosen or selected their nation to be his people when they were suffering in the furnace of affliction in Egypt; and it is also true that God chooses sinners now, or converts them, as the result of heavy affliction. Possibly this may be the idea, that their affliction had prepared them to embrace his offers and to seek consolation in him; and he may design to teach that one effect of affliction is to prepare the mind to embrace the offers of mercy.

In the furnace of affliction - Referring particularly to their trials in Babylon. Afflictions are often likened to fire - from the fact that fire is used to purify or try metals, and afflictions have the same object in reference to the people of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God's people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 274

Pray in faith. And be sure to bring your lives into harmony with your petitions, that you may receive the blessings for which you pray. Let not your faith weaken, for the blessings received are proportionate to the faith exercised. “According to your faith be it unto you.” “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 9:29; 21:22. Pray, believe, rejoice. Sing praises to God because He has answered your prayers. Take Him at His word. “He is faithful that promised.” Hebrews 10:23. Not one sincere supplication is lost. The channel is open; the stream is flowing. It carries with it healing properties, pouring forth a restoring current of life and health and salvation. 7T 274.1

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To every teacher is given the sacred privilege of representing Christ. And as teachers strive to do this, they may cherish the reassuring conviction that the Saviour is close beside them, giving them words to speak for Him, pointing out ways in which they can show forth His excellence. 7T 274.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 214

Place your mind and will where the Holy Spirit can reach for them, for He will not work through another man's mind and conscience to reach yours. With earnest prayer for wisdom, make the work of God your study. Take counsel of sanctified reason, surrendered wholly to God. 7T 214.1

Look unto Jesus in simplicity and faith. Gaze upon Jesus until the spirit faints under the excess of light. We do not half pray. We do not half believe. “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Luke 11:9. Pray, believe, strengthen one another. Pray as you never before prayed that the Lord will lay His hand upon you, that you may be able to comprehend the length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 7T 214.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 269

The Master saw that you needed a fitness for His heavenly kingdom. He did not leave you in the furnace for the fire of affliction to consume. As a refiner and purifier of silver, He kept His eye upon you, watching the process of purification until He should discern His image reflected in you. Although you have often felt affliction's flame kindling upon you, and at times have thought it would consume you, yet the loving-kindness of God has been just as great toward you at these times as when you were free in spirit and triumphing in Him. The furnace was to purify and refine, but not to consume and destroy. 2T 269.1

I saw you struggling with poverty, seeking to support yourself and your children. Many times you knew not what to do; the future looked dark and uncertain. In your distress you cried unto the Lord, and He comforted and helped you, and hopeful rays of light shone around you. How precious was God to you at such times! how sweet His comforting love! You felt that you had a precious treasure laid up in heaven. As you viewed the reward of the afflicted children of God, what a consolation to feel that you could claim Him as your Father! 2T 269.2

Your case was, in reality, worse than if you had been widowed. Your heart was agonized by the wicked course pursued by your husband. But his persecutions, his threats and violence, did not lead you to trust in your own wisdom, and forget God. Far from this; you sensibly felt your weakness and that you were incapable of carrying your burdens, and in your conscious weakness you were relieved by bringing your heavy burdens to Jesus, the great Burden Bearer. How you cherished every ray of light from His presence! and how strong you often felt in His strength! When a storm of persecution and cruelty unexpectedly burst upon you, the Lord did not suffer you to be overwhelmed; but in those times of trial you realized strength, calmness, and peace, which were a marvel to you. 2T 269.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1146

1-4. Christ Would Encourage Faith and Hope—[Isaiah 42:1, 2 quoted.] He [Christ] will not be like the teachers of His day. The ostentation and show and parade of piety revealed in the priests and Pharisees is not His way. [Isaiah 42:3, 4 quoted.] Christ saw the work of the priests and rulers. The very ones who needed help, the afflicted, the distressed, were treated with words of censure and rebuke, and He forbore to speak any word that would break the feeble reed. The dimly burning wick of faith and hope, He would encourage, and not quench. He would feed His flock like a shepherd; He would gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom (Manuscript 151, 1899). 4BC 1146.1

5-12. Faithfulness Leads Men to Praise God—[Isaiah 42:5-12 quoted.] This work had been given to Israel, but they had neglected their God-appointed work. Had they been faithful in all parts of the Lord's vineyard, souls would have been converted. The Lord's praise would have been heard from the ends of the earth. From the wilderness and the cities thereof, and from the tops of the mountains, men would have shouted His praise, and told of His glory (Manuscript 151, 1899). 4BC 1146.2

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